ART:CAST #92 & INTERVIEW Andrew Thomson

It’s not been too long since we spoke to Glaswegian artist Andrew Thomson, more precisely it was in March this year when the pandemic overrun any artist or any person involved in the artistic field. As the label owner of Huntleys + Palmers, Belters and Highlife, as a DJ and radio-host Andrew was and still is one of those people, whose life was turned upside down overnight. But as the optimist he is, even though it was difficult for Andrew to keep that positive vibe up, he’s found ways to deal with the current situation, which does not necessarily mean he’s leading the good life but giving us realistic insights into the future of clubbing, his attitude towards certain social media trends, the future of his record labels and what he wore when mixing the latest art:cast episode, namely number ninety-two.

Torture the Artist: Hello Andrew, how has life been treating you over the last months and especially after our last chat?

Andrew Thomson: The last few months have flown by. Not much has changed since we last spoke, I’ve mostly been kept busy with the radio station which has provided me with a bit more of a weekly structure that I wouldn’t have had in lockdown otherwise.

The majority of these records had the dancefloor in mind – which I feel is a world becoming further and further away than ever.

Torture the Artist: What is the status quo with your labels Hunley + Palmers, Belters and Highlife and how do you want to proceed with them in the (near) future according releases and also signings? Referring to the question before, does it make sense to release music these days that’s mainly designed for the clubs or wait until clubs are allowed to open up again?

Andrew Thomson: I’m pretty undecided about what to do. Before the world stopped I had a release schedule for the year more or less ready to go and the majority of these records had the dancefloor in mind – which I feel is a world becoming further and further away than ever, so I’ve found myself becoming stationary amidst so much uncertainty. I have released a few digital only releases so far and have been pleased with them and the reception they’ve received, so expect to do maybe one or two more before the end of the year. The Wraetlic Remixes in particular is something that I had been working at for over a year and felt good to put together with a nice variety of artists from around the world.

Torture the Artist: Do you realize a shift of taste or a prioritization of non-club music for your labels at the moment at your side because of missing gigs?

Andrew Thomson: I had been compiling a more home listening compilation over the past few years and have decided to prioritise this for the time being. It’s a pretty personal release and it’s been exciting to reconnect with some of the tracks and artists again and I’m hopeful that it reaches a similarly minded audience.

The world is changing in front of our eyes and while I understand that it’s natural to cling on to some degree of normality, this return to gigs, touring and promoting seems to be pretty short sighted.

Torture the Artist: Speaking of gigs and clubs, some venues and also some festivals are taking place or will take place in Europe shortly and also some artists started their social media routine again, namely that of posting pics fom traveling, videos from the events and also their upcoming gig-dates. To what extent do you agree with that social media routine and what signal shall an artist send to the people out there these days?

Andrew Thomson: I find social media and self promotion awkward at the best of times and now it feels even more redundant than ever. The world is changing in front of our eyes and while I understand that it’s natural to cling on to some degree of normality, this return to gigs, touring and promoting seems to be pretty short sighted. I don’t think we’ll return to the life we once knew after this. Things weren’t great before as it was and now everyone is facing an uncertainty we’ve never lived through and with that nights out and buying records will become luxury items – which means some clubs won’t reopen, record shops will close. I hate to sound like a downer, but I think the more people start to embrace that idea and start talking about what this new future might look like, the better.

Torture the Artist: How much do you miss the life of the touring Andrew Thomson and playing gigs around the world or have you adapted to the new reality and see more of a chance in it than grieving about “the good ole times“?

Andrew Thomson: There’s aspects I do miss more than others, sometimes the smaller things I wouldn’t have expected – like turning up in a city and meeting new people. Those conversations can be more energising – especially at the moment when we’re all having the same conversations with no variation on ‘what have you been up to?’ type questions.

What I liked about these trips is picking up little bits of inspiration and trying to apply them to my life, but the longer I was going away, the harder it was to implement things when I was home, so at least this period has allowed me to work on some of these aspects further – mostly via the radio station and the community side of things, which I’m only beginning to scratch the surface with now.

I’m hopeful that this period signals the end of the celebrity / influencer effect that we’ve noticed within music over the past few years.

Torture the Artist: What’s a chance or opportunity you’d like to see yourself and also people involved in the electronic music to put into practice? What has to be changed an has to change?

Andrew Thomson: I’m hopeful that this period signals the end of the celebrity / influencer effect that we’ve noticed within music over the past few years. Imposing an idealised lifestyle seems pretty silly now and hopefully people will start to appreciate what they have and what is going on around them and within their local community.

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Torture the Artist: You said you always try to remain optimistic, how much have you suffered from the pandemic, also mentally and have you lost your optimism at some point also because artists have been barely supported by the goverments or what is the situation nin Glasgow?

Andrew Thomson: My optimism has been challenged for sure. I’ve been used to hustling and scraping by for long enough, so usually have plenty of self motivation but this is something no one has lived through. I’m worried for sure, but take some strange comfort in the fact that everyone has been affected and it should lead to a bit more consideration for those around us, maybe that’s wishful thinking, but let’s see.

Torture the Artist: How has the pandemic influenced your radio host-being, has it generally helped you to establish faster than you may have thought in the first place or what are you observations? Do people tend to listen more to the radio during the pandemic than before?

Andrew Thomson: The radio has been growing at a pace I’m pretty pleased with overall and it has received lots of positive feedback from across the community – with many likening it to a form of socialising and keeping connected during lockdown. We’re only 6 months in, so it’s difficult to compare to another time, but it does feel like people were listening more in the middle of lockdown.

We’ve tried to involve as much of the scene as possible and made a point of inviting those on who might not necessarily be considered for their taste in music and they’ve usually turned out to be my favourite shows as they have a fresh approach to presenting music / radio which hasn’t been formulated by any preconceptions of what a music show should sound like. So that’s been exciting and looking forward to hearing these shows develop over time and with more experience.

Sunday morning when everyone is completely exhausted and they stumble past this stage and stop by for one last dance with their new friends and this would be the soundtrack

Torture the Artist: Combining things, mostly tracks as in mixing them together, is your daily passion and business, what was your approach for the art:cast?

I was also wearing my new Baldelli t-shirt to channel the smattering of wrong speeders – never exceeding 110bpm.

Andrew Thomson: Thanks again for inviting me to do this! I wasn’t really sure what to do that I might not have done before and then happened on the scenario of playing at some kind of intimate festival setting this summer. Around 10am on Sunday morning when everyone is completely exhausted and they stumble past this stage and stop by for one last dance with their new friends and this would be the soundtrack – it’s a pretty deranged, unpredictable and energising trip. To get into the spirit, the mix was recorded around 8pm on Sunday evening, having been on my feet since 7am. I was also wearing my new Baldelli t-shirt to channel the smattering of wrong speeders – never exceeding 110bpm.

Torture the Artist: You’re #92, what do you recall from 1992 that makes you smirk now and what’s the most meaningful track from that year for you personally?

Andrew Thomson: <laughs> Nothing specific or exciting comes to mind – would likely have been playing football over the summer holidays which would have seemed endless.

Interview by Holger Breuer