Today we’d like to introduce you to Robbie Santis.
Robbie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I got into music because a friend dared me to do an open mic eight years ago. He said, “If you do this, I’ll never bother you again.” So, I stepped out of my comfort zone, gave it a shot and have never looked back since. This sparked something in my soul and I’ve been on fire about it since.
I grew up in a small town of Florida called Stuart. My dad was a singer and my mom loved singing and dancing, so naturally I grew up singing, impersonating voices and just harmonizing for fun. I’ve always loved the joy it brings to people, especially my mom. As her caretaker and son (my mom has M.S.), I loved seeing her escape her pain and getting through tough times with music. I just love seeing all the life it brings her and how she lights up when she hears music that allows her to move and feel free again.
I had to grow up fast to care for my mom, so I really sought solace and found comfort in expressing myself through music. I was always taking care of others and having to be someone for them that I didn’t really feel like I had my own voice, so music was the one avenue where I felt heard. It was more of a self-soothing space where I could scream if I wanted to, experience enjoyment, emphasize emotions, and have a really cathartic way of relating to others.
I first picked up a guitar at 18 (messing around on my friend Nathan’s guitar) and literally didn’t know what to play, so that’s how I started writing music. With nothing to play, I was determined to write songs that could be played and heard. Writing gave me the power to relate to others, express myself, and to tell stories–it finally gave me a voice and it felt good. Writing was the motivator and catalyst for making music and that drive has remained with me to this day.
As I evolved into the musician I am today, I really strive to create content that seeks to comfort, empower or inspire those who are going through tough times. I pull music from the place of loneliness, alienation, and not having a voice so I notice my music always comes back to me and always speaks back to who I was during those dark and difficult times. It is my hope that people hear my songs and know that they are not alone and feel uplifted or understood.
What started as a challenge and empowerment has led me to challenge and empower others to be all who they are meant to be.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Is anything worth fighting for simple, no?
In the early days, it was a bit of a whirlwind. I had a manager who was doing the booking, making connections, setting up writing sessions, and organizing the recordings.I had it made! It was really so surreal and I was a bit spoiled, but after a year of that I decided to make a huge life change.
I had received an opportunity to move overseas and to do humanitarian work as a teacher in Cambodia and I lived and worked there for the better part of a year. I had left everything behind, and although that was a growing time for me as an individual, it killed any kind of momentum that I had achieved in my musical pursuits.
Upon returning from Cambodia, I felt deep in my soul that I needed to move “West” (and that is basically everything west of the East Coast of Florida) and so I found myself selling all that I had owned and using that money to transition out to California.
I came here on a hunch with nothing more than a duffle bag, backpack, and a guitar and I restarted my life. I didn’t have any money, any fan base, or any community support, so I had to restart this whole musical pursuit from ground zero.
This is where I had to recover from. I was starting small by busking the streets of Long Beach and open mics competitions, then moved onto bigger pursuits like being actively scouted by shows like The Voice and performing in LA Songwriter Showcases. I have had to work to develop different masteries and put myself out there in ways that I never had before.
It felt like I was never able to get ahead since moving out here. Like, I was working to save money for musical projects never came, so I never had released music in California. And in general, LA felt like it was a very big pond and I was a very small fish that worked various part-time jobs to stay afloat. For a long time, I had made excuses about the distance from where I wanted to be to where I was, but I learned that many of the limitations that I had were self-imposed. Once I had the vision to see that, I was able to move forward and make space to succeed.
Since then, I have released I have doubled my musical output since I had started and I have another track called Soar Again to be released on April 20 to be a guiding light to those who may have felt like they were fighting a rising tide with no end in sight.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I live my life based off of the belief that all of us could use someone to believe in us, coach us, and give us encouragement. Encouragement to move past our doubts and to grow step by step into the person that we were always meant to be.
How I do this is that I tell stories of struggle from my life. Stemmed from the challenges of a difficult past, I seek to relate to others. In that empathy, I know I can build a relationship. And in that relationship, I know that I can communicate love, acceptance, and belonging. One song and one person at a time.
What I do as an artist is I sing, write, and perform music. Since all venues are closed, I put on weekly LIVE Stream concerts on Facebook/Instagram on my front porch for those who are quarantined in this time of pandemic (and the neighbors get to listen in too). Also, I work in a songwriting, creative community to work with and push other artists in my circle to create and release quality content. I am also proud of the service I am able to provide to the homeless in my community/in my work by connecting them to resources; and I do monthly volunteer projects to get others involved in serving their community as well.
My music career has led me to perform with artists such as R.LUM.R, co-write with former Motown songwriters, and I have actively been scouted to be a contestant for NBC’s The Voice and ABC’s The Bachelor, Listen To Your Heart. Sky’s the limit for me but I am always happy to be grounded and to serve those who most need me because all of art is to be a gift to the world.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me is to accomplish a goal but to do so in staying grounded in the integrity of who you really are. I think there are a lot of opportunities that are out there for me to attain, but just because it is out there, that doesn’t mean that I should reach for it.
I had struggled a lot as an artist because I was constantly bombarded with what others thought I should be, thought I should look like, or what I should sound like, etc., but at the end of the day this is not what living looked like for me. Those are merely limitations that I can accept and have to inform the path I walk, or I can see what resonates and what doesn’t and use that as a compass that points towards my truth.
For me, to be successful is to live a life that resonates with my truth, with my being, and with the dream that I want to place into the world. In order for my music to be successful, all that I do must incorporate the following elements of a.) extending generosity towards myself and others, b.) creating a community of belonging and c.) allowing the space and providing the resources for others to grow to their full potential.
Some markers of success for me would be to create a Community Space where artists and people in the community can come together to do writing workshops, have community gatherings, and learn life-skills courses that would promote vitality. Another marker would be to create a nationwide tour hosted at smaller venues with a pay-what-you-can admission, so that finances would not be an obstacle. And lastly, the final marker of my success would be to have enough revenue in order to purchase the aforementioned community space and use the excess to help bolster the dreams of others.
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- Website: www.robbiesantis.squarespace.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/robbiesantis
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