Andrew Rubin Interview -Part Two

If you didn’t catch the first part of my interview with young up-and-coming guitarist/ composer/ multi-talented young musician, Andrew Rubin, then be sure to head here: Introducing Andrew Rubin and a New Guitar Concerto! Interview – Part 1

Here’s the second and final instalment of my inspiring interview with Andrew – I promise you it’ll make you want to go grab your guitar and do something new and different!

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So you’re a bit of multi-talented individual – you’ve come from a rock background, with your Dark Days project very funky kind of stuff, and The Magician a really interesting, cool piece of work with the animation along with your wonderful piece of music. I think you have a gift for orchestration. Do you see yourself working on these different kinds of projects going forwards?

Absolutely, and that’s the thing is that even though half of me is leaning towards going towards orchestration and scoring and stuff like that, I don’t want necessarily to….. I guess in music I like to jump from genre to genre. Even listening wise, you know. I could be on jazz for a while or even electronic music. I love artists like Frank Zappa who crossed over many different genres and just went wherever their muses took them. I aspire to be that same way, I would love to do orchestration and film score kind of stuff, but I also have a soft spot for writing pop songs like Dark Days. I want to do it all!

What’s next for you? What’s your next project?

For 2017 I kind of two projects going on right now. Dark Days was kind of the first song off of this four or five song EP that I was going to put out, with collaborations with different people. All sort of in a similar vein of two to three minute long, simple songs. And then at the same time I’ve been trying to construct a new classical piece, leaning towards a ballet kind of thing. I’ve been really inspired by Stravinsky, Rimsky-Korsakov and that vein. It’s one avenue I’ve not really explored yet, so it’s really exciting.

And so you’re playing some gigs this year too?

Yeah, actually at this very moment, in 25 minutes! Yeah, I’m very fortunate to live on the central coast of California, which has a lot of wineries and a lot of really nice places to play. It’s really nice here, and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to play most weekends. And today is my first attempt at being able to perform the concerto with a backing track and doing a live thing today. So it will be a fun experiment.

How do you prepare for gigs?

If you’re going out there doing it by yourself definitely make a checklist! There’s so much stuff to remember. I’ve been to gigs before where I’ve forgotten the head of the PA. Be organised!

It’s important to not lose the aspect of improvising. I don’t like to make set lists, because you have to read the room, and know that you don’t want to put your best song at the beginning when the room hasn’t filled up yet and stuff like that. It’s fun to be spontaneous and have that element of uncertainty. That can lead to really cool ideas and really cool performances. Some of the best performances have been off the cuff, in the moment sort of things and so it’s always this constant balance of structure and letting go with music and performances.

Who are your inspirations as a musician? You spoke about Frank Zappa, who else or what else inspires you?

I think as I’ve gotten a little older I really look up to artists who, kind of like what I mentioned before, like Frank Zappa. I may not know his entire catalogue or all the music that he’s done, but as an artist what he was able to do. Very similar to David Bowie and Miles Davis. Individuals like that who were always reinventing  themselves and never kind of stuck with one thing, I really look up to those kind of individuals and aspire to be to that same way in my own career. God willing if I could be that way it’d be awesome!

As far as musical influences, as I mentioned before, that kind of changes from a classical angle I love Debussy, Stravinsky and Sibelius. And those people that really stood for what they believed in artistically, and did whatever they wanted and didn’t really care what other people thought. That inspires me.

What top tips would you have for folks out there who are perhaps aspiring to start composing or writing or start arranging or doing something different?

Well, I would say get out of your comfort zone and don’t ever say that you can’t do something, or think you can’t do something. Because the greatest things that have happened to me in my time of being a musician have been because I thought “why not?”. I’d have never gotten into orchestration if I hadn’t said to myself “why not try doing this?”. You know, I’m not formally educated in doing that, but kind of by stretching myself and trying it, you never know what can happen. So don’t ever box yourself into a “I’m only a singer-songwriter”, “I’m only a guitarist”, “I only do this” – try anything you want and go with it because you need know what might happen.

So you’re self-taught on the guitar?

Yes, for many years that was sort of my thing, it was just a lot of practice, a lot of bedroom practice just all the time. And when it came for orchestration it was a lot of reading books and self-study, and it wasn’t until about halfway through that process where I actually got a teacher, he actually showed refine it technically – “here’s the correct way of doing things”, “here’s the theory behind this and that” you know.

But up until that point it was a lot of reading books, a lot of listening to music, a lot of intuitive processes. Trial and error definitely.

So what do you do get up to when you’re not writing or playing?

Well, I love hanging out with my dogs. I’ve got two dogs – they’re like my kids. I’ve got an Australian Shepherd and Border Collie. They’ve got lots of energy all the time so they tire me out when I have my down time. So I like to spend time with them.

