DONKER: DYING STAR ALBUM and Projects News























Dated: 7/4/2017

-Debut Album "DYING STAR" was release on Bandcamp on June 28th 2017-

So the Album / EP is out there in the world. I consider myself to be a singer-songwriter so the songs are all framed around acoustic guitar and voice with doses of self produced flourishes from ambient sounds, to synths, beats, added guitars and acoustic drums. The blend of sounds touch on art rock, late 70's glam, and indie pop. Chris Magallon of L.A.'s the Pocket Rockets lent his superb drumming to Shadow Box Butterfly and No Matter What Planet and former bandmate Matt Donaldson added guitars to Shadow Box Butterfly, No Matter What Planet, Cigarette (bass only) and Dying Star.

All songs written and penned by myself with the exception of No Matter What Planet which was adapted from the Poem Somewhere To Fall by Kimberly Martin.

The album does represent some brutally personal songs and I hope that people who choose to listen cast their own images on top of the sounds and lyrics and make the songs their own. Someone recently asked me why I wanted to release an album after all these years and my short answer was "It was either release an album or have a mental breakdown." And there you have it. Songwriting for me is a deeply cathartic experience and right now something I need to do. I don't see this changing and I will be putting out material easily for the next decade.

I also truly hope that my present and future songs will make their way onto film projects of any sort. That is another dream I have.
-Robb Donker

DYING STAR ALBUM NOTES:

1. BEFORE : I have been enamored with soundscape recordings for awhile whether it be street sounds or wild life. Living in Georgia it rains a lot. I am a California boy and not used to it so it was only a matter of time before rain ended up in a song.

2. CIGARETTE: Cigarette is directly inspired by Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, one of my favorite movies of all times. The use of the drum machine was purposeful since a drum machine is kind of a replicant for real drums. 

3. ALWAYS IS: Always Is was a late addition to the album because two songs in contention did no finish in time. It is deeply personal and all I can say is that it is about the realization that you are strong enough to deal with the most tragic of things that happen to you and it is also about becoming your real self (again). A basic production, the wash of noisy almost shoe gazey tones was on purpose and made sense. I wanted the song to sound like it was coming out of an old radio from another time and place.  

4. SHADOW BOX BUTTERFLY: SBB almost seemed to write itself. As I plucked the starting verse production the words fell out effortlessly. It was born during a writing improv session. I was doing these regularly at the time to stimulate and stave away any writers block. Each line laid the ground work for the next until a story unfolded. I wanted a decidedly T-Rex-ish vibe. Chris Magallon (drums) from the Pocket Rockets and my old bandmate Matt Donaldson (guitars) both from California contributed greatly to the song that just started out as an acoustic kind of campfire song. I dedicate this song to a young person I know who has transitioned and anyone who is becoming who they want to be in an often cruel world. 

5. DYING STAR: Dying star is laced with a lot of pain and almost feels like a confessional. When I relocated from California to Georgia I had my first ever anxiety attack while in route. I won't say more but the fabric of the song is painful and deep to me. Matt Donaldson contributed such a beautifully moving crescendo and I am forever grateful to him.

6. No Matter What Planet: This D-Tuned kind of Glam rocker has the most overt nod to the late 70's. The song has lush guitar work by Matt Donaldson. Lyrics adapted from the poem "Somewhere to Fall" by Kimberly Martin published on Medium.

7. Askina: Askina is another improv song that had a certain quality I love. I consider myself to be an almost feral guitar player. I make shit up and couldn't tell you what chords I am hitting and that is the case with the second chord on the verse progression. For me it sets the emotional tone of the song.

8. High:  High almost did not make it on this album. I mean thematically it is so heavy and I felt it should reside with another collection of songs. In the end it felt like a departure from the other songs that was needed but because it is so serious I placed it last. It obviously is a "bad" relationship song but more than that it is a pained look at spousal abuse. I dedicate this song to anyone who is being hurt and implore that they get out, just get out. 


