Interview: Robin Cisek Debuts New Album, 'Delicate Minds'

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Robin Cisek! A huge congratulations to you on the release of your debut album, “Delicate Minds.” Was there a particular moment or story that brought this body of work to fruition?

Thank you so much! I am so excited to finally have this project out into the world! Long story short, for a large portion of my life, I had a lot of physical health problems that created a lot of challenges for me to overcome. Now, I’m very happy to say that I am in a place where I feel healthy and happy and very positive about the future! Looking back, I can definitely see that this time in my life has had a lot of impact on my mental health, how I took care of myself and how efficiently I dealt with stress. It was a lot to go through when I was young but I feel like it pushed me to the right path and helped me to learn about myself as a person and as an artist.

For me, "Delicate Minds" is a reflection of my mindset in that difficult time with a focus on my personal growth and healing. Those experiences really showed me how delicate our minds are and how they can be so affected by things in our lives. It just proves how crucial it is for people to take care of their mental health just as much as our bodily health!

Throughout the six tracks, you choose to address important issues that surround the basis of mental health. Could you please delve into the importance of these themes to you, and how you hope your audience can resonate with them?

Each one of my songs tackles a topic surrounding mental health. ’Siren' is about addiction, ‘Lines' is about gaslighting and unhealthy relationships, 'Into the Dark' tackles anxiety about the future, ‘Memories' reflects on trauma, 'I’m Fine' is about societal perception of mental illness, and 'Speak to Me' is about encouraging people to talk about their situations and mental health.

I think of mental illness as part of the human experience, and I believe it needs to be talked about more. Everyone has good and bad days, and some have more bad days than others and some require help to deal with those bad days, and some people’s bad days look different than other people’s bad days. No matter what is happening in anyone’s life, they deserve to have access to resources for their mental health. Especially, if it will make them have fewer bad days or even less severe bad days. Mental illness is not accepted in society. Many still call people with mental illness crazy, antisocial, scary, or a disappointment to their families. In my opinion, this is why people don’t seek out the resources they need. It takes a lot of strength and support to ask for help and it takes a lot of patience to find the resources that work for each person. If more people normalize using and seeking out these resources, it will break the stigma and make these resources more accessible and readily available.

It was so important to me to talk about these things in my new music to show people that they are not alone and there is hope for the future. I was in such a dark place when I was going through my health issues, it felt like things were just getting worse and worse. But eventually, when I got the help I needed, things started to get better!

We can only imagine that with a concept as deep as focusing on how the human mind operates, you went through a magical creative process to put the proper attention on “Delicate Minds.” Could you please share a glimpse into what this journey looked like?

Before the songwriting process began, I had a conversation with my friend about something that happened to her. She felt like she had her life figured out, then all at once, her plans drastically changed. From the outside, she seemed so strong and I didn’t think it affected her much. I saw it as just a bump in the road. But when she opened up about it with me, she talked about how traumatic it was and how she had to lean heavily on her support systems to get through it. We talked about her mental state at that moment and connected through our conversation about our experiences with mental health. It was such a deep connection about something so human that doesn’t get talked about enough and I was so grateful that she opened up with me. I knew then that I had to write some music about mental health and how it connects us. When entering the studio, my producers and I worked on the music first, and then I just felt the words flow out of me. I used experiences from my own life, things I’d heard about, and things from my loved ones. Every song was connected to this conversation or an experience with mental illness from someone close to me because it inspired me to open up in my music and be vulnerable like they were.

Out of the six songs that your audience has the pleasure of listening to, do you have any personal favorite that sits with you a bit deeper than the rest?

I think that my favorite from the album is 'Into the Dark’. This song is upbeat and I love how the music turned out. A big thank you to the dream team at Velveteen Audio, Brandon Unis, and Brad Simons for that! I just love how hopeful and positive this song ended up, even when coming from a dark anxious space. Currently, I connect with this song the most.

As of this year, I am a university graduate with a Bachelor of Education. Although I realize my privilege, and I am extremely grateful to be afforded the opportunity to pursue further education, not many people get to do that and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But I I hope that I will never need that degree. I am attempting to pursue a career, often seen as a hobby by a lot of people, as a musician. It is a huge risk to follow a dream and that comes with a lot of anxiety. I do not know for sure if I will be successful as a musician and I don’t know what the future will be like, but this work has been so incredibly rewarding and inspiring. I have had to learn to take things as they come, focus on the present and make the challenges work for me!

Could you please take us into how your Indigenous heritage inspires the music that you create? Do you take any other musical or non-musical influences into the sounds that we hear on “Delicate Minds”?

I am a Métis musician and often when people think of Métis music, they think of fiddles and jigging and bluegrass style guitars. My music is quite a different genre and takes on a much more subtle influence from my Indigenous heritage. Musically, I am inspired by the sounds of Indigenous drumming and strong melodies. Non-musically, I take a lot of inspiration from the Indigenous and Métis people around me, especially the women! They inspire me with their strength, love, and resiliency, and I always hope to capture that in my lyrics. I’m sure most people have had that moment when they were younger, listening to a sad song through headphones, looking out the window, and pretending they’re in a sad music video. I’ve definitely been there, music can make you feel emotions so strongly! I want my music to make people feel strong, powerful, and able to take on the world, much like how I feel around these special Indigenous women.

I am also inspired by the social conversations and situations of Indigenous people. My song ‘Memories' was written about trauma and I believe that trauma is so prevalent in the lives of Indigenous people. Indigenous people have experienced so much trauma, whether it be inter-generational and passed down or their own personal experience. To explain intergenerational trauma a bit better: Often, when people experience a life-altering trauma, it changes how they raise their children and live their lives and that has an effect on the next generation. My family members up until I was forced to suppress our culture to fit into society. They hid their culture because it welcomed racism, violent biases, and other things which affected their futures negatively. This has affected me because I no longer have access to a lot of my culture. I am currently at a place in my life where I am trying to get that back by educating myself and immersing myself in the culture. I am doing this for me, my grandparents, my mom, and my family’s future so that they can have this culture back in their lives. I hope to bring in more inspiration from my culture as I am on my journey to reconnect!