Interview with Andy Bull

Andy BullAndy Bull has released two singles that cracked the Hottest 100 in 2013, and with an impending album and Groovin The Moo appearance, we caught up with him to have chat about what 2014 has to offer.

You’re sets are awesome and full of great songs, but we’ve only heard EPs, when can we expect the album?

Ha-Ha, you sound like my record company. I’m in the process of finishing it now. I don’t want to paint myself into a corner, but I think best case scenario I’m maybe a couple of weeks away from finishing it. I mean yeah it’s not 100%, but I think we’ll be alright.

You hear about people like Chet Faker scrapping their album in entirety, are you a perfectionist, and have you gone to those levels?

When I heard that about Chet Faker, I was like wooah, man. I’m a perfectionist and that has a good side and a bad side, and I’m sure Chet will say the same thing. I mean you have this habit that you want to keep making it better. But at the same time you have to accept that no more work or perfecting is going to make it better. You really have to be wary that you don’t believe you can polish a turd. If you write a song that is kind of average, then you can work and work at perfecting those musical techniques, but if the seed of the song isn’t good, then it’s not going to be a good song. That means that perfectionism can also fool you into making you can make things better, even when the soul of the song isn’t there. If the seed of the song is not very good, then it can effectively fool you into thinking the song is better that it is, and that’s also bad.

You talk about polishing a turd, does that mean you spend more time focusing on the lyrics to ensure that the seed is good.

I mean if you are singing, then you have to like what you’re singing about, if you are going to sing about it. I discovered that the thing I like about my music is my voice. And the melody and the lyrics are always the most important thing. And you don’t want that to be true because it seems old fashioned. And I don’t want it to be old fashioned, I don’t want to be old fashioned at all. But it is, and you cannot escape that old fashioned element. I mean you can mix it up and try different techniques, I could write the best synth sounds and do the best production and all that sort of stuff but at the end of the day it’s still a song. And still a song I have to sing. So, if the lyrics aren’t good, it doesn’t matter how good the synthesizers are because I don’t want to sing it because it doesn’t click. If the song wont click if it doesn’t stick with you personally. And sometimes you will click with it in the moment but over the time it will grow out of it. Perhaps that’s what happened with Chet Faker. At the time when you write it your like ‘this is great’, but with some reflection you may be like, this is more of an old habit, or these are other people’s ideas. I don’t know if that’s what happened, but I know that’s happened from my own experiences.

Are we going to see more of that synth pop on the new record, like with your two singles or are you going to drop some old school sounds on us?

I used the synthesizers a lot. I love the sound of it, it’s sort of the in-between of sounding futuristic and sort of nostalgic as well. You know what I mean, there’s something pretty beautiful about it, but then it always has some sort of alien element to it. It’s very, very beautiful sound. I have been watching a lot of documentaries on synthesizers lately, and in the 60s these were huge big instruments that took up half a room and nobody wanted to use them. But then you could put a lot of heart and effort into them, and really love them. And now everyone has a synthesizer, you can get them on your computer or your iPhone, and just make music there. But I only use real synthesizers. So to answer your questions, yes there will be a lot of synth on the album, but there will also be other instruments.

Yeah, that kinds of brings me onto the next question, will you be doing all of the other instruments, the guitars etc. as well. Because traditionally you have been a one man band.

Yeah, but I did use a drummer. Carlos who plays with me live is sampled on the record, and he pretty much makes this organic sound with the drums. So I have used that, and made my drums out of his basically. Bu there are some guitars and stuff, but a lot of it is very electronic.

Outside of the music, where have your influence been coming from, have you been listening to other bands in particular?

As a musician you are always listening to what other people are doing, and you need to be wary of what the trend is. That doesn’t meet you need to be in it though. But yeah I have been listening to a lot of albums like Dirty Projectors, Blood Orange, Metronomy, and even Kanye West. They are the ones that have release records lately that I’m really listening to.

Wow you really love your synth.

Ha-ha yeah. But then I couldn’t sing like Kanye West because it wouldn’t sound write. I couldn’t even sing like Blood Orange or Metronomy, because they are different songs, and because the lyrics are very important to me. It’s important to find the key. I mean my voice is an instrument as well, and you have to ask ‘what are your strengths’? What does my voice sound good doing? And I think my voice is better suited to being explicit about neglect and shame and devastation Ha-ha. So I guess that is what I focus on in the writing.

You mention at your shows you have a very high voice. Have you ever just tried to put on a fake baritone or something just to mix it up?

Ha-ha believe me I have tried everything.

You are playing the Groovin The Moo shows, have you done anything to try and adapt your shows to the festival stage?

Yea it’s really different because people aren’t stuck in a room with you, they can just wonder off. So we are trying to develop a set that has a lot of flow to it. I think that this will really be in mind as we prepare to it.

The several times I have you seen you, you have been in small venues which really adds to the intimacy. How are you going to capture that on the festival stage?

I want to try and keep that intimacy, but it’s really hard to capture that in such an open space, so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

I loved your duet Dog, with Lisa Mitchell. Have you got any other collaborations lined up, perhaps with some of the artists on Groovin The Moo?

All those collaborations tend to happen quite organically. When those things happen they tend to happen when you’re with friends and hanging out together, it’s not like a record company thing. It doesn’t happen that way. So there are so many bands on the Groovin the Moo lineup that I think are awesome, and I would love to do things with. I actually can’t wait just to meet them all, it’s a bit like the first day of school if you get what I mean.

Aside from Groovin The Moo, and potentially an album later in the year, what’s planned for Andy Bull in 2014?

We have a lot of big things. So we have GTM which is quite immediate, and then finishing the record which is quite a big thing. I think once we finish the record that will set of a chain reaction of things. I imagine that once the record is done, I will be doing a lot of touring in support of that. I also signed a record deal overseas, so I will probably go there and suss that out a little bit. Really just to keep going and see where things take me really. I mean you work so hard, but so much of life is out of your control, so I will just see what happens and ride that wave.

Do you feel that because the record company has put a lot time and faith in you, there is more pressure on this record to succeed?

Yeah there is definitely pressure. What I have discovered is that a lot this is dependent on me because I am on my own. If I’m not working on it, nobody else is. There are aren’t other people working on finishing tracks, writing stuff and things. And as other people aren’t making this record, if I stop doing it, take a break, then progress on the whole record stops. So I have to keep working on it, that there is a lot of pressure on me, but I have to remain pretty mellow and not let the pressure get to me. I don’t think pressure to succeed or finish is good. You kind of need to be calm, mellow and a bit humble if you want to be able to finish.

Or you might just end up writing some angry punk rock?

Ha-ha yeah. You really have to let your mind wander, and that takes time. It was said to get an hour of good writing, you need to be alone for four hours and you need to be able to let your mind wander.  You have to kind of create a space where those pressures and worries don’t really exist, or something like that, but it’s really essential not to let it get to you.

Well we can’t wait to see the end product, and to catch you at Groovin the Moo, thanks for your time.

Ha-ha me neither, hopefully it isn’t too long a wait. Thanks

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