Livi Robins performs as part of Sea N Sound Festival at Mooloolaba in June.
Sunshine Coast country singer-songwriter Livi Robins is stepping back into the spotlight at Sea N Sound Festival this year after a few years out of the saddle.
Livi's journey has seen her go from shy songwriter to featuring in the X-Factor 2010 Top 24 and releasing her self-titled EP in 2013.
After taking a break from music in 2016, Livi has recently been focussed on building her own business, Boston Shaker Bar, a New York, art-deco style cocktail bar in Mooloolaba.
Livi will be in good company when she performs at Sea N Sound, which also features Amy Shark, Busby Marou, Didirri, Ali Barter, Kyle Lionhart, I Know Leopard, OKA and Cheap Fakes.
What's been happening for you musically these past few years? In 2016, I took a break from music for a year. I was holidaying in Japan, when I received a message from Brad Wenham and Max Sportelli saying they were looking for a vocalist to fill a couple of gigs. I stepped in pretty much the day I got home. It was great fun. I realised how much I missed playing. It was a completely different style than I was used to; these guys play jazz, funk, soul – they’re very talented.
It was quite a challenge for me coming from a country music background. I remember being at a gig when I said to Max I was going to start my own, live music venue. It took about a year to make it happen. Now I work in the business and also get to play with my band there regularly. It has been such a big change in my life and I am absolutely loving it.
How have you changed as a musician in that time? Since opening the bar, I have had the pleasure of listening to and meeting lots of talented local musicians. It’s been a great education to watch other live musicians almost daily and take in what they do. With my band, I enjoy the challenge of changing up the tunes and learning to listen to whatever the band brings on the night. Stuff that I had done previously was quite structured.
I have had a crash course in improvisation and I guess really freed myself up to just move with the ebb and flow of the band and be creative. I have noticed a distinct change in my phrasing and using different elements vocally to complement the flexibility of the open format.
Are you working on any new music at the moment? Yes. Because of the level of musicianship within the band, we quite often experiment with new ideas organically while gigging. It’s a unique opportunity to work through tunes in a live setting, which is a process I really enjoy.
What sort of show are you bringing to Sea N Sound Festival? It will be a fun, up-tempo show, similar to the free format that we already do at our gigs.
It's your first festival show for a while; are you nervous at all or will it be just like riding a bike? Well, I wasn’t until you asked that haha! Damn you. In all seriousness, yes I am a little nervous. But at the end of the day it’s just a group of friends having fun and doing what comes naturally.
Are there any other artists playing Sea N Sound you'll be watching? Oh for sure. I am super excited to hear Kyle Lionhart. I’m very drawn to voices and he has such a beautiful tone. They are all amazing, I’m looking forward to each and every one of them.
As a Sunshine Coast local is it a treat to play a festival like Sea N Sound in your own backyard? Absolutely. I work at the Wharf Mooloolaba everyday so I am excited to see the place transformed into a festival zone and to be able to be a part of that is amazing.
Sunshine Coast is a real hotbed for new music in Queensland; how have you seen the local SC scene develop in recent years? I’ve lived on the Sunshine Coast almost my entire life. I was just discussing with my friend how some of the local “garage” bands used to play at chambers island when I was a kid. I think we have always had great talent here, it has grown so much even in the last 5 years. It’s great to see that there are so many more venues and alternatives to perform live. Of course the internet has also opened up opportunities to some of the smaller regional communities to get there musicians out to a broader audience.
Tell us more about your other business, Boston Shaker Bar? Boston Shaker Bar is my baby at the moment, we have been open for about 8 months. It’s a little cocktail bar with a “new York” art deco feel. It was designed to house live music and be an environment geared towards interaction and engagement of human beings. The staff are super friendly, it sounds cliché but we are one little family.
Do you support local live music at Boston Shaker Bar? Who might we see play there? We definitely designed the bar around having live music. It’s a small intimate venue that lends itself to a relaxed style of music. We currently have lots of soloists and showcase my band monthly. My motto is to play what you love and people will love it. We have musicians of all genres, playing originals and covers - we don’t discriminate.
Clint Francis, Brodie Graham, Mark Moroney, Rob longstaff, SoLar, Andrea Kirwin, Shannon Carroll, Alisha Todd, Dan Horne, and of course myself are just some of the locals you might see play regularly. It’s early days it has a lot of potential to grow.
What else do you have planned for 2019? I will continue to work with my band at Boston Shaker developing our sound and creating new tunes. I’m fairly focussed on getting the business working well, people are still just finding out about us. Having a business that is capable of supporting local music is an important part of what I have set out to achieve.
Livi Robins plays Sea N Sound Festival (Mooloolaba) on 8 June.