Behind every favorite artist, song, or lyric, is a story you've never heard. Music is highly personal, and our experiences with it shape our memories, thoughts, and desires. So much goes into every note and lyric behind the scenes, which is why we’re bringing you Voices Behind the Music to share untold music business tales. Our guests range from artists, producers, and managers to tech creators and more, each sharing their unique past experiences, current projects, and visions for the future. Voices Behind The Music is presented by Feed Media Group, the leading B2B music licensing platform.
Hosted by Jeff Yasuda, CEO, Feed Media Group.
Episode 1: Finding Funk, Mastering Sound, and Reviving Vinyl - with Eddie Roberts
Eddie Roberts has been producing music for over 20 years. Since His first production in 1996, 16 studio albums of The New Mastersounds since 2001, and the launch of Color Red Music in 2018. Eddie's worked with some of the biggest names in the funk & soul world as a producer, composer and musician, including members of The Meters, Headhunters, Lettuce, Soulive, The Motet, Galactic, MMW, Orgone; co-producing with Nightmares on Wax, Mr Scruff, Kenny Dope, Quantic, Keb Darge; and producing tracks for an endless list of classic bands from Greyhounds, Greyboy Allstars & Robert Walter, Matador Soul Sounds, Reed Mathis, West Coast Sounds; to even outside his comfort-sound to the likes of Leftover Salmon, Lespecial and Disco Biscuits. The list is endless. Eddie's sound is an integral part of today's Funk & Soul scene.
Eddie: We all arrived at like 2:00 PM on the Wednesday, wrote 10 tracks and then came back Thursday and recorded them all. And then on Friday we played them at the private party.
Jeff: Behind every favorite artist, song, or lyric is a story you've never heard.
In Voices Behind the Music, we go much deeper than the front man you hear on the album or the guitarist you see on stage. People from all aspects of the music industry work together to make the business what it is, and are often some of the busiest but nicest, funniest, and smartest people out there. I'm Jeff Yasuda, CEO at Feed Media Group, the creators behind the leading B2B music licensing platform.
Join me as I sit down with some of my favorite voices behind the music to hear their insider stories about what makes the music industry so exciting.
All right everybody. Today I'm here with the Eddie Roberts, [00:01:00] guitarist, producer, songwriter, label and studio owner. By day, Eddie runs Color Red, which is a soul, funk, RNB and anything vibey, retro and cool label out of Denver, Colorado. By night, he is the front man of the New Mastersounds, which I would argue is one of the most important funk bands on the scene.
But Eddie is also involved with giving back to communities as well with the Payback and Compass Family Services, where I actually had a chance to jam with them many, many years ago. But most importantly, he is a dear friend and laughs at my jokes. So I've got that going for me, which is nice. Great to have you on the show as our debut guest.
So thank you for coming.
Eddie: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Jeff: So tell me for starters, you've been working on Color Red now for a couple of years, right?
Eddie: It was officially three years on August 28th. That was the launch date, and we literally have put out music [00:02:00] every week since almost 2018.
Jeff: I love it. Let's go back a couple years and talk a little bit about this transition or this movement from purely a performer, a musician, to more of a producer label owner. What was the thinking behind creating Color Red?
Eddie: It wasn't a massive transition because I actually was involved in running a label back in the mid nineties. I don't know if you remember Jeff, the story of kind of where I came from with The Mastersounds, but it was, we were playing in clubs and kind of promoting these club nights and there was a side part of that, that we ran a record label called Cooker Records.
So, I was the office junior really, and doing all the donkey work and I got a good handle on it. And then I started releasing music and understanding the whole kind of publishing side. Back then, we had to hand write the submissions, when you wrote a song and he wanted to put it into the the PRO, which is PRS in the [00:03:00] UK.
And by the way, PRO stands for Performing Rights Organization. Each country has a PRO and they're responsible for collecting royalties for things like radio play, TV broadcast, things like that.
Jeff: On behalf of the songwriters?
Eddie: On behalf of the songwriters, yeah. So you joined the PRO, in the UKs case that's PRS, performing rights society, that's the name of it. America has ASCAP, I don't what they stand for and yeah.
Jeff: There's 4 for the U.S., ASCAP, BMI, CSAC, and GMR.
