Tracking Debut Solo Album at London Bridge

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Well it is finally happening.  I’ve started the process of recording my debut solo orchestral album.  I’ve written all the music, lyrics, arrangements, and had some help from friends with supplying beats and more throughout the album.  It is a really exciting process to see all I’ve been working on over the past year finally culminate into a tangible product.  Still a bit of a journey to go…. but it is gratifying to see all the hard work coming to fruition.

As of right now, there are eight full tracks, seven with lyrics, and one instrumental – complete with chamber symphonic works, and more.  I didn’t want to write a classical album by any means, but there are elements of that, plus my own take on  contemporary/pop music/film scoring. It is ambitious to say the least, but it is a really satisfying challenge for me to take on.  Keep checking in over the next couple of weeks for updates on the process, and how everything is shaping up.

-Andrew

Fire Benefit

 

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Our friends in the Seattle music community are putting together a wonderful little benefit concert for me and my girlfriend Susy.  If you aren’t aware of what it is all about, here is a description below (wrote this back in January):   

“Asking for help surprisingly doesn’t come easily to me.  I have a tendency of wanting to do everything myself, and make sure it is done right – and with being an independent musician, this is a good trait to possess.  However, you never quite plan for the catastrophic events that come your way in life, which are sometimes too much for someone to handle all on their own.  

My girlfriend, Susy, who is also a full-time musician in Seattle, goes under the stage name Susy Sun.  We used to own a beautiful little kitten named, Mendelssohn, but he passed away on January 4th, 2015 in a horrific fire that severely disrupted Susy and my little musical world. 

On January 4th, Susy and myself were flying back up from San Francisco, CA, after spending New Years with my relatives in San Rafael.  We had felt like we had earned ourselves a mini vacation after a big year of touring, releasing music, and recording.  We were happy with the middle-class musician modest living we had earned for ourselves. 

Our flight back had a layover in Salt Lake City around 5:00 PM. When we landed in Utah, I had a ton of missed calls, and voice messages from my neighbor, my landlord, and some random numbers I didn’t recognize.  When I called back my neighbor to figure out what was going on – I wasn’t prepared for what I heard. 

I was told that Mendelssohn our cat had died, and that there was a terrible fire in our apartment. I spoke with a fire marshall who said that the fire originated in the bedroom and that it was a ‘dirty fire.’ The carpet caught fire, which then ignited the bed, the drapes, and everything else in that corner of the room. Unfortunately the drapes had rubber covering on one side (to help keep the heat in because of unweatherized windows), and burned and released a lot of noxious fumes into the apartment, and the smoke damage from all of this was extensive. Poor Mendelssohn had passed away from smoke inhalation.  

The fire was an electrical malfunction, which supposedly originated from a really old floorboard heater – the apartment was built back in 1963.  While Susy and I were gone, we had turned off the heaters, so it just was some freak event.  

Thankfully, we were covered  by renters insurance… HOWEVER that amount also covers paying the cleaning crews, the inventory of stuff we want to try and re-claim, storage, renting a cargo van, etc. etc. The insurance company, and all these third party companies nickel and dime you, until you don’t really have a lot left to reclaim all your destroyed goods.  So Susy and I had to do our own inventory for EVERY SINGLE THING in the apartment – from make up, to smoke poisoned food, to dead plants, to burnt out clothes, to all of our kittens old toys… This was a really difficult and emotionally trying part of all of this….. walking into our burnt out apartment day after day, felt like descending into a coal mine, pulling out blackened, and dead pieces of our old life.   Smoke damage is under-rated on how devastating it can really be….. 

At this point we guesstimate we have lost around 90% of all our belongings including: Susy’s piano, Susy’s albums, our bed, all electronics in the apartment (a macbook pro laptop, ipad, etc.), books, art, family heirlooms, quite a bit of my music gear (PA system, guitar pedals, sheet music, musical scores, etc.), 85% of our clothing, and all of our furniture in the apartment is unsalvageable. Our Xmas presents also went up in smoke. We know we are going to go over the coverage, but are not sure by how much, and that terrifies us. 

