Andrew Berman has made a quite a name for himself in a very short period of time. Learning production while getting a degree in English at Tufts, he has developed into an artist who is able to blend genres while retaining his unique sonic palette that consists of tight, in-your-face drums, shimmering synth chords, and well-composed melodies. Most recently, he has been finishing up an EP which he hopes to release early this year and has recently collaborated with Fools Gold head A-Trak. Last November, I had the pleasure of speaking with Andrew on topics ranging from balancing his production and academics while at Tufts to his future ambitions as a live electronic performer.
“I didn’t really listen to music that much [when I was younger],” he told me. In middle school and throughout high school, Berman played the guitar and had listened to rock groups such as Poison and Led Zeppelin just to learn the guitar solos. The one group he did single out, however, was the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Due to a lack of time, Berman was unable to be a part of any bands in high school, and so he used to practice guitar with backing tracks. One day, he and his friend were jamming late into the night. Once it became too late to play their instruments, they decided to open up Garageband, their recording program at the time, and add some synth parts to their recordings. That night, Andrew became hooked on producing electronic music. “Eventually we wrote out a full piece on synths alone and it was so interesting that I started producing very heavily on that for several months until my friend put me onto Logic.” Some of his early inspirations were Brainfeeder artists Flying Lotus and Lapalux.
Early in his time at Tufts, he started producing house music with a friend, Nicolas Russo-Larsson. “There were so many days where I would skip [class] and just go to his house and work.” Together, their group Shapes of Light garnered attention from various names in the industry, including Madeon and Porter Robinson. All of their success, however, came at the cost of Berman’s degree. “I feel like at a point you gotta pick one or the other: you can half-ass Tufts or half-ass music, but the time cost, you have to fulfill it. There are hours that need to be pulled from somewhere.”
By Spring of his senior year, Berman had invested himself fully in music and released two EPs and a plethora of remixes ranging from hip hop to nu disco. In February of the same year, he was picked up by Deckstar Management, whose artists range from Blink-182 to The M Machine.
He moved out to LA after graduation to get more involved in the music industry. “Los Angeles has been cool, definitely a lot of music coming up all over the place, [and] a lot of venues, so I’m down to play a little more underground stuff.”
His musical tastes have also changed quite a bit since his early days as a producer. “These days I’m more into live stuff. I’m really into Depeche Mode.” His musical stylings have also changed quite a bit.
[My style is becoming more] synthpop heavy, like The New Order or Depeche Mode, or even Joy Division to a degree. When I started out making music, it was like when EDM was first becoming a thing. It was, like, when Swedish House Mafia was playing ‘One’ at Ultra and stuff like that, so obviously that kind of EDM is definitely a big influence, even if it’s a little shallow at points.
One thing is certain: Berman definitely cares about the musicality of his productions. A topic he brought up repeatedly during our conversation is melody and chords. He wants to make sure his tracks have substance and are a step above your typical EDM fare. “It’s weird cause I’ve kind of stopped listening to a lot of electronic artists lately, just because I’m so tired of the idea of just like 18 year olds with laptops doing stuff that’s vaguely interesting. I find that a lot of times there’s a lot of novelty, but not a lot of music.”
Perhaps this attitude is what has made his music stand out in the crowded dance music scene and helped to bring his music to the attention of A-trak. “I don’t know how he found my tracks, but he hit me up on twitter so we exchanged information over DMs and stuff.” They met last December and a finished track is on the way.
His new EP is also being released sometime this year. As he described it, “It’s very midtempo kind of like my recent album but big focus on big Calvin Harris-y chord lines, but then kind of bringing it back to more future, experimental kind of choruses. I’m definitely taking a lot from the beat music and the trap music, nothing too crazy hype or anything, just trying to make cool sounds and stuff that’s dancy.” Based on his track record and the dramatic improvements between his releases, this project is sure to make waves when it arrives later this year.
The thing that impressed me most about Andrew is his ambition. He’s always looking to improve his music and concerts. His next step: live performance.
“I’ve been working on singing for the past month or so and I know it’s gonna take probably close to a year before I can really do it well, but definitely like, changing my whole interface. I don’t want to DJ as much. It’s fun, but I want to have more of a performance than just playing tracks. I’ve definitely been inspired by the path [Porter Robinson’s] been taking with Worlds, so stuff in that realm, the hybrid live electronic stuff is really interesting to me. I definitely want to make something that’s more me, and not just a standard.”