Alt-Pop artist Andy Bull has one of those voices that makes you fixated to it's ambiguity. Andy's new album, Sea Of Approval is an exploration of the irony in life and being an artist. When listening to his lyrics there is a relatable feeling. Ideas of uncertainty, identity and approval resonate in his tracks, like "Keep On Running", "Talk Too Much" or "Baby I Am Nobody Now" and the obsession to be 'liked' in our world of social media is depicted in "Loved Like You."
Admitting that he's not entirely the most comfortable with self promotion, I had a chance to chat to Andy about his new album and his involvement in Telstra's Road To Discovery program. Telstra's Road To Discovery is a competition program that help independent and unsigned artists to establish themselves in the music industry with mentoring, advice, recording, touring and much more! You can enter at telstra.com/trtd.
Also, you can read my consolidated interview piece on THUMP (here) where Andy and I talk more about his transition into electronic production, his experience with Kayne, how Sia is an extreme version of himself and his thoughts on the new wave of bedroom beat-makers like Flume and Chet Faker, plus explaining how a tweet from Megan Washington lead her to star in the "Talk Too Much" video clip.
Photos taken by me at the Telstra's Road To Discovery 2014 Launch
Hey Andy, how does it feel to finally be releasing a new album with fresh material?
It's a mix of things - relief, excitement and ambivalence, all of it really! It's sort of like interacting publicly again. I've recorded a lot of music over the past year but didn't release it. It's different and nice. I'm not completely comfortable with some of the self promotion aspects of it. For the music, it's kind of like when you finish a project and you want to keep fixing it and working on it to make it better. But a mix of feelings.
You've produced the whole album yourself. What's it like?
Doing it all yourself gives a kind of freedom and greater responsibility. I found it quite challenging doing it all on my own but the advantage is when you're in a room on your own you are clearly aware of what your bad habits and weaknesses are. It forces you to ask questions like, why I am doing this, since there's no one else making me do it. Also, because there's no one there, all the answers have to come from you and how you want to produce it. Production is partly a practical thing like planning things in and organising time. Then there's the creative as well, like thinking about the creative ideas behind the project. Doing it all myself forces me to face up to myself and didn't allow me the luxury of deferring or blaming someone else. But it was good. I think it should be something everyone should do, just to be alone and be honest with themselves. It's healthy but it's kind of confronting working on your own as well.
You seem quite philosophical and a little sombre in your new album, especially with some of the lyrics.
Yea, I would say that over the course of working on this particular record, I've tried to honestly engage more with some of those feelings, like feelings in myself that are kind of circumspect or somber or just maybe taking the rose coloured sunglasses off for a bit and being a bit more, what I at least for the moment think, realistic about what life is. Life is, from what I understand, mostly disappointment, failure and everything like that, but that's kind of okay too. Music is a good way of taking events or experiences that you might have otherwise just considered as an outright loss, and turning them into something nice or good. Although, you can see pain in that as well. There's no aspect of life that doesn't have a kind of sombreness to it.
If you could create your own Andy Bull universe, what would it be like?
Man who knows! I feel like I sort of was in my own Andy Bull universe for the past year (writing the album). Umm…hopefully it would be a very peaceful and gentle place where no one would try to prove any points. It would be a world without extremism of any kind. It would be a world, that would have change a lot. I reckon that's key. A universe that's in constant flux.
You've conducted master classes with Telstra's Road To Discovery. How important do you think programs like this are for young musicians starting out?
Good question! I didn't do anything like this myself when I was starting out, which I would have benefitted from and I possibly had a comparatively narrow experience. I think if you started performing from the suburbs or a country town, it's really hard to come to the city. A lot of kids I have met moved from more regional areas to places like Sydney or Melbourne and it's quite hard to quickly adjust and understand how things operate, like who is who and how to play shows. There's so much knowledge that you don't just get on arrival. I think any program that provides an environment where people are able to share their experiences without a vested economic interest is good. Like, I'm not their record company, I don't necessarily care what they do stylistically or anything like that. I just want to talk and share experiences. Any environment like that, where people can share experiences without there being an economic interest or commercial imperative to their success, is worth while. You get more genuine shared experience and not guidance that might not be appropriate. The potential for something like this is really good.
For new listeners of your music, how would you describe it in 3 words?
Hmm…let me think about this. There's song on the album called Something I Guess. I feel like I can explain it that way. Something I Guess.
Having signed to US record label Republic Records just last year, will we be expecting tours in US for you soon?
We will see. I'm just taking it one step at a time and seeing if people are interested. I mean, I'd like to go all over the place but I feel like I'm going to leave it to the people to decide.