Miguel Andrews x Touch Loops
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m thirty-two years old and started playing drums when I was twelve. My Dad is self-taught a drummer but I didn’t take an interest until I was a teenager. I started having lessons at school but I wasn’t overly interested, I think due to squeezing two students into a twenty minute session.
My Dad then booked me in for private lessons at a music shop with an incredible drummer and tutor, Steve Wilson, who became my mentor for years to come. I still book lessons with him every few years when I need to work on something!
I started playing in my first band in school when I was fourteen and we started playing our first live gigs at school assemblies! I started playing around my local music scene after meeting some new friends when I went to college and that took me on a journey of getting up at open jams, playing in covers bands and sitting in on a lot of Blues gigs. I also joined a Sting & The Police tribute when I was sixteen which was a HUGE learning curve for me! Stewart Copeland is a genius and one of my heroes and trying to learn his style was just mind boggling…!
Over the years I joined and depped for various bands which ranged from wedding bands to Blues and Funk bands around the Bristol circuit and everything between! I think playing around the Bristol scene and being exposed to more Funk, Hip-Hop and R&B music helped me find where I felt most comfortable as a drummer. I know I’m a drummer but I love beat-based music!
Aside from the gigs coming back, my main projects at the moment are working on writing and releasing some of my own music as well as writing and producing library music with some friends.
Your Reel To Reel grooves pack has incredible swing, how did you develop this style?
Thank you! I used to be big into Pop Punk when I started playing drums as a teenager but as I started playing outside of my originals bands (i.e blues and covers gigs) I started to focus more on other styles and techniques. I had an incredible drum teacher (Steve Wilson) who covered lots of styles and genres with me which helped shaped my playing. As I got into my 20s I discovered more Hip-Hop and R&B music and fell in love with the way the grooves felt. Guys like Questlove, Chris Dave and Steve Jordan really caught my attention in the way their groove sounded and felt. I began focussing more on groove and feel as opposed to being hindered by worrying about my technique - I became a little bit obsessed with stick heights, correct grip, moeller technique etc, which are all incredibly important but I felt I was thinking too much about that rather than thinking about music… I guess that’s a trap that a lot of musicians can fall into?!
Could you tell us a bit about your favourite pieces of gear / drums selection.
I love a simple set up! Whenever I can get away with it, I will set up just kick, snare, hats and a ride cymbal. I love that limitation. My Dad got me into playing drums and he always had his snare drum tuned really high! Reminiscent of the sound of the 90s Californian rock/grunge sound ie Pearl Jam (Even Flow was a track my Dad showed my and blew my mind - The cranked snare, china cymbal and splash cymbals sounded so cool!). My parents were also big fans of The Police so Steward Copeland become a hero of mine so I typically go for a high tuning on my snare drums.
My gear I use most of time is:
Yamaha 20x16 kick
The Benny Greb signature snare or my Ludwig LM400
14” Zildjian K Light Hats
18” K Dark Crash
6” A Custom Splash
24” K Light Ride
Toys: Tambourine, Woodblock & Cowbell
What are you listening to these days?
Over the last year I’ve been listening a lot to Loyle Carner’s “Not Waving But Drowning” album along with Tom Misch and Jordan Rakei. I love anything beat-based. I also love listening to some heavier stuff at times, especially Animals As Leaders, Killswitch Engage, Four Year Strong or anything a little more aggressive! Matt Garstka is a weapon!
Do you produce your own music or work with other composers / producers? How does the process flow?
The production world is relatively new to me so I’m still finding my flow and learning about recording & mixing. I’ll often work with friends of mine who are songwriters and producers but over the last year two years, Splice has become an amazing tool for me to learn how to build beats and tracks as I can’t play any other instruments. I love loading up a few samples, coming up with a drum part/arrangement and when I’m home, I’ll sit on my laptop with my headphones and experiment with added layers of textures, claps and percussion and try to make something interesting out of something that started as a fairly simple sample. I’m currently working on a backlog of short, beat and sample based tunes to release in towards the end of the year. I’ve never released any of my own music so that process is a big learning curve in itself…!
What’s your thoughts on social media as a musician? Does it help?
Absolutely - I’ve managed to form a lot of great relationships with a lot of great musicians and creative people through the power of social media. That being said, it can be a double edged sword if you let it - It’s easy to start measuring yourself by how many ‘likes’ or followers you get when creating and posting content. I think it’s important to not get pulled into endlessly scrolling and comparing yourself to others who may have a bigger following and more interaction. We get so caught up in our own stuff that we sometimes forget to give attention and praise to other creatives for the great work they put out! I think we can all relate with Erykah Badu when she says “I’m an artist and I’m sensitive about my sh*t”!
Do you believe that we’re a product of our environment or do we shape our own trajectory within music? I.e Does Bristol affect your sound?
Definitely! I grew up and still live in Weston-super-Mare, a seaside town twenty miles south of Bristol. After playing in Pop Punk bands out of school I started snooping around the music scene here, which was prominently pop and rock covers and jams.
As I started playing more around Bristol, it had a huge impact on the way I played. For a start, a lot of pub and club venues are relatively small so you don’t have licence to hit play loud anymore so instantly I became very conscious to make playing a lower volume a ‘thing’ of mine (which also saves on replacing broken gear!). Bristol is heavy on Jazz, Blues, Funk, Hip-Hop and a lot of World music like Reggae and Afro-Beat. Playing around that scene exposed me to so many different styles and amazing musicians from different parts of the world.
How’s 2021 looking?
The gigs are finally coming back! I’ve been lucky enough to get one to two gigs a weekend for most of the year. Most of the gigs I do lately are either wedding gigs or local covers gigs but I’m looking forward to when things open up a little more and I can start playing some ‘cooler’ spots around the Bristol area. I’m still working full-time in a newsagent since we went into the first lockdown last year so that’s starting to prove tiring and time consuming now that the gigs are in but I think so I’ll be able to drop some hours to start focussing on the music again! Aside from the gigs, I’m really excited about working more on production and working on creating some music!
Thought on the state of music industry?
This is a tough question… In all honesty, I’m not so sure. I think some things are getting more accessible i.e recording, producing and releasing your own music on your own but other things are getting more difficult - Gig fees are more or less the same as they were ten/fifteen years ago, lots of musicians undercutting, music streaming services are barely paying artists and lots of venues are being forced to close down, especially since the pandemic.
Since having a day job, I’ve been happier and less stressed when it comes to music - I know my bills are going to be covered and I don’t have to worry and rely on taking absolutely EVERY gig that comes my way because I have to. I can now be a lot more choosy about the work I take on. A good friend of mine recently told me “You have to fund your vision” as I felt I’d somewhat failed as a ‘full-time musician’ because I knew I needed to get a day job. This simply isn’t the case and I feel so much better off for it.
I think it’s important to work on multiple streams of income/work i.e gigs, teaching, library music, sample packs etc. Don’t just focus on one area.
I don’t know many musicians who make a living purely from one area of music - We have to adapt as things in industry change or we’ll become bitter and get left behind!