By Georgia Watson
Hercules & Love Affair is the project from prolific producer, collaborator Andy Butler, who through enlisting the help of friends is doing more than just getting by – he’s been crafting a melting pot of house, techno and disco oriented tunes across two album releases and as the list of collaborators grows larger, so do the number of accolades. Bringing the likes of Antony Hegarty of Antony & the Johnsons to vocalise breakout single Blind in 2008 – as well as Kele Okereke of Bloc Party on sophomore effort, Blue Songs, Butler has a way of finding the best in those within the studio booth. In between recording and preparing for Future Music Festival’s live show in March, Andy jumped on the phone from San Francisco alongside new vocalist Whitney Fierce to reveal all on their new live lineup, new material, and the time that they got to dress up and play house.
What can we expect for the live show this year, in March?
It’s going to be a really new sound, well, technically part of it is going to be a new sound. We’ve gravitated less and less towards disco music for a couple of years now, and the last inclination of the band was really more about presenting a techno oriented house club sound and I think we have just pushed it further in that direction. It involves even more electronics and things like that. We have new singers, new artists involved, it’s going to be an exciting show, for us at least.
And who will you be bringing along with you?
I have a young individual named Steff, from Belgium. I met him after a DJ gig. I rarely stay after a DJ gig, I usually go home, but this night they were talking about a couple of singers singing over a live sound system, and I decided to stay, and I watched him sing, and I was really blown away. I basically stayed in touch with him and asked him to perform and participate. It’s been a real pleasure to work with him.
And again, a woman named Whitney Fierce who is on the phone right now. I can tell the story, or you can tell the story?
Whitney: So I guess, Andy and I were on tour together and he didn’t quite like me. He thought, that there was something there that he didn’t like. I think it was maybe attitude. So we were kind of offish towards one another. We ended up DJing together in Paris, and all of a sudden, Andy wanted to be my friend because I played some hot tracks. I was a DJ at the time, I still am, and we started bonding over our love for similar types of music, and we became closer and closer. And then on a road trip from LA to Vegas, we were singing along to Michael McDonald, and Andy just about died, he was like, I need you Whitney, I need you. We’ve been close as friends and collaborators, and he’s one of the many loves of my life now.
Andy: Another young woman named Beth, who is a London based singer, but it was in Vienna that I met her. I was sitting in one room, and was talking to a friend, and through the doorway I heard this girl singing and I stopped my conversation, and I said, “Who is the girl singing in the other room?” And they were like, “Oh, it’s just a friend of a friend.” So I said okay, and we kept talking. But she kept singing, and I said, I have to go see this girl quickly. So I went into the room, and I said, Hi, what’s your name…and I befriended her enough that I coaxed her to sing a little bit for me. So I asked her if she would perform on some new music with me and come down to Australia.
It is a really new lineup, but it’s exciting and very different.
So, what you are recording right now, is that intended to contribute towards a third record?
I’m actually doing a series of EP’s this year I think. I’m not exactly sure how I’m presenting it, but I think will do EP by EP, working with different producers and singers on each EP. And then maybe at the end of the year compiling it, but it’s really just about productivity and working with as many people as I can at the moment and you know, my favourite thing to do is be in the studio, so if I can get in the studio with an interesting sound, then I can generally do it.
Do you find that pushes you creatively, working with more minds?
Yeah, I’m a collaborative person. It’s been a real cool couple of months, I got to work with Little Boots, and produce their next single. I got to work with people I wouldn’t normally work with, so it’s been even more inspiring to meet new artists and examine the way they work and learn from the way they work, and appreciate it. It’s a very fulfilling experience.
And where do you think those EP’s will land in terms of sound?
In general, I’m really back to house oriented, and techno music, but at the same time, I have a very varied tasted in music. I recently worked on a song that evoked Kate Bush. I don’t really limit myself to dance music, so anything can end up on a Hercules record. It’s a pretty varied lot of music, it’s not one thing or another.
I was reading one of the top comments on your YouTube clip for My House, that essentially says that house is simply about an 808 drum kick, clap, hi-hat. a funk bassline, catchy riff, and a good vocal. Do you think that definition translates well today?
If you’re asking about house music in general, there is a vocabulary that house music works with and maybe I’m purist, but I’m not very keen on advanced technologies that just thrill for the sake of entertainment. There was a subtlety to house music initially, there were a limited number of sounds that were generally used, and it was to the point, and that subtlety has been lost I think. The whole overblown production, the big sounds of many other artists, they lack in my opinion, the sophistication of subtlety. House music was born on a certain number of ingredients, and you work with the vocabulary that you have. I don’t think that you need to change it. You can update it, but writing it in 2012, just the mere fact that it is done, is updating it. I don’t think that you need to do something with Ableton Live that freaks it out and makes it sound like a great German Minimal dance track. I sounded quite opinionated there didn’t I?
The clip itself for My House, has some incredible tilts and fast panning action - what was the objective you had going when you went into shooting…
Andy Well, we wanted to have a party. We found a cool 70’s disco to do it in, and we kind of wanted to bang out for the new track.
Whitney: Dress up and play house if you will?
Andy: Yeah exactly, dress up and play house. We had tons of fun wardrobe there, and tons of fancy shoes, and tons of fancy everything, and some really fancy people. Basically our friends came over and banged the song, and shot a video. We got a really talented guy named Price (James). It was really cool, we did not think of the commercials, Price thought of the commercials.
Whitney: It brings the realness.