Eddie: So I remember it was like carbon copy paper. So there'll be a yellow one, a pink one and something else, and you'd send one into the PRO and then you'd keep one yourself. And I don't know what you did with the third one, maybe you give it to the label or something like that.
But yeah, so I got into that whole thing of making sure that everything was registered and then a few years later, I ended up doing a publishing deal.
So, I kind of knew that side of things, I'd been producing [00:04:00] music and when Mastersounds started in 99, I'd already released maybe two albums before that. So, it was kind of understanding the production side of things, a little bit of the label side of things and the publishing side of things.
And so that is a history since the mid nineties, really. And then really the live side of things took off more than anything else, and we started playing in the US in 2004. We played San Francisco for the first time in 2005, at the Boom Boom Room no less.
Yeah. The legendary.
Eddie: Exactly. So yeah, the Mastersounds really started blowing up in the US and eventually in 2010, I moved over. The other guys are still in Europe, but I moved over and I was also managing the band, the band leader and producing the records and everything as well.
I started writing all the songs and then it kind of became more of a band thing. As the band grew together, I became less of a dictator.
Eddie: Okay. I would let them have a little look in, on the, on the [00:05:00] writing as well.
So, fast forward to around 2016/17 and at this point we've been on the road nearly 25 years or something. Still had a nice, strong kind of publishing catalog and recording catalog. But realized that in 25 years, I'd only managed to write about 300 songs.
And I started getting some success on some of those songs, but I thought, well, what if I organize the catalog of thousands of songs and then use the same connections and the same kind of ethos behind it. So that was one of the ideas of why I want to start Color Red. Color Red we like to think of it as a music discovery platform. So funk, soul jazz, but we're trying to be broader than that. Be non genre specific but we do like soul and kind of funk within that.
But, brought all the gear up here and acquired a studio space in January 2018. And made our [00:06:00] first recording in March. We had to like redo some of the floor, things like that, but yeah, it was literally, let's get it up and running, start making music and then we just started cranking out music out of the studio at a significant rate, that we could actually start then releasing music every week.
Jeff: Yeah, no. I look forward to the weekly emails and the music that you guys are putting out. How many bands have you guys gotten in to a record there now?
Eddie: I don't even think I could put a number on that. Maybe 200.
Jeff: It's an active studio it sounds. And on that note too, with COVID, tell me what have you been doing? Have you been writing a lot?
Eddie: I mean, we'd really focused on kind of getting the whole releasing process together. And actually we started pressing a lot of vinyl.
Quite a few people said to me, I have X amount set aside for tickets for the year. And I still want music. So I, you know, kind of do you have any vinyl? And so that the whole vinyl thing kind of blew up and we actually [00:07:00] started a vinyl club last summer, summer of 2020. Literally for that reason, because so many people were asking us for vinyl.
So we decided to repress a lot of albums from my scene, from the kind of mid nineties, early two thousands, that have that haven't been available for a long time. The first Mastersounds record and things like that.
Jeff: Yeah. And it is interesting, right? I mean, vinyl has really taken off. What is it about vinyl that you think that it's allure, is it retro?
Eddie: My personal take on it, and it's not really about the sound. It's more about, I mean, it's a tangible thing. It's not like a download or a stream. You're holding the sleeve in your hands, you see the artwork and nice full 12 inch by 12 inch. You got this piece of heavy vinyl that you put on your echo player, but most importantly, you can only fit I think a maximum of 22 minutes a side.
And a lot of records run between more like 15 and [00:08:00] 18 minutes aside. And you think about the attention span of the listener, right? You put the record on, it runs for 18 minutes and then stops and you have to get out of your seat, get up, turn the thing over, and then your attention span starts from the start again.
Jeff: It's like a refresh.
Eddie: Yeah, yeah, exactly. You remember when CDs first came out or they were like a hundred minutes, but you only remembered the first three tracks, and then you'd fall asleep and then there'd be that mystery track at the end, there'd be a bunch of space.
Eddie: Three o'clock in the morning. Suddenly there's this track comes out and you're like "what the hel is going on!".
Jeff: Right, right, right.
There's a lot of nostalgia too, as I kind of think back to the days when there were these crazy things called record stores, right? When you'd walk in and you'd actually browse through.