 

OFFICIAL VIDEO FOR ALWAYS IS




FUTURE PLANS: 

The official video for the title track Dying Star will be released on July 18th.
Donker is available for interviews- email @americanpancakelive@gmail.com

BIO:


Robb Donker (Curtius) walked away from music at age 24 after performing at the iconic Starwood in Hollywood, California with his band 210 IQ. The club is only a dark memory fallen in the wake of sex, drugs and the Wonderland murders. 210 IQ also played the original Madame Wongs and Gazarri's on the Sunset Strip just to name a few. All gone, the brick and mortar now only stardust. 

When Robb walked away, he really walked away (as a multi-instrumentalist) selling all his guitars, drum kits and recording gear. In 1991 his father passed away and more than 8 more years passed before he wrote an original song inspired by his father's passing called "Catch A Falling Star". 3 years prior he had picked up a beat up acoustic at a garage sale and played on occasion with former band mates as well as his role as a family man with his lovely wife, three wonderful kids, multiple dogs, cats and a rat named "ratty". All his kids shared his love of music and all in some way or another got involved in musical endeavors. 

 In 2009 Robb started the music blog American Pancake covering southern California indie and punk bands. He felt a kinship with the raw nature of the music that paralleled the intensity of the L.A. scene between 1979 and 86. American Pancake focuses on the up and coming bands that the Pitchforks of the world ignore. The blog also posts long form reviews of new bands which is a rarity. As American Robb he is also featured weekly on a London based podcast (Tuckshop Community Radio) eventually starting his own American Pancake Radioshow / Podcast.

 In 2014 Robb with his wife and youngest daughter relocated to Georgia leaving his adult son (in Finance) and daughter (in rock and roll) back at home in California. Missing California and friends and family has resulted in writing as a cathartic exercise. Since an office team building Bucket List exercise in October 2016 Robb set goals to release an album in 2017 all the while posting song ideas on You Tube. Currently enough songs are written to release three albums blending the fringes of indie folk, art rock and glam through an acoustic filter. 

The debut album as Donker was released on Bandcamp on June 28th, 2017. Well into his fifties Robb's (as "Donker") musical rebirth is both exciting and scary for a guy who is content to fall head first in the fray often times without a net.


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                                                                                                          Photos courtesy of C.L. Gregory

DONKER - A Journey In Progress

During a goal setting meeting at my day job back in October 2016 our management team was asked to share some dream / goal / aspiration from our Bucket Lists. I am not one to plan all that much and as I have gotten older I found myself not dreaming of things much either so participating in the exercise was like a slap in the face. It has been a hard couple of years having relocated from my home state of California to Georgia and leaving my two eldest adult children there. I also left my bothers and sisters, friends and my music haunts where I cultivated relationships with local bands and venues so for me the Bucket List question held up a mirror.

The single hardest thing about moving away from family is losing the physical touch with my kids. My youngest did move here and is thriving at school. I am so proud of her and she will obtain her degree in less than a year. I suspect she will move back to California once she graduates. So my Bucket List aspiration was easy. I wanted to put out an album. It would serve as something that would live on after I am no longer around, a part of me to hold onto. So I started posting song ideas on my blog's You Tube channel in October of last year. It would be a way to share ideas with people and with other musicians who I would eventually need to flush out ideas. The styles are all over the place. I haven't really written songs for a decade and a half so I am open to exploring new things.

More than reliving or trying to correct past mistakes, this musical creative journey serves as therapy. My basement where I write is my respite from the stresses of live and the missed hugs and laughter with my two kids in Cali. I will never get those times back. One song I wrote called "Lovebird" has the line "sometimes it hurts to say I love you over the phone" as no technology in the world including Facetime replaces the real thing.





















I just submitted a video to the NPR Tiny Desk Concert which I am proud of. Not so much proud of the song or performance but the fact that I merely entered the fray. My next goal is a scary one. I will do an open mic at Eddie's Attic in Decateur. I haven't performed in front of any audience in over 30 years. I just felt a stomach ache tinge after writing that. And, of course, the goal is to put out an EP or full length album up on Bandcamp before Christmas.

