theaussieword.com’s special interview with Andrew Shapiro.
Tell us how it all started. What had you first interested in music? An early childhood memory puts me on a beach on the Long Island Sound (just north of New York City) with my mom who bumped into a friend who suggested a recorder class in the neighbouring town of Scarsdale. It came easy to me so I soon graduated to the clarinet after that.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music? It’s just something that I HAVE to do, you know? People say that one should really only make this kind of life for themselves—and it’s not easy, I can tell you that—if they really and truly can’t fathom a life where they’d be doing anything else.
What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist? I came very close to scoring a big Hollywood film once, but the project went belly-up. So that was a bummer. I’d love to score a film(s) with a budget to use an orchestra. Would really love to do that. So there’s one goal.
Success, what is the secret to it? I’m just trying to write music, play music and make friends. And as long as I keep doing that I’ll be fine.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far? Not sure. Performing at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC was big. I did a collaboration with Neil Gaiman—he’s big time. So that was a thrill. Oh, I think I know: a piece of piano music I wrote called “Mint Green” has really blown up on Pandora and it’s been streamed something like 6.8 million times. So maybe it’s that.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring? Philip Glass is a hero, I’m so happy I got to intern with him just after I finished music school. His right-hand-man producer named Michael Riesman is a dear friend and now collaborator.
The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now? Actually, I see myself in pretty much the same place because I’m living my dreams. There have been more demands on my time as a composer and publisher because –and this is awesome—more and more people seem to be finding out about it and using it in the films or commercials or whatever. So, of course, I hope that will continue to increase! I love where I live with my family (wife and 5 mo. old son) in Brooklyn. We live in a neighborhood called Williamsburg which is where I’ve lived since I moved to New York in 2001.
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye? I have twitter (@andrew_shapiro) and facebook and an email list and a website. I try to not go crazy with these things. I just try to get my music out into the world in the way that makes sense to me. And then the chips fall where they may.
Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists. 1. Cate Blanchet 2. Peter Weir. I loved Picnic at Hanging Rock and Witness and The Truman Show 3. I love Men at Work, particularly the song “Overkill.” 4. When I was little I LOVED Crocodile Dundee J
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour? Solo piano performances this month in New York, Toronto and Buffalo. Currently putting together live-performance versions of my songs from “Pink Jean Mint Green.” But not as synthpop—rather as me singing over string quartet(!).
Tell us a bit about your latest record, how would you best describe your music? I have two new ones actually. One is synthpop called “Pink Jean Mint Green” and the other is solo piano called “Piano 3.” I think the best description I’ve heard of what I do is that I create music that fuses classical minimalism and 80’s New Wave. One way to think of it is like if Philip Glass’s music and Depeche Mode’s music had a baby—I make music like what that would sound like. One highlight from the two albums is that one of the songs, “Bash Street Worlds” I cowrote with author Neil Gaiman. Here’s a cool description: http://www.popmatters.com/post/andrew-shapiro-bash-street-worlds-feat-neil-gaiman-premiere/
Do you have any new projects in the pipeline? New albums of songs, piano music, string quartet (plus vocals), I’m producing/arranging a new song in collaboration with Mark Crozer of Jesus and Mary Chain.
Thanks for the interview! What final message do you have for us today? One of my favorite things I’ve heard of late is: “the only way to impress others is to impress oneself first.”