Andi Stecher: ‘Footwork is amazing for a drummer’

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Andi Stecher is an Austrian born and Berlin based drummer, percussionist and electronic musician. His current focus lies on solo compositions and live sets. In June 2015, Stecher released his first solo album austreiben/antreiben through Heart of Noise Edition. It is a personal take on mask-wearing traditions/pre-christian alpine traditions which are widespread all over Europe. The main characters of these mostly wintertime traditions are hybrid/anthropomorphic figures, embodied through people adorned with bells and wrapped in natural materials such as moss, animal skins or branches. He works with a raw, undefined palette of sounds as well as repetitive rhythm to create his compositions. He will be performing at Musikprotokoll 2016 festival in Graz later this year. 

You are from Innsbruck in Tirol. Is that where the Krampus inspiration, – in Austrian-Bavarian folklore, an anthropomorphic figure who during the Christmas season, punishes children who misbehaved – comes from?

All these traditions still happen there. In winter, it is the Krampus and in spring it’s Austreiben, which I used for the record, which is about expelling the winter.

Could you talk about these traditions?

It’s connected to the rhythms of nature. At the end of February, there are these traditional marches through city centres. People dress up and represent different aspects of nature, making a lot of noise and expelling the winter. They wear a lot of bells and burn straw puppets.

So the whole environment of Tirol with its nature and traditions has influenced you?

Definitely. I like nature, not only in Tirol. I will soon go to work as a shepherd in Switzerland again. It’s a very good change for me from the city, the music and going out.

When you do this kind of work, do you still make music as well?

Sometimes. I bring my drums along because we’re staying in a mountain hut where nobody gets disturbed by noise. I do get a lot of inspiration through it because there’s lot of time to think and just exist – you clean your head. I would like to record in the mountains with these amazing natural echoes around.

On the Austreiben album, you also used field recordings of the bells.

Exactly. It’s not from the mountains though, but from these happenings where people dress up and march through villages.

What fascinates you about these traditions?

Because it’s so dark there, these creatures have a strange aura. I just like these traditions and it was my personal take on them. I’ve been trying to do the second part of the album, actually, go around a bit more and select the costumes, record their sounds and do some compositions with it. In the winter, there are these more devilish characters, and when you’re a child, it can get quite scary. Nowadays, these traditions exist in a surrounding where I’m not present anymore. I’m also interested in the whole phenomenon because of the sound.

Does the urban environment inspire you in a similar way?

I need both. I need the city, go to shows, and then also stay in nature. Especially if you do music and play shows, you got to be in the city.

Does the city inspire you sound-wise as well?

Yes. I love these new club styles. The city does influence me. I live in Berlin, and it is also represented in what I do.

Are you also active in other bands?

Nowadays I do lots of solo stuff, and play with different bands, I do music for dance and performance. Then I also have some bands with whom I tour, which is more like a job based thing, where I just play the drums. My own stuff is more rhythm and beat based, influenced by footwork and trap. Footwork is amazing for a drummer because of its odd rhythms, which are kind of new.

How do you work in the solo context?

I’ve been producing for quite a while. I started to take drum lessons at the age of 8. I grew up listening to IDM and breakcore. I got a lot of inspiration from my brother who’s 16 years older than me and listened to lots of weird music at the time. IDM and breakcore influenced my drumming. I was into electronic music production in general. I used to be into jazz. Now I use more and more analogue stuff.

Is the rhythm more important for you as a drummer?

It’s definitely very important, even if it’s not straight-forward. I also enjoy the melodic stuff.

You work with these different techniques like side-chaining and multichannel setups.

I try out different things with the drums. I’ve done a multi-speaker project recently. There are two pieces on the record which are more abstract, electronic – it’s basically hi-fi speakers with coins and metal parts inside and I sent a synth through it. I use a lot of trigger with contact mikes on the floor. I enjoy to have stuff to do when I’m playing live. My sets are quite planned ahead, but they can veer off in different ways.

If you are a musician who has done music for a long time, how can one challenge themselves?

Getting out of the comfort zone, I guess. I always enjoy to engage myself in my music and play an instrument, to not just push play and wait until the piece is over. I need to do something so the piece comes to life. There are lots of things I want to try out.