Interview: George Robinson

Dan McAvinchey: George, who originally inspired you when you started playing guitar?

George Robinson: I remember the excitement, when I was in my middle teen years, of hearing guitarists like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Duane Allman for the first time. The sounds they made were like revelations and epiphanies to me, opening doors to new worlds that I hadn't visited before. I acquired a Fender Mustang and dedicated myself to learning every guitar riff I encountered. That's how it started for me. After a few years, and with a few lessons from some pros, I became good enough to work in club bands, and did that for several years.

Dan McAvinchey: Did you self-release your latest album "Out Of The Sky"?

George Robinson: I have independently released four CDs of original solo guitar music since 2002, the most recent being "Out Of The Sky" in 2013. I have never approached a record label because I want to remain fully independent.

Dan McAvinchey: How would you describe your music?

George Robinson: My original music is meditative, instrumental, "neo-classical" solo guitar music. As described on my website, my compositions are "Meditative fingerstyle guitar solos melding elements of new age, smooth jazz, rock and classical music." It's not dance music. It's not music designed to make you stand up. It's music designed to make you sit down, or even lie down. There's no convenient genre name to describe it. Thirty years ago it might have been called New Age, but that genre is rather dated now, and is the tiniest of the 15 genres reported by the Nielsen Soundscan system (which reports all music sales in the U.S.). So to call it "New Age" these days would be like planting the kiss of death on it to anyone working in the industry.

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Dan McAvinchey: How did you write the songs for "Out Of The Sky"? Was it a collaborative approach, or did you work alone?

George Robinson: All of my song ideas have come to me as inspirations from the twilight zone. Although I enjoy playing jazz, blues and rock as much as any other guitarist, when I get an inspiration for an original song it tends to have a meditative, introspective quality. I am blessed to receive these inspirations, so I do not complain.

Dan McAvinchey: Tell us a little about the gear you use to get your sound.

George Robinson: My recording setup consists of a Godin ACS nylon string guitar running into multiple pieces of gear via the hexaphonic pickup and GK cables, including the Roland VG-88, VG-99 and a GI-20 MIDI converter. All these signals are fed into a Cakewalk SONAR system in parallel, so that I can record solo performances with no overdubs, and then mix the various signals in SONAR. I'm still learning about audio engineering, and hope to make better recordings of my pieces as my skills improve.

Dan McAvinchey: Are you using any social media sites to promote your albums?

George Robinson: Not yet, although I plan to soon. At present its just my own website ( and CD Baby, although I have pushed some clips to SoundCloud.

Dan McAvinchey: What are you doing in the areas of publicity and promotion?

George Robinson: I've never done any publicity or promotion, but plan to take some steps in that direction soon.

Dan McAvinchey: What do you now find to be the advantages and disadvantages of being an independent musician?

George Robinson: The upside of the democratization of music production is that anyone can create and market their own music. The downside of the democratization of music production is that anyone can create and market their own music. There are now over 1 million unsigned indie artists marketing recordings online in the U.S. Hundreds of new CDs are released every day. It's an avalanche of supply; more new music than a soul could absorb if he or she listened to new music 24x7. So you have to have realistic expectations from a business perspective, and pursue your music primarily for the love of it.

Dan McAvinchey: Other than guitar-oriented music, what kind of music do you like to listen to?

George Robinson: I like all kinds of music, and listen to all kinds of music. I enjoy offbeat things like contemporary orchestral music that challenges my ear, but I also pay attention to what's happening in the mainstream, and usually find something to like there. For example, I'm happy to say that I'm currently enjoying Coldplay's new album, Ghost Stories. I'm also listening to Igor Stravinsky's Petrushka, and have been revisiting some great Windom Hill albums from the early 1980s, like Michael Hedges' Breakfast in the Field and George Winston's Autumn.

Dan McAvinchey: What's on the horizon for you?

George Robinson: I've composed most of another album of meditative, contemporary guitar solos, and plan to release my fifth album of solo pieces next year.

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George Robinson is a guitarist who specializes in meditative fingerstyle guitar solos, melding elements of new age, smooth jazz and classical music into a distinctive style. He has released four CDs and has plans for a fifth in the coming year.

Dan McAvinchey conducted this virtual interview with Robinson, and he discusses his early guitar experiences and his thoughts on being an independent musician.