Andrew Hung, finest recognized for being one half of digital music duo Fuck Buttons, could be very a lot in demand.
Regardless of the venture being on maintain since 2013, he’s subsequently recorded a monitor with Jean-Michel Jarre, co-produced for Beth Orton and Aimee Osbourne (daughter of Ozzie), and written the soundtrack to cult director Jim Hosking’s comedy horror, The Greasy Strangler.
Hung’s second solo digital album, Devastations, paperwork a transitional interval in his profession.
Striving to good the one-man-band strategy of its predecessor, Realisationship – a physique of labor he’s solely lately come to understand – regardless of being recorded virtually totally digitally, its propulsive beats, angular instrumentation and stark, craving vocals are a disarming throwback to ’80s new wave songcraft…
Was Devastations recorded pre-pandemic or did the isolation provide the good alternative to work on a second solo album?
“I’m unsure methods to compartmentalise the method now but it surely was positively completed through the pandemic. Most of it was written earlier than, however when it got here to mixing it took or 4 or 5 makes an attempt to cross the road as a consequence of no matter psychological barrier I used to be experiencing.
“I assume going by all these mixing processes gave it a level of re-polishing – it definitely gave me the chance to examine my working processes as a result of I’m all the time on the lookout for methods to be as environment friendly as doable.”
How do you are feeling Devastations builds on the your debut solo album Realisationship?
“I heard Realisationship once more lately, but it surely’s solely now I truly suppose it’s a very good album. It was my first solo document and my preliminary expectation was ‘I can do that’ – and I did, however on the time I felt like I’d let myself down and it may have been higher, so I went a bit militant and centered on bettering just about all the things.
“Nothing actually modified when it comes to the artistry, however I centered much more on the craft of creating an album. With Devastations I really feel I’ve introduced out extra of what I needed however couldn’t.”
You seem like fairly self-critical. Does some extent arrive when it’s a must to end a document, warts and all?
“On the time, I’d put that lack of satisfaction I discussed all the way down to my craft. I seemed for a depth I couldn’t fairly outline and went on this journey to uncover that. I began to marvel if my dissatisfaction was all the way down to the shortage of worth I positioned in myself and began excavating my thoughts to find why that happens.
“Because of this, I’m extra comfy with it, which explains why I can hear Realisationship for what it’s relatively than what I needed it to be. The explanation I struggled to combine Devastations was additionally as a consequence of me wanting it to be one thing relatively than judging it for what it was.”
It appears to be influenced by a post-punk/new wave sound. Was that deliberate or extra all the way down to your lo-fi-sounding manufacturing course of?
“I like the concept of punk in that it offers you permission to do no matter you need. For me, it was much less about an aesthetic and extra to do with having that freedom.
“In that respect, I do discover there’s a connection, however I’ve been listening to fairly a number of attention-grabbing interpretations of the album currently. Lots of people say it appears like Jarvis Cocker. ”
We had been considering extra Pleasure Division…
“Pleasure Division for certain, however as I discussed there’s been fairly a number of comparisons to Pulp. I assume I’m flattered by that – it’s good to be in comparison with icons isn’t it?”
You talked about that you just discovered it troublesome to search out the arrogance to sing by yourself recordings. Are you extra comfy with that now?
“I’ve needed to focus fairly a bit on the vocals. I didn’t realise how a lot approach was concerned in singing – I assumed it was identical to speaking [laughs]. I’m happy with my voice now, however I did attend an intensive vocal course so I’ve been taught quite a bit over the previous three or 4 years.
“One is tempted to consider that preparation removes the magic of a vocalist, however my expertise is that the teachings allowed me to disclose what I needed to return out. My instructor instructed me that the magic solely occurs when artwork and craft meet.”
You’ve a really passionate and expressive vocal, so it’s onerous to examine anybody else performing your songs…
“The explanation I didn’t use visitor vocalists on the primary album was extra out of laziness – I couldn’t be bothered to organise it. It could be a lot simpler to make instrumental music, however there’s one thing about vocals that allows you to have an emotional directness to your viewers and that’s actually what I’m fascinated with now.
