NAVIGATING THE “SEA OF APPROVAL” WITH ANDY BULL

He’s probably one of the most talked about artist of 2014 in Australian Music and it’s for good reason, Andy Bull is a master of all things musical. His latest LP “Sea Of Approval” is sailing high on the aussie charts and he’s already got a sell out on his fresh announced “Sea Of Approval Tour” which will be visiting my quaint little hometown of Newcastle in September. Ahead of the national tour Andy was kind enough to have a little Q&A with me about the album, touring and synths which you can read bellow.

Alex: Hey there Andy congrats on the new album it’s called “Sea Of Approval” and it’s living up to it’s name, everywhere you look there’s nothing but a sea of approval for the album. Is the title a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Andy: Ah, well it depends on where you’re looking. Actually the title was meant a little ironically, but obviously I’m happy people have enjoyed the record.

Alex: You’ve taken a different approach with this new album, incorporating some synth work and glitches and sampling into the album. What made you decide to go on this different path with your music?

Andy: A few years ago, I started to feel there was maybe a more interesting or personalized approach I could take to production. I got my hands on an old synthesizer from a pawn shop and pretty soon just felt like the synth was able to make the sorts of sounds that I had all along been trying to hear. I guess you could say that it sounded the way I felt. I started doing home demos using the synthesizer. Then I got another synth, did more demos, and so on, until after a few years of mucking around felt ready to maybe try producing a record using some of the sounds, and what you might call more “electronic” ideas. The samples on the record are all samples of me playing or of my drummer, Carlos, playing. So it was kind of a mix of old fashioned recording and more common bedroom producing. Basically, I think searching, trying new things, keeping the process novel is partly what propels a person forward.

Alex: Your brother is known as the synth guy out of the two of you, did he have any part inspiration in the new sound for the album?

Andy: Maybe on some level. I admire my brother a lot, he’s very well respected. I think what he does he excellent. Certainly, we have some more common interests now, more shared ideas we can talk about musically and personally.

Alex: The album was self produced by yourself which is quite an amazing thing these days with so many artist having their work done by others. Was it liberating to be completely in control of your work as you made it?

Andy: Liberating certainly in some ways. I think self-production actually is very common these days, but perhaps more so in the dance music world or in music where beats and electronic production is the real guts of the thing. SOA isn’t a dance music record, but the approach was still pretty DIY, very much me just doing what I could mostly alone. Being able to work on your own time table I think is probably most significant aspect to working alone. You can go at a pace that personally works, meaning you can pursue ideas in your own time, or rather in the idea’s own time. I could, for instance, spend weeks on an idea that didn’t lead anywhere, without feeling like I wasted anybody else’s time or money. And sometimes, something would click only after a lot of mucking around, a lot of trying things. The only limit was my stamina! On your own, this is your prerogative, to do as you please, in the way that pleases you; not to say it’s easy, or that I am always pleased by what I am able to do on my own. Working alone, though, allows you some freedom to fail without judgment from others, and that’s good for your sense of autonomy, for your creativity. Another really important aspect of solitude is that it allows for honest self-reflection, in a judgment-free environment, which is essential for your entire person, but in particular your creative capacity. I think that working alone in this case was the right thing to do, although I will say that it comes with a pretty pronounced set of challenges too. It just so happened most of that the challenges and opportunities were the kind I were looking for. There really is no set right or wrong way to make a record. Next time, I will do it differently again.

Alex: You’re also known as a self proclaimed perfectionist, is there anything looking back on the album that you wish you could change? It must be hard to finally put something out as a perfectionist I suppose you’d always be going back and wanting to change things?

Andy: This is delicate, because perfectionism in the traditional sense is actually a rotten, fascist ideal; an extremist way of thinking. My idea of perfection is, I hope, different to that. Maybe there are things on the record I might change slightly were it a possibility, but I’ve come to except that as within the range of what you might call “perfection”. So, the “perfect” process in fact includes a necessary degree of “imperfection” or mistakes or oversights, things out of balance- you know, to paraphrase Leonard Cohen, there is a crack in everything, and that’s how the light gets in. When I say I’m looking for ‘perfection’, I just mean I’m trying to look for a thing to feel like it has clicked into place, like it feels whole, or complete. When a song feels complete, like its done, its time to move on, then in that sense I would say it has been ‘perfected’. When I finally stopped working on SOA, I knew that, with complete certainty, it was time to finish, regardless of the details.

Alex: You’re going on your “Sea Of Approval” tour in September it’ll be your longest tour in a while. Is there a certain crowd/city that you’re most excited to play to?

Andy: I’m pretty stoked to just be able to play to anybody.

Alex: You’re coming to Newcastle on the tour which is big because like no artist ever seem to want to tour here so thanks for putting us on your tour list.

Andy: Oh yeah, I’ve played in Newcastle on almost every tour I’ve done.

Alex: What can we expect from the tour? Is it going to be a mixture of older material and new material?

Andy: Mainly newer material, but kind of reimagined for the band, so it might be a bit more live sounding, a bit rockier than on record. I think the band is pretty ballsy, it’s a lot of fun to play.

Alex: Like we’ve said you’ve grown a lot in your music and incorporated a lot more synth and sampling this time around. Synth artist are kind of well known for putting on a big show for minimal cost with amazing lighting and such. Can we expect some kick-ass lighting effects from you on the tour?

Andy: I think that definitely, a lot of EDM artists are using a lot of light effects to bring a bit of theatre to their sets, to make it more of a performance. I think that because we play as a band and come from maybe a bit of what you might call an ‘indie’ background, we’ll mainly be concentrating on the music aspect and trying to make a vibe that way.

Alex: It’s going to be a long one I think it’s something like 20 days that you’ll be out on the road. How do you keep yourself entertained whilst touring and do you get down time to go out and explore the cities that you visit?

Andy: You’ve got to adjust your pace, get in sync with the “hurry up and wait” intervals of touring. Also, good chat is pretty key to getting by, and good music to listen to in the car. The band are really good guys, really good company, so its pretty nice to be able to just hang out with them in the calmer moments.

Alex: We’ve got some great stages and festivals here in Australia is there a any that are on your list for must perform at sites?

Andy: Well, a lot more offers are coming in now, which is pretty nice. I don’t mind what stage or festival, just so long as it sounds alright, the people running it are cool, and lots of people are there who want to have a good time.

Alex: I just came back from Splendour In The Grass, is there any chance we’ll be seeing you on the line up’s for some festivals next year?

Andy: I’m hoping so, stay tuned.

You can catch Andy on his “Sea Of Approval” tour which will be coming to a city near you in September, all the dates are bellow and ticketing information can be found HERE!

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