Andy Stott interview
Andy Stott is a producer of some seriously special minimal dubstep. In both his solo work and with Pendle Coven as Millie & Andrea. We caught up with him to understand a little bit more about the man behind some of the deepest tunes of the last few years.
Hi Andy, how are things with you?
Things are fine this end thanks! Busy, but that's a good thing - most of the time.
I often hear you referred to as a producer but is that how you describe yourself? Does that reflect what you do more accurately than musician?
These days I would say a producer describes me better. Early on I would say I was writing more "music", melodies and tracks with more elements. But I seem to be stripping things back these days a bit and working more on trying to get things a bit more filthy.
Other than filthy, how would you describe the music you make?
I have made all kinds of tracks, from stripped back piano tracks, to jungle, to acid, to dubstep. It's hard to pin down I think. Overall I would say, heavy bottom end frequencies and nothing stupidly tough.
I first heard you on the Mary Anne Hobbs Warrior Dubz compilation in 2006. That was an exclusive track for that compilation, wasn’t it?
'Black' was kind of an exclusive for Warrior Dubz. When Mary Anne asked me for a track, 'Black' hadn't long been finished and we thought it would work. We being Shlom and myself (Shlom runs Modern Love). So we sent it to Mary Anne and it ended up on the compilation. 'Black' is one of the tougher tracks I would like to write. I don't have many tracks like it.
It was my favourite track on there. Mary has been a torch-bearer for electronica, so did you find inclusion on that disc opened doors for you?
I'm glad you like that track, thanks. It must have done somewhere along the way. I don't know if anything has happened as a direct result of being featured on Warrior Dubz, but Mary Anne has always backed my work and I'm really thankful to her for playing almost everything I have put out. So I'd say she has a big part in exposing my music, therefore opening doors for me.
I always try and tune in - her passion for music is so infectious - she's a rare breed of DJ. You spoke about Modern Love earlier - it has a great stable of artists. How did you get involved with them?
It's all Mark Stewarts fault (Claro Intelecto). Mark is a close friend who I have known since I was a kid and it was him that put me in touch with Shlom. Mark prompted me into getting some tracks together to give to Shlom. So when Mark was playing in Manchester I met Shlom and handed over my tracks. Not too long after that Shlom invited me down to the office and we went over a few tracks. I can't remember if anything off that first bunch of tunes actually came out, but I don't think it was too long after that though that we had my first release out, which was the Replace EP.
So when did you actually start making music that you seriously thought was good enough to get released?
Well, I never thought my stuff was good enough to put out! Even now I'll write something and think "this isn't good enough". It's quite regular that I'll be playing tracks at the label and I'll have a half finished ditty. It'll be a case of me just saying "Oh, by the way I have been doing this." That's when Shlom is usually shaking is head at me asking what the hell is wrong with me. "Get it finished," usually comes next. It's safe to say I can be a bad judge of my own music - but you know when you have done a good one.
It's hard to critique your own work. What are your early musical memories? Were there songs as a child that really attracted you? Have they gone on to influence what you do now?
Musical memories ... as a kid my first love was Hip-Hop but soon started listening to hardcore on the local radio; staying up late to record it then check it on my way to school. I never really remember any particular tracks, they were all about 150bpm bangers. That's what I liked about it I think - the harshness. But I have always said the first track that really got me was 'Metapharstic' from Aphex Twin's Classics. Mark (Claro Intelecto) played me this track when i was about 14 and it flipped me out. I remember going buying the first Aphex Twin album which was Selected Ambient Works. I didn't like it at all - it wasn't hard. But that has now become one of my top 10 albums. So I would say Aphex has been an influence, but many others have, who I discovered not long after.
I had a short lived electronic music career when I came out of a band. I think the influence of the Aphex Twin encouraged me to put down the guitar and pick up a sequencer. Just going back and listening to his early stuff makes you realise he's light years ahead - even now. When I did a solo electronic project I found the total creative freedom amazing but after a while I missed bouncing ideas off other musicians. Have you found working with Miles from Pendle Coven as Millie & Andrea a different creative experience?
Working with Miles is different to how I normally work. Miles tends to hear things or use things I wouldn't or he would do it in a less obvious way. It's a lot of fun doing these tracks - especially with Miles. The Millie and Andrea stuff is all about that. We do have a bit of a laugh doing these tracks at first, but as we work on them we tend to get the best out of what we have been messing around with. Miles has taught me a lot in doing the Millie and Andrea stuff.
It’s a varied and different sound for the two of you. Did you set out with an idea of what you wanted to do or did it evolve naturally?
Shlom had the idea for the daphne label. Miles and I had individually done tunes in the past of that sort of sound but they never really surfaced. This project just gave us the green light to go somewhere else, a bit further down that "steppy" road. So it was an intended idea but now is kinda just coming along naturally.
So what’s your composition process when working on your own?
It varies. I will mess around untill something grabs my attention. It doesn't take too long to get a loop going; usually it's just a case of how quick you get bored of it. I'll usually end up adding so many things to a track then stripping it back to just the basics that give the track a certain feel. As the tracks are getting arranged you tend to hear things along the way that you wanna put in or get rid of. I never sit down and think "Right i'm gonna do a techno track" or, "I'm gonna do a slow house track" it's just whatever happens happens.
Is there a dream artist you’d like to collaborate with?
I really like Levon Vincent's stuff at the minute and Kassem Mosse also Thriller. I could go crazy here with artists. Depeche Mode is another.
Do you enjoy the anonymity of electronica that lets you see people in a club enjoying your music without knowing you were the author of it?
I don't mind either way. It's always nice when people tell you they are into your stuff and tracks in particular. But on the other hand I like it knowing people are there enjoying it because of the tracks rather than because of who it might be playing them.
If the house was on fire and you could only save one record what would that be?
If my iPod was near by I'd be grabbing that and flying out of the place.
Are you a vinyl junkie?
I'm not a massive vinyl junkie I have records but not many compared to friends of mine. I do buy them but not that regular, hence the iPod grabbing in the burning house.
It's easier to escape with than armfuls of vinyl. So, what do you do when you aren’t making music?
When I'm not making music, I'm either messing around with my old 1972 Ford mk 1 Mexico, It's a pain in the ass that car! Or just the usual - films, out with friends. Also cooking - badly - I'm getting better actually.
Have you any tales of superstar DJ decadence to share?
Not really got any daft stories. Boring I know, I'll have to sort that out this year.
If our readers were to listen to one Andy Stott record what would you like them to check out?
I would tell them to check out 'See In Me'. It's one of the deeper tracks I did, quite old now too. But I'm still really fond of it.
What are your plans for 2010?
For the rest of the year I will be concentrating on writing as always. Hopefully I will start work on my next album. Until then I will have my head down with the Millie and Andrea stuff and of course plenty more Modern Love material.