We live in a strange time. We live in a world where people perceive other people through what information is provided about them on social networks. We live in a world where anyone can become famous overnight by simply putting a thirty second clip of stupidity on YouTube. We live in a world where more and more people can create music without even touching an instrument. Suddenly anyone that can do a few keystrokes and move a mouse can be called a producer. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find any true, raw talent from all of these upcoming bedroom wonders. Drew Harris, the man behind the music of Germany Germany, is a shining needle in the haystack of noise.
Drew is an incredibly well spoken and mad stylish student from Victoria. For the past year and a half he has been creating soft, half synthetic, half physical, dreamy, sometimes poppy, ambient, danceable, incredibly-easy-to-listen-to music under the alias of Germany Germany. What truly sets him apart from other artists in the same category is that his music is never stagnant. Every song on each of the albums is different from the last in not only pace, but in overall sound and mood. It’s unfortunate that in this genre, most artists get sucked into one single style and tempo, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue for this obviously talented young lad.
Drew has released five records to date with the newest being the seventeen track Adventures, his biggest, and in my opinion the most experimental, album yet. The majority of his music is available for free download or at least streaming on his SoundCloud, but you can support this up and comer by purchasing Adventures on his Bandcamp for five dollars or whatever you would like to pay. It will be worth your while, I promise.
‘Adventures is like this – as represented by the album art, it’s not clean and spotless… it is how I want it to sound but that doesn’t mean that it’s always perfect. The DIY aesthetic has always been fundamental to this project and by that definition, Adventures nearly sums up all that is Germany Germany. The past synth-pop, electro, ambient, etc. sounds have all been combined into 2 sides, 17 songs, 60 minutes. ‘
Drew was kind enough to fit me into his obviously crammed schedule to ask him a few questions about this whole music thing.
SSOM: Let’s say that someone’s never heard your music before. You’ve got lo-fi, progressive house and indie music made up of physical and digital instruments all wrapped up into one. How would you describe your unique sound to them?
I’d say that my personal style is probably just a shit-mix conglomerate of the styles I listen to. Electronica, ambient, house, post-rock, glitch, some hip-hop… a lot of stuff kind of works its way in there. I like the term ‘electrogaze’ though.
SSOM: Any specific influences you can rattle off?
Besides what I said above – nature, natural things, noise, analog technology. I guess those aren’t specifically musical things. I like unpredictability.
SSOM: How long have you been making music for?
In some form or another, since I was fourteen or so. I played guitar in some really bad emo bands for a while, then tried some solo indie-pop stuff where I learned Garageband and Logic when I was around seventeen or so. I started Germany Germany in the fall of 2010, though it was originally called something else (a really horrible name).
SSOM: What do you do besides music?
My full-time occupation is currently studying electrical engineering at UVic. I’m finding it really hard to do that, make music, have a job and attempt to maintain some sort of a social life. It’s nice to use that as an excuse for a prolonged lack of creativity though. My musical output really drops down during school semesters, though all of Adventures was made in the spring semester.
SSOM: So what kind of programs/equipment is needed to make your style of music?
I like guitars. I think/hope my inclusion of guitars and other acoustic samples makes my music a little different than the purely-synthetic stuff out there. I use Ableton Live to put all my stuff together, and I use a bunch of free and paid plugins/softsynths along with hardware synths like Microkorg and Roland jx-8p.
SSOM: Do you play all the instruments heard in your songs, and layer them during recording, or do you get help from fellow musicians?
Yep, it’s all played by myself and layered. I don’t really think of it that way though. My workflow is really based on patterns playing at the same time, I don’t really regard songs as linear combinations of instrument tracks.
SSOM: I’ve gotta ask, why’d you go with the stage name Germany Germany?
I get this question all the time. I need to invent some nice answer for it. It just sort of popped in my head, though at the time I was listening to Ratatat, so it’s probably from their song ‘Germany to Germany.’
SSOM: I’ve yet to have a chance to see you live, so I’m curious to know what a live show would be like. Is it more of a DJ set or do you bring out a full band to play with you?
I hope you do soon! I’ve performed twice with a full band and it’s a lot of fun, but it takes a lot of practise. I usually play live with these two cardboard “GERMANY GERMANY” signs that are lined with 100 super-bright LEDs. The LEDs are connected to a microcontroller that interprets MIDI data sent by the computer. Basically, we have MIDI clips that automate the brightness of the lights in real time – this allows us to have a drummer that’s not technically playing to a click. It’s really fun.
SSOM: Do you do shows often?
Not really, but I like it that way. I don’t want to be one of those bands that is playing every week; I want to keep it special.
SSOM: Tour plans. Are there any upcoming plans to promote and perform the tracks from your recent Adventures LP?
There are some really interesting possibilities in the mix right now but I’d rather keep it under wraps for now. I’m returning to full-time engineering in September (this summer is my semester off) so that’s my current plan, unless something amazing comes up.
SSOM: So you’re in Victoria during the school year, how does doing shows there compare to here in Vancouver?
Well, we played our first show here but, to be honest, we’ve found Vancouver promoters to be a million times more helpful and supportive than Victoria promoters. It’s really unfortunate. A replied email or returned phone call would be nice.
SSOM: Last question, how can fans support your work besides going to shows?
Listen to it, tell your friends if you want, whatever. If you want, buy it, if not, torrent it or whatever. I’m not trying to make this a career, I’d rather keep it an interesting hobby. The second I make something my main income I feel like there’s pressure that will turn me into a greedy narcissist. There are some of those in this scene already and I’d rather not join them.
If you’re going to be in Vancouver this week, Drew wanted me to tell you to feel free to drop by the Adventures album release party at Interurban Gallery on Saturday, June 11. It will be a good time.
Maybe I should invest in some of this production gear stuff,
Germany Germany – Take Me Home
Germany Germany – Rain
Germany Germany – Too Much To Say
Germany Germany – River
Germany Germany – Beginning
Germany Germany – Last Summer
Germany Germany – Natural (Mixtape)
Futurecop! – Venice Beach (Germany Germany Remix)
Passion Pit – Sleepyhead (Germany Germany Remix)
Crystal Castles – Baptism (Germany Germany Remix)