Griffin Robillard always loved music, but when he arrived at Boston College, he had different career goals on his mind.
“I thought I wanted to be a doctor,” said the one-time Biology major. “I don’t really remember why. I’m sure I had noble views of it, but I just wasn’t very good at science. I was quite good when I was younger, but when I got to college, people were just on a different level with that sort of thing. I couldn’t keep up.”
Eventually, Robillard’s artistic side took over and he switched majors to English. Soon, he transferred the lessons learned in the academic world to the music he once again turned to. And earlier today, the Minneapolis native released his first full-length album, Cracks in the Ceiling.
“It’s a bit of a relief, really,” he said of finally having his music out to the masses. “I recorded it about a year ago, so it’s been up and down since then, but I’m just relieved to have it out in the world again. I’m ready for people to hear it if they choose to listen to it.”
They should. Sporting a voice and songwriting chops way more mature for a young man of 22, Robillard gets personal on his debut collection of songs, but as he explains, it’s not something that he treats as an albatross to carry around with him as he prepares to tour behind the record.
“For me, the songs are characters in themselves,” he said. “They have a part of me in all of them, for sure, but I get to sympathize with the songs and act the best I can, but I don’t have to feel them in the sense that they’re being relived. I think some people beg to differ, but you have to reinterpret them constantly and they’re always going to be changing. If the song’s painful, I don’t look at it as reliving it. It’s just addressing it. It’s a reminder.”
Those lessons were learned not just as part of the growing up process, but as someone who has studied those who came before him in literature and in music. In fact, he got an up close and personal view to several artists thanks to his work writing for the BC Heights paper while in school.
“I really enjoyed it because it allowed me to get outside of myself,” he said. “Sometimes reviewers can be really preoccupied with what the artist’s intention is when they don’t know and will never know. I don’t even think the artist knows six months after. But in terms of reviewing something, I just had a lot of fun breaking boundaries with myself and also trying to analyze art more — not scientifically, but there are reasons we like things and there’s a big palette of tastebuds and you can kind of pinpoint why you like something. I had quite a lot of fun doing that on the side. I’m not sure if it changes the writing at all, but it certainly changes how I listen to art, maybe, for better or worse.”
Yet beginning today, Robillard will see how the other half lives when he becomes the recipient of reviews regarding his own music. Is that a scary proposition?
“It’s less intimidating,” he laughs. “It’s some guy or woman with a pen. You can’t control that and I’m sure if I got a negative review, I would be briefly unhappy, but there’s absolutely nothing I can do about it. I’m too busy now to worry about it.”
And busy is a good thing for a college graduate in this day and age. Robillard isn’t settling into a cubicle, though. It’s off to the road to play some music.
“I’m bringing a lot of books on tour,” he said. “I’m not jaded enough to complain about anything, so I’m welcoming it. It’s really easy to be negative, and I’m especially prone to be very negative, but it’s a constant reminder that you could be somewhere else doing something else you don’t want to do. It’s not always going to be great, but I’m ready to see what I can do when my time’s not being taken up, when I have the illusion of control.”
Griffin Robillard plays Pianos in NYC on Sunday, September 17. For tickets click here
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