Premiere: Feeling Like a Fish with Broken Robots’ “Dimes and Quarters”

Broken Robots © Joel Lopez
A dark rendering of criminal recidivism with an ominous outlook, Broken Robots’ “Dimes and Quarters” takes a hard look at desperation and strife.
Stream: “Dimes and Quarters” – Broken Robots




Books, art, music, and movies so often do one of two things: They teach us something about ourselves, or show us a new world – one of new, fresh perspectives and ideas, with people whose viewpoints differ from our own. It can be difficult to capture a completely divergent or unfamiliar perspective, but Broken Robots achieve this with effortless grace in their new single. A dark rendering of criminal recidivism with an ominous outlook, “Dimes and Quarters” is a hard look at desperation and strife.

Dimes and Quarters - Broken Robots

Dimes and Quarters – Broken Robots

You got copper, you got gold and you got silver
You always told me everyone’s a winner
That a great risk never goes unrewarded
It’s not my fault if I just followed orders
I been feeling like a fish outta water
I been tryna pay the rent with dimes and quarters
I been tryna play it fair
Why do I bother?
I would rather pay the rent with dimes and quarters
I been feeling like a fish outta water
I been tryna pay the rent with dimes and quarters

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering the music video for “Dimes and Quarters,” the fourth single off Broken Robots’ upcoming EP, The Escape Artist. A Chicago-based trio of Tony Baker, Kat Baker, and Lonnie Phillips, Broken Robots debuted in 2018 with their first album Home Is Not a Place, have been slowly building a dedicated following ever since. Their latest singles “Drippy,” “Sucker Punch,” and “Fourteen to One” highlight a band that refuses to conform to any one style, sound, or vision: Guided by the evocative, emotive vocals of Kat Baker, the trio offer a thrilling mixture of hip-hop, pop, trip-hop, reggae, rock, and more through their spirited, singular music.

With its heavy bass line and funky guitars laying down a driving groove, “Dimes and Quarters” quickly becomes a hypnotic affair. “I been feeling like a fish outta water,” sings a tense Baker, her voice slipping through the airwaves like urgent whispers. “I been tryna pay the rent with dimes and quarters.”

Broken Robots © Joel Lopez

Broken Robots © Joel Lopez



“This song was born with a bass riff that Lonnie came up with, just like the last few we’ve released,” Broken Robots’ singer explains. “Tony and I were screwing around with it (the bass and drum part) in ProTools one day, and sometimes we’ll just sing random phrases or words to come up with melodies. One of us came up with the “fish out of water” line and we never changed it – we wrote the entire song around it. We wanted the essence of the song to be kind of desperate, and it just made sense.

Baker continues, “The song is about an ex con who is contemplating going back to selling drugs (I would rather pay the rent with dimes and quarters) because they are struggling financially and never learned how to function as well in the “normal” workforce. As far as the video goes, we just wanted to show some sort of duality rather than follow a specific storyline like we usually do.”

Ashes to ashes, we’re clearing the dust
I’m askin’ why is it big brother’s always pickin on us?
You see him ridin’ undercover catchin’ every mistake
You know if you don’t want the trouble
you should let us behave
Ashes to ashes, we’re clearing the dust
And then we’re countin’ out our money
and we’re boarding the bus

You see us ridin’ undercover all the way to the spot
You know once you learn all the ropes
it doesn’t matter when you’re caught

A sometimes frenetic experience, the “Dimes and Quarters” music video matches the erratic emotions at the heart of this song. The primary visual – of the band performing on a stage – gets interrupted again and again by shots of various band members outside in nature; in dark, nondescript locations; and more. The result is that we feel closer to understanding who Broken Robots the band are and how they work together as a trio: The video elucidates far more about the band than it does the “Dimes and Quarters” story, and that’s okay: A little mystery allows us to consider the song’s application to our own lives, and to better appreciate moments where we’ve felt out of our element, displaced, scared, and uncertain of ourselves.

Perhaps what Broken Robots do best here is the way in which they create a sense of unrest: “Dime and Quarters” sends chills down the spine, refusing to give listeners any comfort or reprieve from its dark folds. Broken Robots embrace this uneasy feeling, proving themselves to be more than capable of taking any emotion and diving into it head-on, to much applause. Watch the new music video exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

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I been feeling like a fish outta water
I been tryna pay the rent with dimes and quarters
I been tryna play it fair
Why do I bother?
I would rather pay the rent with dimes and quarters
I been feeling like a fish outta water
I been tryna pay the rent with dimes and quarters
Stream: “Dimes and Quarters” – Broken Robots



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Dimes and Quarters - Broken Robots

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📸 © Joel Lopez (Lumbra Records)
art by Andy Saputo

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Mitch Mosk

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com