Q Robinson has been a member of the Empire Family for as long as any of us can remember. His is a presence that lights up any room and every time he comes by the office we're elated. His easy smile and sharp wit are punctuated by a wholesome, loving energy that makes everyone's day better. He currently plays with a beautiful set of Legend X in-ear monitors, custom engraved with his initials. He makes them look good.
Success and Humility
From Broadway to international tours to NPR's Tiny Desk series, Q is all over the place. When I finally had the chance to corner him, sit him down and bombard him with questions, I leapt at the opportunity.
Why don't you introduce yourself and tell those who don't know what you play, how long you've been playing, and where we can see you live?
My name is Quinton Robinson. But most call me “Q”. I’ve been playing drums since the age of three. But I’ve been playing professionally for about 25 years - I started early! Seeing me play: I play with a few different artists. I’m currently playing with Avery*Sunshine, Anthony David, Peabo Bryson, Algebra Blessett and Kenny Lattimore, among others. So it literally depends on the day.
What are the projects you're most proud of?
That’s a great question. I’m in a unique position. Although, I’m compensated, most of the projects I’m involved with are passion projects for me. So instead of saying “all of them”. I’ll just list the latest projects completed.
Avery*Sunshine - Twenty Sixty-Four
Anthony David - Hello Like Before (Bill Withers Tribute Album)
William Green - Mind Rush (Single)
Isaiah Freeman has three singles that have been released in the past 6 months that I performed on. Super proud of those for sure.
On the live performance side: Being a part of the music staff for the Broadway Bound Musical, “Born for This”: The Bebe Winans Story. I wrote the drum book and created all of the drum programming for that show.
Side Note: Three of the five projects mentioned are from Empire Ears Artists. (That’s Kinda Dope)!
Who are your greatest influences? Why?
How much time do you have? [Laughs] Seriously, I’m influenced by a variety of people, in the music industry and out. So for the sake of this interview, I’ll limit it to drumming influences. When I look back at my career, four names instantly emerge; David “Jody” Hill, Jonathan Joseph, Terry Baker and Will Kennedy.
DJH - When I was growing up in the music scene in Miami, there was one name that you constantly heard. It was Jody Hill. He was not only an amazing drummer but he didn’t mind taking the time to impart knowledge to the young drummers coming up behind him. He taught me how to be a professional. Additionally, he also taught me that it was ok to have a personality. Probably the most important lesson he taught me was to not take myself too seriously. A lesson that I have to say that I’m still learning, if I’m honest.
JJ - He was my drumming instructor while I was in Undergrad. He challenged me in every aspect of my playing. If I did something wrong, he challenged me to do it right. If I did something right, he challenged me to do it better. He was the one guy that made being able to read music a premium. He is a world class drummer who has played with Pat Metheny, Ricky Martin, Joss Stone and Jeff Beck, just to name a few.
TB - You can’t mention Gospel music recordings without calling Terry’s name. Over the past 30 years, he has been a part of some of the most prolific gospel projects recorded. He taught me how to be a recording drummer. He also taught me the importance of being able to effectively create and run drum programming. Terry is currently the drummer for Kirk Franklin.
WK - Will plays drums for one of my favorite groups of all time; The Yellow Jackets. We all know that Will is an amazing drummer. But Will is the guy that continues to show me that it’s ok to be approachable and a nice guy. Unfortunately, some of our more talented individuals in the industry aren’t necessarily this way. I’ve had the displeasure in finding this out first hand. Will has an amazing spirit and he makes it extremely easy to talk to him when he is around.
What are some of your favorite songs? Any technical masterpieces or guilty pleasures?
This changes over time. I’ll give you my top five songs right now and the drummers on those songs. If you listen to these songs, you’ll instantly understand why I love them.
Watch Your Step - Dave Weckl
Sight Seeing - Yellow Jackets/Will Kennedy
Lingus - Snarky Puppy/Larnell Lewis
Tell Me - Pages/Vinnie Colaiuta
Possess the Land - Marvin Sapp/Calvin Rodgers
What's the best moment you've had during a live performance?
There are so many. But, playing in front of 40,000 people with Avery*Sunshine was pretty awesome.
What's the most terrifying moment you've had during a performance?
Yikes!! I was playing a show and the monitor engineer must’ve went on a smoke break. I lost the click in my ears. I felt like time was standing still.
To whom do you owe your success? What is the key to your success? In what way, if any, is that reflected in your music?
All praise goes to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for my success. If it were not for him guiding my path and protecting me, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish ANYTHING. Next, I would have to say my parents and grandparents. They were my support system when I was growing up. They constantly told me I could do and be anything I wanted to become. Even when they didn’t agree with my choices, they still supported me. It was because of my upbringing that I operate the way I do. Not only as a musician and business entity, but as a man.
What are you grateful for?
In a word...EVERYTHING. The opportunity to travel, do what I love and support my family. I’m grateful for every artist, musician, producer, director and manager that entrust me with their vision. I’m grateful for the friends and colleagues that I have made throughout my career thus far. I’m grateful to every company that allows me to represent their brand. EVERYTHING!
Any advice for aspiring musicians?
Be Professional. Be Personable. Be Persistent. Be Pliable. Be Positive.
What gear do you use?
Pearl Drums, Sabian Cymbals, ProMark Drumsticks, Remo Drumheads, Roland Electronics and of course Empire Ears (Currently using the Legend X model).
How important are in-ear monitors to your performance?
On a scale from 1-10....100! (LOL). 90% of my performances, there is some type of click track or programming being utilized. My ability to hear well isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Using In-ear monitors allow me to control my hearing environment and key in on the things I desire to hear.
Best thing about being in the Empire Family?
The people! Don’t get me wrong, the products are world class. But being able to work with the Empire Family is one of my joys. Empire has worked extremely hard to cultivate a family oriented experience. I would say they have hit the mark with that among other things.
Lastly any notes you want to share?
I would like to take this time and publicly thank Jack, Dean and Cat for making me feel like a part of the family. Additionally, thanks to Dylan, Josh and Devon for the support and always making sure I’m considered. Every time, I walked through those doors, it feels like a family reunion. I appreciate you all. I am Q. Robinson and I’m with the Empire!
If you would like to know more about me and keep up with me, please visit my website or my social media: