Hiya Andy Smythe thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

It’s in my blood. I was raised in a musical house, similar to McCartney I guess, different forms of music were always being played and I enjoy the creative process of writing songs.

Introduce us to you all and your musical history.

I started playing guitar and piano at 15 years old, formed a band and played some local gigs. At university I started writing 100’s of songs with a friend and played the local clubs and pubs. When I came to London I joined a professional folk band as a guitarist and played 100’s of gigs, I then re-ignited my song-writing and discovered the London scene, again performing 100’s of times.

I graduated to bigger venues such as The Green Note, The Borderline, the 12 Bar and honed my song-writing. I was offered various distribution and record deals, but ended up as a cottage industry playing folk clubs/acoustic clubs/pubs and festivals. I’m still on that scene! I currently have a band and play with some very talented musicians, we have a live sound similar to 1980’s bands like REM and The Waterboys, fiddle and mandolin – a big folk/rock sound. The perfect festival band!

What’s the live music scene like in London right now? Anyone we should be looking out for? 

I’m generally busy gigging myself with whatever free time I get away from the day job. My concept of ‘a scene’ is not what it used to be… I would say that there are a lot of grassroots musicians who keep doing their thing, irrespective of reaching huge audiences and those are the kinds of people I’d like to champion. There are some really good songwriters like Hannah White and Jason McNiff on the Americana scene.

I’ve seen a lot of people struggling for support recently online. What’s your view on the industry?

Music is so incredibly difficult for aspiring musicians. There is no money in recording music anymore and the gateway to success is very heavily guarded by the gatekeepers. It seems that you need a lot of money behind you to persuade people with influence to open doors which is soul destroying. Pursuing a career in the arts in this country is incredibly hard, I’m not sure how you can do it without being from a privileged background. I don’t think that a band like The Beatles would make it today. It’s more about PR and promotion rather than how talented you are as a live musician.

I’d like to see streaming companies pay musicians properly and venues having properly funded government support to grow and pay musicians properly.

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

I’m a grassroots musician who gets some professional work in a certain niche genre of folk/rock/pop. I crossover into festivals and folk clubs and have a good local support. I’m aiming to do more ticketed events at local venues where I can organise the event myself, invite the audience, pay the band etc… and spread the word about my songwriting. 

I’d like to be a bigger player, I know that my songs are as well-written as anyone’s, potentially they are classic songs, but I need some luck in breaking the national scene. Ideally someone from Radio 2 needs to hear my songs and play them… that’s the next step for me. If I can make that step then the songs are definitely well enough written and produced to attract a bigger audience and a higher profile of live gigs. I am aiming to try and reach that level and introduce the wonderful musicians in my band to a wider audience!

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.

Truths…

I have a really powerful voice, it’s like McCartney’s and Roy Orbison’s I can sing and write pretty much any genre of music.

I have a powerful imagination, it comes with being a bit introverted I guess, I could write 5 songs a day if I didn’t have to work…

Lies…

People think sometimes I’m a bit unfriendly. I’m not I just don’t like loud gatherings of people. Introverted people are misunderstood… but they have powerful gifts. Society seems to prefer extroverts – I’m not sure why… 

Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….

Yes, all the time, I overthink everything, I waste too much time doing that… I don’t believe in cancel culture, be strong, turn up do your thing, contribute and enjoy it! Even if you’re a singer with a cold, don’t cancel you have a responsibility to your audience, turn up and try, enjoy singing with a different kind of voice!

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If not why not?

No, sorry I’m boring! I believe in Occam’s Razor, the simplest explanation for something is usually the right one.

What was your best experience on stage?

I loved my most recent gig, playing 2 hours of my songs with my fantastic band. I love playing with great musicians, improvising and seeing where it leads…

The other night, I did a solo gig, but there was a great bass player in the room, I invited him up and it was so much fun playing with someone else ‘off the cuff’. We got the whole audience on side, singing with us, music should be inclusive. It’s a social thing… that’s why it’s so powerful!

What was your worst experience on stage?

The biggest nightmare is always losing your voice. It happened a couple of weeks ago, I started croaking. Vocal zones, a gift from above save the day…

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about. 

I have three degrees in chemistry, physics and maths… I’m a proper boffin… I think music and maths are connected…

What are the next steps you plan to take as a band to reach the next level?

Growing more of an audience through word of mouth. More ticketed local gigs, I want us to be the ‘folk Beatles’ of South London.

I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.

Please listen to my latest album ‘Poetry in Exile’ on Spotify, the songs are deep, emotional and in places people have said ‘compelling’. They are ambitious in their sonic scope with strings, brass, pianos, organs, guitars…. Wide as a prairie…The best music makes you realise something about yourself, the song should be something you can identify with. If you listen to the album, I really hope that you find the connections with your life and enjoy that experience!

My latest single isn’t on the album it’s called ‘Love Ain’t Free’, it’s a song for young people everywhere. We so badly need to reverse Brexit, you have to be rich now to marry someone from the EU and have them live with you, it’s a scandal!

What was the recording process like?

I do all of my recording at home. I sculpt the rhythm tracks, lay down two 12 string acoustics on each channel, put down a draft vocal, play some countermelody where there’s room on a bass. Then, I put down a saxophone and the wonderful Beatrice from my live band, played an amazing vibrant fiddle line. She is so good! The sax and fiddle are bouncing off each other with a great energy. 

The final step is always getting he vocals right, this song goes very high – top F# to be hit and maintained at the end of a phrase in full chest voice, that was a challenge! A lot of good singing is about breathing, that took me a while to work out how to do it. Every song John Lennon says needs an orgasmic peak, that was the peak and I had to get it right. Then, putting down a high harmony vocal and double tracking it. I love doing the harmonies!

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

Balancing the immediacy and vibrance of creation with the need to sculpt, be patient and iterate and improve… I’ve just spent a month on the lyric to one new tune, getting every single word right and maximising its ‘singability’ is a key part of song-writing. You can see Lennon and McCartney doing this on the song ‘Get Back’, Lennon makes suggestions… ‘when you sing it that word sounds better’. An underestimated skill but possibly the key that separates good songs from great ones…

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

No I am really happy with my recent album ‘Poetry in Exile’ and my latest single ‘Love Ain’t Free’, I put in the time, nothing was compromised…

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

Love and Peace. Don’t see music as a competition, see it as a collaboration. Enjoy and grow together!

CHECK OUT HIS WEBSITE HERE

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By mykct