Joel Roberts

Joel Roberts





Joel Roberts has never been afraid to experiment. From the wild-eyed electro-punk days of Stylex to the infectious synth-pop from goLab, Roberts has been involved in quite a few fascinating projects, including his relatively recent recreation of "Pet Sounds" by the Beach Boys, only using his own vocals and a small keyboard sequencer. 


Tell us more about some of your past projects?   

I was in a band called Stylex from 1998-2007.  Since 2006, I've been performing live as goLab, but I've been recording under that moniker since about 1996. I collect old analog synthesizers and Casio keyboards for use in goLab recordings so the music tends toward the synth-pop genre. I have released 4 goLab albums through Pretend Records (record label run by myself
and former Stylex member and current Toledoan Dustin Hostetler). 

What current projects are you working on?

I've been working this year on finalizing a new goLab album called 'Times Out'. I hope to be releasing it very soon. I also play synthesizer in Flamtronic, another local band. 

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

Affordable housing and low cost of living in a great neighborhood (Old West End) has allowed me to build my own studio. There is a great and supportive community here. Toledo is also a good gateway for a touring musician to perform in a lot of other great nearby cities.


Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

I made a meticulous cover-album of The Beach Boys 'Pet Sounds', doing my best to emulate every bit of it but using only a small keyboard sequencer (yamaha qy100) for the sounds and production. It has been well-received and I'm proud to have completed it. I've had some great interactions with idols of mine on social media because of it. Apples In Stereo frontman Robert Schneider and legendary prolific home-recorder R. Stevie Moore, for example, are now E-friends of mine. 



Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

These days, I get my greatest thrill from playing my newly composed music for my children, ages 2 and 5.  To see them dancing to it and asking to hear it again when it's over is the best feeling.

Tell us about your background.

I grew up in nearby Bowling Green, Ohio. I've been playing keyboard ever since I was a kid, but started taking it more serious when I saw an episode of Growing Pains in which Kirk Cameron gets to fill in for his dad's band reunion using his 'piano lesson skills'. I later learned guitar and started playing in bars in BG when I was 14.  I acquired a broken synthesizer around 1998 and a dream of repairing it inspired me to pursue an Electronics degree from Owens Community College which I earned by 2000. I moved to Toledo in 2004 and have loved living here. I spend my days fixing alarm and camera security systems and my nights making music.

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

"I do not believe making money in order to consume goods is mankind’s sole purpose on this planet. If you’re wondering what I believe our purpose on this planet is, I’ll give you a hint…it has to do with creating and sharing." — Bill Hicks

Favorite place for local culture?

Ottawa Tavern 

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

Robinwood ConcertHouse  (

My favorite place to chill locally is . . . 

Black Kite, Ottawa Tavern, 

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . .  

Oak Openings

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found . . . 

Playing with my kids

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .  

More events like Soundtrek to get people into the Uptown area to support visiting multiple venues to enjoy different types of music on a single night.  


Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

I also have played in a band called Tropical Dudes which is a collaboration between myself and a musician friend, Jason Clever, from Columbus.  We hope to have another album together next year. The preliminary recordings have been very promising.

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

Crispin Glover

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

I spend an embarrassing amount of time browsing

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

obsessive, compulsive, ordered

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

Brainiac-Bonsai Superstar, Devo-Duty Now For The Future, Phoenix-It's Never Been Like That, Burt Bacharach-Woman, Todd Rundgren-A Wizard, A True Star

My biggest vice is . . .  

I installed a kegerator in my home for easy access to my tasty beers.

What’s the last dream you recall having? 

I dreamt I was a contestant on American Ninja Warrior.   I did not win.

The last lyric that moved me was . . .  

"i guess there's still time

time to change our minds

still time to try things, till we get it right

still time to shake hands

still time to make friends

yeah, well I guess there's still time....  

well, there's still time!" 

- from "There Is Still Time" by Charlie Slick 

One movie character I identify with is . . . 

Harry Washello (Miracle MIle)

The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .  

A Radioshack version of the Casio SK-1 keyboard sampler as a Christmas present when I was 8.

My most inspiring moment was/is . . . 

Opening up for the band Brainiac at a small bar in Bowling Green in 1993 and learning what an analog synthesizer was while seeing their absolutely mind-blowing performance.

I want my last meal to be... 

'Traditional Chicken Curry, medium+' at Tandoor Indian Restaurant here in Toledo.


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