But I do music so much it’s kind of funny to think of my down time. I’m always like “what am I going to do next?”

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Well, after that interview and checking out some of Andrew’s recent work I’m sure you, dear readers, are as curious and excited as I am to see what this talented young man does do next.

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Interview with Duncan Gardiner of Fiddlesticks – Part 3

Today’s post is the third and final instalment of my interview with the wonderful Duncan Gardiner of Fiddlesticks.

If you missed the first two parts, check them out here:

In this final instalment Duncan provides insight into the musical development process with Fiddlesticks, and shares his top tips for budding guitars and composers.

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So once you’ve been around all of the schools in Australia, and all of the kids between Kindy and Year 8 have heard everything, is there a plan to develop a new show or anything like that?

Look I’m not sure. I definitely think there could be scope for that, but if not I could see myself doing something with a guitar quartet. There could be something really rich happening there. So I have ideas of doing the complete history of Western music in 60 minutes. There’d be someone playing bass guitar, someone playing classical, some doing a steel string, or an electric, someone doing some other little plucked string like a mandolin or a requinto or a banjo or something and doing a show like that.

I’m sure things like that have been done, but kids seems to identify with a certain performer. There’s always like a typical cello girl – that sounds so terrible. But there always seems to be a certain type of young girl who always sees themselves as or just dreams of playing the cello. It seems be the same type of girl every time as well.

Certain kids just respond to different instruments. There are some kids that just want to rock out on the guitar and really associate with the electric guitar, some respond to the classical guitar. So I can see, if not a new show with Fiddlesticks, more in the future.

Have you been writing any more material for Fiddlesticks?

Yeah, so often on the tours we have an evening concert for the public to come along. So we’re constantly developing that repertoire, just to really find the best mix of music. There is not a lot of original music for our trio, so I do a lot of arrangements. We might find arrangements online, but the chords might have been simplified or the harmony simplified so I find it’s best if I just arrange it myself, that way I usually totally happy with the outcome.

I’ve been arranging a lot of pieces as well, and a lot of pieces that were originally for guitar and cello and adding a part of violin. Or pieces that were written originally for guitar and violin and adding a cello part. And I’ve been adding a lot more of my originals in there too. So I find myself pretty busy!

Do you give any top tips to any of the kids in the audience about learning the guitar or any other instrument?

We tell them that it’s important to find a good teacher and to practice regularly. Those sorts of things. They don’t generally ask for advice on how to play the instruments, some of them don’t even have music classes at school.

We tell them it’s never too late to start. We tell tem Rachel started to play the violin when she was three, and all the kids gasp. Some of them might think well why bother I’m in Year 12 now. Well we tell them they can start anytime. And we tell them we have students that are adults too.

For the benefits of the blog readers, do you have any top tips for budding guitarists?

If they’re already learning there’s that old expression practice makes perfect – I would say that’s incorrect. Practice makes permanent because how you practice all the time is how you play all the time. If your practice is full of mistakes, your playing will always have mistakes. So practice the right way, instilling good habits into your playing.

I think people tend to think that you have make your playing and your sound like someone else’s. In this day of YouTube and iTunes and Spotify and whatever it is that people are listening to music through they go to these sites, and perhaps base their interpretation on someone else’s. I think, especially if they’re doing music for fun, people should really just try to be imaginative with their interpretations. Have fun with it!

All these other guitarists already exist, who are you? There’s already a Karin Schaupp. We don’t need another Slava, because we already have him. Who are you and what is your interpretation?

And what about folks that are just making their first forays into composing for the guitar – any top tips there?

A lot of the time I have composed music, or have discovered a composition, through improvising. I think that’s such an organic way or writing. Starting improvising, just play random chords that aren’t really even chords and see if you like the sound and move from there.

Another way is to think of the tonal or timbral effects of the guitar, the wonderful percussive sounds of the guitar. Obviously the guitar is so colourful, even if you’ve already written a piece think about the extremities of super tasto and ponti and the different sounds….The guitar is just so varied.

I think it’s great if we can include more of the guitar family, like bass guitar, maybe double the bass. I’d love to see soprano guitars in every guitar ensemble. You could do something with that. You could write to explore the different registers the different guitars have. And capos make anything sound sparkly and nice!

And another one – often you come across pieces of music that were written by a non-guitarist, which feels just so awkward to play. Try you ideas on the guitar and see if they enhance the natural sound of the guitar. If it has chords that are just so difficult to play and sound tonal dead or dull then it’s not going to sound that great. You want something that will enhance the sound of the guitar, something that resonates with the guitar.