What is your name and role within Friendly Fire?
My name is Robin Giorno, aka RobiDon. I am the organiser and producer for the Friendly Fire operations, and guitarist in the Friendly FIre Band. Friendly FIre Music includes a reggae label and recording studio, a live band (Friendly FIre Band) and a soundsystem (Jam Jah Sound) that all feed into each other.
How did you start?
It all started when i linked the drummer and selecta Bongo Damo at our local pub where he was djing reggae. I brought some records too and we started Jam Jah Sound, who performs every week since 2001 in Moseley, making it the longest lasting weekly reggae event in the UK.
I started producing and recording local artists who also performed on the sound, programming instrumentals. Shortly after, as both myself and Bongo Damo played instruments, we decided to put together a live band – that was the beginning of Friendly Fire Band, in 2006.
Where are you based?
We are based in the south of Birmingham UK, Balsall Heath and Moseley.
What are you working on right now?
Friendly Fire Band is about to drop a mixtape, curated by Jam Jah Sound: The All Stars Mixtape. This features 30 tracks featuring the world of reggae artists from foundation artists like Prince Alla to the future of Jamaican reggae Kabaka Pyramid, as well as the new generation of UK artists like Parly B, Lion Art, or Myki Tuff, all voiced over Friendly Fire Band instrumentals. It will have a mix of latest tunes, unreleased tunes and Jam Jah Sound exclusive dubplates.
Following that, we will be releasing full length versions of the unreleased songs featured on the mixtape as singles.
What is your gear setup?
On stage, Friendly Fire Band is a traditional rock band lineup.
What do you like to do outside of music and does it affect your music?
Music is my main occupation – i also organise the Roots Yard, Shambala Festival’s Reggae area, and organise dubplate recording sessions linking soundsystems and artists. It all feeds into the network, so music is always on the forefront of my mind.
How would you describe your music genre?
Authentic forward thinking reggae 🙂
Do you know any music theory?
Not much personally, some other members of the band tend to solve theoretical problems – but reggae music is based on groove and feel, more than elaborate theory.
Image Credit : Abel Graham.
What are your plans for the future?
Just keep doing what we are doing and keep growing – i’d like to be able to travel more with the music, and spread the message and spirit of our collective. The important thing is to be involved, and the more you do it the more it grows, and the more people you meet… The plan for the future is to witness upwards development 🙂
How did you get into music?
From a young age, my family used to get together and sing songs, so that vibe caught me.. Then my shool friend’s older brother gave us cassettes of AC/DC and Guns n Roses albums when we were 11, which got me into playing the electric guitar. Growing older and maturing, and discovering marijuana pushed me towards more laid back music. It’s only when i moved to the UK that i got deep into collecting reggae records and conseuqntly getting involved with the soundsystem, production and live band.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’m always getting new music and playing my itunes on random – so anything i’ve heard and liked at some point can come on at any point!
Who are your top 5 influences and icons?
5? There’s so many influences that have come into my life throughout the years that i’d be pushed to choose 5 that are more relevant than others.. Obviously Bob Marley was a gateway for me, as for many, into reggae. I love all of it ! All the music i have heard has affected how i perceive and create music now, but so have all the other experiences i have been through, in every domain… This still happens now… Maybe ask me this question again at the end of my life and mi may be able to determine 5 most influential things, with hindsight .
When and were are you playing next?
Hitting up festival Season now in the UK, so the Friendly FIre Band will be at Simmer Down, Kallida Festival, One Love, Shambala Festival. The soundsystem will also be at Boomtown with some live artists from the crew (Myki Tuff and LIon Art).
Jam Jah Sound is also weekly at the Dark HOrse, Moseley Birmingham on Mondays.