Florida native and Berklee College of Music graduate Drew OfThe Drew has created an experimental, progressive sound and image with his debut album “Green” and his time in projects such as Helicopria and Drew and JP. He has toured internationally with Helicopria and has spent thousands of hours in the studio as both a player and producer. He works constantly in vocal arranging/production and uses an arsenal of effects, including a Line 6 M13 and Line 6 M9, a modified DW5000 kick pedal killswitch, and the Electro-Harmonix Voice Box, as well as several personally designed and constructed instruments and pedals, to create the foundation of his sound. Enjoy our interview with Drew below!
Entertwine: Can you tell us a bit about where you grew up and how you began playing music?
Drew: I’m originally from Winter Park, Florida, right outside Orlando, where Disneyworld is. Basically I’m from Disneyworld. My dad always played the piano and my granddad and grandma were avid bluegrass musicians, and that’s how I ended up in a house full of guitars. As a kid I was home-schooled on and off until I got to high school and then again during high school. I went to Dr. Phillips music magnet high school, meaning that it’s a public high school, but that you had to audition into the music section of it. I got to explore a lot of different musical avenues there because I did concert band(which meant I was in the pit for musicals), I was trumpet section leader for marching band, and I was in the jazz band. I always gravitated towards making my own original music on my computer; I’ve been fortunate enough to have a Mac that worked with Logic since about 8th grade. I applied only to Berklee straight out of high school and got in.
ET: How are you able to accurately capture your personality in your recorded music? What is your favorite part about recording and fully bringing to life the songs you’ve written?
Drew: I think that as a producer it’s a pretty easy way to make your music feel like you want it to since you have control over every part of the song, from the songwriting to the sound of the instruments. This is always important for me as even from a young age I was making music where I would play everything myself. I’ve always considered myself a multi-instrumentalist. My favorite part of recording is the entire process; I love the engineering aspect and having all the instruments sounding good right off the board, but I also love the mixing and producing aspect. When it comes down to it I really just like playing my bass and making things sound awesome with my computer.
ET: What can you tell us about the various basses, amps, and effects pedals you use to create your sound?
Drew: I guess I should start out by saying that I build or modify almost all of my own equipment. I worked at a musical instrument repair store in high school called Lyrical Lumber, and when I was there I built a guitar and a bass. During my time there, I started realizing that I really enjoyed building things from the ground up. When I was in high school I also built circuits for pedals in my spare time and started to develop some circuits that I still use today. I’ve gone through using all types of basses and pedal boards, but most of what I used on my album was my custom green J bass (seen in most of my videos) or my newer sunburst bass with three pickups (seen in the video for ‘Pull Me Down’). I use custom distortion and overdrives as well as my Line6 M13 in terms of effects; usually when I play live I just use my M13 with 2 expression pedals. I also use the Electro Harmonix Iron Lung as a vocoder and have an Ampeg SVT-4 pro running into two Pro-Neo cabs; I have a pre-effects send that goes to two 18 inch subs that are an octave down (usually) and very compressed.
ET: What was your experience like at Berklee College of Music in Boston?
Drew: As someone who was home-schooled, struggles with reading and writing, and generally avoids formalized education, I think it went awesome. As well as being a great place to go and learn the tricks of the trade, it is, in my opinion, the best place in the world to meet young, dedicated, badass musicians. I had a fun time there, but had to keep in mind that it wasn’t the real world, and that after I left, I was going to get slapped in the face by life.
ET: What life experiences and events led to the writing and recording of your album “Green”? What was the recording process like from start to finish, and what was it like working with two drummers?
Drew: I write songs every day, and I’ve always wanted to record a full-length album with Joanna singing on it. There wasn’t really specific inspiration for the album; I’m just the kind of person who is always creating, and this album is kind of the documentation process of that. I’d released ‘Can’t Save Me’ about six months before I encouraged everyone to come to New York for a week and work on a full-length album. We just hung out and played music for three days and had all of the songs on the EP written and ready to record (once everyone arrived). I had already written about half of our songs, and we came up with (and wrote the rest) during that time. In that week, we also recorded all of the drums and guitars. Simultaneously according two drum sets is nuts because there’s obviously going to be so much phasing and bleed between all the drums and mikes. That said, working with JP and Ian should have been much harder that it was. (I) love them. Everyone in the band is really easy to work with so we can crank out tunes pretty quick.
ET: Can you give readers an inside look into how ‘Jaypian’ (from “Green”) came about?
Drew: I was like, “hey guys, do you wanna have a track that is just a drum shed?” And they were like, “yeah”. So I just put a Garageband guitar playing a chromatic scale on loop and let them rip over it.
ET: What can you tell us about New York City’s music scene?
Drew: New York is awesome because there’s so much room for anyone to do anything they want. As a person who doesn’t really make music that sounds like anything else, it’s a great place to be at this time in my life. A lot of my friends from Berklee live either here or in Los Angeles now, which makes it feel like even more of a community. It’s also great that on any night of the week, there are like, 10 shows going on that you can go to and meet new people at. People think that if you come to New York and do your thing, that you’re going to make it, and that’s sort of true, but only if you’re going to hustle and make it work and eat nothing but beans and rice for months at a time.
ET: What is it like performing and recording with your close friends (Joanna, JP, Ian, Maddie)? What major advantages come from being so in sync with one another?
Drew: It’s basically like having a fun day at the beach where you just play Frisbee and swim and kick a soccer ball around and build a sand castle, except that we’re not at the beach, we’re making music. I love all of them so very much, and we all appreciate each other’s contributions to the music so equally that it’s really easy to create something that sounds really good overall. We all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and we try to play up their strengths and make their weaknesses disappear.
ET: I’ve read that you are particularly inspired by Zedd; why specifically is this? What other artists or producers have helped to influence and shape your musical sound?
Drew: Zedd is great. All of his productions are so clean and concise that it makes me want to deliver my ideas that clearly. I am also really inspired by Skrillex, Flume, Koan Sound, and any other EDM artist that has a style all their own. All of these guys are creating sounds with the same computer, same software, and same plug-ins that I have; it’s really inspiring to know that all I have to do is click the right button to create something all my own.
ET: What was it like traveling to and performing in Istanbul with Helicopria?
Drew: We were so lucky to have (the opportunity to) play our music in another part of the world. It was the type of experience that makes you really feel like you’re doing the right thing with your life. I can’t wait to travel more with other groups.
ET: What do the remaining months of 2014 hold in store for Drew of the Drew?
Drew: I, Drew of the Drew, have just finished working on Sirma’s EP, “Instincts”, Brayton Bowman’s debut EP, “Here | Now”, and Lauren Desberg’s first full length album, “Twenty-First Century Problems”. Now I am going to start working on another Drew ofthe Drew album, as well as some cool videos for YouTube.
-Bass of Choice? Anything I’ve made
-Favorite Color? …Green dude…
-Favorite Cities? New Smyrna Beach, Florida; Tamarindo, Costa Rica; New York, and Los Angeles
-Favorite Shoe? Nike Dunks or Air Force Ones, but only in high top form. Also Supras, also high tops.
-Favorite Non-Musical Activity? Anything in the water, swimming, surfing, scuba diving, wakeboarding, skinny dipping.
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