If there’s one to know, then Andy Garvey is most certainly it. Between her insatiable appetite for collecting vinyl earning her a perfectly-tuned ear for mixing and producing original music, her events label NECTAR, and countless radio hosting duties, Andy Garvey is an all-rounder. After relocating from Canberra to Sydney, Garvey dove head first into all the avenues the music industry had to offer and quickly identified herself as a key industry contender. As a host to Triple J’s Mix Up and FBi Radio‘s Pure Space, she’s forged a unique sonic signature that delves into genres of acid, electronic, house, and breakbeat, and has ultimately become a unique creative visionary. Having supported the artists she idolises such as The Black Madonna, Mall Grab, and Ben UFO, Garvey shows no signs of slowing down.
Having just released a brand new EP, ‘Eternal Recurrence’, under powerhouse record label Lobster Theremin, and with the announcement that she will be representing Australia on a global stage at the upcoming Boiler Room stream from Pitch Music & Arts, Garvey had a chat with us about how she got to where she is now. Take serious notes – she is going places.
“I spent essentially all of my savings on a really basic set of decks and with some guidance slowly learned how it all worked. I spent the summer after graduating high school unemployed and inside teaching myself how to mix.”
Growing up in Canberra, you mainly discovered the elusive world of dance music by word of mouth and sharing tracks with your mates via MSN. In this way, it seems like you were learning about dance music the back way, rather than through club culture partying. How did you then get your foot in the door, to play live sets?
I was about 14 when I was using MSN so far too young to actually experience clubbing. I learnt heaps when I was growing up and still in school from BBC Radio 1 mixes, and a lot of that sparked my interest in mixing. It wasn’t until I was 18 and out in Canberra that I finally saw a woman DJ-ing and was like “right, I’m working this DJ-ing thing out for real”. I spent essentially all of my savings on a really basic set of decks and with some guidance slowly learned how it all worked. I spent the summer after graduating high school unemployed and inside teaching myself how to mix. About 6 months later started sending my first mix to promoters in the city. When I was 19 I started a party called #GRLPWR with two other women – we’d just play all night in a small dive bar but we’d bring glitter and dress the place up pretty ridiculously.
You run your own show called Pure Space on FBi Radio, how would you describe this show to people who haven’t listened in before?
Anything from twisted techno, electro-static, and spacey broken beats but not always what you’d expect from me in the club… The show allows me to delve into some more obscure sounds and releases which I really enjoy. Keep your eyes peeled too, we’re launching Pure Space as a label really soon! I love all the music I am working with on for this project so much – it’s very exciting!
The time you spent in Europe saw you play at venues such as Ohm in Berlin and even had a mix on Rinse FM. Are you trying to crack into the European scene a little bit more and potentially even relocate there? Or do you still have your eyes firmly set on conquering Australia?
I actually just signed with an agency based in both the UK and Europe called FMLY Agency. I’m going to be doing my first full tour through September and October this year. I’m so excited! I’ve spent the last three years making the trip over to dip my toes into opportunities that arise over there so to have the support of an agency is massive! I absolutely can’t wait!
There may come a time that it makes more sense to be over there, at least for some of the year, but I really do have so much going on in Australia that I would really struggle to leave forever. I have an amazing set of friends, a pretty good work/life balance and so many projects here that I love like NECTAR, Pure Space, FBi Radio, Triple J… So who knows, really!
Your original productions are so well crafted. Particularly your most recent release on Lobster Theremin which delves into genres such as acid, electro, and breakbeat. What’s your creative process like when writing music? Are you exclusively a hardware or software producer?
Well, thanks! Those tracks were made over a period of about two years. I was learning a lot about myself in that time so it was a very explorative process – trying out new techniques and ideas and just seeing how they ended up. I do use both software and hardware units when making music.
For the Lobster release, I was quite surprised about some of the tracks that ended up on the record. I really trust the team at Lobster so I’m glad it is the way it is. I actually have another release coming on one of their sub-labels soon(ish)!
Is the issue of gender imbalance within the music industry a totally oversaturated and tired discussion, or is it something that we still need to be consciously talking about?
The battle will be lost if it’s forgotten already! Some Australian festival line-ups are still barely 20-30% women so there’s a way to go. The situation is actually much worse in Europe and America. The conversations over there feel less prominent in the media. So yes, if you’re passionate about it the work is far from done!
You’re playing at Pitch Music and Arts in 2019! What can we expect from your upcoming set?
I’ll be playing twice actually! Once on the main stage and then at the Boiler Room stage, both on Friday night so it’s going to be pretty massive! I love an Aussie bush doof as the crowds can be more open-minded, so expect me to flip it in a lot of different directions. Techno, electro, trance, breakbeat… I never plan my sets so I can’t be too specific.
Catch Andy Garvey at Pitch Music and Arts 2019.