Cavetown serves up Bittersweet Daze at The Salt Shed
Sun. July 23, 2023 by Jerry Nunn
I have always been connected to lemons because of my Lemon Boy album.
It’s about to get really sweet and a little sour at The Salt Shed this summer thanks to Cavetown and Bittersweet Basil. Known professionally as Cavetown, Robin Skinner is an English singer specializing in bedroom pop.
At age 24, he/they has racked up more than one billion streams and cultivated a loyal fanbase thanks to a rigorous touring schedule.
His Bittersweet Daze endeavor has many of their friends such as mxmtoon, Ricky Montgomery and grentperez joining him in Chicago at The Salt Shed. With this much LGBTQ+ representation on the bill, July 29 promises to be a night to remember. The festivities also benefit a good cause as one dollar from each ticket sold goes to Cavetown’s This Is Home Project providing funding for LGBTQ+ youth in need.
Skinner talked about projects such as this and the upcoming concert experience before hitting the road in July.
JN: (Jerry Nunn) Start off by talking about your background.
RS: (Robin Skinner) I was born in Oxford and lived there until eight years old. I moved to Cambridge and spent more of my life there after that. My dad is from California so I am there often as well.
Both of my parents are musicians, so I have been around music. They have always been supportive and encouraged me to pursue music.
JN: It seems like you are on tour all the time. Do you like traveling?
RS: I do. I have met some of my best friends ever on tour. My whole crew is lovely and I like spending time with them. Since I am on the road so much it feels like a road trip with my friends. When it gets hard or exhausting I still love being around everyone and traveling.
I have a lot of support when I am on tour.
JN: I interviewed Addison Grace backstage at your tour stop in Chicago at the Riviera Theater in April of 2023. How was that experience?
RS: I love Addison and I am so glad that we have worked on projects together. We have the same manager so that is my inside scoop on his music. He’s a sweetheart, easy to tour with and good at hyping up a crowd onstage.
JN: How do you find the artists for your tours? Are you paired with them by your label or do you seek them out?
RS: Usually they are part of my world. Sometimes we will become friends on social media or my management will link me up with them, but the friendship organically grows on its own.
Addison, Ricky Montgomery, mxmtoon and Chloe Moriondo are all part of the bedroom pop music world and very nice people.
JN: I have seen a wide range of fans camping outside to see your concerts. Do you think by working with so many LGBTQ+ openers at your shows that this has added to creating a wonderful and accepting environment?
RS: Yes, as soon as we drive up we can tell who is here for a Cavetown show. There are so many rainbow flags. Even in public, I can tell by how someone looks that they listen to my music. Right after they will recognize me and yell my name.
Bedroom pop music usually gathers a diverse and accepting community around it. That makes me feel great and that I am doing something right. I don’t have control over who listens to my music, but any fan of an artist is a reflection of what they put out musically.
For me, it is hard to view myself from an outside perspective, but then I see an audience around me that is caring, sweet and loving. I must be doing something right when these people gravitate toward me.
JN: Is sharing personal stories a challenge in these concert venues?
RS: Yes. I used to talk more onstage between songs and it ended up being quite stressful for me. I felt I had shared enough with the song and didn’t want to overshare. I would come off the stage and think I had shared too much about myself.
I now reserve some of my energy for myself and the songs themselves. For the people that are in the front row, I feel they get it and I don’t have to explain what the song is about.
I sing about a connected experience that we all have. It is cool to see it affect people in person and it reminds me that I am not alone in those experiences. There is a nice give-and-take with the audience at my shows. We support each other and it is really nice.
JN: Talk about the song “Nobody Loves Me” you released a few days ago with some of the other artists on your tour, mxmtoon and Ricky Montgomery.
RS: Me and Ricky started that song about two years ago. I was in LA for a bit and we started a writing session together. We forgot about the song, but then we started organizing Bittersweet Daze. We wanted a song we could sing together on and we got Maia [mxmtoon] on it. Ricky and Maia have the same management so it made sense. We finished the song in New York this year.
I love it! Ricky wrote the melody and is so good at catchy hooks like that. We played it together yesterday for the first time in rehearsals. There is still some fine tuning to be done with track levels but it is sounding really good. I love the way all of our voices sit together and I look forward to playing off their energy in concert. They are both so good at interacting with the crowd. I take inspiration from each of them in the way I carry myself onstage.
JN: What visuals do you have planned for this tour?
RS: We have a similar stage setup as before but with stalagmites coming up from the floor at the back of the stage. The stalagmites are white so the crew illuminates them with changing colors. We have my favorite lighting designer on the planet working with me on this tour.
We don’t use a backing track on this tour so he is doing it all manually. He plays along with us basically.
We have a new drum head with Basil on it, which is really cute. Basil is the mascot we have made for Bittersweet Daze.
JN: What is his story?
RS: He’s just a nice, friendly guy. I am still building his lore in my head. I have always been connected to lemons because of my Lemon Boy album. I hope people will become friends with him!
JN: I saw his contact information on the website.
RS: Yes, people can text him and talk to him. He’s always on his phone, that guy…
JN: I am sure. That is how lemons are. There will be a little sour something at The Salt Shed coming up. It was a Morton Salt building that was transformed into a concert venue. Your show is already running low on tickets so that is good.
RS: These are some of the biggest venues I have ever played before on the tour. This one has an outdoor space so it will be nice to have fresh air. I would love a sunset to work with.
JN: I saw that one dollar from each ticket goes to the This Is Home Project.
RS: It is so easy to do by taking a dollar from each ticket or taking a percentage of my merch sales. That has grown with me as the venues have gotten bigger and I am going to keep doing that.
JN: Speaking of merchandise, do you have a favorite new item?
RS: I like the parody items we have. We are using Basil as the mascot for many things. We received water bottles the other day when we were rehearsing where Basil was in a car with luggage driving along.
JN: I liked the crocheted daisy crowns.
RS: Those are handmade by my friend Austin and worked on them for many months.
JN: You release music on Bandcamp as brother. How do you decide which music goes under what moniker?
RS: I haven’t put out anything as brother in a while. I use brother as a low-profile place to release music. It won’t be an official Cavetown track and some of the songs were recorded on my voice memos. My demos and rough, messy tracks go under brother. Sometimes I will come back to the track and release it as a full song after I use higher production.
JN: Is there a worm food track that you look forward to playing live?
RS: I will be playing “better” and “juno” for the first time live from worm food. They are softer songs, which can be my favorites. I like letting different sounds shine through.
We haven’t played “wasabi” in a while and that is another soft one. Those are all on the set list that I am excited to play in concert.
JN: what are your plans for the rest of the year?
RS: I am off for most of August. I will probably spend time at home and it will be my girlfriend’s birthday so we can celebrate together. Maybe I can take a quick vacation before I start touring again.
JN: Do you have time to work on your clothing line?
RS: I want to start more drawings for the merchandise in general. I haven’t personally designed things in a little while. I love all the graphic designers that we have worked with, but I would like to have my own art also featured. I have begun work on some posters and will continue when I have some free time.
JN: Well, your creativity seems to be limitless. I look forward to seeing you at the Chicago show soon.
RS: See you there!
Cavetown seasons up The Salt Shed, 1357 North Elston Avenue, Saturday, July 29, 2023, starting at 5 p.m. Visit saltshedchicago.com and cave.town for more information on the Bittersweet Daze Tour today.