Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, multi-talented artist Robbin Neebor Clemente has been empowering the community with his music for over 20 years. His music includes TOP 40, HIP HOP CLASSICS, FUNK and much more. As a person of color music producer, youth advocate and teaching artist at Washington Asian Pacific Islander (WAPI) and Coyote Central he has helped many at risk youth ages 10-21 of all backgrounds including those with disabilities become integral members to society.
Robbin began his music career at age 10 as a bell choir boy in Seattle, Washington. Inspired by his grandfather, Robbin began taking interest in music and arts at age 5. He started playing the clarinet at age 9. He played guitar in middle school and received many awards for his creativity. He began his DJ career at 15 years old having bought garage sale turntables and pawn shop mixers. One day he was influenced by his friends to try being a hip hop Skratch DJ and worked hard doing construction for his first set of turntables which he had to carry on the bus home from the music store.
Interview by Laura Ng:
What was the ‘aha’ moment that made you start making music?
I would watch old Lawrence Welk videos with my grandfather and saw him play the clarinet. To my surprise, he was a leader for a big 100 piece band in the Philippines. I was about 4 at the time. My parents actually put me in a morning music activity because they had to work. One moment I do remember in preschool watching some girls pretending to sing and I would sit and use the round blocks as knobs and pretend to engineer their stage show. In middle school, I wanted to be cool and started learning guitar through YATMA (Youth Advancement through Music and Art). That was around 7th grade for me. Playing music was an outlet for me because I used to involved with a lot of troubled peers. It wasn’t until Middle College High School that I started taking this music thing seriously. I also saw that music could influence people as I started getting good at it.
So, how did you get involved with Social Activism?
Even at a young age, I was always integrating community work with the Asian American community. I was already taking college classes at 16 years old learning about the other side of the history from the viewpoints of the so called “conquered indigenous tribes man.” In Running Start, I learned many nontraditional philosophies not generally accepted in a traditional high school setting. During my life as a high school student, I have met city council members, and experienced social work through my later high school experience in an alternative high school called “Middle College” . I am still friends with my high school teacher Alonzo “Big Zo” Ybarra” and the Dean of Studies at UW Bothell Wayne Au and its almost been 20 years since I graduated high school. Dr. Wayne actually published my writing in a magazine about the WTO protests at the time. Without their guidance and support, I would not be the person I am today.
So, let’s get back to the music part of your life journey. When did you really feel like a rock star?
I’d say my first taste of life on a tour was when the Middle College faculty chose me and a group of other candidates to represent Washington State in the National Middle College Consortium in NYC. This was 1999 and I was fortunate to meet with musical influencer such as BABA (NYC beatboxer) and connect artists from all over the United States at the Laguardia Community College. I was one of the music producers for a play about equality, social justice, and discrimination. We got to stay in a fancy hotel in Manhattan and I made friends with people from all over the United States!
What genre can people expect to hear?
As a DJ?
Depends on what I’m requested to play. Professionally I’m an open format DJ so I can play a wide range of music from Rock, to Hip Hop to Latin or Reggae. Just expect to have a good time and I usually like to feel the crowd’s energy and cater to what makes them move. But i’m known in the industry as an early 90’s DJ and EDM DJ more specifically TWERK, House, ElectroFunk, and Deep Soul House. I got into Future Bass lately, I was at a time heavy into UK Garage.
As a producer and support DJ?
Lately I have been working with artists such as Ready Ron Beats, Suntonio Bandanaz, Hajj, Julie C. Greg & Jerome. And Ryan Taylor I used to be the tour DJ for Black Stax (Jace and Silas of Silent Lambs Project) in 2011 and we did a NW tour. Owour Arunga, the touring trumpet player for Macklemore was on this tour. This was before you know, “Thrift Shop.” Good times. I am now the touring DJ for Lone Wolf and Kub, a Father Son Rap Duo that’s getting lots of press right now.
How do you describe your sound? Get specific.
Funky, soulful, timeless. Fun and energetic. Depending on the situation, I’ll do some memorable club classics that will make you remember the good times and also create a “love bubble” feeling. I do this at weddings all the time. Tis the season for the reason you play what you play I always say. It isn’t always about you but about the audience. I cater to the client depending their circle of friends, family and community. Which also depends on their socio economic, race/ethnicity, age etc
What are your influences?
I am influenced by mother nature, nightlife vibes of the East Coast Shelter NYC sounds, San Francisco 1015 Folsom House, NYC’s Studio 54 Disco, Boston’s Puerto Rico and Nueva York Salsa, NYC’s Latin Breaks from the likes of Antibalas, anything Fania All Stars, Joe Bataan, Armand Van Helden, Daft Punk, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Wu – Tang Clan, BDP, KRS ONE, Kraftwerk, Prince, Michael Jackson, James Brown, Toshinobu Kubota, NERD… Chad Hugo is one of my favourite producers actually because he is a Fil-Am music professional. Don’t forget Bambu, Rhapsody, and many of my friends in the industry and don’t get me started on Jazzy Jeff, Brad Mehldau, Quincy Jones, Nathan East, Chic, Paula Cole, Teresa Teng, Kyu Sakamoto, Boyz to Men, Gary Valenciano, Luther Vandross, all the way to Mozart, Debussy, to Beethoven. Nasty-Nes of course! All my 206 Zulu and extended Zulu family without you I am not who I am. Coolout Network. King Khazm. Third Eye Bling.
What are your releases so far? (EPs, albums, mixes, remixes, etc.)
Sunday, February 17th