Heel to toe to hair and hoof and it's head over heels and it's all but an ark-lark...
Robin Guthrie
Robin Guthrie in 2015. // Open slideshow

“The aim was to make music with punk’s energy but more finesse and beauty, and that shiny, dense Phil Spector sound. I was trying to make my guitar sound like I could play it, so I was influenced by guitarists who made beautiful noise, like The Pop Group, or Rowland S. Howard.”

Robin Guthrie

  • Full name: Robin Andrew Guthrie
  • Role: Guitar, bass, keyboards, programming, production, engineering
  • Birth date: 4 January 1962
  • Birthplace: Grangemouth, Scotland
  • Residence: Rennes, Brittany, France
  • Partner(s): Elizabeth Fraser (1981-1994); Florence Guthrie (2001-)
  • Children: Lucy-Belle Guthrie (b. 1989); Violette Guthrie (b. 2001)

Robin Guthrie co-founded Cocteau Twins in 1980, with his childhood mate Will Heggie, in their hometown of Grangemouth, Scotland. Throughout the band’s history, he was a principal songwriter, playing guitar, bass, keyboard, and handling most of the programming and effects. His unique approach to guitar and composition—layering sound upon sound and melody upon melody—along with his deft production skills in the recording studio, earned him the respect of musicians and fans throughout the world, making him a much sought-after producer, engineer, and collaborator.

A self-described “gear-head,” Robin’s facility with electronics—he was trained as an electrician—had an enormous influence. He was, from the beginning, drawn to effects pedals and other ways of altering or enhancing traditional sounds. This eventually grew to include programming, sampling, and more sophisticated forms of audio processing and manipulation as technology evolved and the band could afford to invest in new tools and better studios. In fact, many listeners (and critics) assumed Cocteau Twins were purely a “synth band,” whose sound was entirely artificial, when in fact their primary instruments were always guitar, bass, voice, piano, and drum machine (the only truly synthetic band member). It was Robin’s tinkerer’s fascination and natural aptitude with technology—both analog and digital—that transformed those instruments in the studio and helped to create the Cocteaus’ signature sound.

Prior to forming Cocteau Twins, Robin and Will were members of local Grangemouth four-piece band The Heat, who later released a single—“My Part of Town”—under the name The Liberators in 1980.

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As a child, Robin’s family had musical instruments in the house, but he’d never had any proper musical training. “I came at the guitar from a very different perspective,” Robin explained to Penny Black Music in 2006. “Will, Liz, and I fell into being a band together. I have still got our very first demo, and you can hear the very early musings of the Cocteau Twins there… We never from the outset did any other peoples’ songs. You know when you are a teenager you’re trying to grasp some sort of identity, aren’t you? You want to make some sort of statement. I was really into electronics and so was Will. We were both geeks like that. I was into fuzz boxes and pedals and things like that and I ended up putting them into my guitar. I also had this idea that I really couldn’t play for shit. All my mates would pick up the guitar and would all copy Jimi Hendrix, and I couldn’t do that. I also just wanted to sound like something else. Some of the earlier noisy things I was influenced by were bands like the Birthday Party and the Pop Group and groups like that, people who were using the guitar like a thoroughly different sort of instrument.”

In addition to his ongoing work as a producer and engineer, Robin’s prolific post-Cocteau Twins musical career has included seven records as Violet Indiana (with singer Siobhan de Maré), more than eleven solo releases, and three film scores. He has toured extensively, performing on his own, with a band, and with other artists, including Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance.

Although Robin co-founded Bella Union with Simon and Liz in 1996, he eventually divested his share of the business. He has since established his own label, Soleil Après Minuit, through which he has released a number of his own albums along with those of a handful of other artists.

A perfectionist who can sometimes be his own worst critic, Robin fought a well-documented battle with drugs and alcohol in the 1980s and 1990s, and considers himself a recovering addict. His long-term relationship with former bandmate Elizabeth Fraser, which ended in 1993, was another key organic ingredient in Cocteau Twins’ chemistry and music. They have a daughter, Lucy Belle, who was born in 1989. He now lives in France with his wife Florence and their daughter Violette.

