21 Sep 2021

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Nicole Andrews - Nicole Andrews Newsletter Interview

07 Jun 2015 // An interview by Shade

Nicole Andrews is a self-taught pianist from Portland Oregon, now based in Wellington New Zealand. Her eclectic debut album, In the Shallows, is a collection of introspective songs with echoes of Tori Amos, PJ Harvey and Massive Attack. Nicole answered the following questions for muzic.net.nz:

Tell us about your album In The Shallows.

I just released my debut album In the Shallows, which received support from Creative New Zealand. The album is very piano driven, so the songs were all recorded on a concert hall Steinway and then the vocals and other instruments were recorded at Surgery Studios in Wellington. I ended up producing the album myself, but got to work with some amazing New Zealand musicians. For example, David Long from The Mutton Birds played ebow on the track Good Girl. Then Thomas Voyce from Rhombus did the programming and production of the track Goodnight Sweetheart, which is a bit more electronic. Reuben Bradley, who is a Tui award winner, wrote the strings for the track Pixelated Roses.

My band was made up of Andrew Bain from Fur Patrol on bass, Daniel Ryland from OdESSA and Sorceress on guitar, and Lance Philip on drums. I wrote the songs over the last six years, and probably wrote enough material for several albums. I think getting the first one out is more of a challenge, cause you want everything to be perfect. In retrospect, I think it's great that I gave the songs as much attention as I did, but I won't be waiting so long to put out my next album.

Which one of your songs are you most proud of, and why?

There are a few songs that really stick out in my mind when I think of my album, so it's hard to say I'm proud of just one. I think the song Good Girl was the most surprising when it was finished. Mostly because I had done a big rewrite of the piano just before recording which suddenly made it a 7 minute long song. I couldn't figure out how to chop it down without losing a few of the elements that felt really special for me. I talked to David Long, who played ebow on the track, and he said he loved it at that length so I just went for it. The recording process for this one was a bit arduous and I think I felt like this song was slightly cursed, because it took the longest to finish and we had the most obstacles out of all the songs. It became the “now we gotta deal with THAT one” kind of a song because it was almost a guarantee something would go wrong. Then, once we got the other instruments added, I knew what it would sound like on the recording and could start experimenting a bit more with the mix. It just suddenly all fell together and since so much of it was experimentation in the studio, I just had no idea what the end result might be. The first time I heard the final mix I cried because it surpassed my expectations.

What has been your most memorable show to date?

I did a tour of the South Island last year, and had this gig at Taste Merchants in Dunedin which was epic. It was a completely packed room and everyone in the audience was 100% focused on the music and made no sound during the performance. Except for these two girls who sat right up next to me, practically at my feet, singing along to my songs. I have no idea how they knew the songs since I didn't have an album out, but I guess they must have just been watching my videos online or something. At the end of the show people really stuck around to get to know me and chat about music. It just felt like such a tight knit music community and people just ate it up.

What is your most embarrassing on tour/gig moment?

This probably sounds super silly, but one time I was getting ready for a gig while I was home alone and I couldn't get my dress zipped up all the way without help. So I just decided to keep getting ready and wait until my partner got off work so that he could reach it for me. Except by the time he got there I had forgotten all about it and just threw a jacket on and walked out the door like that. Once we got to the venue, which was packed full of people sitting waiting for the show to start, I took my jacket off and started setting up my gear. I even went through a full soundcheck like that before anyone noticed; with my dress just flopped open at the back. Luckily I was good friends with the host for the night and she saw it and zipped it up. She thought I was making a fashion statement, but definitely not.

What can we expect to see from Nicole Andrews over the next year?

I'll definitely be touring New Zealand in the next year to promote my album and I hope to put out a few music videos for some of the songs. I've already started writing for my next album, but it will be a slow process that will likely slip into the mix over the next year.

What are your long term goals?

I need to be creative to feel whole, so I will always be working on a new project and collaborating with other creative people no matter what the outcome. My long term goal is basically just to keep growing as an artist and try to break my own personal bests with each step. I'd love to have my music in movies and I'd love to headline a world tour, or open for one of my favourite musicians on their world tour. Sadly Nick Cave didn't have an opening act when he came through. Maybe next time Nick?

What advice would you like to give to other aspiring musicians?

Just do it and don't give a damn what the outcome might be. I feel like a lot of people (including myself) wait too long to dive into something because they are waiting for the perfect storm before they get started. My biggest lesson is that you just need to put yourself out there and make your mistakes. Otherwise you'll end up doing what I did and take six years to finally make the album.


About Nicole Andrews

Nicole Andrews is a self-taught pianist and electronic artist originally from Portland, Oregon, now living in Wellington.

Her debut album, In the Shallows, focused on piano driven alternative, and went on to receive critical acclaim within New Zealand and overseas.

Her sophomore album, A Stranger, has diversified from the previous ‘piano songs’ moniker, instead drawing on electronic influences such as Bjork, Goldfrapp and Arca. Paired with Rhombus’ Thomas Voyce as producer, the compositions centre around the Prophet 6 synthesizer and the raw confessional lyrical stylings Nicole is known for. The result is a gritty and dark album that reveals a new side of this singer-songwriter.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Nicole Andrews


A Stranger
Year: 2018
Type: Album
In The Shallows
Year: 2015
Type: Album

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