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The alchemy of Andy D
By Ben Larson
Fort Wayne Reader
There is a fundamental truth that one must accept in order to fully understand rapper Andy D, who returns to the Brass Rail on December 4 for a CD release show marking the release of his sophomore CD, Songs In the Key of Magic — everything he does, whether it’s the music he makes or how he looks, he does because he personally finds it to be awesome. During our conversation he pointed me toward a blog he wrote in 2006, which he began by saying “My name is Andy D, and I am a white rapper. I have written pop songs about love, sex, partying, sex with werewolves, and female ejaculation. I have had a moustache for three years, a rattail for two years, and wear almost exclusively pink shirts emblazoned with air-brushed pictures of kittens and unicorns. I am absurd, and I know it. I am absurd on purpose. What I am not doing is being ironic.”
“I’ve had a rat tail for five years now,” he told me on the phone. “If I was going for irony, that joke would’ve gotten old 4 years and six months ago. I’ve always found the notion absurd that someone can like something ironically. Either it appeals to you, or it doesn’t. Don’t assume that just because I have a moustache that I must be being ironic. That kind of assumption is wrong on an ethical level.” If any of this strikes a chord with you, then you are one step closer to getting Andy D.
A native of Greenwood, IN (a suburb of Indianapolis), Andy D developed his musical style and philosophy when he was involved in the New York noise-rock scene of the early 2000’s, where he was making music closer to that of Black Dice than JJ Fad. “A friend of a friend who was going to film school to make music for movies approached me, and he asked if I could provide a song for this music marketing class he was taking. So I was like ‘oh, I think I got something.’ So I brought this song to him, and I didn’t have a proper singing voice at the time, so I was like ‘you know what? I’ll go ahead and rap.’” That song became “Rock Slow” from his 2007 album Choose Your Perversion, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“I basically like two kinds of music, the kind that makes you dance and the kind that makes you cry, I want to make the kind of music that makes people dance. I’ve never seen someone who’s dancing, and not having a good time. You can’t be unhappy when you’re dancing. And humor for me is an entry point to that. I figure that if I can make someone laugh with a clever turn of phrase or something funny in a song, then I’m one step closer to making them beat the beat a little bit or shake their butt a little bit. And if I do that, then I’ve got them, and they are having a good time. And we need some more of that in the world.” As a way of doing this, Andy D has developed a few basic types of songs that are best explained by discussing what, for me, are the titles that best exemplify those basic structures: “God Loves Drunk Chicks,” “Blow U Away,” and “Party Werewolf (I Need a Freak).”
As to the first, he said “it’s a satirical song about a very serious problem, and I figure that, if I can get people to laugh about it, then I can get people to think about it. At the same time, though, it’s like I say in the song, ‘I know it’s sad but I think it’s funny.’ Everyone knows the drunk girl I’m talking about there, and everyone’s heard ‘I love this song!’ come out of some drunk girl’s mouth at some party somewhere. They can be belligerent, or they can be the life of the party. Either way they’re having a good time, and they making you have a good time a little more, so god love ‘em” He also told me that, while this is probably his must popular song to date, he still catches flack at times from people who misinterpret what he’s saying (he makes mention of roofies at one point). “I still get the occasional person who hates that song, and gets angry with me, saying ‘you shouldn’t laugh about roofies,’ and I’m like ‘that’s not what I’m saying.’ But I can’t explain that to someone, you know what I mean? It’s satire; you either get it or you never will.”
In regards to “Blow U Away,” which is really just a great pop song and doesn’t have any rapping on it, he said “it was very important for me to have that song on the album, because another one of my influences that you don’t hear a lot, except in that song, with that kind of soft synth sound, is stuff like Depeche Mode. I love Depeche Mode and Tears for Fears. I love new wave, and “Blow U Away” was the product of my love for that. It’s basically a guitar, bass, drum song. So I wanted to have that on there so I could have room in the future to do something that isn’t just ‘God Loves Drunk Chicks.”
“Now, ‘Party Werewolf’ is definitely one of my more hip-hop songs. I think ‘God Loves Drunk Chicks’ was kind of an electro/hip-hop type of song, but ‘Party Werewolf’ is more of like ‘I’m gonna tell you a story,’ like Slick Rick, ‘I’m gonna tell you a story. Sit on back. Here it comes, because it’s gonna be about having sex with a werewolf, and then becoming a werewolf, because with werewolfism, sex is rough. I thought it was catchy. I thought it was funny. I’ve always liked horror. I was born the day after Halloween, so that’s always been a big part of me, the magical, the scary. And it’s a good, funky, werewolf song, which really hasn’t been done since ‘Nightmare on My Street,’ by Will Smith (then The Fresh Prince), or ‘Thriller,’ which makes sense because how do you top ‘Thriller?’”
Basically it all comes down to genre, or Andy D’s unwillingness to stick to one. “Well,” he said on the subject, “when you talk about genre, it’s like why would an artist, or anyone, say ‘I am this genre; I can only do things that are defined as this genre?” Why would anyone ever put those limits on themselves if they expect to do anything other than what’s already been done? Art should be about innovation. And I’m not elevating art to some huge platform; I think everyone’s an artist, somewhat. I just think it’s about human creativity.”
Andy D is just finishing up his new album, entitled Songs in the Key of Magic, and is planning on a fall release. In describing this new project, he said that just as Choose Your Perversion is basically a concept album about some form or another of perversion, this new album will be centered around the concept of magical things, in one form or another. “I just listened to the first mastered track today, which is called ‘Alchemy of the D,’ and it sounds awesome. I’m really excited about it.” Well, Andy, that makes two of us.