Insight Interview: Andy Leech

We caught up with Scottish producer and photographer Andy Leech recently to chat about his music, his career to date and what’s on the horizon. Here’s what he had to say…

Hey Andy, thanks so much for agreeing to an interview. Where are you based? Do you tend to travel a lot, or are you firmly rooted at home?

Hi! Thank you for inviting me! I have lived in Scotland all of my life. Currently, I live in a town called Kirkcaldy which is near the capital city of Edinburgh. I must admit, I don’t travel too much, although I do enjoy walking for miles at a time with my camera when the weather is right… and seeing as I live in Scotland, that is not too often.

Can you recall your first real exposure to music?

I suppose I have been listening to music from the very beginning. However, the first instance I can recall that had a profound effect on me was when I was about 15 years old. A local punk band was playing in a large shed at my friend’s house for his birthday. That was the first time I actually experienced live music. It was incredibly loud, fast and exhilarating. I knew from that point on that I wanted to be involved with music in some way or another. I will probably remember that back garden gig for the rest of my life.

How and when did you first begin writing and creating music?

I was and still am a big fan of the Manchester music scene: The Stone Roses, The Smiths, Joy Division etc… When I was about 17, I somehow obtained a DVD of Oasis playing at the famous Maine Road concert. As I watched Noel Gallagher play the guitar, I thought about how amazing it must feel to play your music in front of all those people. This was one of those lightbulb moments: ‘’I Could Do That!’’ So, I eventually got myself a guitar and slowly learned to play it. I was making decent progress until a broken arm put me out of action for a while. I was really frustrated that I couldn’t play because of my arm. I then wondered if there was a way I could still write riffs on the computer and save them for later. There was a way. It was called FL Studio 9. I became addicted instantly and that is how I got involved in electronic music. The poor old guitar gathered dust and the rest is history! (Although I do pull it out occasionally for a mess around.) .

Have you made or released music under any name other than your own?

Yes, I used to use the alias ‘’Flytrap’’. (Who knows why). Back then I made house music. The best way to sum it up was: Bad-sounding deadmau5 rip-off’s. I think those tunes are long gone though… maybe for the best.

Can you describe your music for us?

My sound is: Melodic, Chill, Ambient & sometimes bass heavy! Some people would call that style ‘’Chillstep’’ or ‘’Future Garage’’. I still don’t know what to call it. All I know is, I enjoy making it and it is always open to interpretation!

Have you played live recently? Would you like to do more shows or tours in future? Anything coming up soon you’d like to tell us about?

The only time I have ever performed live was when I was Jesus in a primary 6 Christmas play at school. Apart from that, no, never. However, as far as my music is concerned, I am still thinking about performing live one day. I am not entirely sure what the format would be or how I would go about it, but yes, it is on the cards for the future. Plus, I have always wanted to try my hand at DJing properly.

What have been your biggest influences?

Musically, I have been influenced by artists like Burial, Four Tet and Sorrow. They all produce amazing music that I really aspire to create myself… with my own flavour incorporated of course. The thing I love about Burial especially is that, he makes music that is so left field and off the grid. I have learned a lot from listening to him in the respect that there are basically no rules in production and it is all about the self expression of one’s feelings.

Do you think producing electronic music requires technical or creative skill? Or both?

Both! Absolutely. You need to have a vast feel for both disciplines. For me, phase 1 is all about being creative and getting ideas down. Phase 2 is all about getting it sounding right via the use of very technical tools. They are both interchangeable though. A lot of my style comes from a creative approach to technical aspects, e.g. creative mixing. The most important element above all is, to have fun and enjoy yourself while you are doing it!

Do you tend to find the creative process a cathartic or therapeutic experience? Has creating music helped you cope with difficult times in your life?

I almost always find it to be a therapeutic experience. Sometimes it causes stress and annoyance when things are not going well and ideas will not flow. At that point, I just leave it and do something else. As I said before, enjoying yourself is the most important thing and I do truly believe that the listener will pick up on that. The creation of music certainly has helped me in difficult times. I am very thankful for it.

Any collaborations, remixes or joint projects on the horizon?

Not as of yet, but, I have recently finished a remix of the track ‘’Vesper’’ by the amazing artist: KISNOU. I had a lot of fun doing it and we are both very happy with the end result. You can hear it on YouTube and my Soundcloud page.

Any new genres or musical styles you’d like to explore in future?

All I can say is, I am always striving to be more and more experimental and to step out beyond my comfort zone. I also am trying to incorporate real performances of instruments more and more.

Do you have any thoughts on the future of electronic music? Do you think the scene will evolve further?

The electronic music scene, in all its various forms, will surely grow and evolve over time. I am not sure which direction it will go and what exactly that entails, but It is inevitable and I am excited to see what happens next! I would like to see the incorporation of VR technology in music production… Imagine being stuck inside Ableton Live for eternity. Now there’s a nightmare!

Any new releases coming our way?

Yes! I do have one track called:‘’The Hallows’’ which will be out next week. Stay tuned for that!

Any artists or other individuals / collectives you’ve not worked with yet that you’d like to work with in future?

There are really too many to name! I think I am going to focus on honing my production skills for the time being and just let fate do the hard work. I have worked with other artists in the past and it is a great experience because you can bounce ideas off of one another and that really broadens the creative spectrum in my opinion.

Do you have a favourite track / song of all time? Favourite artist?

There are so many different tracks and artists that are favourites of mine, and I reckon I would give a different answer every day. Owsey is definitely an all time favourite. The cello work in Sarah’s Summer Wasteland gives me chills every time. Outstanding producer.

It’s been said that a life in music can be a hard one. Would you agree with that?

I suppose it can to a degree. With the decline of major record labels in recent years, more and more artists are taking the D.I.Y approach to getting their music out into the world. On one hand, this is great because it puts the power and control back into the hands of the artists and with platforms such as Bandcamp, artists are now able to receive a much higher financial cut than what would have been possible on a major label a number years ago. On the other hand, this can be tricky for artists because there is a lot planning involved in releasing music with regards to things like distribution etc. There is a lot of small print to read and artists must take their time in getting the best deal possible. Basically, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes in the modern D.I.Y approach to musicianship, but don’t worry too much, If I can do it, then so can you! Just take your time and make music that you are proud of… the rest will follow in due time.

Do you have any words of advice for aspiring young producers?

Never wear green socks while producing music, it’s bad luck. Also, a good (serious) piece of advice is: If things aren’t going well in the studio, take a break! Too many times have I spent in the studio trying to fight through a project, only to be disappointed with the outcome. There is no shame in taking a break and giving your brain some time to reboot. This also applies for your ears. Hearing fatigue occurs quickly, especially in loud environments. Once this has happened, all critical listening has just flown out the window.

Any other projects on the horizon that you’d like to tell us about?

I am mainly focusing on finishing off old projects at the moment. For early next year, I plan on releasing my 3rd studio EP …you guys will be the first to know about it (winks).

And finally – are there any tracks / artists that are relatively unknown that you’d like people to know about?

There are so many undiscovered talents out there. For some reason, It seems that everyone from Russia who produces music is amazing. (Maybe it’s something in the water?) I know most of you reading this will be familiar with Pensees, But woah, such incredible artists. The attention to detail and emotion in their tracks is superb. If you haven’t heard any music by Pensees yet, check it out now!

Thanks so much Andy!

…and thank you so much. Until next time!

Andy’s music is available here and here.