That is where everything stands at this point. Since Susy and I are both freelance full-time musicians, this ordeal has made it impossible for us to work. 

We are thankful for all the support from our friends, family, and community. A lot of people wanted to know how they could help us – and donations through a site such as this would be the easiest way for us to get back on our feet. 

Asking for help surprisingly doesn’t come easily to us. But in this moment, we really need it. 

Thank you. 

Susy & Andrew

Interview with What Radio?

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Here is a recent interview that I had with Steven Graham of What Radio? blog in Everett, WA. Really great conversation, and talks about my latest projects, and the journey I’ve had over 2015.

By Steven Graham
With all the work he has done with so many amazing artists it would be an understatement to call Andrew Joslyn a staple in the Seattle music community. After sitting down with him recently and hearing his story the case could easily be made that he is the hardest working musician around these parts, a title he would of course never claim.

His path has taken him from studying classical music at Western Washington University to performing in front of millions on television. If you take the time to really look at it, the last few years have been a pretty incredible ride for Joslyn.

“I’m an avid serial collaborator,” he said. And it’s true.

The list of people Joslyn and his Passenger String Quartet have worked with is pretty incredible. Artists like David Bazan, Kris Orlowski, Sol, Lerin Herzer, Craft Spells, Susy Sun and so many more than we could possibly name here.

Most famously Joslyn is responsible for the string arrangements for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on their breakout record The Heist. A collaboration that took Joslyn all over the world, including a performance at the Grammys (that probably made you cry a little bit if you’re being honest) with Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert and Madonna.

“I started working with Ben (Macklemore) in 2008 when we met through a mutual friend,” Joslyn recalled of his relationship with Macklemore. “This was before Ryan Lewis got involved and Ben was actually playing keys at this point.”

“I knew it was going to be a good album because it was such a good energy. I was volunteering and putting in a lot of time and I think everyone felt like it was something bigger than ourselves,” he said of his work on The Heist.

After what seems like years of constant touring all over the world with some of the most well known artists today, Joslyn is ready to go in a different direction in 2015.

“I have been collaborating for so long I feel like this is the year I need to write my own stuff. I want to finally say something that is my own voice … Lyrically, arrangements, scores, the works. I have a lot to say. Being a collaborator is great, but you’re always waiting for the next phone call.”

Joslyn’s plan is to write an album with the Passenger String Quartet as his band and invite guest vocalists in to sing his songs. He has five songs already written and other than his March tour with Judy Collins and some one-off shows with the Passenger String Quartet he has intentionally left a lot of his time open to work on the new project.

There is no word yet on when the new Andrew Joslyn project will be ready for our ears, but considering how hard he has worked on everything else he has had a hand in I think it is safe to expect the finished product to be pretty darn good and likely feature vocals from some people you’ve heard of.

Now, it’s time to shift gears a little bit. Everything above this was written back in December when I sat down to chat with Andrew. Shortly after our conversation he was away on vacation with his girlfriend and fellow Seattle musician Susy Sun in California. On their way home they were informed that their apartment caught fire and they lost pretty much everything, including their beloved cat. This tragedy was obviously not a start to 2015 that either of them could have possibly imagined.

After receiving some disappointing news from their insurance company the couple decided to start a Go Fund Me campaign to help raise money to cover everything their insurance policy couldn’t. At this point they have raised $17,500 and are about $2,500 short of their goal.

In addition to their online campaign, there will also be a benefit show this Sunday night at the Tractor Tavern. The show is being present by Artist Home Booking and Seattle Living Room Shows and will feature music from Shelby Earl, Mikey & Matty, Kevin Long and many more. Tickets are $15. Don’t miss this chance to come out and support Andrew and Susy, enjoy some great music and see how the Seattle music community takes care of their own.

Interview with Berklee Online 5

In the final installment of my Berklee Online open mic series, I sit down and chat with Berklee Online Admissions Director Michael Moyes about the evolution of my improvisation techniques. From a stylistic stand point, I have transversed everything from Scots/Irish, Cajun, French Canadian, Blues, swing, Indian, and more various fiddle styles. I even had a hand in rock and more alternative styles with instruction from such teachers as Geoffrey Castle, Mark Wood, and Tracy Silverman. Just incredible to get such a wide education from various guides along the road.