“Listening to your voice loud in a room is a unprecedented and overwhelming feeling – it felt so totally different to something I’d achieved earlier than and has been extremely worthwhile for that purpose.”
The vocals, and the music, appear to have an underlying rigidity. What topic issues are you detailing?
“Personally, the album was about going by an ending of types and the stress is about breaking by the final a part of that into a brand new world.
“The primary monitor is known as Battle and the second Guarantees, however with the third, Brother, I felt myself coming right into a clearing – a push to maneuver away from the pull of an previous behavior.”
As a longtime artist however a relative beginner to vocals and lyric-writing, what ideas would you give for individuals who need to discover that facet of the musical coin?
“I’d advocate they get a condenser mic as a result of they’re fairly low cost. The primary one I purchased was a RØDE NT1-A and I like how one can sing instantly into it with out having to do lots of processing but it nonetheless sounds good.
“I like writing plenty of concepts – principally they’re simply repetitive patterns, but when they make me really feel something, I discover they’re price pursuing.”
You carried out the entire devices on the album, together with drums. Is that additionally one thing you’ve taught your self?
“On Realisationship I couldn’t play drums for a full tune; I’d simply play eight bars of a monitor and get a stay drummer in. This time, the excellence between demoing and manufacturing isn’t as clear reduce as a result of the drums on Devastations are all VSTs.
“I exploit XLN Audio’s Addictive Drums and love the sound of it. Once I first used them I wasn’t getting the depth that I needed and questioned whether or not it was to do with the ambient sound across the drums, however I’ve received them sounding actually good now.
“I’m principally simply taking part in the drums on a keyboard after which including a number of delay throws so as to add just a little additional element and selection. I additionally added various saturation to make them sound massive. I don’t prefer to over-edit although, as a result of I need the drums to have a way of propulsion.”
House has fairly a proggy sound, and we like how you employ spacey sounds to brighten the monitor. What had been you utilizing on that one?
“The bassline was taken from a well known dancehall rhythm sound from the Casio MT40 keyboard, and I recorded that with some lo-fi bass notes that I later changed with VSTs.
“With this album I needed to reintroduce a component of noise and that’s most likely what offers the monitor its spacey really feel. I’ve all the time been a fan of Native Devices Large for that.
“The arpeggio synth sound got here from Arturia’s Analog Lab. I’ve all the time liked organ sounds as they’ve received fairly an emotional depth, and I’ve began utilizing a VST model of the Korg MS-20, which has a beautiful harsh, piercing sound.”
To the untrained ear, Devastations appears like a band, but most of it has evidently been made within the field. Is that testomony to how refined software program has turn out to be?
“A number of a long time in the past, the stay devices would have been recorded first and the digital components added, however this course of was the exact opposite. The guitars had been the very last thing to be recorded together with the ultimate vocals.
“Guitars are fairly troublesome to copy in a VST however I used Guitar Rig, so I’d attribute many of the guitars to VSTs too, though I did use a preamp as a digital interface.”
You talked about specializing in bettering your mixing approach. What particular areas have you ever focused on?
“For the combination, I like to start by having fairly a fundamental recording course of. If I need to make sure that a tune’s alright I’ll write it on a piano and if I need to make sure that the beats are OK, I’ll take heed to them on their very own, so I like stripping stuff all the way down to their naked necessities and making them sound good earlier than including any results.
“The very best approach for mixing is to have a very good association and if there’s an excessive amount of happening in a single frequency vary I’ll simply bump stuff as much as the highest the place there’s extra space.
“For me, reverb is an afterthought that I exploit to connect all the things collectively. I’ll use the FabFilter reverb if I need issues to sound just a little elegant on strings or guitar, and for vocals I used iZotope Nectar, as a result of that’s very easy to work with.”
Did you study lots about mixing and manufacturing from the sadly departed Andrew Weatherall?
“I’d by no means been in a studio earlier than assembly Andrew so I learnt what was doable from him. I nonetheless take into consideration that point – issues simply pop up.
