Filed under: Interviews | Tags: As The Snow Fell, iambic, interview, Move EP, Under The Stars, We'll Sleep
At the age of 20, with two full albums and an EP already under his belt, the London based producer Guy Andrews (aka iambic) is already making his mark in the electronic music scene. Guy has managed to craft a completely unique sound which stands out from the crowd. With a new album on the horizon, and an experimental EP coming up on Fluid Audio, we believe this is one artist with a very big future ahead of him.
We recently caught up with Guy to find out a little more…
Q: Who is the man behind Iambic the artist?
A: The man behind iambic is Guy Andrews, a 20 year old University student who was born and bred in the south coast of the UK and doesn’t like talking about himself in third person narrative. My interests outside of music are pretty much non-existant, I only really enjoy making music, DJing and learning how to play new instruments. Kind of narrow minded I know. I am also currently studying a degree based around computer programming for audio software at Westminster University.
Q: Where are you currently based Guy?
A: At the moment I am based in a small town called Worthing on the South Coast of the UK. I study in London so when it’s term time I move back up there.
Q: What musical influences did you have growing up?
A: From the age of 10/11 I was absolutely addicted to Drum ‘n’ Bass, and have been ever since. That has definitely been a massive influence on my production techniques and song structures.
Q: Was there a defining moment early on in your life Guy that made you think “Yeah…I’m going to make music for people to enjoy”
A: No. I don’t make tunes for anyone apart from myself, I am just amazed that people seem to enjoy what I write. It’s such a fantastic compliment when people come up to me and comment on a tune they’ve enjoyed!
Q: When did you actually start creating music?
A: I suppose when I was a child, my father had a piano which I’d play around on. I have never learnt how to read music, just been improvising since I was small.
Q: When did the Iambic project begin?
A: I think the first tune I wrote was around 2004/2005. It’s called ‘Now We’re Mobile’ and is on my first album ‘Under These Stars, We’ll Sleep Again’.
Q: Where does the name come from/What does it mean-represent?
A: It comes from a Squarepusher tune. Originally I just slapped a ‘²’ on the end to make it read better but people just got too confused over it so now it’s just ‘iambic’. It’s a horribly pretentious name I know, and I still don’t know if I even like it. But hey, it’ll do!
Q: When/Where was the first gig/event you played at-How did it go- How did you feel?
A: It was at an open mic night in a pub in Worthing. The other acts were old men playing acoustic covers of songs such as ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. Then we come out with copious amounts of laptops, racked up gear, guitars etc. and performed a really bad set consisting of just two songs. Needless to say, we walked away thinking that we’d probably just played the wrong venue.
Q: What equipment do you use when playing live?
A: Errm it varies… Well, my input for the live act does… The heart of the live act is Ableton Live 7 running on a Macbook. Normally we leave it to just play backing tracks on bigger gigs but on smaller shows where we can’t play a load of instruments I just trigger samples. I use a MOTU traveller sound card and have everyone running into it to create a headphone mix for our in-ear monitoring. I run my vocals or saxophone through a Boss DD-6 delay pedal and sometimes even run our Glockenspiel through it.
Q: Describe how you feel when you play live to an audience Guy…
A: I tend to just zone out and go into my own world. I suppose it helps calm my nerves, you just have to know when to snap out of it so you can pay some attention to how the audience is reacting.
Q: Musical bio from 1st production up until most recent?
A: Started DJing when I was 11 then slowly got into producing my own tunes on software such as Ejay. Then I realised Ejay was complete shit and moved onto other various DAW’s, mainly Cubase for a while. Made my first ambient album ‘Under These Stars, We’ll Sleep again’ after realising I couldn’t write good Drum ‘n’ Bass. I then made the final DAW switch to Logic, upgraded my home studio and kept writing tunes. ‘As The Snow Fell’ was completed only about 7 months after ‘Under These Stars…’ came out, and soon after I switched my style to a more live sound.
Q: “As The Snow Fell” is a unique album in so many ways.
A: When I played a gig in Graz last year I ended up chatting to Photophob (the label owner of Laridae) and he convinced me to turn an ambient EP I was going to make for him into a full blown second album. The album features a lot of tunes which I didn’t think would fit my first album plus a few newer ones.
The entire album was recorded in my home using Apple Logic 7.2, MOTU 828MKII, Reaktor 5 and a few other bits and pieces. The art work was created by Photophob, I just told him I wanted something that had a mountain/snow theme and that’s what he came up with!
Q: What kind of studio equipment do you use?
A: I tend to keep it mainly software based due to the fact I move home a lot. At the moment I am using Logic 7.2, I have used Logic 8 a lot for academic purposes and just don’t feel I need to upgrade. A lot of people seem to forget the old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t bother fixing it”. My primary synthesiser is the Carbon 2 synthesiser in Native Instruments Reaktor 5. I find it just gives me the speed and flexibility I need to create the pads, stabs etc that I need and I don’t have to spend hours tweaking things.
