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John Robie


Urban spaceman Afrika Bambaataa and producer Arthur Baker, plus musician John Robie, were the trio behind a musical revolution called "Planet Rock", Bambaataa's 1982 single with Soul Sonic Force. Following the impact of "Planet Rock", UK groups made Electro-boogie pilgrimages to Baker's studio in Manhattan: Freeze's "IOU" rocketed jazz funk into the infosphere but more significantly, New Order's "Blue Monday" launched indie dancing and sold massively on 12". Also breaking and robot dancing, the acrobatic and simulated machine dances that drew many adolescents into the alien zone of black science fiction. Bleep music was one consequence of this. Hardly adequate to describe and encompass the protozoic chaos of New York Nu Groove, Detroit Techno, Chicago House, electro. Next came techno. -- David Toop for Wire magazine

Keyboard programmer

  • John Robie was a keyboard programmer who often worked with Arthur Baker According to Rhino's Electric Funk sleenotes Robie started his career at D.I.S.C.O.N.E.T., remixing pop hits for the dancefloor

    Hip Hop Be Bop

    Man Parrish Hip Hop Be Bop on Importe/12 records was cowritten by John Robie

    One More Shot

    One More Shot by C-bank on Next Plateau was a Robie Production


    The new Emulator -- the first digital sampling keyboard. When sounds were programmed into it, the Emulator could "play" breaking glass or vocal fragments from other records, or it could make countermelodies out of just about any sound "tuned" as a musical note. Its first use in a dance record was a subtle one: in Cuba Gooding's revival of his former group The Main Ingredient's "Happiness Is Just Around The Bend" coproducer John Robie created a background chorus out of one syllable, "bop," sung into the Emulator and played back as a chord. Slaghuis took a kitchen-sink, found-music approach and, playing off the song's tightness, he set up a killer dynamic between chaos and popcraft.

    Miami Bass [...]

    Though the New York area provided founding moments in electro's growth, the influence of music emerging from Boston, Miami and LA during the same period is of considerable importance. When Boston-based recording engineer Arthur Baker teamed with New Yorker John Robie, the pair helped produce two stone-cold electro-funk classics, Planet Patrol's heart-stopping "Play At Your Own Risk" (Tommy Boy, 1984), "Space Is The Place" by the Jonzun Crew (Tommy Boy, 1984), and a spate of Smurf and PacMan sampled records. You can hear echoes of Freestyle's "Don't Stop The Rock" (Pandisc, 1985) in virtually every electro revival record out there. This pre-bass music Miami track from 1985 was released at a time when vocoder vocals and fat 808 beats were in vogue, and its thunderous bass pulses have cropped up in numerous places recently,including RAC's Tangents EP (Warp, 1994). Another formative and influential Miami bass track is the spooky "Give The DJ A Break" by Dynamix II (Sun City, 1987), an eight-minute plunge into oceans of sensation.

    Trevor Jackson

    Excited by Double D & Steinski's collage records, Martin Rushent's extended pop mixes, the electro of John Robie and Arthur Baker, Razor sharp Latin Rascals edits, Marley Marl productions on the Pop Art label and the maniac bonus beats that came with every New York 12 inch single during the early 1980's, Trevor Jackson started making his own mix tapes, using the pause button on his cassette machine.

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