Gear Talks: Druid Fluids

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Gear Talks: Druid Fluids

Druid Fluids
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Borrowing from the sounds of the 60s with a unique spin on some classic sounds, Druid Fluids' new album is out now.

Druid Fluids is a psychedelic sonic adventure spearheaded by Jamie Andrew who recorded most of the album himself in his studio in Kaurna/Adelaide. The music draws heavily from the 60s, though Jamie pushes it to new worlds, using analogue equipment to shape and hone the sonic palette that makes up the new album Then, Now, Again & Again.

Ahead of the release we spoke to Jamie about his creative process, as well as laying it all down once the songs were written.

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

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Congrats on the release of Then, Now, Again & Again! We understand this album happened over quite a long period. How did it begin?

Merci! The inception of some of these songs came at the age of around 16/17 years old; long before the intention that each song would serve as a fragment of an album. I think this is why it seems to be a bit of a stylistic & thematic whirlwind. At the time of writing the majority of these, my set up was quite primitive using only a digital 8 track recorder (comparatively, now seems like cereal box toy), so I’d flesh the majority of the arrangements out with an acoustic guitar & a note pad, while pretending the rest of the instruments were happening in my head. I upgraded my set up relatively quickly, leading to everything revolving around Ableton with the use of some [Sennheiser] MD421’s, [Røde] K2s & [Shure SM]57s. This massively improved my work flow & allowed me to further refine the arrangements.

How do you feel producing the record over a long time affected the outcome?

Jaded. Haha nah, it’s been a really interesting experience. Each song is a stylistic & thematic time capsule, all with different narrators & influences. This, to me, underpinned the concept of the album – that who we were, are & will be is ephemeral. In regards to the production aspect of it, it’s the first album I’ve ever made or produced so it was really me just going in blind & learning as I was going along. Looking back, I made some hilarious production/recording decisions. To make myself feel better I find solace in thinking it adds character to the record. I appreciate that my progression from musical ability to producing is documented. I’ve felt confidence in innocence & learnt the humility in reflection.

What does producing a Druid Fluids album look like? Is it session musicians or do you track it alone piece by piece?

For the majority of the album I tracked all the instruments by myself. Typically I’d record a guide guitar, then layer drums & use them as the foundation to multitrack [along] to. It was a lot of trial & error in my approach in order to achieve the sound of a whole band playing together. Certain songs I felt needed more of an emphasis on the live feel & perhaps required more than I could offer so I’d get Eli Biles to track drums while I was playing guitar. On select tracks Jess Foenander also contributed harmonies & piano, and Oscar Ellery performed sitar.

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How do you describe the music of the completed album? It spans and transcends genres but we’d love to know your thoughts!

I seem to have this image in my head in which each song serves as a fragment in of a kind of contorted, demented mosaic. As the timeline for writing this album was long, the inception for some of these songs coming at the age of 16/17, meant there was no real calculation of how they’d all fit into one piece. Despite the stylistic dissonance between each track there does seem to be a kind of unity through juxtaposition. I’ve always felt strongly about following feelings rather than genre.

How and why do you tie in visual and light shows with your music?

I’ve always valued the symbiosis of visual arts & music. Music carries profound ideas, and when incorporated with visual arts, it adds layers of meaning and depth.

Miles Dunne, our projection artist, and I spent a lot of time working on what we wanted the live set to look like visually, & how we could further enhance the emotions that the music is attempting to convey. Not all gigs, unfortunately, can facilitate projections so there are times where we have to go without. I’d like to the think that the music stands alone with integrity, perhaps you’d have to survey the audience. I am not really a rockdoggin’ frontman, so I’m glad that his visuals can satiate that element for the audience.

Is there one piece of gear that has a special place on this album? Maybe it ended up on every song or inspired a certain sound that inspired other pieces!

There were lots of pieces of gear that I used pretty consistently song to song. I picked up a Roland Space Echo Re-201 from a very reluctant seller (who I think knew was giving me an unjust bargain) a while ago. I’d run everything I humanly could through that thing, even just sometimes to hit the preamps on it. Makes me feel like Glyn Johns hearing the tape once you flip the switch. Probably worth mentioning is my signature John Mayer Fender Stratocaster, which is probably a bit of a collector’s item now that he’s not on Fender anymore. I’m not really a fan of his music (sorry John) but this is the best sounding strat I’ve ever played, I used it on every song on the record. Thanks to my Dad for gifting that one to me, or accepting defeat on the terms of my extended borrow.

Thanks for the time! As a closer have you got a story you can share from the making of Then, Now, Again & Again?

Haha mm, I don’t even know where to start. I remember one instance when I was recording vocals, there was a bird that hadn’t quite grasped the concept that glass was a solid form which cannot be passed through. It kept banging into the top window of my studio which was getting picked up by the microphone, so I had to get on the roof to enlighten this little friend of the world around it. As soon as I got back down & hit record, it returned. Big thanks to the studio bird for its contributions.

Other mishaps consist of recording the first three songs to tape & then my tape recorder dying, leading me to abandon the tape machine all together. Analog is not always as romantic as it may seem…

Keep up with Druid Fluids here.