Founder, Front Man and Songwriter
Robin was born in Iraq, where his people, the Assyrians, have lived for 7000 years. He migrated to Australia alone at age 17, with a suitcase, a guitar and not a word of English. Eventually his family joined him, and they settled in the remote Arnhem Land (NT) town of Nhulunbuy, where the bauxite mine offered plenty of work. Robin assimilated quickly into the local culture, joining a band and forming a close bond with the indigenous community, gaining an invaluable insight into another ancient culture.
When he moved back to Sydney he worked as a percussionist initially in the cabaret scene, then with original bands on the pub circuit. Then in the early nineties, the rising profile of World Music inspired Robin to start writing his own songs in his native Assyrian Neo-Aramaic language, a language that linguists predict will be extinct within two generations. But although he wrote lyrics in Assyrian, Robin’s music was heavily influenced by the styles he’d been performing as a percussionist, and this became the foundation for Azadoota.
Featured Tour: Return to Arnhem Land
After 43 years, Robin returned with Azadoota to the place that launched his musical career. A bittersweet trip for Robin, but Azadoota had the whole town abuzz.
Music video release: "Bruni"
Filmed at the historic Morgan Estate in California, Bruni is an exaggerated (or not) comedic representation of an Assyrian mother doting on her precious son.
Music video & single release: "Shinneh"
Shinneh means "years". The theme of water represents emotion in the video for this poignant closure ballad, which was the last song Robin worked on with his late father Awimalk Haider.
Featured Tour: USA and Canada
Azadoota were granted visas to perform in USA as a Culturally Unique act, in recognition of their work representing the Assyrian people in the global arena. The tour covered California, Arizona, Chicago and Toronto.
Music video & single release: "Unity"
A party anthem with a serious message, Unity was a top-25 semi-finalist for World Music in the International Songwriting Competition 2018.
Music video & single release: "Mazreta"
Mazreta means "spinning top". In this song Robin remembers his childhood toy, equating the top with his heritage and its spinning with the turning of the Earth and the passage of time.
Performance Highlight: Woodford Folk Festival
"Dance rock outfit Azadoota performed a fast-paced set of songs from the Middle East that danced the night away with a wonderful set of sounds from a mystic era." - AU Review
Music video & single release: "Lishana (Jesus Spoke My Language)"
Lishana is an upbeat rallying cry for young Assyrians to preserve their ancient language.
Performance highlight: WOMADelaide
"If one were to pick a single act that sums up the Womad spirit, it would probably be the Australian Iraqi party band Azadoota." - The Guardian
Album release "Beyond Bridges"
"Infectious, foot-tapping, hand-clapping, body-whirling slice of exotic rhythms" - The Australian
Album realease: Planetarian
"A tight, tasty smorgasbord of locally produced worldbeat." - Limelight
Azadoota is formed
Azadoota's first gig was in Byron Bay. They bought a 2nd hand van on Parramatta Rd the day before the gig, drove it to Byron, then slept in it after the gig because there was no affordable accommodation.
Latin Fire and Childbride days
Worked for six years as percussionist with pop-rock trio Floyd Vincent and the Childbrides and crazy Latin outfit Latin Fire. Robin developed his signature kit featuring congas, floor tom and kick drum played standing up.
Don McLean Australian Tour
Robin was hired as Don McLean's percussionist for a 3-month Australian tour. He describes how during that tour, while enjoying lobster and caviar backstage, he asked Don McLean what it took to achieve such a high level of success in the music industry. Don's answer? “You have to gamble on yourself, Robin”.
Five Star Band - Gove NT
The hottest band to come out of Nhulunbuy, until Yothu Yindi.
The Vikings - Kuwait
An unusual choice of band name for a band of Assyrians working in Kuwait, but maybe they were flying under the radar.