‘New Album’ is where a band or artist answers some questions about their latest release. Last year AMMP front-man Andrew Masseurs ventured into solo territory with his debut album Origins. While there were plenty of standout tracks, there was also a sense of someone figuring out production and music styles, trying different things and finding his way as a solo act. Two hugely catchy singles in March & May of this year were one of those rare instances where the leap in production techniques, vocals, confidence, and artistic growth jumps right out of the music at you. Second album ‘Traveller in the Sky’ was just released to uniformly positive reviews from Muzic.net & Graham Reid’s Elsewhere, and two future singles, ‘Night After Night’ & ‘Days They Come Days They Go’ have made the 2019 unsigned competition semi-finals out of 6000 entries. We caught up with Andrew for a chat about how it all came together.
When/where was the new album recorded?
Traveller in the Sky was made between Feb 2018 and June 2019 at my home studio in the greatest city in the world. That’s right, I know what you’re thinking… Upper Hutt.
Who produced/engineered the album? How did the tracks come together in the studio, or at home?
I recorded and mixed the 10 songs in my home studio. I had written around 60 ideas over the first 3 months and then cut it down to around 20 that I worked on. I chose ideas that had catchy hooks. Songs that I felt I would enjoy making and listening to. Along the way I had around 5 songs that were casualty’s. They weren’t quite up to standard. Each song took about a month to write and record. I would than work on another tune before coming back to the previous tune to mix fresh or make changes to. This album was particularly exciting for me as all songs were fresh and new. Nothing had been sitting around for any period of time. Finally the album was mastered by Howard Rogers from Bring It On studios in Auckland. I’ve worked with Howard on Origins and Ammps EP This Chaotic Symphony. He really knows how to smooth out any musical imbalances I might have missed. The mastering is the cream on the cake and he knows how to present the best flavours.
How did the songwriting happen? Are there any overall themes within the songs/album?
I use stream of consciousness to create tunes. I don’t think. I try not to overthink. Everything is fresh and demo like. For me that’s when I do my best work. The more time I spend on a tune the more I move away from the original intention. This album is very personal. There is an overall theme of trying to break free, but sometimes being stuck. It keeps repeating. A loop. But there is optimism. Love and family are the light and joy for me. There are moments of immense sadness and pressure. Moments of being lost and broken. Falling down and losing my mind. But always the answer of getting up and being set free. Whether that be in the form of a comic book hero like The Batman, or my family as in Into the light we stay. Days they come days they go is a reminder to let the pressure go. To enjoy life and keep smiling as my Dad used to say.
Were you going for a different sound/approach on this album?
Yes. In terms of writing, recording and mixing. It was being minimal. Keeping the amount of instruments down to a bare minimum. I always asked myself does it need to be their? I wanted what was on the album to be powerful and necessary. If it was in the way it was gone. I also wanted the songs I chose to be hooks you could sing along to. I wanted the listener to get lost in the tune and to feel the need to sing along. I lost so many songs that had great riffs or verses but no chorus. The chorus was all and important.
Was there any specific gear you used to capture that?
For me on this album it was the drums, and bass for low end growls and tribal rhythms. The electric guitar and acoustic for bells and whistles. The piano for strings and synth sounds. It was all sounds that would not date to much. So this album could fit into any time period. I kept the sound choices to a minimum so as to give the album its on palette.
Is there a particular single/track that you feel captures the essence of the album?
Set Me Free was the first song I worked on. It really set the scene of what was to come. Its minimal yet powerful. It was the beginning. As soon as I had that song I knew what would come after. The meaning behind the song also told me what I was to do and how to go about it. No prisoners full steam ahead.
Is there a physical copy available? If not which digital platforms is it available on?
I’d love to do vinyl. Lance Mcminn who styled the cover had ideas for vinyl. That’s where were going with it. I have to weigh up the cost and the potential sales. On digital it’s available everywhere. [Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, Bandcamp, Soundcloud]
Are you working on a video/videos for any of the songs? Are you doing any gigs or promotion for its release?
I have created two videos so far from the album. Both have had great feedback. ‘Set me free’ and ‘Everyone wants to be your love’. My production partner on the videos is David St George. We have a lot of fun creating them. It’s become another passion. At the moment we’ve just finished shooting a video for ‘Night after night’ which is now in post-production. As with the song writing, albums and videos the idea is to grow, enjoy and learn. I hope I can reach some people with each song released. Maybe inspire them or help them to feel something. It is a real joy to write these songs. I hope someone out their will get joy out of listening to them.
1st single ‘Set Me Free’, a cute video with a star performance by ‘vocalist’ Lily Masseurs.
For 2nd single ‘Everyone Wants To Be Your Love’ Andrew learnt the song in reverse, walked backwards (without hitting one tree, post or cyclist) and than reversed the footage to create a brain twister of a music video.