Jerusalem: a girl just heard Naomi Robin play a few songs. Crying, she ran up to Robin and began to pour her soul out to this stranger, explaining her pain about a guy who broke her heart. Somehow, Robin’s music made her realize that she wasn’t delusional or crazy and that she did not have to take it so roughly.
“To realize that I could influence someone to stand up for themselves was the best feeling,” said Robin, a third-year music history student. “It was completely inspirational.”
Driven by this experience, guitarist and singer-songwriter Robin embarked on a mission to book shows in the United States after she returned from Israel in 2011, something she said she never planned on doing before. Continuing those performances, Robin will perform her original songs tonight as part of the Cultural Affairs Commission’s concert series.
Robin will demonstrate her crossover style of music that she characterizes as indie-folk-blues. She explained that her music has its own panache, making it a bit more rough and expressive in style.
“My music is happy but it sort of has a kick to it. That’s my flair,” Robin said. “I look all Taylor Swift-y but when I sing I have this deep, dark side come out with these happy melodies.”
Sean Braverman, a fan of Robin’s who has attended every single one of her shows after meeting Robin at Santa Monica College, said her music is intensely soulful and relatable, which is what drew him to her music in the first place.
Robin compares her music, sound and style to that of pianist and singer-songwriter Regina Spektor and a little bit like indie artist Cat Power, while Braverman would distinguish her sound as a rougher, more intense Taylor Swift.
Robin said her soulful style partly arises from the concept and message that surrounds her music, especially with her lyrics. Inspired by friends who face immense heartbreak after putting themselves in a hurtful situation, Robin writes to these women to show them that they have the power to change their situation.
“A lot of my songs are about giving advice to girls. I really want to empower women and make them feel strong enough to not have to enter those relationships. … They deserve more,” Robin said. “My whole goal is to get girls to think straight.”
Audiences will see how Robin sends these messages to women in the first song she plans on performing tonight. “Restart” is a song about one of Robin’s friends whose boyfriend was blatantly cheating on her, and she failed to recognize the signs.
Robin said she used the lyrics of this song to shake some sense into her friend, giving her advice to see the signals and recognize his actions. She calls attention to his discrepancies as she lyrically tells her friend, “While you wait up for his text, your only love is having sex.”
Yasaman Kamaly, the keyboardist and USC student who will accompany Robin tonight, said it is this sort of message and concept that draws her and other audiences to listen to Robin’s music.
“(Robin) writes songs about situations that happen to everyone. She puts herself in their shoes and she writes about their feelings and fears; and I think that’s how people really connect to her music,” Kamaly said.
This sense of female empowerment and strength is something Robin said she hopes to portray in the album she intends to record independently this coming summer. For her music, she not only uses the experiences of her friends as inspirations but also her own.
“Anytime anybody hurts me, I write a song about them. All of my songs are songs for people,” Robin said.
On the album she plans to record, every song is named after someone, such as “Chantal’s Song” or “Jeff’s Song.”
Robin said her ethnicity is another inspiration that has definitely impacted her music and performances.
In the summer of 2011, Robin was in Israel attending an all-girls seminary. She did not plan on performing at all until the girls in her group found out that she sang and played guitar. They asked her to perform and, after her set, many of them came up to her pouring their hearts out and talking about how they related to her music.
It was her Israeli roots that initiated her need to perform for audiences. After touring in Jerusalem and Netanya and having intimate moments with fans like she did with the girl in Jerusalem, Robin said she was inspired and driven to book shows in Los Angeles.
“Before (playing in Jerusalem) I wasn’t planning on performing around L.A. or the U.S. at all, but that’s what drove me to book shows. And now I’m playing at Kerckhoff … and it’s all because of (the girl in Jerusalem).”