Lifestyle

Shepparton’s Robert Baxter releases debut EP

By Jessica Ball

Writing honest lyrics and telling his story through music is key to Robert Baxter's pursuit of happiness.

Singing, dancing and performing ever since he was born, the Shepparton man has never been shy to put on a show as his family gathered around the dinner table.

For Robert, making music is more than a catchy melody, it's a way to express his emotions.

“It's taught me that I just have to be myself,” he said.

“Being half Asian and being part of the LGBT community you just know that you're different.

“When I write music, it's really like telling a personal story.

“Being able to tell my truth through my music is a big part of it.”

He always knew he wanted to sing but it was not until high school that the former Notre Dame College student discovered his passion for electronic dance music and layers of pop production.

Now 20 years old, Robert has released his first EP, Yellow.

The cumulation of years of work, the five songs tell the story of coming of age in the digital era.

“In 2016 my biggest dream was to have an EP with four or five songs, that's all me and Jaiman (Long) would talk about,” Robert said.

“He helped me produce my first two songs because I didn't really know how to use the programs then and I've pretty much learned from watching him how to do it myself.”

It was a long process for the self-confessed perfectionist, and Yellow reflects his raw, real life experiences.

“This project is all around relationships and how they're affected by social media and the digital age,” he said.

“All five of them, I can tell you who they're about, what part of my life I was in at that time and like why I was feeling that way.

“It's a little exposing but I think it's kind of fun in a way as well and that person, obviously had a big part in my life.

“My goal in life, I'm always trying to be happy and I want to feel yellow.

“It's showing my happy experiences through songs even though some of the songs are sad, they might be letting go of something that's making me sad so that I can feel happy.”

Robert started writing the final song I.M.Y, in December but said the final version musing the struggles of a long distance relationship was impacted by the first instalment of isolation.

“When you're producing, there's a lot of time where it doesn't sound perfect and I can't deal with that, I'll be working on something for hours and hours and then I'll be like, no, I hate it I can't do it and I'll have to start again,” he said.

“So, with I.M.Y I actually did half of it and then I was happy with all that but I don't know where to go from here and I sent it off to my friend Alex Garla and he did the second half of the production.”

The final song on Robert Baxter's newly released EP - I.M.Y. Cover art work by Brittany Drysdale.

He may have achieved his teenage dream, but Robert has already moved on to his next project, an album.

“I don't want to make too many promises as you know it could take me two years,” he said.

“It will probably have like more fun and different themes for each song, one of them is cowboy-themed.”

When this talented young man is not creating music he is teaching dance at Amy Newton Dance Studios and choreographing productions for Initial Stages Theatre Company, Notre Dame College and Goulburn Valley Grammar School, he's even done a touch of drag.

Robert also did a quick stint in Melbourne earlier this year, acting and modeling before the global pandemic flat-lined the arts.

He signed to an agency, walked runways, appeared in an ad for an art exhibition and a noodle company.

While he said he would love to pursue modeling and acting once the world returned to normal, for now Robert is happy staying put in Shepparton.

“All these things are kind of fun but I probably prefer creating things myself and putting them out into the world than being in someone else's creative vision,” he said.

Plus living in Shepparton means eating mum's home cooking and the return of dinner time performances, where he shares his newest work with his supportive family.

“They have always encouraged me to just do whatever makes me happy,” he said.

“They were always supportive, they just cared that I tried hard at whatever it was that I wanted to do.”

Steam Yellow by Robert Baxter on Spotify.

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