Once Upon a Time…
there was a zonally deaf boy whose ears bled. Doctors tried to convince his mother that he could not hear at all but she knew different. He was just prone to being lost in his own head - that still happens but that was then and this is now. Strange that he should choose music to fill his life - here’s how it all came about…
Andy is no stranger to experimenting with voice. A sparsely equipped sound studio at Art College was the catalyst for him to start producing soundscapes for his films using nothing more than what he could create vocally. In the studio there was no equipment available that could produce anything remotely akin to what he wanted so instead he sang into samplers and used chants and breath to create percussion and texture. He developed these techniques whilst fronting bands and sang whatever came naturally to him. This included using unorthodox techniques and scales which enhanced this ‘other-worldly’ feel.
Although he had no previous exposure to vocal techniques of different cultures the press started to compare him to singers such as Natasha Atlas and Lisa Gerrard. Keen to know more Andy sought out Invaders of the Heart and the 4AD label and also began to look at Bulgarian music, Hindustani classical, Mongolian throat singing and Arabic muezzine styles finding something of what he already did in all of them.
This sparked off a journey to India in 2000 to explore this inherent quality in his voice. Andy spent time in Calcutta with vocal master Santanu Bandyopadhyay and even joined a band in the Himalayas comprising Tibetan and Ghurkha musicians (click here for more info).
Andy’s voice has been mapped out at spanning almost four octaves and not being trained in any particular genre has allowed him to experiment and develop his own idiosyncratic style. Sometimes he uses lyrics, at other times he uses phonetics, even singing invented words. Occasionally lyrics just seem to get in the way – this is when he prefers to create pure sounds because they seem somehow more raw, more direct than words.
Andy has sung with the following artists/bands:
Nigel Kennedy Live performances
Cellorhythmics Starcatcher (Rise of the Cellorettes), Live Performances
Suns of Arqa Live Tours
Headhunters Lead Vocalist/Co-founder, Live Tours
Celtarabia Lead Vocalist (Lost Music of Celtarabia), Live Tours
Celluloid Backing Vocalist
ACE Dance & Music Vocalist/Composer on REAL project
Andy’s musical world is a retinal image of film, fairy tale and cult children’s TV.
As well as using his voice Andy loves to use found sounds that he records binaurally in different locations from the clamour of industrial sites to the eerie stillness of remote areas of the world. He manipulates these in the studio and uses them as another instrument alongside classical and traditional instruments from several cultures together with music technology.
His dark emotive style has been featured on Classic FM’s Chiller Cabinet and Late Night Lisa, also garnering acclaim from the spheres of stage, screen and dance.
Although he is currently exploring the ambient neo-classical world, his background in World Dance, Urban Fusion and his own Anglo-Asian heritage means that he is always seeking out new territory. It is this passion that has gained the support of leading artists in all fields of the performing arts. In just five years he has worked with the violin virtuoso Kennedy, award-winning playwright Chris O’Connell, and Birmingham Royal Ballet. He has also made headline appearances at festivals across Europe.
Andy has always felt privileged to perform. As co-founder of the group Headhunters he has headlined one of the largest stages at Glastonbury Festival as well as European festivals such as Terschelling’s Oerol in the Netherlands.
With Headhunters, Suns of Arqa and Celtarabia he has performed at festivals such as The Big Chill and Trans Musicale in France on the same bill as The Prodigy, Jah Wobble, Roni Size, Loop Guru, Trans Global Underground, Banco de Gaia, System 7, Square Pusher, Mix Master Morris, Peat Bog Fairies, Baka Beyond, Kangaroo Moon and Roy Harper.
Through his successes of working internationally with music from different cultures Andy was offered a prestigious invitation in 2003 to represent the UK for music. The commission was from a groundbreaking Anglo/Dutch performing Arts initiative and the resulting composition/performance earned him a commendation from both the Royal Netherlands Embassy and the Arts Council of England (click here for more information).
Also in 2003 and despite having no formal training in music Andy was invited to study for a Masters degree in composition at Birmingham Conservatoire. He graduated with distinction in 2005 and was also awarded the Conservatoire Masters Prize. In the same twelve-month period Andy also won two other awards for composition from Channel 4 and the PRS Foundation (click here for more information).
As well as his solo work Andy has always welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with other artists which has brought his style to an increasingly diverse audience. He sang at the BAC Burst festival (May ’05) with physical Theatre group Gecko and progressive band Cellorhythmics and has most recently sung with guests from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Several new projects will see Andy working with Japanese Taiko Drumming, experimental theatre and a new Suns of Arqa album (see news page for up and coming collaborations).
Film composers: John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Henry Mancini
Music: 4AD label (Dead Can Dance, This Mortal Coil, Cocteau Twins)
Stop-frame animation: Ray Harryhausen, Jan Svankmajer
Film directors: Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Michel Gondry
Photography: Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Frederick Sommer
Also - extreme weather (Storms, Ice and Snow), Eastern European fairy tale, early children’s TV (Gerry Anderson, Heidi, White Horses, Belle et Sébastien) and remote places.
