UPDATE: Andreas passed away on the 31st of August 2016 with his battle with cancer. We will continue to remember Andreas and his gift of music. We shared a few words here. – Monique
It’s said that music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life, encircling a fluid state of fixation between the spiritual and the necessary. For Melbourne musician Andreas Florez, creating music was a calling that had struck him since his earliest high school years, where he spent hours by himself self-learning guitar, an obsession that rapidly bled into his teen years. Bookmarking the vocal and performance styles of bedroom idols Freddie Mercury, Axl Rose and Marvin Gaye, Florez found himself embroiled in a passionate love affair with piano; building his skill-set towards playing with The People. Alongside the connections, Florez soon found himself infatuated in the styles of Australia’s guitar-funk artist Harts, joining in the artists’ features as an arranger, mixer and producer. From playing in Harts’ band to ultimately breaking-off and focusing on writing his own music, Delusions of Grandeur was the ultimate lovechild between Florez and his self-discovery; exaggerating what he notes as the “impression of one’s importance“.
Between 2011 and 2015, this “importance” was recorded and pulled apart at Harts’ home studio, Florez working in warm sax work and rich guitars from guest musicians Alexi Florez and Robert Simone, alongside trademark guitar solos from Harts himself. Lyrically, Delusions Of Grandeur is a time bomb of a release: dark and foreboding, swirling around themes including untimely death, slow depression and the associated byproducts that these emotions can boil. Shadowed by Florez’ diagnosed leukaemia, there’s a thick, blunt edge to suddenly facing the EP’s omnipotent gaze on mortality; permeating ideals and relationships as temporary. Through this graze, Florez holds onto light swiftly and powerfully, constantly questioning that this realisation is not necessarily a bad thing. By stark reality and feverish breakdowns, the EP works by tightening it’s grip – albeit quickly – to the burning seeds of eternal love, creative restlessness and strength in failing to succeed. Setting to discuss these properties, Andreas Florez discusses the working process of recording the EP, from the hindsight of his supporters to the themes that run true to his artistry.
How does the EP making process begin for you?
In front of a piano. All my songs are written acoustically on piano and from there I take them to a producer to flesh them out. The songs were written between 2011 and 2015.
What were the driving forces behind Delusions of Grandeur?
There is definitely a concept to the EP. A running theme. Musically, all the songs are written in either one of two keys, G Major 7 or A Major 7 in order to give it an uninterrupted, coherent and uniform feel. Lyrically, the EP delves into some pretty dark themes but it’s far from a depressing record. I don’t like to go into too much detail and deconstruct what each lyric means, but the EP begins with a reversed piano chord. If you were to liken that to someone opening their eyes for the first time, and waking up to themselves, I think the rest of the EP will make a lot more sense.
Where did you record Delusions of Grandeur? Why did you choose that location?
Delusions of Grandeur was recorded at Harts’ home studio. I chose this location because he generously donated his time to make this EP possible, and he is someone who I wanted to collaborate artistically with and learn from for many years now.
You worked with Harts on this EP, how do you feel he contributed?
I came to Harts with literally a handful of songs on the piano which were just chords and lyrics. I had a rough idea in my head of how I envisioned the rest of the instrumentation and arrangement to be, such as certain riffs, interludes and breakdowns. However, Harts put it all together, made them sound full, and suggested elements that I never would’ve considered. Also, besides the piano, keys and synth, every other instrument (except for saxophone and guitar in one song) was performed by Harts. He was a very integral part of the EP to say the least.
Favourite track from Delusions of Grandeur? Did this change throughout the recording process?
I think it would have to be ‘I’d Show You’ for a few reasons. Firstly, it features the amazing sax work of guest musician, Robert Simone. He nailed it. Secondly, it’s lyrically the most personal song on the EP, despite being written in a college-dorm laundry in San Diego, and embodies the concept of the entire EP itself. Many have interpreted the chorus to be about love, or a ‘love song’ in general, and if it is to you, that’s awesome. But to me it’s not. Lastly, it’s the one I was most worried about arrangement and production wise coming into the studio. I didn’t know how to approach it. Do I leave it raw and acoustic, with just vocals and piano? Or do I go all out? In the back of my head I always heard a saxophone fitting well within the mix. In the end, it was Harts who suggested the electric piano and semi-industrial hip-hop drum loop, and it instantly just clicked and sounded right.
What were the challenges you faced while making the EP?
Finding and deciding on a sound for me as an artist. As this is my first proper release, there were several ways I could’ve gone stylistically. My inspiration lies heavily in late-Motown and Soul, and the chords I used to write the songs lent itself to make the EP sound potentially retro as hell. However, I also wanted it to sound contemporary so we had to combine some old with the new.
How many different titles were under consideration and what were some of the others?
Surprisingly none. I kind of always liked the ring of it (Delusions of Grandeur), long before I’d even finished writing all the songs. It seemed to describe and sum up what the EP is about quite nicely too.
At what stage of the creation of your EP, did you start considering your cover artwork?
I’ve always loved the look and concept behind William Shatner’s 1968 album ‘The Transformed Man’ and always knew that I was going to base my EP cover off of that. With mine, I also wanted to give off the impression that I looked slightly delusional, and the lighting and expression to signify that of a false God or idol.
The most memorable moment while making Delusions of Grandeur?
Too hard to pick one. Being able to finally collaborate with my cousin, Alexi Florez, who features as a guitarist on ‘All In My Head’, finally hearing songs that I’d had written for years come to life, and also the opportunity to work in this capacity with Harts.
Another surreal moment that was memorable for possibly the wrong reasons but still memorable none the less was the very last day of recording. It was a late afternoon session in early March and we just finished laying down the sax parts, the last thing we had left to record. I felt unusually tired as I had throughout the entire recording process, especially during my vocal recordings, where I’d have to sit down between takes cause I felt dizzy and light-headed. Anyway, I remember Robert laying down his last sax part and happily thinking “It’s all here. It’s done”, and then saying goodbye and thanking Darren (Harts) and Robert for their time before driving off into a gloomy yet beautiful sunset as there had been a thunderstorm earlier on. I felt unbelievably proud with what we had achieved, but ultimately exhausted. The very next day I got a blood test that determined I had Leukemia and I had to go to hospital straight away. But thankfully everything had been recorded by then. Talk about timing!
If you could describe Delusions of Grandeur in three words, how would you describe it?
Open to interpretation.