Eddie: Yeah. My son's 21 and by the time he experienced music, there was already streaming and then to be introduced to records and then go, oh wow. You know, he loves it. He spends [00:09:00] all his spare money on records. He's a big collector, and I think a lot of his generation are turning into that. Kind of like, oh, wow, this is a new way of experiencing music is what they're thinking.
Jeff: Well, so let's talk about the way you and I, and others have listened to music and in the good old days. Right. And I know that you're a huge Grant Green fan, but let's talk about some of your influences as well, when you were a young guitarist?
Eddie: My formative years of music learning and listening was in Wales, and my brother is two years older than me. He had a paper round, so he had cash and he went to the record store every weekend and chose a record and he brought it back and we both listened to it.
And that's pretty much how I heard music for the first time. And we were kind of into a bunch of stuff, but I really liked Black Sabbath, I was kinda on the rock side.
Jeff: What! Really?
Eddie: I love Sabbath. I've been talking with this organ player Chris Bees, we're [00:10:00] going to do Jazz Sabbath.
Jeff: No! That blows my mind. I thought you were kind of a jazz purist than
Eddie: No. I mean, at the same time though, I was listening to that and Hendrix.
Jeff: Of course.
Eddie: So you're reading sleep notes on a Black Sabbath record and it's talking about blues and jazz and you're like, what are these words?
What do they mean? So you start going down the rabbit hole, so jazz. Okay. And I remember my brother literally go into the record store, go into the jazz section. I'm going to try this out, you know, and he saw two names that he'd heard.
Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, he bought two records. They couldn't be poles apart. One was from the late forties, one was from late sixties. And that was our first intro to jazz, I was only about 14 or 15 at that point. Already been playing guitar then for about, well I started at 10 years old. And then I went to music school, which is like a jazz school and also there was this thriving club scene of the kind of acid jazz movement of the time.
I went there in 89, so like beginning [00:11:00] early nineties.
Jeff: So these are the days of like corduroy and brand new heavies?
Eddie: Sort of, but there was like, the clubs we were listening to the original stuff, like Jimmy Smith of Grand Greenland. The DJs started making compilation cassettes for me because they heard me play, I'd remember doing a gig down and they were like, oh, you should check this guy.
You should check this guy out. So they started giving me these compilation tapes.
Jeff: On our side of the pond, we call them mixed tapes. But go ahead.
Eddie: Mix tapes? Yeah. All right.
Jeff: Compulation cassettes. Sorry.
Eddie: Yeah, that's a funny one. So yeah, that kind of really introduced me to the whole groove funk side of jazz, that started writing original music in that vein.
Jeff: Right. And so was Simon kind of the first member of the new Mastersounds that you connected with?
Eddie: We had a band called The Mastersounds and it was me and Simon, two other guys. So I saw this album cover and it said The Mastersounds. And I was like, [00:12:00] I thought that was the name of the record. And years later I found out was the name of the band. And I was like, oh, that's a great name of a band.
Jeff: So became the New Mastersounds!
Eddie: No, no, it became the New Mastersounds because we had a hiatus for a year, and then we got two other guys which was Pete and Bob. And then we call it the New Mastersounds to differentiate between the band that we'd been running for a couple of years before that.
So it wasn't until years later that I found out about the band, The Mastersounds.
Jeff: I can't remember who said this, Eddie, but every project that you are involved with has the word sounds. If it's Eddie Roberts West Coast Sounds, or obviously the New Mastersounds.
Eddie: I think it was you that noticed it and said it. And I said, oh, I've got, someone's paying attention.
Jeff: Yes. Well, but, but you're working on new stuff now, right? You know, obviously the legendary Gray Boy All-Stars. A little birdie has told me that you were [00:13:00] recording at the Hyde Street Studios here in San Francisco with kind of the original members. What's going on there? What are you working on?
And whatever you can share with me.
Eddie: I mean it was just fortuitous really. I got asked to do a private party in San Francisco, and I contacted Robert Walter who's the organ player and FYI, the Gray Boy All-Stars, their first show in the UK was in 95 and my organ trio at the time, The Three Deuces, opened for the Gray Boys back in 95. So I met those guys and then, and it was funny cause they thought they were the only people on the planet play in that kind of funky
Eddie: And then they, and they show up in leads of all places and, and, we're like soundcheck and then they will like, what the hell? Like we thought we were the only ones doing this, you know?