Thanks to all of you (you know who you are) who have offered encouragement. I love you all for doing so.
-
Robb Donker

Upcoming EP's

Sins At The Lovebird Hotel
Track List:
1) Sins
2) High
3) Hotel
4) The Cut
5) Lovebird

Shame
Track List:
1) Cigarette
2) Hatchet Baby
3) Dead Mouse
4) Shame
5) It's Just A Life

GREEN JACKET LIVE PERFORMANCES were born out of songs that were recorded for the 2017 NPR TINY DESK CONCERT Contest. Eventually the submission was narrowed down to Hotel.




NPR TINY DESK CONCERT SUBMISSION- "HOTEL"






SONG IDEA VIDEOS - I go through writing and improv sessions at least 3 a week in order to flush out ideas. Some of these ideas end up here.




 From the Journey Files:





It is interesting how an intimate object can change you, change you in a deep creative way. As someone who has written about indie music for the last seven years and recently decided to dip my toe (x that) dive head first into the singer songwriter persona after having left that way of being an entire life time ago I can attest, no, confess to the power of such an object. For me it is a vintage Sears Roebuck green sports coat.

Several weeks ago I was looking for some sort of funky jacket that I could throw on for a submission video I was shooting for the NPR Tiny Desk Concert Contest. It was not a hard look, a dedicated search. I was not going to drive to a dozen thrift shops, just one. It was all or nothing for that day. My wife and I visited a local Goodwill in my area and after quickly navigating through the mostly horrible selection of suits and jackets I felt this one. It felt formidable and while it is some sort of poly blend it feels strong and resilient. It feels like you could pull someone up from a cliff or lower them down from a second story window if your house is on fire.

As I held it up with a Spock like raised eyebrow it definitely looked old but sharp and, quite frankly, too small for me. I put it on anyway and while I had to suck it in a bit to button it closed it felt good. Like a second skin really and I have to lose weight anyway. The 3/4 shiny lining looked kitschy but interesting and it was “The Classic Condition” and if there is one thing I am in constant need of it is some class. When on, the shoulders kind of stand out military straight and the gold medal buttons may look corny now but in some other world or time they probably provided someone with that extra bling they needed even before that word was in fashion. In some real way this green jacket was speaking to me and at $5.96 it was a steal.

The NPR contest stated that all performers must do so behind a desk. So I fashioned a fold out table like one in my basement and threw some vintage things on it. A vintage Corona typewriter, a 1950's Astatic harp microphone and a funky Halloween piece with clackity teeth rounded out my motif. Other nice features are always there like the iconic black and white framed photo of a sleeveless John Lennon taken by Bob Gruen (circa 1974).






























All that window dressing was fine but it was the green jacket hanging on my wooden chair that clearly made the most difference in my ability to perform. When I slipped it on, pulling and tugging at it to conform to my body it felt like a hug of confidence. I jaunted upstairs, out the front door and pulled some flowers with purple hues from my wife’s hanging planter. Sock hat on my head and one glove to cover a band aid on my left had and I was ready. Not only did the vintage green jacket make me feel like a performer it also beautifully matched my old 72 Jumbo Guild guitar. They seemed destined to perform together.

Over the next several weeks I dawned that jacket again and again for a series of videos to choose from for the contest and now it has become the thing I have to put on to perform. It is like my cape. Like David Dunn in Unbreakable reaching for his green security pancho that is like a shroud and cape that old, old jacket for brief moments in time make me feel unbreakable too. Then I look at the video performance and thing I suck but for those few minutes that damn jacket works magic on me. I eventually Googled this coat and while I could not find it exactly my research has made me believe that it was made in the 60’s so it is a survivor. That much is true.

My rebirth as a writer of songs will involve doing some live performances in front of actual people and I cannot fathom doing so without this magical jacket. I know this is the absolutely corniest thing to say or write but I like to think this jacket found me. This notion appeals to my Disney like sense that there are magical moments from time to time and besides it is an Irish green just like Tinkerbell’s outfit.

















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