Charlie Robbins’ guitar style has been turning heads since he first appeared on the prog metal scene as a member of Artificial Language. His eclectic, highly technical, quirky style has gained him recognition from some of prog metal’s top guitarists, and fans from all over the world. Apart from his band work, he’s also released a handful of albums and EPs as Syncatto, his solo project.
Charlie recently released a new album as Syncatto called A Place to Breathe– a brilliantly clever display of guitar wizardry that seamlessly blends genres and styles. Charlie stopped by Proglodytes to answer some questions about his musical background, his new album, his band, and where he’s heading in the future.
Tell me about your musical upbringing. How did you decide to play guitar? Who were some of your influences early on?
Guitar Hero actually got me into guitar! Then, I realized I should probably put my efforts towards the real thing. Some of my early influences were Between the Buried and Me, Born of Osiris, Dream Theater and Avenged Sevenfold (I know, I know).
Tell us a little bit about your band, Artificial Language.
We’re a 6 piece prog metal band that likes to dip into different genres, and just have as much fun as we can.
Where did the name “Syncatto” come from?
it was actually the working title for the Artificial Language song “Mazes”. It’s the words “syncopated” & “staccato” mixed together.
You just released a new album, A Place to Breathe. Tell us about how this amazing album came to be.
I’ve been working on it for over a year now. My goal was to make an album that showcases a lot of different musicians/instruments. Coen Strouken providing live strings for this record took it to a whole new level. I absolutely love all his contributions to this record. I was also able to have a lot of other amazing artists as well. I wanted the listener to really get a full album experience with not just crazy guitar playing on it. You’re gonna be surprised when you hear all the guests!
How would you describe your compositional process? Does it vary from track to track?
it did vary from track to track. However, I knew going in I wanted a heavy classical/flamenco feel. Getting all the classical artists to be on this record helped me get there!
Many of our readers are big gearheads. Tell us about your instrumental rig!
At the moment I don’t have much of a rig. However, before COVID-19 I was using my Axe Fx 2 into a Pedal Baby Power Amp, into an Orange 2X12! With my Kiesel guitars! My main guitar is a Kiesel Aries. I’m probably gonna switch to Quad Cortex for these upcoming shows.
This album features a cast of stellar guest musicians. Tell us about them! How hands-on were you with their contributions?
For the live strings, I had Coen basically track all the strings I had written, and then I let him add anything he wanted. I had a surplus of great stuff that he wrote. I ended up keeping like, 96% of all he wrote because it was just so good! For the other artists, they all nailed it on the first drafts that I received from them. I was also lucky to have El Armin come record his flamenco solo at my place, so it was reallllly cool to collaborate on that little section of “Möbius”.
How do you feel like you’ve progressed as a composer and musician since your last solo outing?
I loved the over-the-top nature of the last EP, Coloratura. It was great to just let loose and go nuts with it. With this record I wanted to still have those crazy moments, but let it breathe a bit more like A Place to Dream. I really think this album did that, and I’m super proud of it. It’s hard to think where I could even go from here, because I’m so happy with this release.
Will Syncatto be performing as a live outfit?
Maybe at some point. I think a few of the guys in Artificial Language even mentioned just playing some Syncatto tracks live for fun.
What fictional character(s) do you most relate with?
Otto from Rocket Power
Who is your favorite Muppet?
Kermit the Frog
What is your favorite morning beverage?
Coffee, for sure!
Check out Syncatto’s latest album, A Place To Breathe, on his Bandcamp page!