Described as one of the most original drummers in the UK, Andrew has built a varied and successful career working in the field of jazz and improvised music. Heading up various groups, including Orbits, and collaborating in projects such as Webster/ Lisle, Kodion Trio and Alex Ward Item 10, he has an extensive repertoire of knowledge and experience as an avante-garde, new-wave British improviser. Andrew maintains a hectic touring schedule, travelling regularly to the Netherlands with Kodion trio, with work as a tutor in London. Andrew talks about starting his performing career in Lisbon, Portugal, and the art of unique improvisation.

 

Who or what encouraged you to study music and what made you aspire to a career in music?

At the age of 18 I started having lessons with an amazing teacher called Geoff Hutchinson. Up until that point I was basically self-taught and hadn't seriously considered music as a career option - despite being obsessed with playing the drums. I guess he saw some potential in me and encouraged me to take on studying drumming full time.

What was your favourite thing about being a musician in Leeds?

It felt like there was a lot of freedom to play whatever I wanted. Also the sense of humour that was present in the music I was making with the guys from Shatner's Bassoon.

After Leeds Conservatoire you lived and worked in Lisbon; how did this influence your style and develop your musicianship?

In Lisbon I had to start from scratch. I had no contacts so needed to be proactive if I was going to play. Lisbon has a great free improvisation scene and, at the time, it seemed to be centred around a record label office and record store in the centre of town. I started hanging out there every day, practicing the drums in a rehearsal space they had and playing with as many people as I could. This experience of being thrown in the deep end and working on finding my place in a new city was extremely valuable. I also met and worked with amazing musicians who I still work with to this day.

In your opinion, what is it that makes your composition unique?

With drums being my first (and only) instrument my approach to composition is based primarily on rhythm. The melodic and harmonic aspect of my writing comes from chance through the use of random numbers and graphs.

You’ve got a pretty busy calendar touring with Kodion Trio. How difficult is it balancing your international commitments with teaching and recording?

Striking a balance between teaching and performing isn't too difficult. For me it's very important to find teaching work that's flexible. Schools and students who are fine with deps helps a lot.

The group you lead, Orbits, are recording their debut album? What can we expect to hear on it?

The music for this group is still in the development stage but it will be strange, fast, and fiery.

Besides the core trio, Orbits collaborates with other artists including fellow Leeds Conservatoire alumnus, Riley Stone Lonergan, how useful was the conservatoire for developing professional relationships?

Spending three years at Leeds Conservatoire playing with the same group of people, as well as those in the other years and the teachers, has left me with long standing creative musical relationships with a wide range of fantastic musicians.

You play in a variety of groups in addition to Orbits and Kodion Trio. They all have quite different sounds: when improvising, how you do keep the identities of the ensembles separate?

I try to approach every project I do with open ears and without preconceptions.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry?

My advice would be: Practice as much as you can then practice some more, be social, go to gigs when you're not playing them, and be patient.


Click here to follow Andrew on twitter or check out his website.

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