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Behind the Scenes With: Andrew Heath

April 26, 20246 min read

Exploring the art, process and sounds of Andrew Heath...

We recently released 'The Cloud Machine' by UK based sound artist Andrew Heath, whom we also work regularly with since he is the designer for our CD sleeves! In this blog we chatted to Andrew about his album, the themes behind it, how it was created, the artwork and what Andrew has lined up for the future.

Artwork 1 by Zoe Heath

HT: Could you tell us a bit more about The Cloud Machine and the themes that are behind this album? Are there any particular memories that came to mind as you created the album?

AH: "I was very lucky to have had an idyllic childhood, growing up in a rural village on the southern edge of Salisbury Plain in the south of England with fields, woods and rivers all around me. These were my playground and a great deal of my music seeks to rediscover or depict in some way, this time in my life with its simple, joyful innocence. The Cloud Machine explores one aspect of that time - my complete fascination as a young boy with the sky, clouds and the machines that flew through them. I was always gazing skywards - a complete dreamer. One memory (or rather a series of memories) in particular that I kept in mind as I worked on the album is that of racing the shadows of clouds across the fields behind my home. Of course I could never run that fast but that has stayed with me as an example of this carefree happiness. So pieces like ‘Catching Clouds’ and ‘The Boy who watched the Sky’ are obvious references to those memories.

I loved the way these ethereal elements of the natural world around me, portrayed everything I saw in a dreamlike or detached way which is very much the case with a piece like ‘An Occurrence of Automatic Writing’ whereas ‘Landscape after Corot’ refers to the beautiful paintings of Camille Corot that have an ethereal quality which I’m completely drawn to.

The wonderment of, and trying to understand the natural world around us lead me to ‘One Degree of Latitude’ and the story of the 18th century French Geodesic Mission to the Equator in order to understand the true shape of the Earth. A truly monumental story of endurance and discovery."

Andrew Heath The Cloud Machine, cover variation

HT: How did you approach the production of The Cloud Machine? What equipment, software and techniques did you use?

AH: "With this album, I wanted to create a soundstage that was lighter in tone to my last album, Scapa Flow. A soundstage that always seemed to ascend and was filled with light and air. I’ve been increasingly drawn to a more minimal and tonal like sound which reflects the album title. I’ve also been experimenting with the use of interesting intervals within melodies. Working against where my hands naturally seem to want to play. I’m not sure this comes across in the finished pieces but it was a technique I consciously sought out.

My little set up is very minimal really. There is my piano and my guitar and in addition I use FM8 as my main electronic sound source. I’m old enough to have bought one of the first Yamaha DX7s when they came out in 1983. They were a revolution and were completely different to what had gone before them. FM8 is really a souped up DX7. So those were my main sound sources alongside my ever present field recordings."

Artwork by Zoe Heath, for 'The Cloud Machine' by Andrew Heath

HT: There are field recordings used throughout this album, as with a lot of your work. What device do you use to capture these sounds?

AL: "I have a huge archive of recordings that I’m adding to all the time, captured with my wonderful Sony PCM100 handheld recorder. Very much a ‘point and shoot’ device - I’ve long since stopped worrying about the ‘dirt’ or ‘detritus’ that gets into any sound recording - finding that this actually adds to the ambient quality of what I’m trying to capture. I often do a lot of processing to the files once I start using them in a piece, treating them almost as textural elements at times."

Artwork by Zoe Heath for 'The Cloud Machine' by Andrew Heath.

HT: Your wife Zoë created the cover artwork and imagery for the CD packaging. Could you tell us a bit about the her processes for these pieces of work?

AL: "Zoë is a mixed media artist and her work has always inspired me. I’ve used quite a few of her pieces as album covers in the past and this piece in particular showcases one of her working methods. Ephemera and found objects were used here to print directly onto a textured surface and then further worked on to erase or erode back until the finished piece presents itself. I loved the bright colour way here and the piece seemed to speak to me of clouds and machines."

Artwork by Zoe Heath for 'The Cloud Machine' by Andrew Heath

HT: What plans have you got up your sleeve? Any plans for forthcoming releases that you can share?

AL: "There is certainly more work on the way, more solo albums and more collaborative music that I’m working on. I’ve just released an album with the Argentinian ambient composer, Mi Cosa de Resistance (Fernando Perales) on Audiobulb titled ‘Café Tristesse’ and we are already half way through a follow up album. I also have plans to release a series of EPs which will explore a more drone, or tone based compositional approach. Additionally, I’m working on new material with Christian Whitman, one half of the renowned French electronic duo, Lightwave. I try and keep busy and to be honest, there is so much exploring to be done within the field of ambient music that I aim to be releasing work for some time to come."

Andrew Heath Profile Pictire

HT: How can people stay connected to your work in the future?

AL: "I’m on the usual social media sites under ‘andrewheatharts’, but probably the best way is through Bandcamp as a follower. I’ll always encourage people to get in contact with me as I love hearing from them with any kind of comment or feedback. I also send out a quarterly newsletter that I try and make quite chatty and informative. I also give away a unique track with every newsletter which tend to be pieces that don’t naturally belong to a larger body of work or maybe pieces that I use as a test-bed for some sonic exploration."

'The Cloud Machine' is available now in a highly limited run of 100 gatefold vinyl-effect CDrs and in various high-quality digital formats. You can order your physical copy (whilst stocks last) or a digital version now by clicking HERE!

AmbientCinematicAmbient MusicArtistInterviewArtworkAndrew heathDrone MusicElectro AcousticElectro-AcousticElectroacousticElectronic MusicElectronicClouds
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