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RobertSon's silent disco moment

Quebec singer-songwriter plays Sennheiser tent during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival



Thanks to a bankrupt Canadian record label, Mark Robertson, known professionally as RobertSon, is better known overseas than in his own country.

"For the moment (this is true). It's a tough business," he says.

RobertSon went into the studio for his first solo album, Favorite People (2009), and the loss of his Canadian sponsor while they were laying down his tracks meant that the album only came out in Europe on a French label, he says. He describes the incident as thwarting his momentum.

"I only really toured in Europe from 2008 to 2010. The album just happened to fall into the right hands," he says.

"When I was there, I met artists who were huge there performing on high rotation, but they are unknown here. It's the opposite of the impression that you get in Canada sometimes of a band that is really big here but elsewhere they're unknown.

But his new album, RobertSon and the formerly named Bullfrog, was released in 2013 in this country, and the north-of-Montreal-based performer has high hopes.

"With my new record I am happy to put it out here on a Canadian label and to get out into my own backyard," he says.

Veering from lounge-funk to singer-songwriter fingerpicking, RobertSon's music has the common thread of intimate vocals.

He plays in a silent disco located in the Sennheiser tent at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival on Friday, April 11, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sennheiser, which makes high-end microphones and headphones, is at the festival every year. RobertSon's show is not part of the official lineup.

The Bullfrog part of RobertSon comes from his work with the band of that name.

"We started Bullfrog in 1997; we toured around Europe, the States and Canada doing the festivals. From that band, Kid Koala's solo career emerged," he says.

"There's stuff that I've picked up travelling, in Brazil, in Europe. There are fusions of different styles, from the indie to the more rootsy style. I draw my influences from a lot of places. I love all that stuff, from American jazz and R&B, to New Orleans to islands, Jamaica, to South America."

RobertSon is not unknown in these parts.

"I play there as many chances as I can get. I'm a huge skiing fanatic. I coach freestyle skiing here in Quebec part time," he says. "Bullfrog played the festival several years ago for a few years. I did it solo in 2006. It's a blast, I love B.C.... I have a lot of friends who went out there and never came back."

RobertSon will be performing at the Sennheisser tent as part of a duo, using pedals and effects to convey a big sound.

"I play base pedal with my foot, I have samples and triggers of all kinds of different instruments with me," he says.

The gig is part of an ongoing relationship RobertSon has with the company.

"Sennheiser is there every year. Everyone gets a pair of wireless headphones and will listen. It will be my first gig like that, without speakers," he says."I had heard of silent discos, but they were more gigs for DJs. You can't have a live drum kit come through with that, you have to have your equipment plugged in. This show we will be using electronic drums or drum loops."

Sennheiser is also presenting awards for the Sennheiser Backcountry PicNic freeride film competition, which took place in Bralorne, B.C., north of Pemberton in March. The awards are at Merlins on April 16.


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