Who are you and what do you do? How long have you been a working musician?
My name is Andy Ash and I am a producer and DJ… I have been producing music for about 8 years now and had my first release in 2008.
What is your educational background? Are there any schools, courses, or books you recommend?
In terms of music education? Haha, I am 100% self taught in that sense (and probably not very well for that matter…). For technical stuff, the internet is very good to be honest, especially YouTube if you learn in a visual way like me. If I want to learn something new I tend just to resort to the “google”! Part of me wishes I had done a proper music tech course of some sort but unfortunately it just comes down to time!
What hardware are you using?
Nah, not quite haha… I was a fully fledged PC fan until my computer just broke which is beginning to make me think otherwise…
So it’s pretty much just me, the PC, a set of Rokit monitors and a simple MIDI keyboard at the moment. So far I’ve enjoyed keeping it simple. I think that often limiting yourself with what you’ve got forces you to get more creative and really learn how to use your chosen software… My plan for this year is to start buying some proper hardware; first up will be a JUNO-60 if I can find one!
What software are you using?
I am using a combination of various software programmes:
Sound Forge – This is mainly for cutting up and manipulating samples. I used to love the old version of this before Sony re-did it but unfortunately I lost my copy and had to repurchase it…
Reason – This is the software I first started on. It has some really great things about it but after a while I found it too limiting as you can’t use any plugins or external synths etc.. I’ve heard the latest version has changed this so I am intending on upgrading soon…
Ableton Live – I mainly started to use this because it meant I could use external plugins etc.. You can couple it up with Reason and they work quite nicely together which is cool. To be honest I am not a huge fan of Ableton, it is very handy in certain ways but I sometimes think it makes things too easy and can lead to producer laziness. That’s not an insult to everyone who uses it as I know loads of people who do and make great music!
ReCycle – Perfect for chopping up samples into usable parts. It’s great!
What would be your dream setup?
If it was a perfect world I would have much more hardware, a soundproof room for all my stuff, DAWs wouldn’t look like kids’ toys, and I would be able to play the piano. Unfortunately it isn’t and I’m not rich/clever enough to change any of these things so I’m stuck with what I’ve got!
I’ll add another one to that; I would also like someone who can sing. I have always wanted to work with a singer but never found anyone who gets the music I want to make and can sing!
In terms of hardware I would really like a Waldorf Wave, Juno 60, Roland 808 and 909 and a whole other host of synthesisers…
Can you describe your creative process? Is there a particular routine or schedule you stick to?
I tend to have very little time to work on music due to work/family pressures. I actually find that working under pressure can produce the best results; if I have a whole day I can waste it all fiddling with a drum loop or bassline whereas if I have, say, a couple of hours I can often finish a whole track! Some of my best music has been done in the space of only a few hours.
In terms of creative influence it’s really listening to other music that gets me going. Quite often I’ll be listening to something and I’ll just be hit by the mood to go get creative and make some music… I especially find going out and hearing great music influential, there are certain experiences that are stuck in my head and these often drive me to make music. Often I’ll make a track with a specific club I’ve been to in mind, so if I‘ve been somewhere and the atmosphere has been great that’s what I’ll be thinking of as I am making the music.
Where do you shop for and discover music?
Anywhere and everywhere! I am a vinyl lover so nothing beats a trip to a record store and digging through old records. I receive a bunch of promos and stuff which is great and I hear a lot of new music through them. In terms of enjoyment for me though I think nothing is better than going to a second hand place and digging through the records they’ve got there. There is something so satisfying about finding a record you want hidden away at the back of British Heart Foundation or something haha! I recently found a 12” copy of Gwen Gutherie’s ‘Hopscotch’ for 75p in this small village second hand shop, it made my day!
Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?
I always like to keep an eye on new music as well as older stuff. A friend of mine recently played some music by a guy called ‘SebastiAn’. It was cool…
Alongside that there are a bunch of artists making House music at the moment which are constantly killing it for me. People like Hunee, DSO, Wolf Music guys, Jacques Renault, Iron Curtis. I could go on….
What’s brewing in your studio?
Well… I managed to finish all my tracks and remixes that I had going by the end of 2011 which was great! I have a few EPs coming out on Black Key Records, On The Prowl and Fly By Night Music which I am really pleased with.
Anyway my plan this year is a studio upgrade and then lots of new original music which will be coming out on the label I run with Cosmic Boogie called ‘Boogie Originals’. I am hoping to do a double 12” or something which will have some solo music and then collaborations with friends. I was actually just in the studio with Chris Barker (DSO) the other day and we’ve got some cool stuff we’re working on. Keep an eye open!
Any production tips & tricks you’d like to share?
My biggest tip is to ignore anything that is on ‘trend’ music wise and do your own thing. Obviously take advice from people you respect but stay away from trying to make a certain ‘sound’ unless it’s your ‘sound’! I always try and keep my head down and do my own thing production wise and DJ wise. It’s too easy to get caught up in what’s cool and what’s not. About 2 years ago UK garage was considered shit and now people are bouncing off it because a new wave of producers took the sound forward. It might not be called ‘uk garage’ but it’s still pretty much the same.