Toney Robinson treats his guitar like a box of crayons and gleefully colors outside the lines.
Toney — which is the stage name he performs under — is a risk-taking multi-instrumentalist (guitar, drums and keyboard) and vocalist who’ll offer his latest piece of work in the form of his new blues-filled album, “Born to Live Free,” which drops Tuesday, July 24 on major digital outlets like iTunes and Amazon. Physical copies of the album will be sold at CDBaby and at shows.
The majority of the vocals for the album were recorded at Digital Street Studios in Dover. A portion of the songs were also mixed at Digital Street Studios.
A Jack-of-all-trades, Toney, 29, formerly of Dover but now lives in Newark, can be found gigging as a duo (with Lowercase Blues lead guitarist Jack Banaszack) at Shorebreak Lodge in Rehoboth every Wednesday night through Labor Day.
Q How would you describe “Born to Live Free?”
A “Born to Live Free” kind of surfs between traditional blues, modern rock, modern soul. It’s hard to describe it [laughs]; it’s very different. You can definitely hear the relationship of where it comes from with the traditional blues shuffles. It’s traditional blues, but it’s a very modern sound. I incorporate synthesizers so you have dance music elements and you also get some electronically produced beats, and at the same time you have traditional live instruments.
Q You also play all of the instruments on the album, except on the track “Miss You.” Did you decide to play all the instruments on the project out of necessity?
A That’s just what I do. The record before that (“My Heart’s Rise”) was [composed] 100-percent by me. And it just comes from a place of: I just get tired of waiting for people. I don’t like to be at anybody’s mercy. And sometimes you book a guy for a session and he’ll just run you around the muck, man [laughs]. I just got to the point where it’s like, “Listen, I can play all this stuff.”
Q What are some of the stories you tell on this album?
A The opening track, “Empty,” that’s about you’re on the road playing these shows. Ninety-five percent of us do it because we love it; and if there was no money involved, or free beer involved, we’d still do it. We’d be dead broke and just as happy on stage. But there’s something that happens after you get off the stage. You realize you came here alone and you’re leaving here alone. You’re just kind of a puppy in the window. Everybody comes with their friends and they’re coming to see you. But then they leave with their friends. So I’m feeling empty, because I put all of this energy, all of this emotion, all of this focus into this passion, and then you start to realize that the people really don’t feel that way about what you’re doing. At the end of the day, you’re purely entertainment and they don’t take you home with them.
Page 2 of 2 - Q What are your long-term goals in music, and how do you plan to accomplish that?
A I want to play the biggest and baddest gigs across the globe. I’m going to take things one-step at a time. I try to access any and every opportunity that gets my music to the people that need to hear it. I don’t do much for free because I feel once you devalue your product, it’s devalued; and that’s been proven to me. I have my business model, but I believe in every single opportunity whether it’s radio, TV, [etc.]. I send my music to guys I’m fans of and guys I want to open for — I’m not shy about it. It’s business. When I’m in the studio and I’m playing — that’s the art. But you have to have the business to play on stage. So I’ll send my music to Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy and say, “Listen, I can help enhance your show as opener,” as a business proposition.