Interview with Berklee Online 4

Here is the next installment for the Berklee Online interview series that I did for their ‘Open Mic’ program. I talk about my history with improvisation, and how I came to it after departing from my past as a strictly ‘classical’ violinist. It is an interesting progression to make for any musician… essentially I felt like I had to completely unlearn what I had learnt with classical music, and open myself up to letting myself go in the moment – which I strongly feel now is the most pure form of musical creation there is.

As a close friend once told me: “Improvisation is composition sped up. Composition is Improvisation slowed down.”

Interview with Berklee Online 3

Here is the next installment from the Berklee online interview series that I did with them. This one talks about my approach to transcribing parts and learning proper orchestration.

Interview with Berklee Online 2

Here is the second in a series from Berklee Online, where they interviewed me on my work. This video focuses on my approach to arranging music.

Interview with Berklee Online 1

Hey Guys,

I was recently interviewed by Berklee School of Music on my writing, composing, arranging and more. Here is the first video in a series they recently released:

Joining the Rock Lottery

99-atlgHey Everyone,

I will be joining a bunch of other Seattle musicians for a day of helping raise money for the Creative Advantage.  Here is a ton of information about this amazing event, and how you could help contribute to help Seattle music, and this wonderful charity.

SEATTLE ROCK LOTTERY 07

10:00AM – 25 Musicians… 10:00PM – 5 Bands.
The Crocodile (2118 2nd Ave, Belltown)
Saturday, February 7, 2015
A Benefit for The Creative Advantage
Doors open at 9pm, show starts promptly at 10pm
$10 advance / $15 at door (21+)

The Rock Lottery is simple, but effective. Twenty-five hand-picked musicians meet at 10:00AM at the evening’s performance venue. These volunteers are organized into five bands through a lottery-based chance selection. The five groups are released to practice at different locations. The musicians have twelve hours to agree upon a band name and create three to five songs (with a one cover song limit). The bands then return to the venue and perform what they have created in front of a waiting audience.

The twenty-five musicians included in this experiment are carefully selected in an attempt to represent a wide variety of musical styles. This event will bring together many facets of the music community that may seem incompatible, as well as musicians whose interests may conflict. The challenge for these participants is to go beyond their personal and musical differences and work together to create a unified group project that still contains the personal styles of each of its members.

Confirmed participants include:
Erin Austin, OK Sweetheart
Adra Boo, Fly Moon Royalty
Lace Cadence, The Flavr Blue
Kate Finn, Katie Kate
Robert Gomez, Ormonde
Nikolay Grachev, Juliana & PAVA
Gretta Harley, These Streets, We Are Golden
Andrew Joslyn, Passenger String Quartet
Stormi King, Shorthand for Epic, Skates!
Greg Kramer, Macklemore& Ryan Lewis, Pyramid, Ocean Spray Horns
Whitney Lyman, Pollens, Quiet Nights
Josh McClung, PICO BLVD
Arran McInnis, LESBIAN, Fungal Abyss
Terri Moeller, The Walkabouts, Transmissionary Six
Tomo Nakayama, Grand Hallway
John Ramberg, The Tripwires, The Model Rockets
Kelton Sears, Kithkin
Adrian Van Batenburg, Gems, Ganges River Band
Anna Vo, Anna Vo
Selena Whitaker-Paquiet, NighTraiN, Chocolate Fruit
+5 tba

The Seattle Rock Lottery is a benefit, with all proceeds going to The Creative Advantage. The Creative Advantage is dedicated to restoring access to the arts for all students in Seattle Public Schools, and is committed to providing culturally relevant arts learning that foster skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication, and more. Partners include Seattle Public Schools, The Office of Arts & Culture, and Seattle local teaching artist and community arts organizations. To learn more about The Creative Advantage, visitwww.creativeadvantageseattle.org.