Earliest Memory of Music
“I remember as a small child just standing transfixed in front of the TV with goose-bumps and the hairs standing on my arms. The music cut through me like I was made of air and whenever I hear it the same magical experience happens. The music was by John Barry and it was the theme tune to a TV series called The Persuaders”.
Andy has an ongoing passion for film and film music and is currently being championed by Channel 4’s 4Talent (click here for more information).
He experimented with 8mm and 16mm film during his Fine Art degree and that almost sorcerous quality of the medium has inspired him to continue creating. Andy’s films have been selected for screening at:
Birmingham Screen festival
Click here to see a selection of Andy’s film work.
Van Plaats Wissilen (Changing Places) Anglo/Dutch International Exchange:
Andy was selected to represent the UK for music in this groundbreaking performing arts project initiated by a collaboration between British and Dutch governments. With Jazz composer Theo Loevendie, as his first contact Andy had a mission to create a piece based on his encounters with Dutch cultural diversity over an eight-day period. Andy decided to go one step further and also produced films to accompany his live performance.
Finished and rehearsed in just two weeks, ‘Encounters’ was premiered at the CBSO centre in front of a distinguished audience that included the director of CBSO, the director of the Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Dutch Cultural Attaché. Synched to a simultaneous screening of films he had made during his time in the Netherlands the performance featured Andy singing and playing bicycle spoke percussion whilst conducting Gamelan played by Jon Nicholls, music technology, electronic drum kit, a string quartet from Birmingham Conservatoire including cello (James Hesford) and double bass (Eza Jenkins) and a Steinway grand piano (Ben Crosland) mic’d through an 8k rig.
Click here for an excerpt from Encounters.
Andy travelled to the Himalayas, ascending to 14,500ft in the Kunchendzonga National Park Sikkim to ascertain the possibility of an ISDN link between Himalayan folk musicians and an eclectic mix of UK based musicians. During his stay he recorded his ascent at every climatic change starting with the sounds of dense jungle and ending with the sounds of domestic Yak (Dzo) bells echoing around the high Himalaya. He also spent time at the Tibetan Institute of Culture, was invited to Nepalese gatherings and joined a band of Tibetans and Ghurkhas as lead vocalist in Kalimpong in the Himalayan foothills.
Click here for excerpts from the Himalayan journey.
The emotional depth of Andy’s music has found a kindred spirit in the very special writings of award-winning playwright Chris O’Connell. Andy has scored music for all three plays of the multi-award winning Street Trilogy replacing drum ‘n bass star LTJ Bukem’s soundtrack for CAR.
He has also produced soundscapes for O’Connell’s Bluezone, RAW, Tall Phoenix, Hang Lenny Pope and Cloud:burst. This was selected for the Festival of Firsts at The Royal Opera House which received a standing ovation. Cloud:burst went on to be selected for the Brits Off Broadway festival in New York (summer 2006) where Andy’s music attracted the attention of American director Brian Chichocki.
Click here for excerpts from Street Trilogy
‘Extraordinary soundscape’ The Scotsman (read review)
Andy has also scored the music for several plays at MAC Theatre, Birmingham as well as Octagon Theatre, Bolton and the Belgrade Theatre Coventry.
Andy has another passion – dance. He has welcomed the opportunity to work with ballet, contemporary dance and physical theatre much of which has been toured both nationally and internationally. Here’s a selection of projects he has been involved with:
Birmingham Royal Ballet
Café Atlantic: International simultaneous performance with dancers in Birmingham and Chicago via ISDN link.
Shift: Contemporary Dance film with choreographer Dylan Quinn
ACE Dance and Music
En-trance: music for national tour based on spiritual possession
REAL: music for national tour exploring the nature of womanhood behind the mask of media representation.
Raising Cellatina: BURST Festival at BAC, London with progressive band Cellorhythmics. This is what Gecko have to say about Andy:
“It goes without saying that Andy has a tremendous voice. We knew this as soon as we heard him sing for the first time. However, to limit our recommendation of his work simply to this would be to miss a great number of other things that make Andy such an exciting artist to work with.
Andy is a ‘performance animal’ – He knows instinctively what it is to engage an audience and to keep their interest sustained, whether by use of his voice or any other performance vehicle at his disposal.
As an actor he has a natural intensity on stage which makes him very compelling to watch. However, he also has good physicality, which means that we were able to construct scenes in which he, Amit and I were able to work physically on stage in much they way we would with our regular artists.
Much of the music played during the show was inspired by the composer’s memories of his late father. Andy’s role as the recently bereaved son was therefore central to the piece and his rendition of ‘Starcatcher’, which represented the climax of the show, was unforgettable.”
2005 Masters Prize for overall excellence awarded by Birmingham Conservatoire
2005 ATOM award for advances towards original music awarded by the PRS Foundation
2004 Channel 4 Ideasfactory Film Music Competition Overall Winner awarded by Oscar-winning Composer Stephen Warbeck (Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin).
“I don’t really know what I am...I sing my heart out, I make music, I make films…I’m a driven soul… I don’t know what drives me either…but it’s always on the tip of my tongue”