Apr 13, 2015
interview
Andrew Bayer

Andrew Bayer has become one of Anjunabeats’ leading artists through his combined skills of composition, songwriting, and production. Just before the release of “Do Androids Dream,” we spoke with him about his vocal collaborations with Asbjorn, life in England, and what it’s like to work closely with Above & Beyond.

Andrew Bayer feat. Asbjørn - Tomorrow Boys [Anjunabeats]
LessThan3: When we spoke to you a few years ago, you told us you’d lived in Boston, London, and your home city of DC. Where are you based now?
Andrew: I live in London just a short walk from Anjunabeats HQ, which is quite handy. I love London–I feel that London and New York City are two places I could see myself spending a large portion of my life in.
LessThan3: Your music seems to be split between the more chilled and ambient, and the sound designed for clubs–sometimes in the same track. How does the process normally work? Is it a case of writing a piece of music then deciding whether you want to develop it into a club track or not?
Andrew: I always try to start with the musical element unless I want to do something like a fun, dirty club groove to play in sets. Then I’ll start with a groove. It depends what kind of phase I’m in, too. If I’m working on an album, then I’m going to be thinking about stuff that’s not club-friendly, because that’s meant to be listened to at home. If I’m working on stuff for my sets or for other people to play in clubs, it’s a different kind of thinking cap you put on. You have to distinguish what your goal is first. I still try to incorporate my sound throughout an ambient track or a club track. The only time I feel you don’t hear a lot of that continuity is when I go in and try to make like a crazy acid bassline with a big room sound or something like that just for fun, so I can play that as a little interlude in my sets. Those are a laugh, and so much fun to do.
LessThan3: Your album and EP releases have some of the most distinct and varied musical statements of any artist in electronic music. What was the statement/sound idea you were going with for the Do Androids Dream EP?
Andrew: I wanted something to open my sets with that wasn’t as dark as all my other openers have previously been, so I started with Do Androids Dream Part 1. I always like an opener to be a bit of a palate cleanser as well, so that’s why with Part 1 it starts with that metronome kind ticking away and it’s very quiet, then after about 45 seconds it all slams in. If someone’s playing a track that has quite an aggressive outro, it’s nice to give people a bit of a breather. Also, the work I’ve done with Asbjørn has been the first vocal work that I’ve done in five years; it was so nice to be writing songs again with someone. I wanted to also show–because it’s like a mini-album–a bit of everything I’ve done stylistically, so there’s a bit of glitchiness, there’s a bit of old-school Bayer prog with a techno influence in some of the sound design, then there’s Super Human, which musically to me sounds like what I would normally put into a track. Then comes Tomorrow Boys, which is quite eclectic and sounds a bit more like my second album. The final track sounds like a beatless version of the club tracks I’ve been doing.
LessThan3: How did you link up with Asbjørn, and what is his musical background?
Andrew: I had heard his music previously–I knew a couple of singles he’d done as a solo artist, and I’ve been a fan of Lulu Rouge since their first album which came out years ago. Then they released their second album, and I had no idea until one day I was in the studio working on some music, and Tony [Above & Beyond] shouted at me from the other studio like “Bayer, get in here, check this out”. I started listening to these tracks by Lulu Rouge featuring Asbjørn and was like “oh my god, who is Asbjørn–his voice is insane!” So Tony contacted him and put us in touch. We sent over some of my music and just started chatting online, then started working together soon after that. Thank god for Tony McGuinness! He did that introduction for us, and I can’t thank him enough, because Asbjørn is amazing and incredibly inspiring to work with.
LessThan3: You mentioned in an interview back in 2013 that your sample-heavy If It Were You We’d Never Leave album was a bit of a nightmare when it came to clearances. Did you miss getting creative with samples for this EP, and do you have any plans to go down that road again?
Andrew: I don’t know if I’d say I missed it on this EP because I had some new things I was playing with that were really exciting, like working on writing actual songs with Asbjørn. I do see myself doing that again in the future; it’s so much fun starting with a sample because it completely changes the way you do a session and the rest of the track itself, and sometimes it can add an element that you wouldn’t normally put into your music. My next album I’m thinking of doing something more song-based, so maybe my next EP I’ll do something sample based, and then Anjunabeats will hate me again!
LessThan3: You’ve described your track England as something of a love letter to the country. Is there anywhere in England you’d love to visit but haven’t?
Andrew: I haven’t really explored England as a country. I’ve always just been based in London, so I would love to go to the English countryside and do the traditional romantic tour of England. I lived in London before and I wasn’t too happy because I was right out of college and it was all a bit overwhelming. When I came back to London and worked on that track was when I fell in love with London, so that’s why I called it England.
LessThan3: You work quite closely with Above & Beyond–how much input did you have on their latest album?
Andrew: I’ve been working with them since Group Therapy, and with that album when I came on-board the songs were already written, so I mainly did a bit of engineering and producing. With We Are All We Need it was more of a hands-on process. We’re like family now, and since they were writing it from scratch while I was in the team, I had a lot more creative input. It’s such an amazing environment to work in, because everyone has different skill sets that they excel at, and we all come together as a great team. It was an amazing experience for sure.
LessThan3: Last time you spoke to us you mentioned the desire to tour more, and you seem to have achieved that. Have you caught the DJing bug or is your current run of live shows a brief fling?
Andrew: I wouldn’t say I’ve caught the DJing bug, but I wouldn’t say it’s a brief fling either! When I do these tours I want it to be an exclusive, intimate experience; I’m not going to come to a city every month and do the traditional DJing circuit. I like the creative process of making music–that’s my life, but being able to share what I create and what I work on with people in that live setting, using DJing as a performance tool, is an amazing thing for me, and people seem to enjoy it as well. I look at it kind of like a DJing concert, and it’s a little exclusive run when I do these tours. I treat each gig a bit differently. When I play in Ibiza I’m playing radically different sets, a lot of house and techno, so a more traditional DJing role. When I go on tour, I try to make a showcase of what I do as a composer, writer, and producer. There’s a lot of Above & Beyond stuff that I tweak and I play in my sets as well because I feel very much a part of that.
LessThan3: Would you ever consider playing live, as in with keyboards and sequencers, as opposed to just DJing?
Andrew: Yes. And that’s all I’m going to say!
LessThan3: As the only supporting artist at both ABGT050 in London and ABGT100 in New York), how were the experiences different, and what did it mean to you playing those shows?
Andrew: They were radically different venues, but both equally prestigious in their own right. I look back and it’s just mind-boggling that I was even a part of those things. London was a crazy experience because it was a home crowd for Above & Beyond, and the way that venue is laid out it’s like playing in a giant airplane hanger, so you just see this sea of 10,000 people bobbing up and down in unison. NYC was kind of my home turf–I lived in New York for a year, and it’s very close to DC, so I had my family there. It was the first time my mom had ever seen me do a gig, so it was pretty surreal. Even on the livestream there were little Snapchats of my mom raving sidestage, people giving her hugs–people were so sweet!