Cleveland Rocks: PPF’s own Ryan Laubenthal sat down with award-winning composer, pianist, recording artist, music streamer and college professor, Rob Kovacs, to discuss all things music. He will be performing with Jenna Fournier (Kid Tigrrr) at part of our Waterloo Makes Music series on April 7th in the Cleveland Rocks Shop! Here’s a sneak peak of the full interview.
CR:PPF: Welcome back to another episode of Cleveland Rocks Shop Talk. Today we’ve got Rob Kovacs.
Rob: Hey! Thanks for having me Ryan.
CR:PPF: What is music to you personally?
Rob: I learned this in college. Organized sound and silence so however you decide as an artist, to organize it. However you put the frame around it. That’s music. There’s also kinds of music and sounds out there and it doesn’t have to be harmonious. it just has to be from someone who says this is sound, groups it together and I think you should listen to it and hopefully it creates some sort of emotional response. I definitely love all kinds of music. The pretty stuff, beautiful stuff, the angry, the ugly stuff. Yeah, I love it all.
CR:PPF: Awesome. So speaking of music that you do enjoy, can you talk about some artists that influence your work?
Rob: From the beginning, early on, I definitely fell in love with The Beatles , in high school, before high school. Driving to school, my mom would listen to 102.1 Soft Rock. So that has more of an influence than I think is cool to admit. But a lot of the yacht rock. Nowadays I listen to a lot of yacht rock so. Video game music, growing up at the beginning of sounds of Mega Man 2, Zelda, and Mario and all these NES, SNES sounds, Secret Armana. I didn’t realize that the time how much influence that had but those types of harmonies, mo mixture, fast syncopated rhythms and the synth sounds have all been a huge influence. College and beyond, learned more contemporary classical like Steve Rice, or Penderecki. Not going to hear a lot of Penderecki in my music but I love it. Um, Sufjan Stevens is a huge influence. Ben Folds Five obviously, Jamiroquai and then more recently, Louis Cole I absolutely love. He’s like one of my favorite artists. Louis Cole and Jacob Collier are brilliant and uh, yeah, then more just like video game. I’m discovering a lot more video game music these days which has been really really inspiring and fun. Composers like David Wise, Takashi Tateishi’s Mega Man 2. Mega Man’s awesome.
CR:PPF: I know
Rob: I’ll send it to you.
CR:PPF: It’s a great tune.
Rob: That’s usually the first level that people end up playing on Mega Man 2. At least, that’s the one we would, I would usually start with.
CR:PPF: Are you the same person on stage as you are sitting in front of me? or do you have some sort of persona or altered state of mind when you’re performing?
Rob: I try to be pretty authentic. I might be a more animated and entertaining version of my self, but it is definitely myself. I’m not creating a character or something. Being authentic is pretty important to me. If I’m not, I feel off. I feel unhappy. Music is obviously very important. When I’m not working on music, or if a big chunk of my life is devoid of music, I’ve learned this time and time again that I just get depressed. Extremely depressed. So, um, after that lesson enough, it’s like okay, I’m gonna focus on music big time. And when I play and perform, whether it’s on stage or steaming on Twitch or anything, I feel very authentic and genuine and happy to be there. Happy to be performing. Yeah, I hope that comes through. When you’re using your art, your muse is very personal. It definitely means a lot to me when I was using just to make money and not for art, then it had a negative effect over all. So I’m really careful what I accept, what kind of music jobs I accept and what I don’t.
CR:PPF: If you could play a show with any musician, who might you pick?
Rob: Man, I mean like the … I would love to… I guess both, either open up for and play with, Louis Cole or Jake Collier. There also like so much better, so it’s like … Oh man, you know, I feel a little inferior. But I would love to play… Both of them are just brilliant people and musicians. I would love to either play a show with or collaborate with them in some way.
CR:PPF: Is there an artist or album that you wish more people knew about or would get into?
Rob: Louis Cole is pretty like popular but not as popular as I would like him to be. So I would like more people to get into Louis Cole. He’s absolutely brilliant. My friend’s band Herzog. I love them for them to be more popular. Nick’s a brilliant songwriter and I’ve known him since I was 6. So, and he’s been working on it for his whole life so I’d love to see … and everyone in that band is so good.
CR:PPF: If you could go back in time and say anything to yourself in high school, what might you say?
Rob: I would say ‘You can do it. Be patient. You’re on the right path. Just believe in yourself.’ But ‘you can do it’ is kind of the main thing.