For the first time, Robin Alice, the musical duo featuring Kelley Jakle from the “Pitch Perfect” movies, and Jeff Hortillosa, from the Whiskey Shivers band, will be performing on San Juan Island.
“This is a passion project for us,” Jakle said of Robin Alice, named after her family members. Thursday, Aug. 15, Robin Alice will be playing at the San Juan County Fair mainstage starting at 7:30 p.m. in a doubleheader that also features Micaiah Sawyer.
The website for Robin Alice describes the band’s music as pop melodies with rock ‘n’ roll muscle.
“The vocals themselves are catchy and dynamic,” Hortillosa said. “The riffs are heavy and played through driven tube amps. There’s a heavy dose of jazzy moments, soulful vocals and the spirit of the county Americana singer-songwriter duet.”
Hortillosa has played in the well-known bluegrass-fueled Whiskey Shivers since 2010, almost immediately after arriving in Austin, Texas. Hortillosa describes Whiskey Shivers’ music as high energy, rowdy, super-fun bluegrass with a ton of harmonies at ludicrous speed.
With Whiskey Shivers, Hortillosa has performed in the Pacific Northwest as well as throughout the United States and Europe.
“I’ve been almost everywhere in the U.S. a few times now, mostly a lot of dive bars in weird small towns, and also sold out giant clubs in big cities,” Hortillosa said. His journey into the music world began at a young age. According to Hortillosa, his family was always into music. At 8 years old he discovered the drums, and by 12 he taught himself guitar and began writing songs.
Hortillosa explained the unique experience of working on Robin Alice, noting that neither he nor Jakle was sure how it would turn out.
“We kept listening to great songs by female performers again and again to imagine the possibilities,” Hortillosa said. Some of his favorites, he said, were Regina Spektor with her clever and unexpected delivery, Sarah Jarosz’s haunting bluegrass and the Cardigans’ album “Life.”
Jakle said she draws inspiration from Alison Kraus and Hayley Williams, and most recently Incubus, Tool and System of a Down.
“I’m kind of all over the map,” she said.
When asked how Jakle got into music, she responded that she began singing about the same time she started talking.
“I’d stand on a chair in my living room and performed lullabies for my family,” Jakle said. “I was enamored with all things performance-based.”
Jakle noted that while she loved theater, for as long as she can remember, music was her first love.
“I didn’t delve deep into theater until high school,” she said. “Working with director Ed Trafton at Jesuit High School in Sacramento evened the playing field. I have had an equal passion for both ever since.”
Her breakout solo was in the third-grade playing a caterpillar-turned-butterfly. Jakle then joined the Sacramento Children’s Chorus and began taking piano lessons.
“It wasn’t until my teacher Jay Johnson started bringing me transcriptions of Michelle Branch and Sheryl Crow that I got hooked,” Jakle said. She began carting around her keyboard, playing and singing original songs at coffee shops and Sacramento wineries. Her junior year of high school, Jakle recorded and released an original extended play record. The following year as a senior, she joined an alternative rock band and released a second EP.
She became involved in the SoCal VoCals at the University of California. For four years she toured with the group and entered singing competitions. Three months after graduation, she said, she was cast as Jessica in “Pitch Perfect.”
“I had no idea that that job would have me working for the next six years, and eventually lead me to Horti and this band!”
Jakle and Hortillosa met while filming “Pitch Perfect,” and the duo clicked. Jakle was quoted as saying, “Our voices were a perfect fit. My voice tightened his, and his gave mine more depth.”
Jakle explained that her voice has a gentler tone, that has an airy quality to it, and Hortillosa’s voice gives it more of an edge.
“The depth comes from the added masculine dynamic and timbre,” she explained.
During their performance on Aug. 15, they will be playing music from their EP, released this year, “Here and There,” which features singles such as the smash hit “Late Bloomer” and “Greed,” which, according to the website, attacks America’s consumer obsession.
In a creative touch, the CDs are designed to look like vinyls, Hortillosa noted.
“We worked over two years to put this EP together and release it solely for the purpose of getting to express ourselves and create a home for these songs,” Jakle said, adding that they are thrilled to be performing in the San Juans. “We are so grateful to anyone who listens to our music or comes out to shows. We look forward to meeting all of you new friends.”
For more information about Robin Alice, visit https://www.robinalice.com/about-robin-alice.