Andy Hunter – On Automatic

After releasing three successful electronica albums, having his tracks featured in a number of popular movies and TV shows, developing a worldwide audience and even helping to score a film, you might think that Andy Hunter would have no trouble getting enough support to make another album. This was not the case, however, and the creation of his latest EP, Collide, took a much different path than he expected.

“With Nettwerk, it was just a question of funding with this new record,” Hunter says about his decision to go solo on this effort, rather than with Nettwerk Music Group, the company which helped with his previous releases. “It kind of made sense, being brutally honest, with the funding they were offering, that I could do it myself and own all the rights and masters.”

Having control over this project has allowed Andy to do what he wants to do, and to give his audience new music more quickly than he might have been able to otherwise.

“I wanted to put this release out by myself, just to kind of test the waters, but also realizing that some of my fan base had been waiting a while for some new music,” he explains. “So it’s just really specifically aimed at the fan base instead of being a big release. I wanted to get something out for people who were waiting. So if this release goes well then there’s no reason why I can’t keep on doing it this way, and I think hopefully I’ll get material out there a lot quicker than I would by being in The Big Machine.”

Taking the DIY approach on this album has been a growing experience but he has been up to the challenge.

“On this record I’ve done everything myself,” Hunter says. “On my other releases I worked with other producers and I’ve worked with strings and quartets and had a budget. This one was really a test though: Can I do it all by myself? Even when it came to mixing and mastering the record, I’ve done everything.”

And after all the hard work, hearing glowing reviews has been gratifying.

“When people say the album’s really good and it stands up with my other music and records,” Hunter begins, “that’s a real boost of confidence for me.”

Fan interaction is one of the most important parts of any show, especially in the world of dance music, so it makes sense that Andy takes that desire to connect with the audience in a live setting and translates it into the virtual world as well.

“I love my Facebook page,” Hunter says with a chuckle. “All the interaction. My Facebook page sort of has become my website because it’s so easy to interact with people and find out what people are thinking.”

And interaction with your fan base can take on a number of forms beyond simply making posts and replying to the comments your fans leave.

“We did a Collide artwork competition mainly through Facebook,” he says, explaining how the artwork for the EP was selected. “I sent out a newsletter to people who’ve signed up to my fan base of course, but it was mainly all done through Facebook. I got a lot of feedback posting the designs there, and that was just fantastic. Loved it.”

After experimenting with more traditional song structures and vocalists with his third release, Colour, Collide is something of a return to the video game-like energy of his first two releases, Exodus and Life. The songs were written primarily while out on the road, and have been road-tested in shows across the world, so they have the feel of being tailor-made songs for the club scene.

“With these tracks,” Hunter begins, “I didn’t come at them specifically from the angle of ‘I’m writing this for my new album,’ or ‘I’m writing this for a new EP.’ It was very much show-driven rather than thinking this is gonna be an album, which Colour definitely was. Collide was being specifically written for Andy Hunter live, and has just happened to become an EP.”

The fact that these five tracks were written for live shows first, and a CD second, is a large reason why audiences have already begun latching onto certain songs with considerable fervor.

“The track ‘Raining Sunshine’ for instance,” Hunter says, reminiscing, “I was playing it in Bogota and then again in Buenos Aires…sort of the piano hook line that you’ve got as it breaks into the final kick-in. I finished with that and people would chant and sing out the melody, the hook line—which doesn’t have any lyrics—but they were chanting out that hook line really loud and that was just after one time of hearing it! And certainly “On Automatic,” which I’ve been road-testing for ages, they just love it when the bass kicks in right at the start because it’s quite gnarly, so that just sort of sets people’s heads off in a live show.”

Perhaps what is most illuminating about Hunter and his work is that his efforts are motivated by his Christian beliefs, despite minimal references to God in his songs.

“I always have to be inspired to write or produce a track,” Hunter says. “I have to find inspiration from somewhere, and for me it’s a lot to do with my faith that inspires me: What I feel, and reading through the Bible what’s inspiring me there, and what God is saying to me in my life, and what’s inspiring me through that.”

And being more in the vein of a P.O.D. or U2 in terms of his faith than, say, a Sandi Patty or Michael W. Smith, has led to its share of questions and criticisms, but he does not apologize for any of his creations.

“Sometimes people maybe criticize my music because it isn’t Christian enough or the lyrics aren’t overtly Christian or whatever,” Hunter says. “But I can truly say, hand-on-heart, every track I write has to be inspired. That’s how I write. I can’t just write a track for the sake of writing a piece of music. I have to find inspiration. And every piece of music, every album that I’ve put out, every track has always been inspired by something I feel God is saying to me. I’ve been inspired by reading through the Bible, it’s just I don’t necessarily express it in the stereotypical Christian way in terms of my music.”

In fact, his music has struck a chord with people despite his not trying to fulfill whatever God or Jesus quotient the Contemporary Christian music scene might require of him.

“Talking with people within the industry, within record labels, who aren’t Christian or into the Christian scene,” Hunter begins, “I talk to them about certain tracks that they think are really good and they say, “Why did you write that track?” And I’ll tell them what I’ve told you, that God was saying this and it inspired me. And they meet so many other DJs and so many electronic artists and sometimes what they feel is their music doesn’t carry the depth of maybe other kinds of music. But after hearing my inspirations and hearing my music they say, ‘Yours does carry soul and has a depth to it.’”

Despite the fact that many within the mainstream music world have embraced Andy and his music more readily, it does appear that the church’s resistance is softening ever so slightly.

“I’m not real sure it has changed much,” Hunter states, “though I think we might be going through a bit of a change at the moment. I think commercially, dance music within America…people like the Black Eyed Peas have worked with David Guetta, who’s a house DJ, and he carried a lot of that electronic/dance/house feel into their last record, which was huge. So I think that’s been very good for dance music. I think generally that’s maybe coming over a little bit in the church too, within Christian music. I’m starting to be asked by some of their artists, ‘Can you give me some beats?’ or ‘Can you work with me on that?’ which is fantastic because it’s becoming more accepted, church-wise, so maybe it’s beginning to change.”

But even if that change is only minimal, and even if that shift comes to halt at some point, Andy Hunter will keep on making the pulse-pounding music he’s been making for about a decade simply because he cannot stop.

“Music to me means a lot,” he admits. “It’s part of my DNA. It’s part of who I am. I find music hard work to write, to produce. I’m not the best musician. I think with a lot of the tracks I have to keep going back and changing things; I change chords and progressions. I find it hard to produce and write music, but I think the end results are good because of that, because I did work hard. I love music. I love listening to music. I love good shows. And for me it’s just a good way of expressing who I am. It’s a good outlet. It’s my art.”

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