Progressive-Sounds: You've recently had a string of hot releases available as digital downloads, have had your tracks spun by some pretty hot names, and by the looks of things you have a lot more coming your way! Your rise has come with the speed of lightning. Does it amaze you how widely recognised your work is and how fast your have come to where you are today?
Andrew: It does amaze me and makes me feel very humble. I'm very thankful to everyone that's supporting my music, and I'm happy when anyone plays my stuff. It's not just about big names playing them, all the lovely mail I get makes it worthwhile.
Progressive-Sounds: "She Thinks She's Underground" is widely considered one of your hottest pieces of work, and it is certainly a favourite of ours. How did the idea for it come about, and how long did you work on it for? On that note also, do you generally spend long amounts of time crafting your works, or do things happen quite fast?
Andrew: That track - like most of my work - was built from the middle out. It was really just an 8 bar groove that I was happy with. The breakdown is pretty involved, so there was a lot of head scratching, but sometimes that's a nice way to find new ways of doing things. Most of my tunes form very quickly, which is a good thing because you don't lose spontaneity that way. For me the longest task is fine tuning dynamics and EQ, using them as an integral part of the writing process.
It's funny also because once they have a name they seem to take shape. Perhaps in some places in that track she does think she's underground, but she's a needy song, she makes you listen and wants to take you on a little journey, and of course she really really wanted to be underground…..perhaps.
Progressive-Sounds: A well received release was "Vertigo" by M'Ocean and Michelle Chivers on FeralCode Recordings. You were approached to work on a remix for the track. What were your first thoughts when asked to do the remix? Also, being one of the few vocal tracks you have ever worked on, did you run into many problems working on it, and how much have you learnt from the process?
Andrew: Yeah it's the first female vocal I have worked with, and I was lucky it was with Michelle. She has perfect pitch and a certain quality to her vocals. I liked her vocal so much I asked her to marry me! I tried to approach it in the same way I normally work: I didn't want to just lay a vocal over a track, so I just played the vocal over and over until it almost becomes an instrument, then built the elements around it. Once I had the engine, I'm back in the place I was with 'She Thinks She's Underground': the title, the lyrics or at least my interpretation of them helped set the tone. One thing I have learnt is I want to work with more vocals and it looks like I will be!
Progressive-Sounds: In an ever changing scene it can be quite hard to keep up to date with advancements in software and hardware. What are you currently using to work on your production, and are there any particular pieces of hardware or software you have your eye on as potential future investments?
Andrew: Well I have quite modest software requirements; I don't jump on the latest thing or newest version. If anything I want to spend more time digging into the things I really like. Cubase is my choice simply because I found the workflow suited me. I'm a big Reaktor fan and that's because of years of using modular systems, and still now I use a Nord Modular.
I also use FL Studio, mainly because I've used since version 1 and just know my way around it (I even provided a few little loops in early versions of the program). It's very modular in its approach, and while I don't write entire tracks in there, it's very good for mangling things and very quick for building ideas that I can later expand on in Cubase. I still have various shiny boxes in the studio that I like to revisit too.
Progressive-Sounds: Your work has been available from online digital music retailers for some time now. Being so involved with this area of releases, how do you feel they compare to your more traditional vinyl releases? Is digital the way forward, or will vinyl always hold that special place in your heart as it does with so many of us?
Andrew: I'm fond of vinyl but for different reasons maybe to most DJ's. I miss the days of getting a new LP with a gatefold sleeve and the art work that goes along with that. There's something very satisfying about hearing the needle running through the grooves, but that said the instant availability of Digital is great too. I would still prefer WAV over MP3, and now some stores are offering WAV it's going the right way. Digital has to be the way forward, we may not be as affectionate about it but we all use it and like any transition it feels sad seeing the thing you're used to using slowly disappear.
Progressive-Sounds: As a DJ, your sets have tended to push the boundaries beyond what one may expect from a progressive producer. A prime example of this is your recent "Tear Off Sessions" mix, which punched the genre wall with a highly ingenious selection of tracks. What mindset do you take when crafting these sets, and how do you go about finding the selection of tracks which you use?
Andrew: Well I don't think of myself as a DJ as such, there are lots of incredibly skilled DJ's doing a far better job than I could ever hope to, so I hope people can view my sets as another option. Perhaps they aren't what you'll expect but sometimes that can be fun. If I can at least get you to listen to something perhaps you wouldn't normally listen to then maybe I'm doing something right.
Progressive-Sounds: Are there any particular artists or people who have largely influenced you in what you do? How have they done so? Also, what CDs or tracks (electronic or non-electronics) are you listening to at the moment?
Andrew: So many influences, it would be difficult to point out all of them. But things I have listened to a lot in my formative years would be Stevie Wonder (Song in the key of life in particular) , very early Human League, Cabaret Voltaire and just about anything played by John Peel on Radio 1 in the 80's!
At the moment I'm listening to William Basinski - The Disintegration Loops, very much a 'less is more' experience and something I'm studying very hard. On the dance front I'm really enjoying Mathew Johnson, John Dahlback & Martinez.
Progressive-Sounds: Many love to argue that the progressive music is a dying breed, and that we don't have enough diversity to sustain. Personally we disagree with this statement, but what are your thoughts the scene as a whole, and do you feel that to any degree there is possibly a lack of diversity running through people at the moment?
Andrew: I think this kind of thing is very damaging to any group of people that make and enjoy a certain art form. Perhaps it makes more sense to move on and find something you like rather than hail the end of progressive music. Agreed that the ease at which music can be made nowadays, you run the risk that everything becomes diluted, but I have faith in people's ability to cut through that and search out the music they love, that way it can sustain. Perhaps I'm an idealist, but progressive music is more than just the producers and DJ's, it's the people that buy the records and go see the DJ's regardless of what's currently in fashion. There's a very obvious malaise in general I think, which leads to this almost anti-fan stance. It's evident in most forums that you would think would support the scene.
Progressive-Sounds: Finally, we all know the future of your career is looking very bright. Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now, and who would you love to be able to work with in the coming years?
Andrew: Hey, I couldn't have told your even a few years ago that I'd be here doing this, so 5 years time is so out of my scope! Moving into performance is something I'd like to do and something I'm working on, so if that doesn't work out by 5 years I'll know I'm doing something wrong! My massively fragile ego precludes me listing people I'd like to work with in case I frighten them off, but having said that Derek Howell, Pole Folder, Habersham, Jeff Belfi, Damien Heck are just a few people I've been into for a good while, and of course more work with the people I have been fortunate enough to work with already would be great. I'm working closely with Composure Records too because they afford me the freedom to push myself, and from an artistic point of view that's ideal. I've met some wonderfully talented people even at this early stage so I only hope I get to meet lots more.