Interview is a series of conversations with interesting people from around the world about their lives, work and creative process.
Today’s interview is with Andy Hollander, a research analyst and musician who lives in Vancouver, BC. I discovered Andy’s music on Instagram several months ago. It sounded cool as hell and I was immediately hooked.
His videos feature album covers and his hands pounding out a beat on an MPC. I thought the videos had a killer minimal aesthetic, but he explains here how the layout was less of an artistic statement and served a much more manual purpose.
He recently posted a link to a compilation that he is on called Pure Dopeness vol. 10 (Track #5). I bought it, listened to it and decided to contact him. He was kind enough to answer some questions, which I’ve posted below. Enjoy.
First: let me ask you about the compilation. I bought “Pure Dopeness vol. 10” the other day and it’s great. Especially your track, Mud Kids (Track 5). I see the Pure Dopeness series has been going on for 10 releases now. How did you get involved with that and who’s behind putting it out?
ANDY: First of all, thank you for that. I’m really glad you enjoyed it. There is an incredible amount of talent featured on there. It was humbling to be asked to contribute.
Both the organizers hit me up on separate occasions. Dr. Dundiff is wild with it and we were feeling each others tunes on IG. I remember him reaching out when I flipped this Cocteau Twins track. We started sharing beats over FB and now we’ve become buddies.
I love his music. He experiments with sounds and genres. I respect that. I submitted something for this Wheelchair Swing compilation he put out on Sinoptic and we have a tape together called Nostalgic Flipoff where we just sampled cartoons from the 90’s.
The other cat who runs it is DJ Hellblazer, a real dope producer from Paris. Also very versatile in his beat making. I’m a big fan. He reached out for me to be on the 10th instalment. I’m pretty new to the whole Sinoptic thing, to be honest. Hopefully you’ll be seeing more of me on there.
M: Can you share some details about yourself?
A: I live up in the mountains in Vancouver, BC. It’s beautiful up here. Really inspiring. I moved here a couple years of ago from the east coast. I wanted a change. I get bored pretty easily.
I’m a research analyst by trade, and music is something that I do in my spare time. It’s just a hobby. It’s a creative outlet where I can play around and experiment with sound. Not that I can’t be creative at work, but it’s a different kind of creative. There can’t be mistakes in the numbers I work with, but I make tonnes of mistakes in my music. That’s kinda what I like about it. It’s cathartic.
As for my music style, I really don’t know how you would classify it. I would say hip hop, electronic. Those would be the two major genres. And anything that involves sampling. I don’t know the first thing about musical genres anymore.
M: Your style is really cool. How did you get started/interested in making this kind of music?
A: Being about 14 in high school and discovering labels like Stones Throw and Ninja Tune. Seriously. That’s it. Me and my friend Cam would go hit the record store after school. It was like an adventure to see who could find the craziest, most unique music. We’d both be peeping the newest records in the store with the headphones on looking at each other from across the table thinking ‘yoooooo this new sh*ts gonna change your life!’ And it did.
I bought a drum machine shortly after high school. I worked in a Candy Store on campus in University and would have the MPC behind the cash with a little PT-01 turntable. Sometimes I would work on weekends, and that’s how I met DJ Memetic, a real dope DJ from my hometown, Ottawa. He rolled through when I was in the middle of listening to some Kankick and we immediately became friends.
The candy store was right under the campus radio station. He had a radio show called Beet Roots and I would tag along and go up there and just dig all night. We’d sleep in the studio some nights. Find a couple 45’s to use as a pillow and wake up at 5 am to some dude with the voice of a librarian playing Paul Horns greatest hits.
M: There is a lot going on in your music arrangement-wise. Can you give a brief overview of your creative process?
A: I dig a lot. I work from 99.9% vinyl. A lot of people say that it sounds the best. I really have no clue. What I do know is that it’s by far the easiest and most fun to sample.
I hit the record store at least once a week. It’s fun to go in and find new stuff. Most of the time I don’t even listen to the records before I buy them. I’m like Frank Costanza. I like to go in fresh. They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover. I do regularly.
M: What kind of gear do you use for sampling, recording and producing?
A: Turntable, of course, and a few drum machines: the MPC 5k, 2KXL and the SP404. I also have a Micro Korg, but I only use it sparingly. I just got it and I stink. I run all of those pieces of equipment into a Roland Tri-Capture. It’s a USB interface that connects the gear to my computer.
