“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.”
- 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, along 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, innovative, and influential approach to guitar and composition—layering sound upon sound and melody upon melody in an approach that was often deceptively minimalist—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.
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.
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 people’s 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.”
A self-described “gear-head,” Robin’s facility with electronics—he was trained as an electrician—had an enormous influence. “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.”
This practice of altering or enhancing traditional sounds eventually included 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.
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, including multiple collaborations with the late Harold Budd. He has toured extensively, performing on his own, with a band, and with other artists, as he did with Brendan Perry of Dead Can Dance in 2011.
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.
- Re-creating the Sound of Cocteau Twins: Guitars, Synth Keys, and Drum Machine Beats. Kenneth Estrada y Santiago. YouTube. 10-Apr 2021.
- “Cocteau Twins, 4AD, The Mary Chain & Other Stories — An Interview with Colin Wallace”. lostantiphony. Arcane Delights. 15-Dec 2020.
- Robin Guthrie & Harold Budd to release collaboration. NEWS. 10-Nov 2020.
- Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie remixes Jack Colwell’s “In My Dreams”. Bill Pearis. Brooklyn Vegan. 23-Sep 2020.
- “Robin Guthrie Teams Up with Fawns of Love for New 7-inch”. Allie Gregory. Exclaim.ca. 2-Jul 2020.
- “The truth is not perfect: Robin Guthrie on the Cocteau Twins’ major label years”. Sonic Cathedral. 31-May 2020.
- “Writing Something Complete: An Interview With Robin Guthrie”. Kevin Korber. Pop Matters. 7-Jan 2015.
- “I’m suffering from old git syndrome”. Michael Bonner. Uncut. 20-May 2015.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Post-Punk.com. 23-Sep 2014.
- “SPIN’s 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. SPIN staff. SPIN. 3-May 2012.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Martin Aston. MOJO. Dec 2011.
- Robin Guthrie And Brendan Perry: 4AD Revisited. Kevin Cole. NPR “Favorite Sessions”. 26 Jul 2011.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Cameron Cook. Sup Magazine. 2010.
- “Building an Iconic Sound: Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie”. Ken Taylor. XLR8R. 22-Dec 2010.
- “From Cocteau Twins to ‘Carousel,’ Guitarist Robin Guthrie Mesmerizes”. Scott Thill. Wired. 12-Oct 2009.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Elegy. Nov 2008.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Plan B. 2008.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Aidan Smith. The Scotsman. Jul 2007.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. John Clarkson. Pennyblack Music. 2006.
- “Robin Guthrie and Cocteau Twins”. Martin Aston (with Robin Guthrie). MOJO. Aug 2006.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Wes Barker. Amplifier Magazine. 2006.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. John Doran. Play Louder. Jul 2006.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Ilker Yücel. Re:Gen Magazine. Jul 2006.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. The Press. Jun 2006.
- “Robin Guthrie: From the Cocteau Twins to Violet Indiana”. William Bernhard. Tape Op. 2005.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Nick Hyman. Under the Radar. 2004.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Olga Sladeckova. Pennyblack Music. April 2003.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. J. Marsh & Kevchino. Kevchino. Jun 2003.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. David Sinclair. The Times. Mar 2003.
- “Robin Guthrie/Violet Indiana: Interview”. Olga Sladeckova. Pennyblack Music. 21-Jan 2002.
- “Violet Indiana Marks New Beginning for Former Cocteau Twin”. Steve Gdula. ModernRock.com. 23-May 2001.
- “Cocteau Twins Go for the Fifty Percent Solution”. Fiona Shepherd. 2001.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Tom Topkoff. Hybridmagazine.com. 2000.
- “Former Cocteau Twin guitarist and ex-Mono Vocalist Siobhan de Maré emerge as Violet Indiana”. Octavia. Outburn. 2000.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde. David Peschek. MOJO. 1999.
- “The Cocteau Twins”. Tim Tucker. Total Guitar. May 1996.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Mike Gee. The i. 1996.
- “Heaven Handed”. James Rotondi. Guitar Player. Apr 1996.
- Interview with Robin Guthrie. Pat Mannion and Brant Nelson. Dewdrops Fanzine. 1994.
- “My Favourite Records”. Robin Guthrie. Melody Maker. Nov 1993.
- Profile: Robin Guthrie. Steph Paynes. Guitar Player. Feb 1991.
- “Purple Haze”. Patrick Jennings. The Guitar Magazine.
Solo performances, guest appearances, and other collaborations
|“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 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 on “For Love”||Lush||For Love||1991|
|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|
|“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|
|“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 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 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|
|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|
|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|
|“Lost in Monterey”||Solo (Various Artists)||Fractured Beauty||2006|
|“Argenta”||Solo||Little Darla Has a Treat for You v.24: Endless Summer Edition||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|
|“Shallow by Shallow,” “Fit to be Tied,” “Everlasting Gobstopper,” “Black and Blue,” “Baby Talkk”||Apollo Heights||White Music for Black People||2007|
|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|
|“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||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|
|“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|
|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|
|All tracks, production||Boreal Wood||Flares||2015|
|Production, mixing, and mastering||Heligoland||Coriallo||2017|
|Production||Jay-Jay Johanson||Lost Forever||2019|
|Production, guitar, programming||Fawns of Love||“Someday”||2020|
|Production, mixing||Jack Colwell||“In My Dreams”||2020|
|All tracks||Solo with Harold Budd||“Another Flower”||2020|