Resistance is futile
By JENNIFER CHANCELLOR, 1/4/2008
Dance music propels Recorder to win in national contest
You probably haven’t heard anything like it around these parts, though it's been here for years.
Tulsa band Recorder calls it "robot dance music and sad robot lullabies, made by robots... for robots."
But it's really a trio of area artists – Rob and Lynn Robertson and Jeff Whitlatch – who love creating super-sweet, super-danceable electronic music.
"It started as a joke, really," said Rob Robertson in a recent telephone interview. "It was like, 'Nobody else is doing this, but you know, robots have feelings, too!' "
But the project's taken on a life of its own since those days back in 2004, garnering the group international recognition, a record deal with Switzerland's Minuta Records, and most recently, a $10,000 fan-favorite award and a critic's choice award from the Fame Cast Web site. The group won the Electronic Fenom/Critics' Pick titles from the "American Idol"-style contest, said Robertson.
Awards are given in everything from dance to country to comedy and more, according to the official Web site at www.famecast.com.
In addition to $10,000, Recorder will receive a mentorship session with J.S. Clayden, an L.A.-based British ex-pat and core member of UK alt-rock band Pitchshifter, said Robertson.
Many may know Robertson as DJ Robbo, a founder of the Electrical network, and an established local DJ who helped organize Oklahoma rock band Shiny Toy Guns' first national tour.
"I'm pretty much focusing on Recorder now," he said. "We're working on getting a really good live show going. We hope to play more music festivals in the near future."
All three also work at Nightingale Theatre, Lynn and Rob Robertson as actors and Whitlatch as the the community theater venue's technical director.
That experience was essential for the band’s performance at the FameCast finals, which featured a roster of performers whittled down from a roster of dozens of other acts and, finally, to five, said Robertson.
"It was our first real live show," he said. The trio dressed as robots, brought out keyboards, more keyboards, a vocoder, a theremin-like device, a mike and told their melodic tale of love, loss, fear and redemption.
"Will the world wait for me?" sadly sang the girl robot – a vocoder-equipped Lynn Robertson – during the performance, as colorful twirls of electrical cord-like hair bounced around her cyborg face.
The crowd was in love with her. The answer was yes.
FameCast's Web site boasts, "Show the world your talent and win!"
Recorder did and it tallied enough votes from local, national and international listeners to propel them to the top spot.
"It was amazing that we got so many votes during that week," he said, due to the catastrophic ice storm that slammed Tulsa in mid-December. "So many people here in Tulsa were without Internet access or power. To win was a pleasant surprise."
Recently featured on Spin magazine’s “Hot Pursuit” site and on the Music Nation Web site, the act will also be featured – as a live performer – at Hard Work Records' "Hard Work Weekend," scheduled Feb. 29 and March 1 here in Tulsa.