Rob J Madin
Interview with Rob J Madin, AKA Brett Domino.
Singer-songwriter, producer and all-round funny bloke, Sheffield born-and-bred Rob J Madin is something of an internet phenomenon. Studying at Leeds College of Music, Rob established himself as a skilled multi-instrumentalist, playing everything from your typical guitar, bass and drums, to the more classical orchestral percussion to the more quirky keytar and stylophone.
Things took a turn for Rob, after starting his Youtube comedy career as socially awkward alter-ego Brett Domino, as part of The Brett Domino Trio. As Brett Domino, Rob plays a series of covers, medleys and musical comedy shorts. From his videos, he has had reams of success internationally, with musical heavyweights such as Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga reposting his videos, and scoring millions of hits. His 2014 video, ‘How to Create a Hit Pop Song’ was even nominated for Best Comedy Short at the British Comedy Awards.
With all his success, Rob J Madin has gone back to his musical roots, releasing his first album as himself, ‘Cracked, Shattered and Pop’, an album which he recorded whilst at university. We caught up with the multi-talented mogul to hear all about the new album, The Brett Domino Trio and how he failed to impress Simon Cowell…
Hi Rob, tell our lovely readers a bit about your album, Cracked, Shattered and Pop.
Well it’s an album I recorded 7 or 8 years ago when I was a student in Leeds. For a long time I’ve wanted to do something with it, but my career took off in quite a different direction doing comedy. I’m hoping after my comedy career it’s created some more exposure. So a few years passed and I started a Kickstarter campaign to get some funding for it.
As you said, the album was recorded while you were at university, why did you decide to release it now?
Well quite a few people were asking. I posted a few demos on Youtube and people were asking where they could get a copy. It needed a lot of work, so I started editing and mastering it. It needed an audience, so I started the Kickstarter campaign in hopes I’d get some funding to be able to get it out there. I said to myself that if it got the funding, there is an audience for it. Had I not met the target, I wouldn’t have bothered releasing it.
What kind of musical style is the album?
It’s a mix of Britpop – influences from Blur and Pulp, with a mix of OTT 70’s style. Then there’s also some funk in there, and a bit of Elton John. It’s sort of a mish mash of lots of different musical styles!
Wow that certainly is a bit of a mix. The album artwork is brilliantly trippy…
I did it myself! It was a painting I did on a piece of wood; there are a lot of references to other albums like old prog-rock records. The organ in it is actually my Granddad’s, he used to be an organ player and he had that on the cover of his album.
So a lot of folk will know you as being the socially inept, straight-faced Brett Domino on Youtube. How did that all begin?
Well it started as a single video which I made, just after I’d created this album. It was me as the ‘Brett Domino’ character playing the stylophone, which was a private joke between me and a friend. When it was first posted a lot of people thought it was serious… but thing then took off from there really.
As Brett Domino you perform covers, medleys and musical comedy shorts. Where do you draw inspiration for your videos?
It depends really. A lot of them are to advertise or promote something we’ve been sent. Keyota might send us a keyboard so we’ll create a video incorporating it. When we did the Justin Timberlake Medley we were showcasing a laptop bag and all the small instruments you could fit in it. And then other times I’ll just feel like making something or get an idea and create that instead.
When did the videos really start to take off?
I’d say the landmark was on the Chris Moyles Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 1. He played a few of our tracks on the show so that got us a lot of exposure. We have a lot of bloggers with a large following who will post one of our videos and then we’ll get a lot more hits on the channel. Then sometimes you’ll make videos that won’t really get much notice at all. However, we’ll then make something like ‘How to Create a Hit Pop Song’ which will be really popular and open up a whole new audience, and then your less popular videos will get a few more hits. It sort of runs in that pattern really.
‘How to Create a Hit Pop Song’ was nominated for Best Comedy Short at the British Comedy Awards in 2014. How did it feel to be nominated?
Which video would you say is your favourite you’ve done as the Brett Domino Trio?
We did a magazine/web series on Youtube, which was sort of a cookery show. There was no real content and it was very awkward. It wasn’t that popular [laughs] but it was certainly my favourite!
The Brett Domino Trio even made an appearance on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, it would seem Simon Cowell wasn’t in on the joke…
Well we went on because we thought it would be very in-keeping with the Brett Domino character, plus we thought it might attract a bit of exposure. We were actually really surprised by the judge’s reactions; we were expecting them to all be like Simon Cowell, not as positive as they were! We got through and went back to the second stage of the auditions, and when we were sat in a room with a guy who did a football act and some five year old dancers, we assumed we hadn’t got any further!
As well as Brett Domino, you also starred in BBC pilot C-BOMB, a Sheffield dub-step DJ. Where do you draw influences for your characters?
Well I based Brett Domino on those awkward Youtubers you see, who will just do something with no explanation and no context. C-BOMB was based on those types of people who think they’re a lot bigger than what they are, acting the lad and acting cocky.
You’re a major multi-instrumentalist, when did you first get into music?
Well I started piano lessons when I was 8, then when I was a little bit older I asked my mum for drumming lessons. Instead she got me orchestral percussion lessons, which wasn’t quite what I had in mind but went along to them anyway. I later on did learn to play the drums, and played in a few bands during my teen years. I taught myself to play guitar and bass, though I don’t think I’m too great at those, but luckily I can make myself sound better on record!
So what’s next Rob?
Well I’ve just finished the music video for one of the tracks on the album, which will be going on Youtube around when the album comes out June 1. It involves running around the woods in Wales in bear costumes. So keep a look out for that.
Cracked, Shattered and Pop comes out June 1. Go to www.robjmadin.com