Press

Solo performances, guest appearances, and other collaborations

Song title(s)/Role Artist/Collaborator Release Year
“Song to the Siren” This Mortal Coil It’ll End in Tears 1983
Production and guitar The Wolfgang Press Scarecrow 1984
“Song to the Siren,” “The Last Ray,” and “Not Me” This Mortal Coil It’ll End in Tears 1984
“Water” The Wolfgang Press Water 1985
Producer and Engineer The Wolfgang Press Sweatbox 1985
Producer Dif Juz Extractions 1985
Producer on “Primitive Painters” Felt Primitive Painters 1985
Producer Felt Ingite the Seven Cannons 1985
Producer and Engineer The Wolfgang Press The Legendary Wolfgang Press and Other Tall Stories 1985
Mixing on “Flower Knife Shadows” (for Simon Raymonde) Harold Budd Lovely Thunder 1986
Production on “Candles in a Church” and “Ferdinand Magellan” Felt Ballad of the Band 1986
Producer The Gun Club Mother Juno 1987
Producer Edwyn Collins Don’t Shilly Shally 1987
Producer A. R. Kane Lollita 1987
Engineering on “Yé Ké Yé Ké (The Afro Acid Remix)” Mory Kanté Yé Ké Yé Ké 1987
Production on “Autumn,” “Fire Circles,” “Buried Wild Blind” Felt The Final Resting of the Ark 1987
Engineering on “Balthus Bemused by Color,” “The Real Dream of Sails” Harold Budd The White Arcades 1988
Producer The Gun Club Breaking Hands 1988
“Rains On Me (Remix)” Heavenly Bodies Celestial 1988
“Rains On Me (Extended Mix),” “Rains On Me (Short Version)” Heavenly Bodies Rains On Me 1988
Remixing on “Miles Apart,” “Crack Up,” “Crack Up (Space Mix)” A. R. Kane Rem’i’xes 1989
Programming on “In the Heat of the Night”; programming and bass on “La Historia de un Amor” Kid Congo Powers In the Heat of the Night 1989
Producer and Engineer Lush Mad Love 1990
Producer on “Something More” Chapterhouse Falling Down 1990
Engineer Big Hard Excellent Fish Imperfect List 1990
Producer on “Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep” Lush Alvin Lives (in Leeds) 1990
Producer on “Deluxe,” “Leaves Me Cold,” “Downer,” “Thoughtforms,” “Hey Hey Helen,” “Scarlet (New Version)” Lush Gala 1990
Producer on “Autosleeper,” “Something More” Chapterhouse Whirlpool 1991
“You Are the Way (September Mix)” The Primitives You Are the Way 1991
Producer Lush Black Spring 1991
Producer on “For Love” Lush For Love 1991
Producer Lush Spooky 1992
Producer on “Ribbons & Chains,” “Birdy” Ian McCulloch Lover Lover Lover 1992
Producer on “Vibor Blue,” “Heaven’s Gate” Ian McCulloch Mysterio 1992
“Rainbow (E-Bow Mix)” Candyland Rainbow 1992
Production, guitar, and bass on “Help Me Lift You Up” Macbeth “Volume Five” (Various Artist) 1992
Producer and Engineer on “Wildfire” Fuel “Volume Five” (Various Artists) 1992
“Be Still (Cocteau Twins Mix)” Various Artists Peace Together 1993
Guitar on “Outro (Shaved)” The Veldt Afrodisiac 1994
Production and guitar on “Butterfly Knife,” “Wildfire” Fuel Timeless EP 1994
“Time Baby 3” Medicine Sounds of Medicine 1994
Production, mixing, guitars, atmospheres on “Half Light” by Æther Various Artists The Event Horizon 1995
“Child (Robin Guthrie Mix)” Definition of Sound Child 1996
“Hypo-Allergenic” Spooky Found Sound 1996
“What’s Come Over Me (Robin Guthrie Mix)” Frente! What’s Come Over Me 1996
Mixing on “Absence Makes the Hair Grow Blonder” The Bitter Springs Absence Makes the Hair Grow Blonder 1997
Guitar on “Muscle and Want” Simon Raymonde Blame Someone Else 1997
Production and mixing Guy Chadwick This Strength 1997
Features “ziggurat rhythm” Undark Undark 1998
Production and mixing Guy Chadwick Lazy, Soft & Slow 1998
