Rockin’ and California Rollin’ with Robert Schwartzman!
Posted On 26 Sep 2014
Tag: All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Blood Orange, Carmine Coppola, Christopher Coppola, Coconut Records, Dev Hynes, Double Capricorn, Emma Roberts, Eugene Lang College, Francis Ford Coppola, Geffen Records, Gia Coppola, Interscope Records, It's You, Italia Coppola, Jack Kilmer, Jack Schwartzman, James Franco, Jason Schwartzman, John Schwartzman, Johnny Ramone, Lick the Star, Nat Wolff, Nicolas Cage, Palo Alto, Palo Alto Soundtrack, Phantom Planet, Robert Coppola Schwartzman, Robert Schwartzman, Roman Coppola, Rooney, Sofia Coppola, Talia Shire, The California Roll Tour, The O.C., The Princess Diaries, The Strokes, The Virgin Suicides, Tibetan Healing Fund, We're A Happy Family, Weezer, Windward School
Robert Schwartzman is a singer/songwriter/producer best known as the lead singer/songwriter of the Los Angeles alternative pop band Rooney. He has written multiple top charting radio hits in the US and internationally and has been a global touring act since 2002.
Robert Coppola Schwartzman is also an actor. You might have heard of his lil’ family dynasty… The Coppolas. Robert has also acted in the short black-and-white film Lick the Star and the cult classic, feature film, The Virgin Suicides, both directed and co-written by his cousin Sofia Coppola, as well as The Princess Diaries.
Most recently, Robert created the soundtrack for cousin, Gia Coppola’s break-through feature film Palo Alto, written by and starring James Franco and Emma Roberts.
Schwartzman was born in Los Angeles, California, the son of actress Talia Shire (Rocky, The GodFather) and the late producer Jack Schwartzman. Many other members of Schwartzman’s family are involved in film: he is the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, cousin of Nicolas Cage, Sofia Coppola, Roman Coppola and Christopher Coppola and his niece, Gia Coppola. His brother is Jason Schwartzman, lead singer of the band Coconut Records (also an actor in: Darjeeling Limited, Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom) and former drummer of the band Phantom Planet.
He has co-written and collaborated with artists such as The Jonas Brothers, James Blunt, Coconut Records, Demi Lovato, Ben Lee, Jeff Barry, Kate Pierson, Alexz Johnson, Joe Jonas, Chester French, Ocean Grove, We The Kings, Miles Fisher, and Castledoor.
In his own right, Robert has launched an indie label in 2009 called California Dreamin’ Records and has released music by artists Miles Fisher, Lots of Love, JR., Undercover, SoloBob, Rooney, and his current solo album Double Capricorn. The album is a not-for-profit release, with all profits being donated to the Tibetan Healing Fund, a charity that provides healthcare and education to women and children in rural areas in Tibet.
Robert was kind enough to take some time out with All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa as he prepares for his California Roll Tour to answer a few questions.
Hi Robert! So where does this interview find you? What’s on the agenda today besides this interview?
Hey there…I’m in NYC at the moment. Exploring more of the east coast…love being out here. The agenda is filled with organizing my upcoming tour, The California Roll Tour.
So first things first, the soundtrack to the acclaimed indie movie, Palo Alto (featuring Emma Roberts and James Franco) was just released. The film was directed by your cousin, Gia Coppola and features an instrumental score and other songs by you including your single, “It’s You.” What is your approach to songwriting for an album or EP versus a soundtrack? Did you enjoy the process? I love movies/films and find scores very moving. A great score has the same affect a great song has on me. Have you seen the film Spartacus starring Kirk Douglas? That score is so emotional…such a beautiful blend of music and storytelling.
Was there a particular theme or mood you wanted to capture with your debut album, Double Capricorn? How is it different from your previous work with Rooney?
Not specifically or consciously. I just start making music, recording music, and let things take shape. I eventually take a step back and try to make sense of everything I’ve recorded. I’m working on a new album now and focusing the music to one specific sound. I want it to feel like an album, songs that fit together well and flow.
