Introducing: Red Robyn

Red Robyn is sweet melan­choly. Think the sedate self-reflec­tive­ness of Tra­cy Chap­man but with the added punch of today’s too-chill-to-be-stressed R&B.

Haunt­ing is a fit­ting descrip­tor for much of her solo acoustic music, such as the dreamy ‘Inner Sun’ and utter­ly sub­lime ‘Mar­ley’. But, when linked up with pianist, pro­duc­er and fel­low music-mak­er, Jae­don Daniel, there’s sparks of root­sy pop mag­ic – check her lat­est sin­gle ‘Left Wing’ for a taste.

“I would describe my music as an explo­ration and expres­sion of sound and emo­tion,” Robyn tells Fringe Fre­quen­cy.

“I pre­fer to focus on the spir­i­tu­al­i­ty and heal­ing forces of music and to let that mantra guide the con­tent I pro­duce. I believe in col­lab­o­ra­tion and freely explor­ing sound as a means to express cur­rent states of the world.”

“The fable tells that the red robin bird got its colour from Jesus’s blood. When he died, it supposedly sat on his head. I always related this with significant insignificance.” – Red Robyn

Robyn hails from Dur­ban, South Africa.

“I come from a musi­cal fam­i­ly where most of them play an instru­ment both pro­fes­sion­al­ly and leisure­ly,” she says.

Start­ing out in a church band when she was young, Robyn went on to study music and dra­ma per­for­mance at the Uni­ver­si­ty of KwaZu­lu-Natal, where she met, and formed a band, with fel­low musi­cians. She is also part of hip hop-jazz col­lec­tive called Blvck Crystals.

As for her name­sake, it comes from ancient tale about the bird: “The fable tells that the red robin bird got its colour from Jesus’s blood. When he died, it sup­pos­ed­ly sat on his head. I always relat­ed this with sig­nif­i­cant insignif­i­cance. This con­cept has always res­onat­ed with me as an artist. I am not nec­es­sar­i­ly reli­gious, but do believe in Jesus and con­nect­ed with the sto­ry since my sec­ond name is Robyn.”

Basquiat, Sade, Erykah Badu and Kate Bush are some her influ­ences. Not that you feel them imme­di­ate­ly. There’s a won­der­ful airy calm to Robyn’s vocals akin to Jill Scott and the afore­men­tioned Sade, as well as down­tem­po-soul group, King and Kelela.

What’s more, the chang­ing music scene in her home city has had a pos­i­tive impact she says: “So, far I have been priv­i­leged enough to be part of and wit­ness a rev­o­lu­tion in Dur­ban. Where it was once an unheard-of occa­sion to have more than one gig a month, Dur­ban now boasts sev­er­al music venues with live music every week, as well as host­ing inter­na­tion­al fes­ti­vals, such as Zak­i­fo and Inter­pret Dur­ban.

“I have been priv­i­leged to expe­ri­ence a change in appre­ci­a­tion for live music and a grow­ing under­ground scene of exper­i­men­tal music cre­at­ing an inter­est­ing fusion of sound out of a diverse mul­ti­cul­tur­al city.”

With almost two dozen tracks to her name and a new burst of musi­cal appre­ci­a­tion in her home city, the stage looks set for this Robyn to tru­ly take flight.

Group mem­bers: Red Robyn (Vocals, Gui­tar); Jae­don Daniel (Piano); Nick Pit­man (Gui­tar); Byron Tham­bu ( Drums); Nok­wan­da Nkala (Sax).

Select­ed discography

  • Inner Sun (Sin­gle, 2016)
  • Mar­ley (Sin­gle, 2016)
  • Left Wing (Sin­gle, 2017)

File next to: Sade, Jill Scott, Andy Allo, Mega

Social media: Face­book, Insta­gram, Twit­terSound­Cloud

Red Robyn’s lat­est sin­gle, ‘Left Wing’, is out now, and her first full-length album is due in October.

Image: Nicole Powell