Andrew Reynolds is a classically trained, award-winning music producer/composer signed to Ninja Tune and a fixture at the prestigious Secretsundaze Studios. When he is not guiding the next generation of new talent or writing lush soundtracks to pair with visual performances, he’s crafting sublime house cuts for the dance-floor.
Reynolds made his debut on Montreal imprint DIALNINE with a killer lo-fi remix of Hillel Shabtai’s ‘Jump Up’ last week. The London-based producer twisted the original perfectly with his signature house touch. We caught up with him this week to get the lowdown on his creative process, his approach to remixing and the recent highlights outside of the electronic realm.
WWD: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Andrew! Where are you right now and what’s been on your agenda this week?
Hey guys, I’ve just moved to a new house on the River Thames in SW London. It’s been a crazy busy start to the year and much like every other week, this week’s agenda has included many hours in my studio writing new material and working with my family of over 45 clients on various projects; consulting on composition/arrangement, mixing, mastering and teaching music theory and instrumental lessons – piano and guitar.
WWD: Your new remix of ‘Jump Up’ is out now on DIALNINE. How would you describe the track in your own words?
Prompted by Hillel Shabthai’s original track, it’s an amalgamation of all of the memories and experiences in my life up to the point at which I finished writing it – a small window into the mind of a human being who was living, breathing and feeling in London in 2021.
WWD: Can you share an insight into the production process for the remix? How do you approach remixing?
The first thing is to think about is: how can I find something new inside of what’s already there. Usually it begins with the harmony. Sitting at the piano I’ll experiment to try and extrapolate or reframe the harmony. The same process happens with the rhythm, phase shifting it, changing accent structures, chopping it up to find a new perspective. Once I’m satisfied that I have enough material to be working with I’ll start “reading” the material to try and find an implied structure/arrangement for the track. After that it’s a process of refinement. I always like to remind my students that the process of deletion and editing can be a highly creative one, and is remarkably beneficial to the efficiency and detail of any piece. I see the delete button as my best friend in many cases. Most importantly: less is more, but sometimes more is more – in which case you should use just the right amount!
WWD: You’ve worked on a number of exciting projects outside of the electronic music realm in recent years. What have the highlights been for you so far?
As well as the music I write and release as an artist, I spend a lot of time writing music for film and theatre – working with various talented producers and directors. I’ve twice been selected by BAFTA to be a member of the BAFTA CREW professional development programme which is a lovely and very helpful family to be a part of. I was lucky enough to be invited to work with Matthew Herbert assisting him with final orchestrations for an exciting documentary film, called The Cave, which was produced by National Geographic. It later went on to receive Oscar and Emmy nominations. Another privilege was working with Nainita Desai on “The Reason I Jump” – a documentary exploring autism based on the acclaimed book by Naoki Higashida – a non-verbal autistic person. It was amazing to hear that the film was nominated at ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards, Sundance Film Festival, British Independent Film Awards and the World Soundtrack Awards. I’ve also recently had my work published in the Ninja Tune production music catalogue – which has been great.
WWD: Can you tell us about the work you do at the SecretSundaze studio?
Yes, I first joined the Secretsundaze Studios in 2016 and was very grateful to the team, Luke, James and Giles for taking me on. Since that time I held a permanent position as one of two of the inhouse consultant composer / producer / engineers. My role entailed working in the studio in London’s Bethnal Green area, to consult and assist clients with all aspects of writing and production. I was lucky enough to meet and help lots of very cool and talented people – many of whom have gone on to find great success in the music industry, which I am very proud of! I was also responsible for developing and running the “Electronic Music Theory and Composition” course there and helped develop and run the “Production” course. Unfortunately at the start of the pandemic the building in which the studio was situated was closed down and so the studio lost its home. Secretsundaze ran an extremely successful crowdfunder in which they were able to raise tens of thousands of pounds to ensure the future of the studio. I spoke to James Priestley recently and it seems talks are in place about how and when the studio might open again – I guess we just have to wait for all of this COVID madness to blow over! I can’t wait to get back into the studio with all of you lovely people – you know who you are.
