Robodda is a Bay Area rock band made up of three guys and two girls wanting to bring a futuristic vibe to a recognizable 80s sound. William Caine (lead singer), Gabrielle Pecson (keyboards), and Liz Leon-Guerrero (electric guitar) met in junior high. Picking up JohnDavid Kagawa (bass and keyboards) and Alex Quick (drums) in high school, Caine formed Robodda in 2009. Originally, the five members started out on classical instruments, as part of the Irvington Music Program. Caine played Euphonium, Pecson and Kagawa played trombone, Leon-Guerrero played contrabass clarinet, and Quick played baritone saxaphone. They took this classical music knowledge and applied it to their approach for writing their own songs. For instance, the band uses mostly sheet music on Anvil Studio, when in production mode.
Their first song, written in 10/8 by William Caine, was “Skies”. The lyrics were supposed to be “sort of dark” but it didn’t turn out that way. “It’s actually sort of a love song. It’s about bliss and letting all one’s troubles fade away, as they float free through the skies,” says Caine. This is one of the only songs with music created by William Caine. Later, most of Robodda’s music would be created by fellow bandmate, JohnDavid Kagawa, while Caine continued to write the lyrics. As a philosophy major, a lot of Caine’s lyrics were inspired by ideas presented in his philosophy courses.
Each song has its own unique attributes to it. “Top of the World” has a very indie rock sound and the music was written before the lyrics. It has a deeper theme than some of the band’s other songs; it tells a story about a man who gives up everything in an attempt to gain power and ends up regretting the decision, but can’t return to the world before. “Break the Fog” is a fast-paced song about someone who realizes that the world around them might not be what it appears, and that we need to rely on ourselves to accomplish things. Ultimately, it is a testament to the band’s own musical journey, taking their dreams into their own hands, despite obstacles they have faced. When asked about their biggest challenge as a band, Caine responds, “Finding consistent shows or time to practice…We lack confidence and stage presence, but we improve everyday. We have trouble because we’re almost all under 21, so we can’t play in bars. We also rely so heavily on synthesizers in an acoustic set.”
The band’s first show was in the same year they formed, at the Battle of the Bands at Irvington High School. This was actually the last Battle of the Bands contest at Irvington High, but the band continues to enter similar contests, even till this day. Actually, if you search for College Battle of the Bands, you can listen and rate their song “Time Traveler”. It’s one of the band’s more fun songs, written with a style similar to that of the band DEVO (which is also one of their inspirations). When I first heard the track, images of Dr. Who, flying in his little blue box, crossed my mind.
When asked what lies ahead for Robodda, Caine says, “Our biggest inspirations are electronic rock groups like Yellow Magic Orchestra and Polysics. We also get inspiration from groups like Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk, Olingo Boingo, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Playing with bands like those, would be a dream come true. We work with Piranha Party, on occasion, and would love to collaborate with them again or with other local bands.” As part of the talent pool in Ohlone College’s distinguished Music Department, other collaborations may not be too far off. “We’d love to expand our single into a full length album. Right now, we’re looking to keep doing shows, keep writing new songs, and, hopefully, work with some awesome people.”