So I met them back then and I didn't actually see them again till funnily enough, the first show the Mastersounds did in America was opening for the Gray [00:14:00] Boy All-Stars at the House of Blues in Chicago in 2004. And I remember walking on stage, and Robert and I think Mike Andrews, turn around and go, oh my God, it's that guy from Leeds?
Yeah. Yeah. I thought it ringed the bell. Like when they told us there was this band from the UK opening for us.
Jeff: Something the sounds, I can't remember.
Eddie: Yeah. I've played a lot with Robert over the years since I've been here. In fact, we actually just released an album in April called WRD, which is Walter Robinson Deitch. It's Rob Walter, myself and Adam Deitch, the drummer of Lettuce. So that just came out. So yeah, I got asked to this private party and I asked Robert, and then we were trying to think who we could get on bass and drums. And he suggested the Gray Boys bass player, then I was like, well, do you think the original drummer would do it?
And he hasn't played in a band for about 15 years now. And I was like, I don't know, ask him let's hit [00:15:00] him up. And he was like, absolutely. I'm in.
The joke was, this is the twenty sixth year anniversary of the band that never was because, you know, way back then we were like, oh, we should play together sometime. And that never did.
So the host of the party in San Francisco caught wind of what the lineup was going to be, and I was trying to keep it from him and I was really excited about it. And then he got wind of it and he's like, wow, this just the first time you guys have ever played together, I was like, yeah.
He said, well, why don't we record it? He's like, would you be into coming in a couple of days early and making an album?
So that's what happened at Hyde Street Studios.
We all arrived at like 2:00 PM on the Wednesday, wrote 10 tracks and then came back Thursday and recorded them all. And then on Friday we played them at the private party.
Jeff: Bananas. We can't wait to hear it. Are you guys going to release it on Color Red or?
Eddie: Yes. Yes. For sure. And in fact, we'll start feeding some singles out and we actually have, so [00:16:00] I kind of realized about a month ago that I wasn't gonna be able to get The Mastersounds into the US because of, I mean there's a ban on most of Europe, but definitely Britain. They can't enter the US and that's been in place since January.
So I realized that I wasn't gonna be able to do this planned tour in October with The Mastersounds. We'd already planned to do this album with the with The Gray Boys.
So I was just like, well, let's see if they want that instead.
Jeff: Yeah, well, we can't wait to hear it. Hopefully things will open up and you'll have a chance to get out and tour.
Eddie: Well, so an interesting thing with Mastersounds, this is kind of brand new hot off the press. So I'm currently involved in building a studio in the north coast of Iceland, of all places.
Eddie: Yeah, state-of-the-art kind of both analog and digital. And the first band that we're going to record there is going to be The Mastersounds in November.
Because Iceland is one of the only places that Brits can go and Americans can go. So it just so happens. But yeah, [00:17:00] it's kind of a big project that I'm involved in and we're going to be doing some exciting records.
Jeff: Is this Color Red Iceland?
Eddie: It's part of the Color Red thing. I think the studio is going to be called Floki Studios, which is literally a piece of land where it is. And it's literally on the north coast of Iceland looking at the Arctic circle.
It's 11 music is going to be kind of that they're the ones building it basically and put it together and going to, and then Color Red will be powering that.
Jeff: Oh, very cool. Very cool. Well, I hope I get the invitation. So,
Jeff: A couple of, sort of fun wrap-up questions. So what was your first album?
Eddie: I don't even know.
Jeff: Oh, you lied.
Eddie: Well, yeah, I actually think it was a Gary Newman record bizarrely, in about 1977. Or, you know, or it might have been this Kaytel compilation of disco.
Jeff: Kaytel. [00:18:00] Oh my gosh. Okay.
Eddie: Okay I'm not sure which one came first. Cause it was literally, I was like six or seven years old and I don't, you know. There was a sports store, like where you went and bought your footballs and your trainers.
I'm just saying, I'm just clarifying that you probably got something different here. I, we were a sport shop. We would call it a sport shop. So, an apparel store or apparel, you say isn't it? Yeah. all say, we're all such a mess. My wife's American and every day there's a different word.
She's like, oh my God, you say it like that. Like, you know, I was like, yeah, well, how do you say it? So that was a sport shop in the local village where I lived, and for some reason, there was a rack of vinyl in there as well. And I remember buying this disco record.
