10 September 2011

The Android Angel Answers 5 Yet Again

Another interview I have sat on for too long – taking a very easy July and August, doing little in way of posting, the summer ended with Hurricane Irene. We, in the New York City area (and the northeast of the USA in general), are not accustomed to hurricanes; so of course there were some that thought this event was an inch away from the Armageddon. Other than causing me to have some connectivity issues, Irene had very little effect on me. But watching all the constant, minute-by-minute updates on the hurricane, made me think about New York City, and of course that led me to listen to The Android Angel’s latest album, “Marble Sun,” which I reviewed earlier this year (link). Paul Colto, the man behind the moniker, wrote this album as an ode to New York City and was more than happy (yet again) to answer some questions for me. On that note, I want to thank Paul Colto for taking the time and answering 5.

(Photograph by DeadByCinema)

1. Last summer, you spent five weeks living in the Borough of Brooklyn, New York City. As a musician, how did your stay impact you?

In New York I realised that it was time to start making the instrumentation, lyrics and rhythms in my songs more interesting - to push myself more than I'd ever done before. I walked the streets of the city for days on end thinking about how to achieve this. When I got home it unexpectedly manifested itself in my other, new project, Free Swim, which has received by far and away the most positive reviews and coverage of any project I've ever been involved in, and also been the most fun. I learnt a great deal about the dynamics of live performance from all the gigs I went to - Cut Copy, Spiritualized, Grizzly Bear, Local Natives to name a few. I also learnt to cheer the fuck up and realise that life is a truly wonderful thing full of opportunity and inspiration and all that jazz.

2. From what I understand, “Brooklyn Bridge” was written before your trip to New York City last summer. Was the intention from the start to compose a collection of songs that were inspired by New York City? How did this thematic thread develop?

I took ten songs to New York that I had planned on perfecting while I was out there. After a week or two though I began to take my guitar with me on my explorations of the city and started playing in the parks and squares I'd stumble on. It was magical. Those first two weeks in particular were a manic but glorious assault on my senses. It was all very overwhelming, not to mention a feast for my imagination, and I wrote 10 brand new songs.

On my previous record I flushed out 5 or 6 years of bitterness and sadness about things that hadn't come to pass that I'd hoped would. My time in New York made me feel positive about my life as a musician for the first time. My songwriting stopped being my therapy and became something much more beautiful. I am truly indebted to the city for that and "Marble Sun" became a love-letter of thanks.

With regards to the song "Brooklyn Bridge", yes I wrote it in the months leading up to my trip - it's the sound of the excitement. I wasn't going to include it on the album but Android Angel bass player Joe convinced me to and I am so glad he did. His encouragement and piano & string arrangements really elevated the song. I simply cannot wait to collaborate more with Joe, and Steve (drummer) and Ryan (Free Swim drummer) in the coming years.

3. Can you tell us a bit about Sex Farm Records?

It's my own DIY label on which I release all my music as Android Angel and Free Swim. It gives me complete creative control to record the music I want to make, the way I want to make it, with whom I want to make it, and how I want to release and tour it. I hope the name of the label shows that I don't always take all this quite as seriously as it might first appear...

(Photograph by DeadByCinema)

4. You describe The Android Angel as “serious” music, while Free Swim, the other moniker you produce music under, as “less serious.” How did Free Swim come about, and why use two distinct monikers?

Basically, the "Marble Sun" was taking a lot longer to finish than I'd expected because Steve, Joe and I could only meet once a week to work on it. So I started to get a little restless and decided to record a couple of stream of consciousness EPs over a couple of weeks last winter to keep me out of trouble. They became the first two Free Swim EPs. I didn't want to just write 'normal' lyrics for them so with the help of my good friend Dave Knight we devised a couple of concepts for the EPs to be about.

The two projects are very different - with Android Angel I think very carefully about the songs, working on them for a number of months before recording them. With Free Swim there is absolutely no preparation whatsoever. I literally put a week aside to make an EP and start on the first day and see what happens. They are both incredibly rewarding projects in completely different ways.

5. Out of curiosity, I know you are on your way to Romania … will you be taking the opportunity to write new music out there, or will this be a true holiday?

For the fourth Android Angel album I wanted to go somewhere completely the opposite to New York. A farm in the Romanian Mountains sounded about right. Also my dad's Romanian and it will be the first time I've ever been to the 'fatherland' so to speak and it will be nice on that level too - more personal.

I'm taking my guitar with me to work on 5 or 6 songs that I’ve been writing the last couple of months and to hopefully write a few more. Together they'll make up the fourth album. I haven't written any lyrics yet; I want to wait till I get out there for that. It's not really a "holiday" as such cause I'll be working really hard on the farm to earn my keep, and writing songs in the evenings. To be honest, my life feels like one big "holiday" - I get to visit a new country and culture one month a year with my guitar then spend the intervening 11 months recording an album about it and fooling around with other projects like Free Swim - it's more than I could ever have dreamed of really. I am a very, very lucky man and I try not to take it for granted by working as hard at my craft as possible. Next year, California!

Keep up with The Android Angel at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter. Also head over to The Android Angel's Bandcamp page, where you can preview and download their music.

Also, I will be dedicating time to write about Free Swim very soon. In the mean time, start exploring Free Swim at their Facebook and Twitter, and check out the Bandcamp page, where you can preview and download their music.

Here is the video for The Android Angel’s “Brooklyn Bridge” from the deadbycinemafilms YouTube Channel.

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