Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Andrew Paley

Photo courtesy of Snowhite PR.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Singer-Songwriter Andrew Paley, previously known for his work with post-punk outfit The Static Age before he went solo, recently released the official lyric video for his third new single “Give Up,” which follow up his previous singles “Caroline” and “One Match Fire.”

All the singles come off his upcoming 11-track sophomore effort ‘Scattered Light,’ slated for release this year via Highwires. It comes nearly four years after his 2016 debut solo album ‘Sirens,’ released via Paper+Plastick/Make My Day Records. Paley worked on ‘Scattered Light’ in his own Chicago studio and also recorded while on tours of North America, Japan and Europe to support ‘Sirens.’

The video for “Give Up,”which features completely computer-generated images that morph throughout, can be streamed on YouTube and the song itself is also available on all other platforms. Lyrically, “Give Up” largely revolves around relationship detachment and the upside of giving up, but is also open to interpretation. For Paley, he expressed that it’s “a happy song about a sad thing, or perhaps a sad song about an ultimately happy thing.”

The Music Bugle recently had the opportunity to chat with Paley about “Give Up,” his upcoming album and more.

Music Bugle – How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected you as a musician?

Andrew Paley – Well, the most obvious thing is that I was supposed to go on tour in March and was set to play a bunch of shows in Germany with the Italian band HÅN and that all got put off for some undetermined amount of time. Beyond that though, I’ve been lucky to have my studio in the back of my house during this whole quarantine thing and part of my daily routine has become making sure I spend at least a few hours back there banging on ideas. I think it’s been helping me stay sane throughout this whole thing.


Music Bugle – What was the process like putting together your album ‘Scattered Light’? What can your fans expect when they hear it?

Andrew Paley – I’ve been working on the record off-and-on for over two years now. The writing really began around the tours I was doing in 2018, though a few of the songs have roots as far back as like 2013 or 2014 from old demos that I revived as I was putting the album together. For the most part, I’ve really enjoyed doing it all in my own studio and just letting myself explore ideas as I go, though there are plenty of rabbit holes to get lost down when you’ve got unbounded time and no one to immediately bounce ideas off of. One result of a process like that is a bunch of b-sides and demo versions that get shed along the way. I think/hope the other result is a set of songs that each have their own space but hang together cohesively as an album, though taken together, the songs definitely represent a much wider set of spaces than anything I’ve done before.


Music Bugle – What made you decide to release the songs you have so far?

Andrew Paley – Well, a few things. Mainly, I was just excited to put something new out. After a couple of years in the proverbial bunker, I was looking forward to sharing what I’d been working on, but also, I wanted to give a bunch of the songs each some space to breathe on their own and I was excited about taking the time to pair each one with a visual component too. Beyond all that, it seems like the world is increasingly thinking in singles. I happen to still love albums and I certainly think of ‘Scattered Light’ as an album, but I’ve also been kind of enjoying releasing parts of the whole as we go.


Music Bugle – What inspired you to write “Give Up”?

Andrew Paley – “Give Up” was actually written in two parts. The first half was written in the last act of a relationship that was ending for all the right reasons and then I came back to the song after that relationship ended and built the quite-different second half. I guess it ended up being about both sides of the “give up” moment at the end of that relationship — the fear and doubt and angst of getting there and then the relief and open space of getting beyond it. I think it was also a reminder to myself that decoupling from someone can be an act without spite or ire. There don’t have to be enemies as you mutually come to terms with the death of something you both once had high hopes for and collectively figure out how to carve your lives up in the aftermath.


Music Bugle – Which of your musical influences do you feel shine the most through your music?

Andrew Paley – It’s hard for me to be objective enough about my own stuff such that I could accurately judge that. Also, honestly, whatever I could come up with would change from song-to-song anyway. To not totally dodge the question, I guess what I’ve been pulling from most lately are the artists that feel free to go anywhere with what they’re doing and somehow still keep it “them.” Artists like Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Paul Simon, Stephin Merritt from The Magnetic Fields and John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats come to mind. I’ve also been listening to a lot of electronic music all over the map like Tycho, Com Truise, Ulrich Schnauss and Wax Stag as well as other stuff like Mew and The War On Drugs throughout the making of the album, so I’d imagine some of that made its way in there as I went along.


Music Bugle – What’s something you feel people should know about you?

Andrew Paley – Outside of music, I’m getting a PhD in computer science and do work in A.I., generally in the space of natural language processing and generation. I’ve also been experimenting with other types of generative A.I., including with the work that led to the video for “Give Up.”


Music Bugle – What are your future plans?

Andrew Paley – On the music front, reschedule the canceled tour – and then some – for later this year, world events willing of course, announce an album release date and keep working on more songs. Otherwise, I’ll be bonding with my cat, catching up on a reading backlog and hanging out with friends via video chat until we can all go outside again. Somewhere in there, I’ve been considering playing the “Final Fantasy VII” remake mostly to relive the better parts of middle school and I’ll probably have to leave my house at some point to buy more groceries.


Music Bugle – What has been your favorite moment while onstage/playing a live show?

Andrew Paley – There are a number of moments that come to mind across all the shows and tours, either solo or with my band, but I don’t know if I could choose. Besides, the truth is my perennial favorite moment is always just when I notice someone singing along with one of the songs.


Music Bugle – What frustrates you the most about the music industry and can it be fixed?

Andrew Paley – I tend to like separating art from commerce, though it seems I might be in the minority on that.


Music Bugle – What is your main motivation, generally speaking?

Andrew Paley – This is a good question. It’s giving me a bit of a miniature existential crisis. Specifically on creativity, I guess I understand the world best by pushing on it, by creating stuff and seeing what works, what resonates, what doesn’t. When I’m writing, I never set out to make something specific. I instead wander into it and discover it as I go, so I guess making music is one way I’ve been exploring since I was five years old and I can’t imagine stopping. If you’re looking for something more holistic than that, I’ll get back to you when I get to the bottom of myself.

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