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!


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?”


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.


Time for a rest from your classical guitar practice?

Ooh yes, indeed! Time for a rest! At the end of the year – our summer holidays here in Australia, your mid-winter holidays up there in the northern hemisphere – it’s a good time to have a well-earned rest. Time, perhaps for a rest from all the hard work, all that hard practice you’ve been putting into your guitar playing over the preceding 12 months.

Why take a rest? You always say consistent practice is the way to improve!

Yes, it most definitely is. But so is pacing yourself and knowing that it’s important to rest every now and then. I’m not talking about taking a month long sabbatical away from your instrument (gosh, I’m not sure I could go that long without playing!) but a week or two will be good for you. In fact, I tend to aim for two or three points in the year where I have at least a week long break from playing.

So, why?

(1)  Seeing the woods for the trees

Well, when you’re so close to something all the time as intensely as we guitar nutcases tend to be with our guitars, you can loose the woods for the trees.  Our hyper-focus on certain aspects of our playing, pieces, exercises and so on can mean we sometimes loose a bit of perspective. We can obsess over those aspects, sometimes even to the point of impacting it negatively.

Taking time out can help regain that perspective. You might be surprised coming back after a break that a wee knot or issue in a piece that you’ve been having seems a lot less challenging or actually a complete non-issue.

(2)  Resting is where our brain and body get to work

Taking a rest is a bit like having slaved away in a hot kitchen for hours cooking up a big stew or curry and then leaving it……… The recipe tastes pretty good immediately when you’ve finished making it, but leave it to simmer, stew and to rest and it then tastes phenomenal.

Something a little bit like that (well, kind of) happens when we take a rest from our practice. I’m not sure of the precise neurological processes that happen, but it seems as if the brain has the time to subconsciously shift through, sort out and sieve through everything we’ve been teaching it and practicing. It then takes the best bits and pushes that forwards for some tasty musical goodness. Well, you know, not every time, but that depends how you’ve been practicing!

(3)  Getting past that plateau

Sometimes we may feel like we’re stuck in a bit of a rut with our playing, like we’re plateauing or not making the improvements we’ve previously made or would like to make. Well, taking some time out can help – just like an athlete taking a rest from training – in rest, recovery and rebuilding, both physically and mentally.

If you’ve hit a bit of a mental plateau, kind of a bit tired and a little uninspired with your playing, don’t forget the old saying that absence makes the heart grow fonder. After a wee break, just like a holiday from work, you’ll come back refreshed, ready to work and take things to new heights.