Described as ‘that sweet spot between electronic warbling and heartfelt orchestration’, Go Robot is a one-man band out of the UK that sucks you in with succour and lifts you up with cautious optimism. In his very first interview, we chatted with Zach Willmot (ZW) about the upcoming EP Addict, where he’ll be in three years, new videos and much more!
OSR: How did Go Robot come about?
ZW: I’ve always been the guitarist or drummer in bands, so every time I write a song with lyrics or a weird instrument setup I end up storing it away and forgetting about it. These songs have been piling up, so I started Go Robot as an outlet for them and as a way of trying out new ideas without having to think about how to make them work live.
OSR: What about the band name Go Robot?
ZW: It was inspired by AlphaGo which was the first AI programme to beat a professional at the board game Go. It did this by learning and making mistakes like a person would, rather than following a bunch of instructions. When you write music on your own it’s easy to be swept up by the production process and forget about the human element. Technology is so accessible now and can very quickly take over, so I wanted a positive name that welcomes it but still encouraged me to embrace my imperfect human side. It’s a reminder to keep trying new ideas, mess up and move on.
OSR: If you could call your project something other than Go Robot, what would it be?
ZW: Something with a load of inconvenient symbols. Is that still trendy? How about ^^vv<><>BA (pronounced ‘Konami’).
OSR: You are about to release your debut EP Addict on May 29th. What can you tell us about the EP?
ZW: The whole thing was recorded at my home studio, which is basically a small semi-soundproof shed I built in my garden to try and avoid noise complaints. I had to do it in lots of small fragments after work and at weekends which had the knock-on effect that each track on the EP ended up sounding completely different from the last. I quite like that about it.
The opening track is a punky synthy thing and the EP moves through darkness and nostalgia before it reaches an uplifting end. It hopefully takes you on a satisfying journey.
OSR: Does this debut EP have a specific meaning to you?
ZW: Thematically, the EP is about alienation and isolation in different forms, both physical and mental due to things such as fear, anxiety and social incompetence. From my perspective, the EP is the first time I’ll release anything substantial on my own so it’s a very personal leap of faith. I’m intrigued to see how people respond to it. Mostly excited, but there are some nerves too.
OSR: Which is your favourite track and why that track?
ZW: It’s a tough question, but probably the closing track ‘The Gallows’. I used to be in a crazy, chaotic relationship and this song is a reflection on that time. There isn’t any animosity anymore, but I still found it extremely satisfying to dissect my feelings about the relationship as I don’t think I properly thought about it when it happened. I also find the song really uplifting in a chilled sort of way. Especially at the end; I can’t help but feel cool walking down the street listening to that final riff. That’s probably really lame, but I don’t care.
OSR: What about your least favourite track and why?
ZW: I guess it would have to be ‘Smoke’. I released a video for it last summer before I finished the rest of the EP so it’s the oldest of the five tracks. I included it because it fits with the theme and sound of the EP.
OSR: What about the recording process? Was it a smooth process or did you hit a few speedbumps?
ZW: There are always issues along the way, but that’s part of the fun. One big hurdle was figuring out how to record a string orchestra for ‘Smoke’ as I only play the violin and didn’t want to use fake digital instruments. In the end, I used special strings to tune an electric violin to be the same as a viola and then used an octave guitar pedal to detune the ‘viola’ to have the same tuning as a cello. It took a couple of days of recording many, many separate takes to get the orchestra sound, but I’m really happy with how it turned out.
OSR: What do you want people to take from Addict?
ZW: I find whole EP quite dark, yet strangely uplifting. It makes me feel energised and motivated, but not in a hyped-up Disney channel way, and I would love it if it made others feel the same.
OSR: You plan to release a video for the opening track ‘Caged Pigeon’. What can you tell us about the video and single?
ZW: I find the video really funny. It’s fluorescent green lips dancing around against a black background miming the lyrics of the song. The track has a lot of raw energy and it’s kind of stupid and tongue-in-cheek. It’s just a load of fun and I wanted the video to reflect that. I shot it by wearing fluorescent green face paint under a UV light at about 3 am. I couldn’t do it during the day because the thought of having to answer the door looking like that is truly horrifying!
OSR: Describe your sound in one sentence.
ZW: Music that makes you feel good about feeling bad.
OSR: Your music is all self-produced. What do you feel are the pros and cons of this DIY approach?
ZW: I admit, I can be a bit of a control freak and I like the fact that self-producing my music gives me the power to do whatever I want. I don’t have to throw away a part I love because another band member isn’t keen or settle for something I’m not 100% certain of. I can tweak the sound as much as I like and get everything sitting exactly where I want it in the mix.
The downside is I will tweak everything endlessly. There’s no one to tell me when to stop and this can slow down the process massively. The other downside is there’s no one to tell me if something sounds good or not, and my mum doesn’t count. The first time I’ll hear any criticism of the EP, good or bad, is on May 29th!
OSR: Where would you like to be in three years?
ZW: In the Bahamas sipping cocktails with two albums under my belt. You’ve got to shoot for the moon.