The musicians chosen to participate are unpaid volunteers. The participants are chosen by the Rock Lottery participant committee with suggestions from past Rock Lottery participants and other members of Seattle’s music community.
Additional information can be found on the Facebook Event  page or buy tickets from Ticketfly

A Fiendish Conversation with Andrew Joslyn – by Seth Sommerfeld (featured in SeattleMet)

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As one of Seattle’s preeminent singer-songwriters, David Bazan’s career as a solo artist (and Pedro the Lion frontman) has been less about tugging on heartstrings and more about drenching them in sorrow. But there’s always been a beauty in his sad-sack lyricism. That delicate side gets pushed to the forefront, thanks to his new collaboration with the local players of the Passenger String Quartet led by Andrew Joslyn. Since its formation in 2011, the Passenger String Quartet has brought its classical accompaniment touch to the contemporary Seattle music scene and Joslyn has collaborated with the likes of Macklemore, Allen Stone, Suzanne Vega, Kris Orlowski, Duff McKagan, and Mary Lambert. This Friday, November 21, David Bazan and the Passenger String Quartet head to the Neptune Theatre to close out their tour in support of the newly released David Bazan and the Passenger String Quartet: Volume 1.

For our latest Fiendish Conversation, we chatted with Joslyn about fitting his arrangements to the acts he accompanies, somehow making Bazan songs sadder, and the disorientation of playing arenas with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

How did you initially get connected with David Bazan?

Back in 2012 in Tacoma there was a Cathedrals show that Aaron Stevens was putting on and the Passenger String Quartet was hired to back all three bands that were playing that evening. It was a Pretty Broken Thing, Kevin Sur, and David Bazan was headlining. I had already written arrangements for the first two bands and then Aaron reached out to me and was like hey you should see about doing arrangements for David and see if that’s possible. And he was kinda like the go-between and fostered that. I gave a call to David while I was on tour—he was in the middle of a living room tour— and we just kind of hit it off and started talking about how to go about the process.

At first he was a little skeptical about the whole thing, because he was like, “Well, working with strings is kind of hit or miss. You don’t really know what you’re in for.” But I sent him rough drafts of the arrangements and he was just like, “I’m sold, let’s do it.” So we played the show and were really excited about the crowd response and just overall… I dunno, there was a synergy and a magic in the air after we played the show. And we set about making a record.

When composing arrangements for songs that are already written, what are you listen for in order to find spots that you can insert orchestration?

It always depends on the project. For me, first of all I look for harmonies that are implied that are not fully fleshed out. Sometimes if they are playing a full chord then it’s like, “Well maybe there are some interesting tensions that can be thrown on top, or sevenths, ninths, and whatever to make it sound fuller. For certain songs, if I want it to have that kind of unsettling feel, then I throw in those really bizarre notes, like interesting jazz chords or substitution stuff.

When I arrange there are two ways I do it: Either I will sit down and notate out melodies that come to my head as I’m listening to it originally or I’ll notate out original stuff that is already there. For example, from the original Pedro the Lion recordings there are certain melodies and baselines that are so idealic that you can’t write without them. For me, I was a huge Bazan fan beforehand, so the work actually was muchmore difficult this time around than with other projects because I already had a very set idea in my head about these recordings. Listening to “Priests and Paramedics” or like “Bands with Managers,” it’s like, I knew them so, so specifically in a certain way.

On top of additional harmonies and stuff, I’ve been an improvising violinist and viola player for a really long time so sometimes I’ll just essentially let the violin speak for me. It’s kind of a weird way of putting it. I’ve been playing the violin since I was five, and sometimes melody lines and interesting chords will come out just letting the music speak for itself and just standing aside.

Are the songwriters you collaborate with generally receptive to you arrangements or do they push back?

Thankfully, I’ve had a really good track record with all of the artists that I’ve worked with. With the arrangements that I’ve sent to David, like 95 percent of the time it was on the mark. But I also make sure I do my research and I make sure I sit down and talk with the artist before I even touch anything. And just be like, “Do you want me to go off the page and just do whatever I want, or do you really have a specific idea?” There are certain artists that are very controlling of their art and they’ll very much be like, “I have this melody line. I don’t know how to write it out, but can you write it for me?” I don’t want to just throw my own stamp on the whole thing and just shit on the original, that wastes my time and it wastes theirs. I feel like I’m sensitive enough to the artists and I also take enough time and care with writing new melodies. Something else is I make sure that I don’t step around on vocals, because that’s reallyimportant. I always make sure it ducks out when there are really important lines or choruses. I make sure there is stuff that is either complimentary or it’s taken a back seat to the song.

