Greetings all! Let me first begin this blog by saying, I do not know everything. I am like a lot of you reading this; a musician, building my career.  However, I have been able to achieve some great things thus far. Because of this, I am constantly asked an assortment of questions from fellow musicians; ranging from how to obtain gigs to product and equipment preferences.  This blog is designed to answer those questions and everything in between. I will also post interviews, product reviews and other things. So check back often.

Please understand that my answers are not finite. These answers are my opinions and are based on my personal experiences and how I have been able to reach my current level of success in this industry we all know and love.


Q ROBINSON - DRUMMER EXTRAORDINAIRE by Empire Ears

Q Robinson has been a member of the Empire Family for as long as any of us can remember. His is a presence that lights up any room and every time he comes by the office we're elated. His easy smile and sharp wit are punctuated by a wholesome, loving energy that makes everyone's day better. He currently plays with a beautiful set of Legend X in-ear monitors, custom engraved with his initials. He makes them look good.

 

SUCCESS AND HUMILITY

From Broadway to international tours to NPR's Tiny Desk series, Q is all over the place. When I finally had the chance to corner him, sit him down and bombard him with questions, I leapt at the opportunity.

Why don't you introduce yourself and tell those who don't know what you play, how long you've been playing, and where we can see you live?

My name is Quinton Robinson. But most call me “Q”. I’ve been playing drums since the age of three. But I’ve been playing professionally for about 25 years - I started early! Seeing me play: I play with a few different artists. I’m currently playing with Avery*Sunshine, Anthony David, Peabo Bryson, Algebra Blessett and Kenny Lattimore, among others. So it literally depends on the day. 

What are the projects you're most proud of?

That’s a great question. I’m in a unique position. Although, I’m compensated, most of the projects I’m involved with are passion projects for me. So instead of saying “all of them”. I’ll just list the latest projects completed.

Avery*Sunshine - Twenty Sixty-Four

Anthony David - Hello Like Before (Bill Withers Tribute Album)

William Green - Mind Rush (Single)

Isaiah Freeman has three singles that have been released in the past 6 months that I performed on. Super proud of those for sure.

On the live performance side: Being a part of the music staff for the Broadway Bound Musical, “Born for This”: The Bebe Winans Story. I wrote the drum book and created all of the drum programming for that show. 

Side Note: Three of the five projects mentioned are from Empire Ears Artists. (That’s Kinda Dope)!

Who are your greatest influences? Why?

How much time do you have? [Laughs] Seriously, I’m influenced by a variety of people, in the music industry and out. So for the sake of this interview, I’ll limit it to drumming influences. When I look back at my career, four names instantly emerge; David “Jody” Hill, Jonathan Joseph, Terry Baker and Will Kennedy.

DJH - When I was growing up in the music scene in Miami, there was one name that you constantly heard. It was Jody Hill. He was not only an amazing drummer but he didn’t mind taking the time to impart knowledge to the young drummers coming up behind him. He taught me how to be a professional. Additionally, he also taught me that it was ok to have a personality. Probably the most important lesson he taught me was to not take myself too seriously. A lesson that I have to say that I’m still learning, if I’m honest.

JJ - He was my drumming instructor while I was in Undergrad. He challenged me in every aspect of my playing. If I did something wrong, he challenged me to do it right. If I did something right, he challenged me to do it better. He was the one guy that made being able to read music a premium. He is a world class drummer who has played with Pat Metheny, Ricky Martin, Joss Stone and Jeff Beck, just to name a few.

TB - You can’t mention Gospel music recordings without calling Terry’s name. Over the past 30 years, he has been a part of some of the most prolific gospel projects recorded. He taught me how to be a recording drummer. He also taught me the importance of being able to effectively create and run drum programming. Terry is currently the drummer for Kirk Franklin.

WK - Will plays drums for one of my favorite groups of all time; The Yellow Jackets. We all know that Will is an amazing drummer. But Will is the guy that continues to show me that it’s ok to be approachable and a nice guy. Unfortunately, some of our more talented individuals in the industry aren’t necessarily this way. I’ve had the displeasure in finding this out first hand. Will has an amazing spirit and he makes it extremely easy to talk to him when he is around. 

What are some of your favorite songs? Any technical masterpieces or guilty pleasures?

This changes over time. I’ll give you my top five songs right now and the drummers on those songs. If you listen to these songs, you’ll instantly understand why I love them. 

Watch Your Step - Dave Weckl

Sight Seeing - Yellow Jackets/Will Kennedy

Lingus - Snarky Puppy/Larnell Lewis

Tell Me - Pages/Vinnie Colaiuta 

Possess the Land - Marvin Sapp/Calvin Rodgers

What's the best moment you've had during a live performance?

There are so many. But, playing in front of 40,000 people with Avery*Sunshine was pretty awesome.