Jeff: Awesome. Awesome. Okay. [00:19:00] Favorite show that you've performed in as a band?
Eddie: I mean, definitely a musical highlight was this band that was called the Foundation of Funk, which was basically Zigaboo Modeliste on drums, George Porter Jr. from the bass player of the Meters, John Madejski from.
Eddie: And myself on guitar, playing Meters tunes. And we did a run of three nights.
That was pretty exciting.
Jeff: Holy smokes. Where was that?
Eddie: It was actually in Colorado.
It was a couple of different venues around Colorado.
Jeff: Amazing. Okay. Star struck moment? I mean any of those guys, right. But, you know, have you truly been a full on fan dork?
Eddie: I have a funny one, which was Ernest Wrangling. Earnest Wrangling is basically, the west Montgomery of Jamaica. He apparently taught Bob Marley to play the guitar, I think he was in the Skattelites. But he was like studio [00:20:00] studio one and he was like the guitar, but he's still alive.
And I actually, do you remember when I moved into the spot in the Tenderloin?
Jeff: I do.
Eddie: I moved in on the Friday. On Saturday night, I got invited to go to the Great American Musical, which was half a block from my house and play with Ernest on his 80th birthday.
Eddie: The backing band was Vinyl. Do you remember the vinyl?
Jeff: Well, of course. Wow.
Eddie: The great thing was, and he's just such a beast of guitar player and he's 80 and he was tearing it up. And I got on stage, and he stage left and the other guitar players stage. Right. And I get on stage and I was like, I didn't get on stage to be the other side of the stage from Ernest.
So kind of like pull the cable and I and walk over to Ernest. All right, man, let's play. And he just burnt me. Just absolutely killed me. And he like, kind of gave me 12 bars to play, and then he cut me off and gave it to the sax player and took it all the way around the band and [00:21:00] then took it like a 10 minute solo, right in my And now give it up for Eddie Robinson. I had to It was perfect.
Jeff: That little golf, golf plan.
Eddie: It was so perfect. But I got to say, I haven't played the same since. I learnt so much standing right next to him and the way how fluid he was and just pure expression of how he was playing. You know, there was no fault process involves, he wasn't thinking about what he was doing and he was just, it was just pouring out of him.
And that was part of the best lesson I've ever had. It was fun getting burned by Ernest Wrangling, but I deserved it.
Jeff: So pre-show, we all get pre-show jitters. Pre-performance jitters. What do you do? How do you calm yourself?
Eddie: I get really tired before playing. You're basically suppressing the adrenaline and it kind of puts you in a bit of a lethargic state, and then the moment you walk on stage, you'll lift the lid and boom, the [00:22:00] adrenaline hits and then you're away.
But I noticed I just get really tired before I'm playing and kind of yawning and the hardest thing is having deep conversation with someone, before. Someone comes into the green room when they start trying to ask you questions and you're just, whoa, I can't deal with that right now.
No, it's fine. It's fine, Jeff. You always bring wine so you can, you can do whatever you want.
Jeff: Well, well, let's talk about that, right. I mean, there's a story of Chick Korea firing a member of his band because he had a beer before the show. Do you have a view on booze or fun substances in advance of our performance?
Eddie: I mean, to be honest, I do play my best if I'm a hundred percent sober, but [00:23:00] sometimes it's fun to have a glass of wine before you play as well. It's just different and certainly getting anebriated is not a good idea. I always just think as long as you're not relying on it, as long as you've not said oh, I have to have a glass of wine before I play, that's a bad move. If it's like, you know, I can have a glass of wine or I can not have a glass of wine. As long as you're not relying on it then I don't think it matters that much.
Jeff: Right. So you don't have to go all Hemingway before.
Jeff: To perform, well unless its chateau neuf de pa. But in any event, Eddie, thank you so much for joining us. It has been as always a pleasure chatting and getting caught up. Thanks so much pal, great seeing you and great chatting.
Thanks for listening to Voices Behind The Music, a Growth Network Podcast production presented by Feed Media Group. We're on a mission to make it easy, fast, and legal for businesses to use music to power the most engaging [00:24:00] customer experiences. Make sure to subscribe to the podcast wherever you get yours and learn more about us at feedmediagroup.com