‘He taught me to take care of integrity in my artistry, and that it doesn’t matter how good you’re technically, there’s one thing it’s a must to get to the guts of. He didn’t contact the keyboard or the pc – it was about how anybody in that room, no matter what they had been doing, was affecting the sound. He was an enormous presence, which was perplexing on the time however highly effective.
‘What’s received to be drummed into producers is that it’s very straightforward to give attention to issues that aren’t actually necessary. I skilled that with Andrew and Beth Orton. They ooze an expertise that you could’t actually put into phrases – you simply know that they know.”
However with Beth you had been producing for her…
“She’s an enormous hero of mine so I simply produced her in a method that may get the very best out her, which was actually all about getting Beth to play. Encouragement and assist are actually necessary and she or he stated on the time that nobody had simply given her a keyboard to play with.”
What with Devastations being recorded utilizing principally digital instruments, you presumably have fairly a streamlined studio setup?
“It’s just a little previous outbuilding behind the backyard and fairly fundamental. As a result of lockdown’s been fairly sedentary I’ve tried to create a standing up space, in order that’s my train [laughs].
“I’ve received a portray space in a single nook with my keyboards to the facet and the pc desk on the different finish of the room. I’m actually into this concept of variety of exercise as a result of I really feel prefer it all feeds into one another.
“I see portray and music as the identical factor; it’s a protected place for me to really feel what I don’t really feel protected sufficient to really feel in the true world. I seen all through lockdown that if I haven’t made something, I really feel a bit ineffective.”
Are you one for swapping devices out and in to maintain your self impressed?
“I’ve gone again to my Recreation Boy extra lately as a result of the flashcards are so low cost and good now. There’s this purity to it as a result of it routinely makes you write in a method that it’s a must to give attention to association.
“Since you don’t get that massive a wide range of sounds on a Recreation Boy it’s a must to give attention to the vary that you just use, and since the textures produced by its chip are very minimal it’s a must to focus extra on the melodic side.
“I’m below the impression that you could get lots of emotional weight from melody after which the feel brings it out much more.”
Are you able to be extra particular on how you employ the Recreation Boy as a manufacturing instrument?
“I began out with an emulator on my pc that had Recreation Boy ROMs. The primary one which I used was known as Carillon Editor, which was very simple, however now I exploit one known as Little Sound DJ.
“You’ve received 4 channels – the primary two are purely artificial, the third has lo-fi samples of drum machines and the fourth is a noise channel that I exploit for rhythms. They’re known as trackers, so it’s principally like a four-track with numbers and it’s table-based so that you simply need to program in rows of notes so as to symbolize the beats.
“I’ve received a Teenage Engineering OP-1, too, which I don’t use lots but it surely’s good to have one thing totally different for gathering concepts. Its power is its portability and the battery lasts for ages. You can also make full tracks on these gadgets, and plenty of individuals do, however for me they’re a bit extra like notebooks.”
Is there any a part of your recording course of that’s outsourced?
“I’m hoping that I received’t have to combine my album as many occasions in future, and the explanation for that’s as a result of I do know that I’ve received to speak to a mastering engineer.
“I by no means used to speak to them and felt fairly nervous about it. It’s like taking your automobile to a storage – that feeling of going someplace the place you’re not an skilled.
“I bear in mind asking my mastering engineer, Noel Summerville, what the boundaries of duty had been [laughs]. The way in which that I work is kind of intuitive and if I begin considering an excessive amount of about it then I’ll go down this rabbit gap of whether or not the album has the appropriate tonality and all of it begins to journey me up.
“Now I can combine one thing and it seems like I’m accountable for the sensation and the mastering engineer’s accountable for getting it to a normal by which it may be distributed.”
Fuck Buttons has been on maintain for some time – can we anticipate a return to that or do you’ve different initiatives lined up?
“I’m completely centered on writing my very own music in the mean time and have already began the following document. I simply need it to be as direct to my coronary heart as doable and hopefully I can see that pathway now.
“With the final two albums there was lots of fumbling round, however now I really feel like I’ve received a objective. I don’t suppose the pandemic has fed my feelings; it’s been extra like an iron, ironing out the creases and bringing out of me what I wanted to deliver out.”