Boasting a unique blend of lo-fi pop and physical R&B, RBTS WIN‘s latest release ‘happy_sad.jpg’ is an unique and eclectic collection of tracks, filled to the brim with atmospheric synths and disjunct drum beats. The Asheville-based duo have made a distinct mark on the electronic scene since their inception, directly supporting the likes of Toro y Moi, RJD2, Mount Kimbie and many others.
This week, they sat down with us at Apocalypse Music to explain their recent release and expand on their creative processes.
Hey guys, thanks for talking to us here at AM! Tell us a bit about yourselves — who is the ‘group’, where you’re based?
Cliff: RBTS WIN is Javier Bolea (production and art) along with myself (Cliff B. Worsham) on production and vocals. We’re currently based out of Asheville, North Carolina — but Javier is from Miami, Florida. We’ve been creating together since around 08/09.
For those of our readers who may not have heard RBTS WIN before, how would you describe your sound?
Cliff: When it comes to our sound we’ve heard it described in so many ways haha. Chill-hop, folk-hop, chillwave, etc. — but I think the main takeaway is “chill”. We have a downtempo, dreamy sound for fans of slower substances.
Javi: I can’t even think in terms of genre for this project anymore after all these years. One goal for me is for the music to sound chewable — like a piece of Bubblicious — so hopefully it’s sweet and consumable and hot pink.
Are there any particular themes that you enjoy exploring in your music and if so, why?
Cliff: I think if anything we are very into the exploration of nature in electronic music. We always try to add some form of nature field recordings in there, whether it be wind sounds, rain sounds, or people in a park. If you look at our visuals you’ll see a heavy representation of nature in them. We live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, so I think in some regard it just bleeds over into our music.
Javi: Nostalgia. I want to feel like I’m in my grandmother’s 1970’s-decorated home in Miami — but I want it to feel new at the same time. If you listen to Cliff’s lyrics, he talks alot about running away but also about being stuck in a place or time. So how do we juxtapose these themes by making songs that feel like freedom?
What is inspiring you creatively at the moment?
Cliff: I’m inspired by so much to create. My amazing talented friends who are making some of the best art I’ve heard and seen. Larger acts I love who push the envelope in their music. The exploration of my own mind and learning how to improve it.
Javi: Totally agree on the incredible work that so many of our friends are creating. I’ve also been reaching outside of music for inspiration by reading a lot and consuming translated works of literature from around the world. It can really transport you, and right now escaping the current monotony of a pandemic is a huge part of being inspired enough to pick up an instrument or even get out of bed.
Tell us about your album ‘happy_sad.jpg’ and the inspiration behind it.
Cliff: ‘happy_sad.jpg’ was born during the first lockdown of Covid19. We were forced to sit with ourselves and try to find something to focus on when it seemed like everything else just stopped. For me personally it was a very introspective time. I clocked into the studio like a job and got all of these swimming thoughts in my head out in the form of music. I feel very lucky that I was able to take such an uncertain time and create something I love with it.
What was the creative process for the album like?
Cliff: Typically it would be Javi and I sitting in the studio together creating music — but with us not being able to do that due to the lockdown we just turned this into a tape trade project. I would add something then email it to him and he would do the same and send it back. I think the only song we created together on this record was the title track “happy_sad.jpg”. We’re definitely glad to be able to be sitting in the studio creating again.
Javi: Cliff had the record pretty much done before we could get together physically in the studio. The first ten minutes back I played the keyboard part to “happy_sad.jpg” and it was on. From there it was easy to complete the record and work towards releasing it. It’s been an effortless project in a way, which is pretty ironic considering where the record birthed from.
Are there any parts that you’re especially proud of and would be keen to point out to listeners?
Cliff: To be honest, I’m very proud of this release as a whole. I’d say listening through the entire album and hearing it as it was intended would be the best. I’m overall most happy with the mixing and mastering job of Matt Langston. He took what we created and just really made it have such an overall amazing sound.
Javi: I’m proud of the reception. We’ve been doing this for a while and seeing this record get love and played by fans of ours, old and new, made us feel sane. Like we’re still not crazy for doing this thing. Thanks to all who keep listening.
Do you have any more projects or releases on the way that we should be keeping an eye on?
Cliff: We are constantly creating. Currently, we have the outline for a nine song release that we hope to have completed and out later this year.
Javi: I’m stoked on that next collection of tunes. We’re hoping to get it finished and out quickly. If we’ve learned anything it’s that there’s no time to waste. I’m working on a second solo release that’ll be out this summer as well under the name ‘Boy In Sleep’.
Where can our readers find out more about you?
Words by Hermione Kellow, Cliff B. Worsham & Javier Bolea
Photo © RBTS WIN (PRESS)