Robbie Slade Talks Fire, Trees, Beats, And The New “Humans” Album

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by Grady Mitchell | Robbie Slade is one-half of Vancouver electronic duo Humans, alongside beat maker and Montreal transplant Peter Ricq. “Pete’s prolific,” says Robbie. “He cranks out beats like crazy.” Robbie takes those beats and adds melodies and vocals, and together they achieve their booming, turbulently danceable signature sound.

Robbie honed his musical talents in a somewhat literal trial by fire. He was a feller fighting forest fires in northern BC, moving into areas to cut down dead trees so his crew could work safely. Alone all day in a smouldering forest, he wrote songs in his head as he cut. He held the melodies in his mind until he could write them down, sometimes days later.

Pete’s always been an electronic musician, but Robbie’s early interests were in folk and reggae. You can hear the influence of those genres on the throaty rasp of his voice, especially on tracks like De Ciel, from the band’s second album, 2012’s Traps. Robbie points out, though, that the lines between genres grow blurrier every day. “If you’re going to stop at folk, you probably don’t like music that much, because I’m pretty sure James Blake could get ya.”

Since Traps came out in 2012 they’ve collected more new gear and finished recording a new, as-of-yet untitled album. Will it be dancy? “Moreso than ever,” Robbie assures. Unfortunately, it won’t be out until February. Until then, you can hear more Humans at their site, or you can catch them on August 16th at the Two Acre Shaker in Pemberton.

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