All the mixing is done using Ableton on an old 2007 Macbook I got on Craigslist. I play all of my sequences live into Ableton. I’ll try different drum patterns and sample rearrangements in real time. A lot of people say that there’s a natural sounding feel to the music I make. It’s really just me jamming with myself until I find that magic loop.
M: I think your music would make a great backdrop for a movie or film. What is your favorite movie/film soundtrack? And why?
A: That’s a great question. I’m not sure how I got it, but someone gave me the soundtrack to the movie “Traffic” once. Cliff Martinez did it. I got really into it and would play it on repeat for days. There’s this perfect blend of eeriness and ambiance that really sets the mood.
M: If you had to listen to 3 albums on repeat, 24/7 for the rest of your life, what would they be?
A: It would be something by Brian Eno or William Basinski. We’re talking 24/7 for the rest of my life. There’s no way I’m gonna make it very long so I might as well go out to the soundtrack of a nature documentary.
M: In your videos it looks like you have a really minimal setup that would be easy to travel with. Do you play live shows or tour?
A: Na I don’t do any shows. Making music is just a little hobby of mine. My escape from reality.
M: I first heard you on Instagram. What made you start posting snippets of your music there?
A: My good friend Adam had just moved to Vancouver from Toronto. Same deal as me. He was looking for something new and different. We used to jam back out east in University. He’d be on his guitar/vox (sometimes we’d jam with his brothers too, who are also dope musicians) and me on my drum machine. We would play for hours. It’s great practice.
Anyhow, he came over shortly after he moved out here and we played again. This was right when IG got this video feature. He filmed our jam session and played it back to me. I couldn’t believe it.
I always found it to be a huge pain in the ass remembering all the music I sampled and would constantly write the names of the songs and albums I flipped on sheets of paper. I would lose them. So the first thing that came into my mind was ‘here’s a great way for me to keep track of all my beats!’.
If you watch my first few videos I posted on IG it’s just a picture of the album, the part of the song I sample and the beat. But as soon as I realized there was a whole army of beat makers out there I started really getting into it.
I’ve been contacted by people from all over the world, and I reach out to the cats I like too.
M: I noticed you included a Beetlejuice (from the Howard Stern show) sample on your track on the compilation. I love that guy. Why did you choose that sample?
A: Ha ha! Beet! Glad you caught that. That was from a candid moment with his manager, Sean, asking him repeatedly about is smoking habits (if you watch Stern, you’ll know about Beets stellar memory). I always try to throw in goofy stuff to liven up the tracks a little. I’m a huge Howard Stern fan and have been since as long as I can remember.
I used to stay up all night waiting for Howard TV to come on to see the crazy guests. I’ll still watch the old clips every now and again, and of course Beet is one of my favourite guests. He’s an incredibly complex character with an interesting story to tell, it just may take him a while.
I’ve stopped listening to him now tho. There’s so many good, funny podcasts out there with comedians. I love that they’re uncensored and un corporate. Comedians are great story tellers, and stories are best told without corporate sponsors.
M: In your opinion, who’s the best musical artist out there that no one knows about yet?
A: I’ve got a tape coming out next month on this label called Goldie Records based out of SF, California. The guy who runs the label goes by the name Bläp Dëli. He’s an incredibly skilled musician, and I want to emphasize musician. I may make beats and loops, but he writes music.
His songs are complex and beautiful – kind of a future/ soul electronic/ trap…ugh…. genres, again. I dunno…
Just check him out. He’s also on the Sinoptic release and has a 12″ coming out this month on Pragmatic Theory records. I think it’s their first vinyl release…
That’s it. Thanks again to Andy for talking with me. If you want to check out more of his music and the new compilation from Goldie Records, check out the links below. The music is great for headphones, and I’ve had it on repeat for days.
- Follow Andy Hollander on Soundcloud
- Hear Andy Hollander on Bandcamp (WEST C◯ΔST WINTERS is damn amazing)
- Check out ‘Pure Dopeness vol. 10’ (I paid €10)
Andy also just put out a Free rap EP called 4square by pre-k a collab with rapper Bumblebee (which is f#cking great). And he has a cassette coming out on Goldie Records in June 2014. www.goldierecords.com