Random Robbery
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Random Robbery

Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
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After a highly successful music festival last September, it‘s easy to see that the second annual Rockanagan will deliver the goods again this year.
Promoter and founder Ryan Abougoush says, “Things are shaping up smashingly.
“Everything is starting from a good spot because of the success we had last year – our first festival ever. And things are only going to get better; we‘ve got music coming from every which way.”
Indeed, 2008‘s version of Rockanagan, the Okanagan‘s largest indie music festival, isn‘t so much about exclusively Okanagan bands rocking out. This year, it is about bringing some of the best independent rock to the Valley, to complement the talent that‘s already here.
Abougoush is quick to point out that his festival hasn‘t gotten too big for it‘s britches and hasn‘t forgotten the homegrown talent.
“There will always be a strong contingency of Okanagan-based bands at Rockanagan,” he says.
“Bands like Whisky Dick and Gorgeous Priceless really rocked the house last year, and it‘s a privilege to have them back. There were so many other great acts, like singer/songwriter Kim McMechan, the bands Lefty and Inkblot . . . the list goes on and on.
“But what we really wanted to do this year was to kick it up a notch and not deny the audiences awesome music just because those bands don‘t live in the Valley. We want everyone to have a really wicked time.”
One of the out-of-town bands scheduled to play this year, is Toronto‘s Random Robbery, a four-piece rock ensemble comprised of Rob Laidlaw (bass, vocals), Darren D-Boy Smith (drums, vocals), Agah Bahari (lead guitar) and fronted by industry-pro Barbi ‘B-Girl‘ Baumann, whose credentials include working with Everett Ravestein, producer/engineer for Chantal Kreviazuk and the Barenaked Ladies.
Baumann is positively stoked to play the festival.
“I haven‘t played anywhere out there, so I‘m really looking forward to it,” she says.
“This festival is going to mark the beginning of many things for us: the beginning of touring, meeting new people, our new CD release, and a slight vacation . . . and maybe even a little wine drinking. . . .”
Robbery recently signed off on their first full-length recording.
“Our first single, 5:09, was released Aug. 18, so it will be going to air some point after that,” Baumann says. “We just secured a promoter/publicist and tracker, who sent it to all the major radio stations across Canada.”
The single is very representative of the punchy, classic-but-modern rock sound of the band, reminiscent of Pink, Evanescence, or a female-fronted Three Days Grace: showcasing thick power chords, catchy guitar riffs, rich percussion and Baumann‘s vibrant vocals blending with distinctive pop music ear candy.
The slick sounds of the new CD, entitled Fame Fortune, was produced by veteran New York City executive producer John Duffy and engineered by Murray Daigle (Cauterize, Wide Mouth Mason).
Baumann credits incredible timing with getting Duffy involved in the project.
“I was in New York looking for a producer for my dance music a couple of years ago, and met John in a restaurant. It was a total fluke. Sometimes you meet people and they are just so cool and you have an instant connection with them.
“I didn‘t know that John was involved in the music industry, and suddenly he asked me, ‘If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?‘ I said, ‘Finish my record.‘ He said, ‘Oh really. . . .‘ and asked me for my demo tape and contact information before leaving the restaurant. He listened to my dance stuff, and called me back 15 minutes later and said he‘d back me. John‘s incredible contacts in the States have made such a difference for us down there. We‘re so much further ahead with his involvement.”
With a degree from a jazz college in Alberta, Baumann has spent years performing ‘behind the scenes‘ as a back-up singer for many multi-platinum artists such as Alannah Myles, Mike Reno from Loverboy, Jimmy Jamieson of Survivor, and members of Platinum Blonde.
“Rob and I played a good six years backing for bigger artists, plus a regular gig four nights a week at a club downtown Toronto called Montana. We were the backing band for all of this ‘80s stuff. . . . It lasted two years; we made good money and played with great people.”
Baumann is happy with the gradual steps she has made with her career in music, allowing her maturity to develop alongside her songwriting and music-making skills. But she also says she won‘t miss being someone‘s back-up singer, either.
“Transitioning from back-up to front woman, it‘s the best thing that could have ever happened,” she says.
“You spend so much time making other people sound good. It‘s a completely different feeling doing your own stuff: it‘s so much better, you love every minute of it. It‘s been so great, I can‘t even find words for it.”
Baumann and her band discovered Rockanagan on Sonicbids.
“I‘ve actually booked a few things through Sonicbids. It‘s such a great vehicle for getting your stuff to people. We‘ve entered a lot of songwriting contests through it: they are all in various stages of decision-making,” says Baumann.
When asked what Rockanagan fans can expect from the show, she can barely contain her answer.
“The energy is probably more than most people will expect. I‘m such a great fan of the guys in my own band. Darren is probably only drummer I know that doesn‘t disappear behind the drums: so huge, so much energy, and so much fun. Rob is so fun and light and happy. We just got a new guitarist from Iran named Agah Bahari coming with us. He‘s a great player and an instrumentalist, and just released his own instrumental album a couple of weeks ago. Random Robbery is fun energetic music, with a little bit of an edge to it.”
Baumann believes that her key to success is recognizing the importance of working hard in music with others and the benefits to be had from helping them with their own creative visions.
“Search for things to become involved with. When you find something like Rockanagan, I can tell that it has the makings of a huge festival. Be a part of it its beginnings and stick with it. That alone is priceless.” - Event Magazine