WWD: How do you decide when a track is done? Do you have a completion process in the studio?
I always say to my clients, creating a piece of music is like chucking as much paint at the wall as you can and then going around cleaning off the bits that piss you off. It’s basically a process of creatively organising information – ones and zeros in the digital domain. There are a number of technical requirements that meet my criteria for the completion of a track – mainly to do with the mix and master – but how do I know when the track is finished from an aesthetic point of view? It’s important to know when enough is enough, and that comes with experience. But the bottom line is I no longer feel motivated to fix things when I listen to it. Voila!
WWD: How did you first get started in music and when did your interest in producing electronic music emerge?
My love of music started with my older brother introducing me to Metallica when I was 11 years old. Within a year I’d picked up a guitar and learned every one of their songs inside out. At the same time he was also introducing me to Electronic Music – 90s Trance (Chicane, Binary Finary, Gatecrasher Classics etc). Playing Metallica turned into playing Jazz and Blues, and the eventual discovery of the music by the great baroque composer, J.S Bach (yes my taste is very diverse!), which focused my attention on going to study at The Junior Royal College of Music. I discovered the music of Frederic Chopin in the film The Pianist, a powerful, life-changing experience hearing this music, and from that moment on I became a piano player. The next few years were spent preparing for my application to study Composition at The Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester – I was one of four to be accepted on this course in 2008. For the next four years I was exposed to a rich and diverse musical culture and indulged in the electronic music scene, at places like The Warehouse Projects (watching Four Tet, Hessle Audio, Bonobo and the likes), whilst also watching my friends perform in classical concerts surrounding the university. I graduated in 2012 and was taken under the wing of the late John Ellson. John was an Artist Manager and Tour Manager for the likes of BB King, Ray Charles and Stan Getz. He introduced me to London’s Jazz elite, and the world of the wider UK music industry. It was through these formative years in which I developed my own sound and found my feet as a producer. My classical training has been invaluable and has heavily informed and influenced my electronic explorations.
WWD: What artists have you been listening to as of late?
I’m a great believer that if you want to make a fresh and vibrant contribution to a particular genre that you’re writing in, then go and listen to absolutely everything else other than the music inside of that genre. For me inspiration comes from the interweaving and cross pollination of the most distant and diverse corners of the musical world.
The artists that have had the biggest impact on me over the last couple of years were actually at their height in the mid 1960s; the great jazz saxophonist Stan Getz and the pioneer of the Bossa Nova genre, João Gilberto. Their Grammy Award winning album Getz/Gilberto was my holiday soundtrack on a trip to the Caribbean Islands (just before Covid hit) and it was a life changing experience for me. The humble and intimate nature of Gilberto’s voice situated within the soothing Bossa Nova genre paired with the extraordinary balance and tone of Stan Getz’ playing is about as highly recommended as it comes. The whole record is just so well judged – with moments of quiet reserve from Gilberto being carefully balanced and complemented in places by blistering red hot solos from Stan Getz.
This album has taught me about simplicity and a sophistication of sound that I will carry forward into all my future productions.
WWD: What are you hoping to accomplish this year?
In collaboration with my associated labels and publishers I will write as much music as I possibly can that is helpful for people. Whether that be sensitively supporting the story you’re telling in a documentary, a product in an advert that you’re trying to flog, or simply that you need some nice music to listen to on your sunny morning walk, I feel that’s what I was put on this earth to help with. I’m also focussed on the continued growth and development of my clients and students. These people who I help and work with directly each week mean the world to me and I would do everything in my power to continue to help them develop and progress their artistic voices.
WWD: Do you have any other exciting projects coming up that we should know about?
Lots! But nothing I can reveal at this moment. Watch this space.
Stream/Download here: https://dialnine.lnk.to/jumpupremix
Follow: Andrew Reynolds // Hillel Shabtai