Reaktor 5 in itself is excellent, it’s not as hardcore as MAX/MSP or SuperCollider but again, it’s reasonably quick to use. I love just spending hours developing tools that I can use live or for other projects. For example, my latest tool is a live vocal sampler where I can grab tiny fragments of my voice, loop them, layer several on top of each other then adjust the pitch to turn it into a synthesiser-esque pad sound. I chucked a step sequencer in so it can now play sequenced patterns. It’s pretty fun to play around with!
Q: Did it take a long time to build up your studio kit and how much have you spent over the years?
A: Yeah it’s taken a long time, at the moment I am happy with the majority of my set up. Especially my Mac Pro, I just cannot max it out – even when I’m doing tracks that have loads of CPU intensive synthesisers running. I’d like to get one of those new Line 6 POD X3’s as they look pretty nice, but they’re rather expensive. I suppose I have spent quite a lot over the years, considering I’ve been known to blown a lot of my student loans on bits of gear. I often prefer to wear clothes that are falling apart and not buy new ones just so my budget can stretch to that new piece of gear!
Q: Any tips for someone just starting out with regards to building a home studio?
A: Take some time researching correct speaker placement and acoustics, just positioning your monitors correctly will help with mix downs and getting a good stereo image. Also just save until you can buy the best piece of gear you can afford, if it takes the extra 6 months to buy that dream pair of monitors then just wait until you can get them, it’ll pay off in the long run. Another thing, never reject looking at second hand bits of gear, sometimes you can come across some really good deals on vintage equipment that could potentially improve your sound.
Q: Fav piece of hardware?
A: My favourite piece of (under used) gear is probably my Aphex Aural Exciter, I like to run my entire drum mix through because, as it’s pretty old, it makes it sound a bit more lo-fi. This is really useful when working with samples as programmed drums can sound really un-natural if you use samples which are just too clean. That’s why I tend to stay away from using those drum sample libraries you can buy, I simply use my own samples I’ve recorded or old funk drum breaks.
Q: Do you have a process that you like to stick to when working on new material in the studio/djing?
A: Not really, but most of the time it starts off with the drums, then bass, then keys, pads, strings, fx. It really depends on the song, sometimes I may get an idea on the guitar then record in the riff and work from there. I suppose my style is fairly diverse now so it’s hard to stick to one straight regime when writing tunes.
Q: What genre would you say your music fits into Guy?
A: The stuff I am making now is more ambient jazz/post-rock. I can’t really define ‘As The Snow Fell’, I suppose it lies somewhere around electronic ambient…
Q: Plans for the future/Upcoming releases/gigs/events???
A: I have two full length albums and one EP lined up for release. One album is going to be released on an American label and will be a soundtrack to a film that’ll never be made, so each tune is like a scene of this made up film. The other album is going to be my main tunes I’ve been working on over the past year and the EP is a project based on creating improvised loops out of instruments and things found round the house. Also I’m going to be working with the Irish post-rock band ‘Halves’ doing a remix of one of their tunes.
Live performance wise, we’re just going to be gigging occasionally in and around the UK for the next year with some possible European gigs coming up.
Q: Why is music important to you Guy…………… 🙂
A: Because it brings people together who’d never get the chance to meet originally.
Q: What words can you give to new artists wanting to make music…….
A: A good thing to do when starting out is get a group of close friends, or just a single friend, to be your musical mentor. It’s probably best if they aren’t overly musically minded, but really enjoy listening to music and know what sounds good to them. Send them your finished tunes and get them to give you constructive feedback, ask them to be honest and take on board whatever criticisms they have. The one down point in this is that you could be altering the track to their personal musical taste, defeating the object of writing music for yourself, so just listen to what they say and make a decision on what you think is best to do. When you’re ready, start showing your tracks to more people and see if they like them. If the feedback is good then it may be worth sending tunes out to labels to see if they’re interested.
Most importantly, just make music that you enjoy and would want to listen to yourself. Every musician copies other musicians, it’s the way music progresses. Just try and take from your influences and create something new which is your own.
If you’re after more exposure and a bigger fan base than what you’d get with just releasing tunes by yourself or on a free net label then you also need to create a live act to perform your music and get yourself heard. A big problem for me was how I’d translate the songs from the studio to the stage and this took ages to figure out. Think about how much you want to replicate the songs and take it from there. Coming from an electronic based music perspective, if you want the tunes to be identical to the studio versions then make it very sample/loop based. If you want to spice things up a bit, start adding live instrumentation or sampling to the act to make it more interesting. There are a lot of live electronic acts out there who just sit behind their laptops quite motionless, as if they’re writing an email or checking their online banking whilst iTunes does the work. Try not to fall victim to this if possible, just make it more interesting – it’ll definitely pay off!
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