Podcasts lately

Hey! I’ve been on some podcasts lately. They range from a straight up public radio interview, to beer tasting, to musical ramblings, to musical and actor ramblings, to one epic theme tune. Enjoy and listen!

Nine To Noon

A tonne of people in New Zealand heard this radio interview at 10 o’clock on a Friday. Kathryn Ryan of RNZ National asks me about my album Pumpkins, being a music director for Second City and other theatres, and also working in radio in the States. From July 2018.

(Info | RNZ audio) read more

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Pumpkins everywhere, including The Den on April 15.

Dear world,

My debut album of comedy songs is out! It’s called Pumpkins.
– Listen on Bandcamp, and buy CDs, downloads and T-shirts there!
– Listen and download on iTunes & Apple Music!
– Stream on Spotify!

And come to The Den Theatre in Chicago on Sunday April 15 for an Album Party! Doors open at 6:30pm, and it is FREE.

Here’s the Facebook event – I’ve got Jake Dewar, Abby Vatterott and Witty Cindy opening. The three of them are covering songs from Pumpkins: Track 6 (Bike Lane), Track 10 (I am a Cat) and Track 4 (An Icelandic Psychedelic Rock Song About Poland) respectively. read more

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New album. (Not mine. (Yet.))

Hello world, here’s an update.

After an emotionally turbulent yet ultimately successful crowdfunding campaign, and a packed seven-week trip to Australia and New Zealand; my album is recorded. Not yet edited or mixed or mastered or promoted, but at least recorded.

In the meantime, there is an album already out with a piece of mine on it.

Available on Rattle Records.

The Jade String Quartet is made up of players from the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. Their debut release is called Parlour Games. It’s entirely New Zealand works that they have premièred over the past few years, including my 2015 piece Fragments of Noir – written while inspired by Chicago, just as I was new to Chicago. read more

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A big target.

Good afternoon, blog world. I have just launched a crowdfunding campaign to make an album of my comedy songs.

My ambition is substantial: NZ$9,000. The reason: I want to record real musicians in real, well-equipped studios. I’ve got it all planned out!

My greatest hits will include:
Book Club
Dry July
Flat White
Love is a Four-Letter Word
Malört
Root Vegetable Opera
Symphony No 1 in Eb
and more!

There’ll be a rich sound of strings, winds, brass and rhythm, and it’ll be made freely available on Spotify. But I can only make this if you support my fundraising campaign. read more

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Soash.

Are you ready for the first robbieellis.net blog update in nearly two yeeeee

….eeeeaaaars?

Not that big, but two things. Three things. Four things.

One: I updated the look of this website. The main imperative was to minimise the fact that I’m bad at updating a blog. A secondary outcome was to split my professional life into different categories: my work is now sorted by Comedy SongmakerMusic DirectorComposer and Broadcaster. (They’re all in the menu at the top.) read more

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Get your towels ready.

achievement-unlocked-template

I have accepted an offer to be a music director for Second City Theatricals aboard a cruise ship.

When I was preparing to move to Chicago, people told me that this work existed, and that I’d have a good chance at it. Getting this gig was a short- to medium-term goal for me, and I’m pretty damn happy: it’s a recognisable standard for music directors in Chicago and a great basis for landing future projects.

This contract is also a big reason I moved to the US: New Zealand doesn’t have this volume of work for comedy music directors. Chicago really is the centre of the universe for the most niche skill I have. read more

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Green Card Lottery time!

Hi world.

It has been a long time since I’ve written an update for this site. I’ve got a few things to post (like I really should update my About Me to reflect my various Chicago activities). In the meantime, let me link to the website of someone who does actually put fingers to keyboard: I present Andrew Allen’s excellent and comprehensive article How to Win the Green Card Lottery.