What's the most terrifying moment you've had during a performance?

Yikes!! I was playing a show and the monitor engineer must’ve went on a smoke break. I lost the click in my ears. I felt like time was standing still. 

To whom do you owe your success? What is the key to your success? In what way, if any, is that reflected in your music?

All praise goes to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for my success. If it were not for him guiding my path and protecting me, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish ANYTHING. Next, I would have to say my parents and grandparents. They were my support system when I was growing up. They constantly told me I could do and be anything I wanted to become. Even when they didn’t agree with my choices, they still supported me. It was because of my upbringing that I operate the way I do. Not only as a musician and business entity, but as a man.

What are you grateful for?

In a word...EVERYTHING. The opportunity to travel, do what I love and support my family. I’m grateful for every artist, musician, producer, director and manager that entrust me with their vision. I’m grateful for the friends and colleagues that I have made throughout my career thus far. I’m grateful to every company that allows me to represent their brand. EVERYTHING!

Any advice for aspiring musicians?

Be Professional. Be Personable. Be Persistent. Be Pliable. Be Positive.

What gear do you use?

Pearl Drums, Sabian Cymbals, ProMark Drumsticks, Remo Drumheads, Roland Electronics and of course Empire Ears (Currently using the Legend X model).

How important are in-ear monitors to your performance?

On a scale from 1-10....100! (LOL). 90% of my performances, there is some type of click track or programming being utilized. My ability to hear well isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Using In-ear monitors allow me to control my hearing environment and key in on the things I desire to hear.

Best thing about being in the Empire Family?

The people! Don’t get me wrong, the products are world class. But being able to work with the Empire Family is one of my joys. Empire has worked extremely hard to cultivate a family oriented experience. I would say they have hit the mark with that among other things.

Lastly any notes you want to share?

I would like to take this time and publicly thank Jack, Dean and Cat for making me feel like a part of the family. Additionally, thanks to Dylan, Josh and Devon for the support and always making sure I’m considered. Every time, I walked through those doors, it feels like a family reunion. I appreciate you all. I am Q. Robinson and I’m with the Empire!

If you would like to know more about me and keep up with me, please visit my website or my social media:

Website: www.iamqrobinson.com  

Facebook: www.facebook.com/qjrob  

Twitter: www.twitter.com/QGroovin   

Instagram: www.instagram.com/QGroovin 




 

The Four P's of the working Musician

One of the most frequently asked questions is: How to position yourself to be a reputable musician? This is a  question that has literally kept me up a night. I will say this: if you ask 100 musicians this question, you may get  get 100 answers; and they all may very well be correct. Everyone always talks about what it takes to be successful on the stage; which is very important. But what you do off the stage is sometimes just as important. I will list what I consider to be the four most effective ways on how to achieve this objective.

1.  Be Personable: This means having a pleasant personality and appearance. You want individuals to know that you are easy to work with. You are more likely to have your calendar filled if people are aware that you are unproblematic. Although being a musician is work, performers like to have fun while performing. It’s really hard to achieve that when dealing with a person with a cantankerous or arrogant attitude.  Appearance is also important; someone can derive at an opinion of you before you say a word or play a note. So make sure you present yourself in a pleasant manner. Some individuals will hire you based on how you carry yourself. Your appearance is an extension of yourself.

2.  Be Pliable:  In a word this means adaptable. In this industry, you are not always going to have the “perfect situation”.  Being flexible also lends itself to the “easy to work with” category. I cannot express how vital this is to the longevity of your career. Whether it is last minute set-list changes with an artist, negotiating fees with a record label or time changes with management, I have discovered your success rate will be greater when you are flexible.  You definitely have to possess and maintain certain standards, but in order to flourish; you must learn the art of compromise.

3.  Be Persistent:  How bad do you want to achieve your goal?  If you want to achieve your goal, you have to be relentless in your pursuit. You cannot allow anyone or anything to deter you from accomplishing your objective. Do not allow “no” to stop you. In my career I have heard this word before. We all have. However, you cannot allow that to stop your progress. No does not mean not ever. You have to work your plan. If you hit a wall; regroup, reassess and continue on. If you want to succeed, giving up should never be an option.

4.  Be Positive:  Everything that we accomplish begins with our mindset.  Having a positive way of thinking is essential in attaining ANY goal.  In this industry, you will encounter disappointment. Things will not always go the way you desire them to.  It is not about what happens to you, it is how you respond.  After moving to a new city, I had a series of unfortunate events to transpire. However, I always attempted to keep a positive outlook. It is definitely easier said than done, but it is crucial in succeeding. Sometimes your positive outlook is the only thing that allows you keep your sanity. You cannot anticipate success with a pessimistic outlook. You have to expect to be successful. Celebrate smaller victories, those smaller victories will transform into larger ones eventually. Just stay positive.