That was a great set at The Reverb for the Indie Week finals. Supercharged riff-driven rock led by a diva Barbi, a magnetic, flowing onstage presence, to compliment high-energy, edge, and excellent melodies. This is balls-out music, a bit of sass, attitude, and showmanship. Keep to your musical vision.
- Eye Weekly


Discography

Discography: Debut CD
Random Robbery

Tracks
5:09
Bleed
Carry On
Hollywood Ending
Fame Fortune
Get it On
Alive
Real You
Super Hero
Wild Horse
Back Down

Photos

Bio

The close musical and personal empathy of this dynamic duo has been established over five years of working together. Initially, Rob recruited Barbi to be the singer in the house band he put together for one of Toronto ’s leading nightclubs. They performed there three nights a week for 18 months, and the project was so successful that such legendary rock singers as Loverboy’s Mike Reno were invited to perform for them. Reno , in fact, became a good friend, and he co-wrote two songs, “Superhero” and “Triumph,” appearing on the album.
 
According to Rob, “that gig gave the two of us a great foundation, showing that we could work together and that we enjoyed each others creative intelligence. Finally, Barbi came to me and said ‘let’s write a record.’ We started from the ground up, came up with nearly 60 songs, then whittled them down and started recording.”

After that.... 18 months of recording at Toronto studio MDS, and the duo’s perfectionist approach paid off. Laidlaw co-produced with Murray Daigle (Sum 41) and contributed guitars, bass, keyboards, programming and backing vocals, Baumann played piano and sang all lead vocals, and former Harem Scarem member Darren Smith contributed drums and backing vocals.
 
Songs from Random Robbery have already received recognition in some highly prestigious international songwriting competitions. The stirring and passionate “Carry On” won the 16th annual Billboard World Songwriting Award as Rock Song of the Year and “ 5:09 ” received an honorary mention from the Great American Songwriting contest, while the Toronto Magazine awards nominated “Bleed” in the Best Rock Song category.
 
These tunes are all ready for rock radio prime time, while a new club mix of the sexy funk-rock tune “Get It On” by Grammy Award-winning producer/engineer Marc Urselli is poised to scorch the dance floor. Describing the multi-dimensional sound of Random Robbery is not easy, but reference points vocally would include the likes of Pink and Kelly Clarkson at their most rockin’, while the high-energy and hard-edged music has something of a Velvet Revolver vibe.
 
Lyrically, these songs dig deep, with the pair drawing heavily upon personal experiences and tragedies. “I’d say 99 per cent of the tunes are based on s*** we’ve gone through in the last few years,” says Laidlaw. “’Wild Horse’ was written after Barbi’s tragic loss of her mom, while ‘5.09’ [and lines like ‘I got my pimped out party posse and we lost track of time’] came directly from a great night out we had in Manhattan.”
 
Over the course of an illustrious career, Laidlaw has worked extensively with such top Canadian female singer/songwriters as Alannah Myles, Alanis Morissette, Lee Aaron and Blaise Pascal (songs they wrote together earned a 2002 Juno nomination - confirm?
He has no hesitation about ranking Baumann high in that company, naming her as “one of the best female singers I’ve worked with, and there’s been a lot of them. Not only is she an incredible singer, but she’s the coolest chick. That’s important, believe me,”
 
It is testimony to the strength of their songs and their combined instrumental and vocal prowess that Random Robbery have been able to deliver knock-out live performance as a duo. That was dramatically demonstrated earlier this year when they were invited to appear at a Florida hard rock festival headlined by Mudvayne. When their drummer dropped out at the last minute, Rob and Barbi rolled the dice, courageously (or potentially foolishly) deciding to appear as a duo, in front of 10,000 decibel-loving music fans.
 
Laidlaw picks up the story, explaining that “we met up with the promoter the night before, and he goes ‘I can’t wait to hear the band!’” “It worked out great though,” says Baumann. “We were the one unique band surrounded by all these super heavy groups! We’re a group that thrives in times of adversity.”
 
RR now perform both as a duo and as a band. The production on Random Robbery is polished and sophisticated, but the well-crafted nature of its songs means they can be stripped down and performed acoustically. When a full band appearance is called for, Laidlaw’s connections ensure the highest calibre of sidemen, including drummer Randy Cooke (Kelly Clarkson) and guitarist Mike K (Natasha Beddingfield).
 
Armed with this killer album, Random Robbery are now poised to plunder. Stay tuned!