I first met Andrew Weathers in January of 2008 at a show in Baltimore, Maryland. His live performance that night was incredible, and I still remember it vividly. I have been lucky enough to keep in touch with Andrew over the last three years. Andrew's music continues to evolve, and every time he comes to Philadelphia I am boiling over with anticipation to see what he has in store. The website Indyweek.com said in a review of Andrew's album, A Great Southern City, "Weathers' intelligent sound design swells with a...forthcoming passion."I couldn't agree more. The following interview was conducted via E-mail in February 2011.
Who are you and what do you do? How long have you been doing this? Where are you from? What releases do you have available? Where can people find them?
I'm Andrew Weathers, I'm from North Carolina. I've been playing music as a serious endeavor since 2006, and I've been running Full Spectrum Records since 2008. I have one solo album, A Great Southern City out on FS, and a record by the Andrew Weathers Ensemble coming out on Sleep on the Floor in March.
What is your personal relationship with the natural world? What is the relationship between your music and the natural world? How much of an influence does this have on your art?
I remember a time I was driving to Atlanta with my friend Zach and I went on a rant on how my music is urban music and it's ridiculous to think that my music was about nature. I have moved away from this, towards thinking of my music as settled in a place between urbanity and the natural world, as is my existence. As much as I would like to get out, removed from urban life, it's just not something I get to do as much as I'd like. I think I appreciate the small places where nature and urban intersect: a creek between the highway and school, a park that's perfectly placed so that the sound of the city floats over it.
Was there a catalyst, something that made this change in thinking come about? Or was it more of a gradual change in thinking from strictly urban music to more of a combination between urbanity and nature?
Beyond Civilization (by author Daniel Quinn) was a catalyst to make me directly conceive of the change, but the shift was pretty gradual.
Are there any other artists that you would recommend (musicians or otherwise) who's art is strongly influenced by the natural world?
An artist who has a pretty close relationship to nature that immediately comes to mind is Annea Lockwood . I love the way she presents these well constructed works, but the natural sound is so untouched. It's like shes composing directly from the field recording, which is maybe in fact what she's doing.
Or if you look into John Luther Adams, his book Winter Sounds - it's incredible the reverence he has for Alaska, and how much that affects his music.
How often do you work with field recording, if at all? Why or why not?
I definitely work with field recordings a lot. These are usually urban sounds - church bells, cars, street performers and the like. I use them because I love the idea of re-contextualizing our every day sonic environment. I think that's the most important thing that I've learned from Cage.
Obviously, I use urban sounds because that's where I usually find myself. I'm not drawn to music as escapism, but rather enhancement. I imagine this will continue until I live by a river in the Appalachian mountains.
What level of importance does the preservation of the natural world hold in your life? Where do you rank environmental issues in the grand scheme of world problems? Are there any issues in your local community that are of particular concern to you?
I think it's of great importance. A book by Daniel Quinn called Beyond Civilization really drove into me that our lifestyles are killing the planet. I think his suggestion that not everyone has to step away, but a good number of us do, is apt. The book bought the possible consequences of my lifestyle to my attention - I've started to feel guilt for touring as much as I do, and I still haven't found a conclusion to solve it. As far as community concerns, I think that here in Greensboro, what is already available is not valued. I think this is the case most places, but buildings are constantly knocked down to be replaced with poorly build housing for students, that isn't really even needed. There's recently been a massive complex go up called The Providence that flattened several working foundries, buildings that I thought were beautiful. People tried to fight it, but somehow the city council didn't listen. I just see it as wasteful to make something new & unnecessary where there was something that had life left in it.
When I first started to read Daniel Quinn's books and others with similar theories, I had a very extreme response. I felt like my eyes had finally been opened and a thousand lightbulbs had been turned on (or off, actually). What reaction did you have to the idea of living "beyond civilization"?
I was incredibly impressed with how well Quinn articulated concepts that has been just underneath the surface for me. I don't know exactly how feasible his lifestyle concepts are for me, or anyone else, but I really do admire them and try to incorporate them into my daily life as much as I can. It's a very slow process.
You have done a lot of touring, are there any places that stand out to you as particularly beautiful and vibrant? Anywhere that seems particularly fragile? What can we expect from you in the near future as far as releases and touring, etc.?
Beautiful places: everywhere in the Appalachian mountains, particularly around Pittsburgh, PA and Shepherdstown, WV. Salt Flats in UT. Night driving through Arizona. West Texas, Marfa, Balmorhea.
In North Carolina there are fewer fireflies than when I was child.
I'm touring to support this Ensemble record in the fall and into the summer, mostly East Coast, but perhaps into the Midwest some. After that, I will hopefully be moving somewhere that is not NC, can't say where yet!
If you could save one endangered species from extinction, what would it be?
Polar Bears and Indian Elephants.
Since this blog started out as a book club please list a few of your favorite books!
Beyond Civilization, Ishmael - Daniel Quinn
On the Road, Dharma Bums - Jack Kerouac
Zen Mind, Beginners Mind - Shunryu Suzuki
The Sun Also Rises, Old Man & The Sea - Ernest Hemingway
Haunted Weather - David Toop
Thank you so much for doing this interview Andrew, add anything thing you'd like as a conclusion.
Thanks Jeff for asking me to do this - it's wonderful to get an opportunity to think about the different contexts that my work must exist in.
Contact Andrew Weathers: http://www.andrewweathers.com/