Name: Guy Andrews
Occupation: Producer, DJ, Live Act
Current Release: Tåke Reinterpretations. Available on bandcamp
Recommendations: Jake Wood-Evans - Two lights dance in the night (click here).
The movement in this painting inspired a lot of my music from a year or two ago whilst writing my last album. Jake in turn listened to my work in order to create the artwork to Tåke. Myself and Jake have spoken to each other in depth about our processes to creating new works and they’re incredibly similar – it was great to collaborate with someone like him.
Nadav Kander - Yangtze, the long river: Qinghai Province II (click here).
This is such a dramatic photograph and the whole series is really stunning. Kander took multiple photographs along the banks of the Yangtze, using the flowing river as a “metaphor for constant change” in China.
Website / Contact: For even more information about Guy Andrews, visit his website or soundcloud account.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
My interest in production started at the age of around 14/15 after learning to DJ at an even younger age. I didn’t really start producing and writing actual songs until I was around 16-17 years old, where ambient sounds that producers such as Brian Eno and bands like Sigur Rós would make really started to interest me.
I’ve always had one foot in some form of UK dance music, and another in very introspective ambient music. This has transpired into me now writing textural electronic music. I appreciate music’s diversity – I’m drawn to the huge variety of scenarios music can be placed in, and how context can enhance an artist’s message.
For most artists, originality is first preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you? How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
Up until my early 20s I spent a lot of time writing music under another alias that was essentially very similar to the artists I enjoy listening to. I became good at copying things, but not good at being original. That’s not to say I didn’t have the production skills to be more original, but my mindset towards composition just wasn’t in a place to appreciate music in a way that original works could be constructed out of what I was influenced by.
It took a very long transitionary period up until signing to Houndstooth in 2015 for me to fully embrace original production and composition. I had to go through a long period where I veered more towards writing music that audiences would be more familiar with – which involves a certain level of emulating other styles – in order to build a following.
Releasing Our Spaces was a complete music career reset for me. I knew a large number of fans at the time wouldn’t connect with the material as I started to add elements like guitars and distortion to my music. It was something I had to do in order for me to enjoy writing music again. Whilst previously writing more functional music for dancefloors I perhaps sacrificed one of the main reasons why I write music: to process emotions.
I needed to find my own sound that I could nurture over time and earn fans who’d connect with my music on an emotional level.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
The more I write, the less I am bothered about having high production standards, which were originally my goal. In fact, for a few of my favourite artists, the sonics of their records have actually deteriorated over time as they experiment with more unusual production methods.
I think there’s a lot more to say with interesting composition than there is with super-high-fidelity production. A mix of the two is what I’m trying to achieve.
My biggest challenge now is truly understanding what I’m doing musically: why am I writing this particular piece? What story is it telling? Is a story I actually want to tell? My composition comes from a place that’s essentially quite naive to compositional do’s and don’ts, and this can sometimes translate to blurred answers to those questions when writing. I’m always working towards more clarity with compositional narratives.
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
I have always been completely computer based up until the recent few years where I’ve experimented with a couple hardware synths in various forms. I still question whether the latter actually bring much benefit outside of reducing the time it takes to get *that* [insert synth manufacturer name] sound – but they’re very good for playing live with.
I had a real moment of realisation about 12 years ago when working in a mastering studio that essentially stopped any desire of mine to own outboard gear. The studio I worked at had some of the very best outboard audio processing hardware you could buy at the time, but the engineer – who was seen as a veteran in the industry – was using software plug ins for 99% of his projects. He wasn’t cutting corners at all, but he knew he could get the result he wanted from software, and this really resonated with me.
As a result of this, the only real evolution of my studio has been processing power and software used. My first ever set up was a noisy PC with Cubase, but eventually moved over to a Mac and Logic. I now work on a Mac Pro – it’s powerful enough so I don’t ever have to bounce any synths or audio tracks down, which is core to my process – and Logic remains the main D.A.W for me.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
Putting together a live act made me think about this in depth. When you’re on a stage and performing live electronic music, the interaction between the performer and her/his technology is one of the most important factors when thinking about overall stage presence.
On stage, I make use of a really wide range of tools to be able to create music in real time in front of people. Customisable controllers – like the Monome – I find really interesting on stage, as you can use this to essentially create generative compositions based on your interactions with the device. You’re planting seeds and seeing how the technology grows them into musical ideas. This works particular well for ambient and drone music, where it’s more acceptable if you go atonal!
In the studio I take a very different approach. Unlike my live show, it is less about taking myself way out of my comfort zone to create new music ideas, and more about relying on my fluency in programs such as Logic in order to accurately create sounds that are in my head.
I’ve grown my ability in being able to compose musical sketches in my head and away from technology. I then rely on my proficiency with software to quickly turn these ideas into actual music. There is always a constant theme of exploration that’s integral to my “offline” processes – I find myself listening to everyday sounds quite closely and feed in the subtleties back into the textures in my music.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
My music relationship with Logic is almost symbiotic. Without it I wouldn’t come up with the sounds that I do. I’ve tried to switch to other D.A.Ws like Ableton and Bitwig, both of which are great, but the painfully extended processes that Logic requires its users to fulfil just seems to work for me. By the end of a big project I’m pretty exhausted, I regularly lose track of elements within a song for periods of time, only until they resurface towards the end of production. There is almost a wrestle between myself and the software I use – I have to push it to the point where it starts acting in ways I don’t expect.