Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at 12:00 AM | Talia Aroshas
Andrew Bayer has had quite the year, and does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Last fall he closed out his incredible Do Androids Dream tour by opening for Above and Beyond at Madison Square Garden for the 100th episode of Group Therapy, and is now preparing to go on his largest US tour to date. Part 2 of the Do Androids Dream tour will bring him to 11 venues in support of his latest EP release, Do Androids Dream. We were very lucky to grab a few minutes with the talented DJ and ask him a few questions about his influences, plans for the future of his music, and what it is like to play Madison Square Garden.
How did you get your start in music? Who were some of your favorite artists as a child?
I got started in music because my parents forced me to take piano lessons. I really really didn’t want to take them as a child, but am thankful that they made me do it because it was a great musical presence in my life from when I was really young. I think I started when I was three and it helped grow that musical part of my brain. As a kid I was obsessed with Michael Jackson—I used to dress up as Michael Jackson all the time. Kind of really weird. I loved Janet Jackson, Paula Abudul—anything that had that 80s, early 90s dance beat to it. In the mid 90s I started getting into alternative rock.
When did you know you wanted to work specifically in dance music?
That came about when I went to Germany as a graduation present after 8th grade, getting ready to go to high school. I was kind of already listening to some "poppy" dance music at that point. When I went to Germany it opened my mind up a bit. I think the first thing I heard was gouryella and I was like…trance is awesome. There was just a different level of dance music than what I had been listening to and it made me want to rush home and start doing it myself.
Do you find social media as a helpful way to stay connected with fans? Do you think the constant interactions inhibits or helps creativity?
I really honestly think it is both. It’s great to be working on something and post it to social media and get all this great feedback. But the ones you always remember for some reason are the negative ones. Its constructive criticism and everyone is allowed their own opinions, but it is quite polarized--people either love it or hate it. I mean I can’t complain—I look at my Facebook and there are amazing people. Social media has to be used as a tool to help distribute your music to fans and communicate. When it starts becoming a primary focus and takes center stage instead of the music, I think it’s awful. The music should speak for itself and social media should just be used as a platform to share it. I would never want to be a Twitter artist.
Last October you played Madison Square Garden as part of Above and Beyonds 100th episode of Group Therapy. What was that experience like?
To be honest it was surreal. I didn’t realize it was happening as it was happening—it kind of hit me when I got back to the hotel room. My best friend and his wife were crashing with me and we literally all slept in a king size bed and ordered pizza, and I’m sitting there eating the pizza like, I just played Madison Garden…what just happened?!? It was so overwhelming. My family was there, all my friends. I met so many cool people. The entire Anjunabeats family was there. It was all so incredible. Not to mention, I just played an entire set at Madison Square Garden. It was an experience I’ll never ever forget, but it didn’t really sink in until afterwards. I remember watching a bit of the video when the video got posted and that’s when it really became real. I was like yup, that actually happened. It was like living in a dream and I’m so grateful to Above and Beyond for letting me be a part of it.
Most people would say that once you've played at MSG you've made it. Would you say you've "made" it? If not, how would you define that for yourself?
Oh God no….no. I’ll never say I’ve made it. For me, being a musician is a selfish thing. I’m doing it just to make myself happy with the music I make to be completely honest. There’s an aspect of it that’s like, will I make music that’s a crowd pleasing track that will play the gig? Yes. There’s a symbiosis there where I’m making music for someone else and that provokes a great reaction, and it makes me happy cause I’m DJing and I feel the energy on stage. But really I feel like “making it” is continuing the process of learning and constantly trying to grow as a musician. For me, I’ll never plateau, and if I do, I need to quit music. I need to always be striving to become better—I think it’s really important.
You're about to release a new album and go on tour. That's very exciting. What can fans expect from this new album that may be different from your previous ones? And what will be similar?
The new album is a like a mini album—a little over 25 minutes long. I’m calling it a seamless EP. The first time I’d done one of those was for Anjunadeep about 5 years ago called the Distractions EP. This is being released in the same format. I’m releasing singles and then there's a continuos mix of the tracks. It’s not a DJ mix, the whole thing is written to be next to each other as if it were an album. It’s kind of in between an EP and an album. Also, it kind of encompasses all of the styles that I do because I try to do a bunch of different musical styles when I’m producing. Theres a little bit of down tempo, some techno, some big room, some sweeping emotive piano parts happening in there. A new appearance is I’m working with this artist named Asbjørn and writing some songs with him, so that’s been another new thing. It’s super exciting.
What was it like working with him? Is there another artist you'd like to work with next?
Asbjørn is amazing. He has a vision on what he wants to do, he’s incredible to work with, incredibly inspiring to work with, and I will certainly not stop working with him until he decides otherwise—hopefully that never happens. There was just a connection. He’s a super nice, incredibly talented guy and I was humbled that he was even interested in working with me. On the EP we have “Super Human,” which is a really emotional song he’s written on top of the music I sent him and “Tomorrow Boys” for me is a very downtempo indie kind of electronic song. Other people I’d love to work with…I mean there are tons of people that are kind of unachievable…like Thom York…If I were in the same room as him I would freak out. It would be incredible. I would love to work with Solomon Grey who sang with Lane 8. Asbjørn, Thom York, Solomon Grey—they all have that sound that’s like this really delicate male vocal, and I really like that.
The tour you're about to embark on is set to be your longest to this date. Is there a stop you're most looking forward to, or a venue you love playing?
Pretty much everything is going to be exciting because they're all new venues and I’m really excited about that. I’m mostly excited because after the show in San Francisco I’m staying for a few days and my friend’s girlfriend is an actual food critic and she’s just like planning every single meal for when I’m there. So I’m not going to lie, I’m really looking forward to that. I’m just going to eat myself into a coma.
How do you see your sound changing over the next 5 years, if at all? Is there something you'd like to experiment with?
After working with Asbjørn, it's reinvigorated the fact that I love working with vocalist. I want to do a lot of vocal work in the future so I think my next album will be a lot more vocal driven. I want to continue working with Asbjørn and work again with Alison May, and continue to work with new talent. I’ve always been instrumentally focused as a musician and songs would be the way forward for me I think.