I understand that all profits from the sale of Double Capricorn will be donated to the Tibetan Healing Fund. Why is that particular fund important to you?
A very good friend of mine started a charity in Tibet that provides healthcare to people that don’t have access to hospitals. I was moved by his work and wanted to bring awareness to the cause. It’s hard to sell music today, but it’s more about the value of bringing awareness and how that can help a small non-profit organization. It really does start with one person. So much good can come from one person who is motivated, so if my album release inspired one person to look into The Tibetan Healing Fund, then it was a successful campaign.
You are from quite a ridiculously talented family. Did you always know you wanted to work in both film and music? Did you ever want to veer off the family path and do something else or was it just organic for you to work in similar industries?
I grew up around the “industry” so it’s no surprise why I’ve chosen a life in entertainment. I feel lucky to have had access to film sets, recording studios, instruments, and to be from a city where one can be discovered. It’s not something I take for granted. People think about my family in terms of its accomplishments in film and music. It’s a story to grab on to and puts things in context. My Father’s brother, Uncle Leonard, was a very talented doctor. I love spending time with him, asking questions about his life, learning from him. I really love medicine and have always taken an interest in it. So much to absorb, new discoveries and treatments, and lives being saved. You never know, there’s always time for medical school!
If you had the opportunity to work with any band/artist from the past, present or future, who would it be and why? If you could spend the day with them, where would you go…and what would you do?
I’d like to collaborate with Todd Rundgren. He’s a musical beast, dominates as a writer/producer/singer/musician. The all-in-one artists inspire me and push me to learn and step up my game all around. If I spent the day with Todd (this sounds like a dating show question) I’d start with getting some shave ice, walking along the beach, talking about music, and then head into the studio for a little jam session.
I’m really excited for your upcoming, “The California Roll Tour.” You are doing something totally unique with this tour playing an intimate show in a party bus! That sounds like an “Almost Famous” moment come to life! Can you tell our readers more about it and what it’s going to entail?
I’m glad you like the tour concept! I’ve been wanting to tour like this for a while and thought I should just go for it. So, I’m gonna be touring around the US and performing an acoustic show inside my tour bus.
Let me explain…Everyone who buys a ticket will get an email with where to meet the bus. We then roll up and pick everyone up. We then cruise around town and I perform a live show inside the bus. Sometimes we’ll be parked in town and sometimes we’ll be rolling around.
It’s an intimate show, with good conversation and I’m playing songs that people pre-request. I’m also gonna be having a listening session for my new album on the bus. I’ve toured in venues a lot over the years so I wanted to bring a new live show experience to everyone. Tickets are only available in advance at Robertschwartzman.com/live-shows/
What was the first song you fell in love with growing up and why?
There are a bunch, but I can say right away that I listened to Thriller a lot. I think my older brothers had the cassette and I stole it. I mean, it’s obvious why I was listening to Thriller, cause it’s a ridiculously awesome album!
Who are some of the new artists who inspire you? Who is in your current playlist? My new album doesn’t reflect this, but I’ve been listening to a lot of late 80’s/early 90’s RnB, soul, and new jack swing. Smooth jams and slick production. It’s just impressive musicianship and dense arrangements. Seems like a lost skill. But, I also discovered a song that pretty much puts a smile on my face every time I hear the chorus, and that song is “Movin’ On” by George Duke. You’ll see what I mean…
What’s on tap next for you? What are you most looking forward to this year?
I’m focused on getting this tour going, getting people hip to the concept, and planning everything. I also just released my film score album for Palo Alto, so I’m spreading the word about that. I’ve been running my own release campaigns so I stay closely involved in every aspect of the release. I’m putting the finishing touches on my new album, so I’ll announce more info about that when we’re ready. And there’s some other new projects in the works that I’m exciting to tell everyone about…in time. I’m looking forward to getting new music out and into peoples phones, and to make The California Roll Tour a great experience. More to come, so keep in touch! Be sure to sign up for my mailing list on my website for constant updates!