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Black Square – Interview + ‘Beyond Your Reach’ Premiere

PW – Hey Andrew! How are you doing?

Really good thanks.

PW – You are releasing your second album ‘Beggars Opera’ on the 17th April. What can you tell us about the direction and sound of this project?

This is a continuation of my music from Silent City exploring all the different types of music I listen from songs with vocals to darker, more dance floor oriented music. I try and get as many difference styles and shades into the music as possible and make an album rather than a collection of songs in one style or genre. Each track has to have its own voice and variety and yet compliment the albums a whole.

PW – Following ‘Silent City’, you took a four-year hiatus from music. What did the time away from things teach you, and has it informed the work on the new album at all?

It was an opportunity to work on some of the basic skills as a producer and mix engineer. I wanted to become fully self-sufficient so that I can be in control of all aspects of the music. I used to outsource aspects of the music to people such as mix engineers and orchestral composers but now I can do everything myself. Not to say there aren’t other people working on the album but it was part of a long drive to do it all myself. I’ve started working on a third album and that will be all me, give or take a vocalist or string player. Another reason for the hiatus is that to make music with variety it takes time to allow for you to change and the music changes with you. I write music everyday and after a while I’ll have a load of material. Then I’ll collect what I think are the best tunes and keep them separate for an album or to send to vocalists. It’s a slow process of experimentation where I try to make sure there’s enough variation to keep any album interesting. There are a lot of ideas which will never see the light of day.

PW – Your first release from the album, ‘Coral Blues’ features vocalist Laville. What made him the right guest feature for this track, and what was the collaboration process like?

Andre was great to work with. He’s mates with Se.V.eN and Graziella who also feature on the album so when I started writing this new music we were looking around for vocalists who might want to get involved and his name came up. I checked him out and was really impressed. I sent him a the raw version of the track, which sounds very different to where it is now, and he really liked it so agreed to write the top line. He was a super pro to work with. Came to the session knowing what he was going to do, smashed the takes and was really quick to have and listen to ideas to get all the backings. All the vocals you can hear were recorded in about 3 hours.

PW – We are premiering the track ‘Beyond Your Reach’ today- what inspired the making of the track, and how did you approach Louise (or visa-versa)? 

I used to play guitar in bands before I started producing so this was just an ideas I had written a while ago. It had a kind of Radiohead vibe and was nice to play a bit of guitar again to separate it from some of the heavily synthetic, edited tracks on the album. Louise I met through a friend years ago and have always been really impressed with her voice and work with Bamboo Smoke. She has a really authentic, jazzy voice. I contacted her to see if she would be interested in working on a track and she was, she wrote some lyrics and melodies and we met in the courtyard of Somerset House and she sang the ideas to me. We worked through it then met up for the recording session a week or so later. Her backing vocals were so great I decided to end the song by fading everything else out and just leaving just her voice which sounded great. I really like how this track adds some balance to the album, particularly her vocal tone in comparison to the other vocalists.

PW – How does living in Brighton inform the direction/ production of your music, if at all? As someone who also lives outside of London, I find my own challenges and positives, so I was wondering if any of this relates to your experience? 

I don’t think it has a huge amount of influence on my music except maybe there is less distraction and I’m living a healthier lifestyle since I moved from London. It still has a really vibrant music scene which I need to be around and I can get to London for gigs etc. I don’t think it effects my style as such, just clears the mind so I can work better.

PW – In this kind of industry, it can be tough to feel like you’re moving forwards sometimes. How do you battle these feelings when they come up, and do you have any advice to other people who might be struggling in a similar way?

I feel that the way I keep momentum is by working all the time. The reason I make music is that I provides my life with purpose, direction and is the antidote to low feelings, ironically even if those feelings are created by the frustration of working in the music industry. If I feel like I’m not getting anywhere then making new music is the answer to that. If you get your work ethic sorted from that other things will flow.

A good piece of advice is to compare where you are now to where you were 5 years ago. You may be having a slump at the moment but imagine telling the 5 year ago you what you’re doing now. They would probably be blown away. If you’ve been working hard and overall there is an improvement it can be hard to see it from day to day but take a long view and you’ll see that you are getting somewhere. The same applies to making music. You will always have days where the ideas don’t come and you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere but if you can look at those days as a necessary and useful part of an overall process of improvement then it makes it easier. It’s getting better all the time, you just need to find ways to remember that.

PW – And final question! It’s more of an invitation actually. Use the next few sentences to tell us what you’re up to next, and where we can follow you online 🙂

Apart from the album release the next stage is to start putting together a live show. I’m meeting a friend of mine in a few weeks who does lighting for Burning Man. We’re going to talk about putting together a bespoke music and light show made from the album. Maybe with vocalists, maybe not. Watch this space.

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