Arts & CultureCultural Affairs

Composer Robbie Teehan releases folk EP ‘River’

“This was really just me and about my feelings, my heart, my spirit, and my life. I’ve never really done that before," Teehan says.

Robbie Teehan has made his living and career in composing music for television and film. Known for scoring the 2021 Canadian Screen Award-winning film Scarborough, Teehan recently decided to release a folk EP titled River. While Teehan remains a composer, he has adopted the pseudonym Gentle Sparrow

As a composer, Teehan creates a lot of music for projects that aren’t his own. River is much more personal. 

“This was really just me and about my feelings, my heart, my spirit, and my life. I’ve never really done that before.”

According to Teehan, it was his partner that encouraged him to write more personal music and take up songwriting as an outlet.

“She had a sense that there was something deeper in me that I wasn’t giving the world just yet, and encouraged me to give it a try,” Teehan said.

“And the more I did it, the more I felt like this is getting me to some really deep, personal, and meaningful expression, which I hadn’t really had a chance to do before. So I just ran with it.”

Before Teehan began composing, he played tuba professionally in a number of bands in Toronto. Through this work and fellow musicians, he developed a “certain familiarity with the folk genre.”

“It was kind of a natural fit that when I started singing I would gravitate towards the folkier side of things because that’s been my background,” he explained.

According to Teehan, his familiarity with different musical genres comes across in the album. Obviously this includes folk music, but Teehan also has classical training. As a composer, he has arranged music for symphonies such as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

“I put some strings in there because I have a classical background. It’s a combination of new techniques of getting into a really vulnerable type of songwriting.”

“I feel like this music is the most authentic thing I’ve ever done,” Teehan says

Teehan wrote most of the songs on River while trying to make sense of an emotional experience. Releasing music that is more personal is “definitely scarier,” he said. With impersonal music, Teehan said it’s possible to maintain “a little bit of detachment” which makes it easier to deal with criticism.

“I think it’s forced me to go a lot deeper and be a lot more authentic in terms of how I’m showing up in the industry. That’s a good thing. I feel like this music is the most authentic thing I’ve done.”

One of Teehan’s favourite songs off the EP is the title track “River,” which he said is a good representation of who he is as an artist. 

“That song has always been the most deep and personal song out of all of them. It’s also the hardest to sing for a lot of reasons. I’m just really glad I was able to pull it off in one respect.

As he resides in Eastern Ontario, Teehan will mostly tour the EP around Ontario in the summer months. Currently, he is recording and writing new songs for a full length album which he hopes to release in 2025.

Dylana Twittey

Dylana Twittey is the 2024-25 Managing Editor at The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 News Editor. She is a second-year student studying history. In her free time, she enjoys watching 90s Law and Order, cooking, and rereading her favourite books for the fifth time.

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