Producer Yu-Ra Innocent Time 1998
“Chanson Sans Issue (Remixé)” Autour de Lucie Immobile 1998
Production and guitar Yu-Ra Beyond the Pale 1998
“Flowers Bloom (Robin Guthrie Mix)” Mandalay Flowers Bloom 1998
Production and mixing Guy Chadwick You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me 1998
“Superstar (Robin Guthrie Melody FM Mix)” Superstar Superstar 1998
“She’s Mine But I’m Not Hers (Robin Guthrie Remix)” Jay-Jay Johanson She’s Mine But I’m Not Hers 1998
“Cranes (Robin Guthrie Mix)” Moonshake Remixes 1998
Producer Yu-Ra Snow Doll 1998
Producer on “No Motion” Dif Juz Soundpool 1999
Producer Yu-Ra My Cosmic Wave 1999
Remixing Sneakster // Robin Guthrie Fifty-Fifty 1999
DJ Mix Solo Drifting A.F.U. 1999
Co-mixing and additional guitar Russell Mills / Undark Pearl + Umbra 1999
Production and mixing Yu-Ra Remember 1999
Additional guitar The Autumns In the Russet Gold of This Vain Hour 1999
Remixing Sneakster // Robin Guthrie Pseudo Nouveau / Fifty-Fifty 2000
“Far Away” Jay-Jay Johanson Poison 2000
Additional guitar Olive Trickle 2000
Additional instrumentation and mixing on “Sol Invisible” by Lucybelle Various Artists Outlandos D’Americas - Tributo a Police 2000
Mixing and guitar The Wave Room Love Medicine 2000
Additional guitar Russell Mills / Undark Undark One - Strange Familiar 2000
All tracks Violet Indiana Choke 2000
Producer on “Nothing Natural,” “Untogether,” “For Love,” “Monochrome,” and “De-Luxe” Lush Ciao! Best of Lush 2001
Mastering Rothko In the Pulse of an Artery 2001
All tracks Violet Indiana Roulette 2001
Producer Yu-Ra Kumo 2001
Co-mixer Lift to Experience The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads 2001
Production on “Sweatbox” and “Respect” The Wolfgang Press Everything is Beautiful (A Retrospective) 2001
All tracks Violet Indiana Killer Eyes 2001
All tracks Violet Indiana Special 2001
All tracks Violet Indiana Casino 2002
Mastering Al Brooker Quixotic 2002
Producer Aeriel So Warm 2003
All tracks Solo Imperial 2003
Mixing and mastering Ulan Bator Nouvel Air 2003
“Märchen” Sakurai Atsushi Ai No Wakusei 2004
All tracks Violet Indiana Russian Doll 2004
All tracks Violet Indiana Beyond the Furr 2004
“Smile” (Remix) Flat7 Lost in Blue 2005
Co-wrote and produced three tracks Sophie Barker Earthbound 2005
Co-wrote musical score with video Solo with Leesa Beales Echoes of Forgotten Places: Urban Exploration, Industrial Archaeology and the Aesthetics of Decay 2005
All tracks Solo with Harold Budd Music from the film “Mysterious Skin” 2005
Mixing on “Hello Sun” Amber Smith Hello Sun / Blue Eyes Digital 2005
All tracks Solo Flicker 2006
“Lost in Monterey” Solo (Various Artists) Fractured Beauty 2006
Producer Amber Smith RePRINT 2006
All tracks Solo Continental 2006
“Argenta” Solo Little Darla Has a Treat for You v.24: Endless Summer Edition 2006
All tracks Solo Everlasting 2006
All tracks Solo Waiting for Dawn 2006
Bass and programming on “La Historia de un Amor” Kid Congo Powers Solo Cholo 2006
Mixing on “Supervitesse (Robin Guthrie Mix),” “Renovo,” “My Bed is My Castle,” “Supervitesse (Extended Mix),” “My Bed is My Castle (Featuring Lucy Belle Guthrie),” and “Domino Ladder Beta (Featuring Robin Guthrie)” Mahogany Connectivity! 2006
Mastering Broad Daylight The Bell Jar 2007
“Seaside Dream” (Robin Guthrie Mix) Colour Kane A Taste Of 2007
“My Cabal” Remix School of Seven Bells My Cabal 2007
“Entropic Guinea-Pig Miix” Mobiil Mobiil Remixed 2007
“The Tall Grass” (Robin Guthrie Mix) Alsace Lorraine Dark One 2007
Remixes of “Gone Forever” and “On My Own” Ulrich Schnauss Quicksand Memory 2007
Production, mixing and instrumentation Annie Barker Mountains and Tumult 2007
All tracks Solo with Harold Budd Before the Day Breaks 2007
All tracks Solo with Harold Budd After the Night Falls 2007
Writing, mixing and production on “Marbella” Manual Lost Days, Open Skies and Streaming Tides 2007
“Everlasting Gobstopper” and “Babytalk” Apollo Heights White Music for Black People 2007
Guitar Halou Sawtooth 2008
Production, engineering, and mixing; additional guitar and bass on “Raindrops” Replandor Pleamar 2008
All tracks Solo Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 3:19 2008
“Angel Heart” (Robin Guthrie Version) Apollo Heights Everlasting Gobstopper 2008
Additional guitar on “Professional,” “Evensong,” and “Seabright” Halou Halou 2008
Remixes of “Gone Forever” and “On My Own” Ulrich Schnauss A Strangely Isolated Place 2008
Additional guitar on “December” Honeychild Coleman Halo Inside (Come La Luna) 2008
Mastering Broaddaylight Stars Out 2009
“Flight of the Painted Lady” Various Artists Little Darla Has A Treat for You V.27: Eternal Spring Edition 2009
All tracks John Foxx & Robin Guthrie Mirrorball 2009
All tracks Solo Angel Falls 2009
All tracks Solo Carousel 2009
All tracks Solo Songs to Help My Children Sleep 2009
All tracks Solo Sunflower Stories 2010
Mastering Dark Orange Clouds, Paperships and Fallen Angels 2010
Production and mixing Heligoland All Your Ships are White 2010
Guitar on “The Sky is Black,” by Telefon Tel Aviv Various Artists Werkschau 2011
“Love Never Dies a Natural Death” and “Broken Heart” Various Artists 3… 2… 1… A Rocket Girl Compilation 2011
“Black Widow” (Robin Guthrie Version) The Cinema Twin Black Widow 2011
All tracks Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd Bordeaux 2011
All tracks Solo Emeralds 2011
“Red Guitar” (Robin Guthrie Version”) The Cinema Twin Red Guitar 2011
Production and guitar Annie Barker …for a better place 2011
Mixing and mastering Sealight Dead Letters 2011
All tracks Eraldo Bernocchi, Harold Budd, Robin Guthrie Winter Garden 2011
Mixing and mastering Heligoland Bethmale 2012
Guitar on “The Sky is Black” Telefon Tel Aviv The Birds 2012
“Grass” (Robin Guthrie Remix) Cubenx Grass 2012
All tracks Mark Gardener & Robin Guthrie The Places We Go 2012
“Butterflies” remixed Dark Orange Horizont 2012
All tracks Solo Fortune 2012
Mixed “Path to Heart” and “Sun Moon Star”; Guitar/drums on “Path to Heart” and “Sarionasute”; Guitar/bass/drums on “Sun Moon Star” Flat7 Sweet Glow of Silence 2012
Production, mixing, and mastering Heligoland Saint Anne 2013
All tracks Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd White Bird in a Blizzard Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 2014
All tracks Robin Guthrie & Mark Gardener Universal Road 2015
“Scarecrow” Jay-Jay Johanson Opium 2015
All tracks, production Boreal Wood Flares 2015
Production, mixing, and mastering Heligoland Coriallo 2017
Production Hatchie Sure 2018
Production Jay-Jay Johanson Lost Forever 2019
Production, guitar, programming Fawns of Love “Someday” 2020

Video

  • "Monument" live on KEXP
  • "Mission Dolores" live on KEXP
  • "Neil's Theme" live on KEXP
  • "Pale + Little Big Fish" live in London Feb 13, 2019
  • "Song to the Siren," live, by Brendan Perry featuring Robin Guthrie
  • Interview with Viper Theatre (Italy) Feb 8, 2015
  • "Laura" with Jay-Jay Johanson, live at Red Bull Studios May 28, 2015

External links