Both Andrew and I come from Auckland, and we were both selected in the 2014 intake of Diversity Visa Lottery winners – in fact our consular interviews were just one day apart. We were connected by mutual theatre friends, and we ended up on the same variety show bill before we emigrated. Andrew now lives in New York City, where he quickly found work as a theatre publicist. I now live in Chicago, where my rent is three times smaller. read more

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Where is home?

The first Google Image Search result for "home", because every blog post is supposed to have an image because of search engine stuff or Facebook or whatever. Source: moneysmart.gov.au

The first Google Image Search result for “home”, because every blog post is supposed to have an image because of search engine stuff or Facebook or whatever. Source: moneysmart.gov.au

Where is home? I’ve flippantly said “Home is where your stuff is”, but that’s not the whole picture.

When you move countries, when do you actually move? When do you comprehensively separate day-to-day ties with your previous country and properly integrate into the new? This is a thorny question given that I came back to New Zealand for a two-week trip less than three months after settling in Chicago.

I’ve got all sorts of contending dates.
– 27 December 2014: when I entered the United States on an immigrant visa and became a resident alien.
– 5 January 2015: when I reached my new home city of Chicago, and the room in my apartment.
– 7 January 2015: when I bought a bed in Chicago
– 14 January 2015: when I spent $573 at IKEA in Chicago on furniture and pillows and kitchen stuff
– 6 February 2015: when I did my first paid, taxable gig as a US resident
– Today, 22 April 2015: when I fly back to the United States after a short New Zealand return trip, and when I henceforth have no fixed future plans to return to New Zealand.
– 1 June 2015: the date from which I (hopefully) have Affordable Care Act health insurance, as opposed to travel insurance
– (unidentified future date, but probably some time in June): the date from which I’m earning more income from United States sources than New Zealand sources. I’m actually doing alright at this freelance composing malarkey, although I’m aware that may not last when I’m not showing my face at concert venues up and down the country.
– October 2015: when this year’s commissions have all received their first performances in New Zealand: the various Sonatina for alto saxophone and piano people; the Jade String Quartet; and the Westlake Boys High School choir Voicemale performing the full version of Howler Monkey at Prizegiving
– (unidentified future date): when I stop regularly listening to most podcasts from Upbeat and Standing Room Only
– (unidentified future date): when my Facebook algorithms serve me far more US/Chicago content than New Zealand content
– (unidentified future date, TBA when): when I have more Facebook friends in Chicago than in Auckland
– (unidentified future date, heaven knows when): when I intercontinentally relocate all my books from my parents’ house in Auckland
– (unidentified future date, possibly never): when I have more United States Facebook friends than New Zealand friends
– (unidentified future date, possibly never): when I intercontinentally relocate all my stuff currently in storage at my parents’. read more

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A quick trip home!

At the first workshop of Relish in Immature Bombast, 24 May 2012, Auckland Town Hall. Photo by Oliver Rosser.

At the first workshop of Relish in Immature Bombast, 24 May 2012, Auckland Town Hall. Photo by Oliver Rosser.

I moved to Chicago on 5 January 2015. Three months on, I’ll be back in New Zealand for a couple of weeks.

To clarify for both Chicagoans and Kiwis: no, I’m not moving back. I still definitely live in Chicago. This trip is to fulfil a long-standing commitment with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra because they’re playing my Relish in Immature Bombast again.

If you’re unfamiliar with this piece, it’s for huge-ass pipe organ, full-on funk/rock/jazz drum kit, and symphony orchestra, take a squiz at this video:
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The extremely belated Chicago arrival post

I'll give you my mobile number on request.

I’ll give you my mobile number on request.

Hello world.

Today marks three weeks since I arrived in Chicago, my newest city of residence. It’s the first time I’ve lived outside New Zealand, and the first time I’ve set myself up in a city with so few connections.

If you’ve come to this website because I’ve handed you a business card in the last three weeks, welcome. I am indeed here in the city that you met me in. I live in Wicker Park – a neighbourhood sort of inconvenient to Lake View, where much improv takes place, but wonderfully hipster all the same. read more

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