Artist Interview: Andy Backhouse
We will kick off the Artist Interview Series by speaking with a long term collaborator and frequent visitor of Creao Studio. This is an interview with Andy Backhouse.
Andy Backhouse uses Creao Studio to record and master his own music, to record The Parish News and to master other people’s music by renting out the studio as Sigil Of Brass. He has, jointly, had five top-5 hits on Beatport as a Dub producer and he has had critically acclaimed albums in the national press. If you are wondering what the big machine is in the kitchen – Andy runs Art Workshops from the studio as Stinky’s Riso Press.
So, you have are working on a new album at Creao Studio. We have heard it and liken it to later works by Ulrich Troyer. How do you feel about that comparison?
Yes, I am working on a new album at Creao – it might not see the light of day though – most of my music is made only for me to listen to. The satisfaction of making a good recording is worth more than the expense (physical / emotional / mental – sometime monetary) of having to promote your work and get it noticed.
The album I am working on is a new idea on me – I am trying to marry my two musical passions of Experimental / Field Recordings and Dub music. I have had success in both fields seperately but felt I was growing away from myself in a, kind of, purist pursuit of both mediums. So, I am trying to make a record using both Field Recordings and Dub.
I am touched by the comparison to Ulrich Troyer – his latest album, Dolomite Dub, was the inspiration behind this work – if I am honest. Troyer’s work still blows my mind.
Dolomite Dubs is a very minimalist recording – very subtle and graceful – something I am struggling to mimic to be honest.
Where do you draw your influences from?
I really dig Chris Watson, Jez Riley French, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and Mad Professor – within the fields I work in.
But, my dad always had an album on in the background when I was growing up – Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin, 10 Years After, Jethro Tull…
They have all permeated my subconscious.
How is it working with a small independent label?
I have a hand in all of the labels who release my music – be that Focused Silence, my Art-Music label, or – closer to home – Creao Studio.
I have been working on Focused Silence for three years now – a lot of the releases have had critical review – it is something I am very proud about.
I help with the label side of Creao – it is a good hobby but don’t start a label if you want to get rich; it is always a real passion project.
Would I do it all over again … probably but different.
I really enjoy the greater aspects of running a label but the day to day admin is a grind when you are not feeling healthy.
What are the scale of your ambitions in music?
I keep saying – you should only make music for yourself. If anyone else digs it then that is the best thing ever. Really treasure that feeling; be it for a recording of birdsong or a filthy bass-line. Treasure the people who take time out of their day to listen to your music.
If you want me to have a word about creating music to fit an agenda… well, you are asking the wrong person. DIY or die.
What is the Art-Music scene in the UK like at the minute, especially in our home town of Harrogate?
The national scene is isolated and it is found pocketed in bigger towns – you have to know the haunts to find the Cats.
Harrogate – Four to The Floor or nothing really. There are also a few live venues in town but they are mainly not my cup of tea.
There is an annual Arts Festival in Knaresborough called Salontronic though. A few like minded souls who congregate and play to a crowd. I was invited to play there this year  and braved the inclement weather – it was fun.
Other than that, I am the token Art-Music ponce in Harrogate.
Creatively, who do you look up to both in the UK and internationally?
Chris Watson is still pushing the boundaries of Field Recording. He started his life in music in Cabaret Voltaire before joining the Wildlife team on Tyne Tees – he is now heralded as the best in his field. His wild life recordings are things of beauty.
Musically, I think that the label Czaszka Tapes have the Midas touch – everything they touch turns to gold.
Radio – All of the co-hosts I work alongside. Resonance Extra, Harrogate Community Radio & Soundart Radio – there is a real buzz around community media in 2019 and I am glad to be in the vanguard.
But, the biggest inspiration is Lee Perry – the Upsetter. Mate, he’s burned down two of his studios, is mad as a bag of ferrets and still making ground-breaking Dub in his eighties.
Is the format of your release important? Do you insist on a physical disk?
As a record label owner – I should say, insist on a physical pressing – everyone has the ability to upload their files digitally. As an independent artist; it is up to you? If you think you can sell fifty copies of your album on your Bandcamp page get it pressed.
But, I am not fussy – I would love to press vinyl with Focused Silence but it is not an environmentally sustainable medium. But, I think that is part of the charm – a 12″ will last longer than you.
I’m unsure on this – I would say if you wanted a label to release your music you should insist on them releasing it as a disk. Besides, it is the packaging that makes it – cultivate you status. Become a cult.
What are your plans, musically for what’s left of 2019? Tours, gigs, releases?
You never know…
I might release a concept K-Pop album about Alan Turing.