That was one of the things that I noticed about this record. On certain tracks, I was like, “I didn’t know that this song could be any more melancholy… but now it is.”

Yeah. “Priests and Paramedics,” we took the bleakness of it and just drove it into the ground. And as I was writing it, I remember distinctly, I was weeping (incoherent weeping sounds). Essentially, I took one melody line and made it into a canon for the verses. How much more bleak can you get? (Laughs)

What made you want to focus on working with contemporary artists instead of taking a more traditional, classical route?

When I was in college I completely had a fallout with classical music. I had been doing classical music since I was five years old, so I was really entrenched in the system: I was doing the master classes, I was applying to grad schools for performance. And it got to the point where… I didn’t like the politics, I didn’t like the egos involved, and I didn’t want to be an orchestra drone—that was the bottom line. I got so disillusioned with it that I quite classical music in college and joined a rock band. My whole thing is the music that really moved me and really got my blood pumping was rock and hip-hop and all this contemporary music. But I still have all this training and all this love for classical music, just not the culture itself. And then it slowly, after touring for a long time and completely going off the beaten path away from classical music, it is really bizarre that all of a sudden it is completely coming full circle now. Now there is the Passenger String Quartet that I am leading and all the arranging and orchestral writing that I’m doing is fully taking on all those influences, but applying it in a contemporary context. Now I feel like I have a reinvigorated love for classical music, because now I can see how much power it has in these other mediums.

What was the name of your band in college?

The first band I was a part of was this group called Handful of Luvin’, it was out of Bellingham, Washington. It was an Irish rock band, kind of like Dropkick Murphys meets Dave Matthews. (Laughs)

Alright…

I also met Kris Orlowski in college and we started collaborating and doing a lot of work together. Through gigging so much and being an avid session player in Seattle, I networked my way through all these different artists in Seattle and elsewhere.

Do you have any post-show routines?

It changes from tour to tour, I’ve been finding that after a performance, especially with this tour, it can get so emotionally overwhelming. The last song that we play is “Strange Negotiations” and it clings to you emotionally and always puts me in a weird mood. I always give myself like a good ten minutes; just not talk to anybody and be a recluse. Like I need to process emotionally what just happened. It’s almost like a little meditation post-show that I need to do just to be back in the real world.

It’s kind of the same thing when I was touring with Macklemore. When you play in a crowd of 35,000 people, you need to reacclimate yourself to real life because when you’re out there, performing in that context, it’s so weird and it’s a lot to take.

Are there any up-and-coming local musicians that you think people should check out?

I know she’s been getting a little bit of buzz, but I really like the music of Prom Queen, Celene Ramadan. I’ve already been talking to her about doing a collaboration on a song, but I love her ability to take a whole era of music and really encapsulate it in her live show and her visuals. She just put out a full album of music videos.

Two other artists we’ve been listening on the road with Bazan. One is Chris Staples, he just got put out by Barsuk. American Soft is a really good album. And Andy FittsSmokey Wilds. Beautiful albums, and really I don’t think a lot of people know about them.

Those were both Albums of the Month over here at Seattle Met. So we’re at least familiar with them.

(Laughs) Rad. Well that’s perfect. That’s the thing that is funny, I think the general populace has certain things that they’ll catch wind of and they’ll either grab onto or they won’t. There are certain artists out there that might not be making waves but they are making really beautiful, influential music.

Anything else that you’d like to add?

We’re working on our debut album. I think that we’re going to have Erik Blood produce it. Because I don’t want to have a classical album, I want to have classical arrangements, but I really want something very different.

So that will be comprised of your own compositions?

Yeah, that’s something huge that I want to take on. I want to start writing original work because we’ve done so much collaboration as a group. I think it’s important that we now start putting together our own stuff. I’m really excited, but it’s also an interesting challenge for me.