The Rocks Off 100: Sloan Robley, The Last Houstonian Banshee
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? Sloan Robley of Silenced Within is a rarity in Houston goth music in that she's got metal in her veins. All the other spooky music in Houston tends towards the beepy and the boopy, through Ex-Voto keeps the deathrock alive. Still, Robley has a dark majesty to both her voice and physical form, and bringing both to bear on the music Silenced Within makes is how her song "Venomous" ended up No. 5 on our list of the ten best Houston goth songs ever.
It's a strange place to land from church-choir and classical-music beginnings.
"My mom sang in the Houston Methodist choir," says Robley via email. "As she was a single parent, I was the only kid in the empty pews listening to the choir practice. I would lie down in the pews, stare at the stained colored glass, and feel like I was floating. The music reverberating through the quiet sanctuary was surreal. I'll never forget that sound."
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In addition to Silenced Within, Robley is currently working with Allison Scott of Opulent, and hopefully venturing into an experimental side project called The Psionics she says is heavy on tribal beats.
Home Base: Silenced Within perfects their songs in the Sterret Street Studios downtown, but Robley's preferred writing place is in her car. She composed her latest song, "Puppets," in the parking lot of a Randall's on the back of an envelope. Her favorite place to play is actually Austin's Elysium, one of that city's few goth-receptive clubs. She enjoys its laid-back atmosphere, high stage, and gloomy décor.
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "Houston is my hometown," she says. "At 19 I had moved to New York to go to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I studied there for a year, got homesick and moved back to Texas played in a couple of jazz bands. Then I moved to California for ten years.
"I performed in about six different bands while in California, collaborated with friends on different music projects, and also got paid to be a background singer for different artists," continues Robley. "I met and fell in love with Davion [Silenced Within lead guitarist]. We were both in different music projects, but I begged for him to use me as a singer. He did not want to at first, but his drummer friend Rocco Paleone was like, 'Just give it a try.' We formed Silenced Within and have been writing songs ever since.
"We played in California for three years, then for employment purposes moved to Texas," she adds. "I have to say Texans go out a lot more and rock more than Californians. Just sayin'. Texan clubs and Texans in general know how to rock."
Music Scene Pet Peeve: Robley hates pushy bands that swarm the stage after the last note to push you off in order to get on themselves. She believes that ten minutes is not at all an unreasonable amount of time to expect for allowing breakdown before crowding out the previous act.
Good War Story: "Nightmare Fest in San Antonio," offers Robley. "We had Shawn Kascak, our bass player [formally from Outworld], plus gear stuffed in our truck cab.
We were flying to make it there on time and we bolted out of the car, slammed on our stage gear, did a micro sound-check, and whammo -- you guys are ON! Ha ha ha. I was a little frazzled and stiff from the cramped car trek, but hey, we made it and it was a stellar show. It was one of my favorites to date.
I also met my friend, John Cheek from El Paso there. I love John! He is a genuine person with a huge heart. He also has helped our career. Thank you John and thank you many friends that have shared Silenced Within. We appreciate you so much.
Five Desert Island Discs:
- Peter Murphy, Holy Smoke
- Luscious Jackson, Electric Honey
- The Cure, The Head On the Door
- Putamayo, Coffee Lands
- Bille Holiday, Songs for Distingué Lovers
First Song You Fell in Love With: "The first time I heard Cocteau Twins, Elizabeth Fraser's atmospheric vocals in 'Oil of Angels' -- I got swept away in her magic," says Robley. "Her voice is heaven to me."
Silenced Within plays with Love Story's End, The Lotus Effect, Peregrine Reverie Friday, May 10 at Acadia Bar and Grill, 3939 Cypress Creek Pkwy. (formerly FM 1960 W.)
See who else has joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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