Every Monday we will be bringing you an unsigned singer or band as part of our Independent Music Monday feature. This week, we caught up with Andy Mort find out more about Atlum Schema…
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I’m Andy, I’m from Leamington Spa in the middle of the UK, and I cannot remember when I first got into music. It’s something I’ve connected with for as long as my memory serves. My first love was drums, and I would find anything that resembled a kit that I could hit and make rhythms from. I was apparently also into avant garde jazz when I was two or three. As a result my great uncle made a mixtape for me at that age.
I’ve been writing and recording songs since I was 8 or 9. I mean, they were not good songs. I remember taking a recording of a song I had written into school when I was 8, and the teacher played it to the whole class. It was a moment of sheer triumph as well as terror. I kind of just wanted her to listen to it on her own without sharing it with everyone else. But I guess it did do my little kiddie street cred a bit of good.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
I listened to anything and everything growing up. I collected all the NOW compilations, and was into pop music. But I was also really drawn towards music outside of the mainstream, and fascinated by the creative processes of artists who were more interested in exploring ideas than producing hits. The biggest influence in the formation of my own music voice was Radiohead. I will never forget the moment I first heard OK Computer. It opened up all kinds of potential for me. I have always connected to the use of music to express deep emotions, and it was the most intense experience of that I had ever had.
My influences now continue to be very wide ranging. In fact they’re not just musical. I am inspired by all sorts of things. The art and film making of David Lynch and Werner Herzog really impact my writing. And situations that I see unfolding in the world around me are hugely influential. I find myself responding instinctively to this stuff and creating music as a way of processing how I react to it all. I’ve never been massively directly influenced by other musicians and songwriters in terms of attempting to emulate or align with them. Obviously I am influenced in subtle ways, but it’s never at the forefront of my mind, if that makes sense?
How would you describe your sound?
Ummm, post-pop political alternative?
What is your latest single called and what was the influence behind it?
It’s called Best Days, and it was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend whose wife has terminal cancer and is now living on borrowed time. It sounds very morbid, and on one level it fills me with deep sadness to think about, but it was a really life-giving conversation that made me realise that every moment we have is a gift and we have the choice about how we’re going to interact with it. I’m always inspired by those kinds of deep thoughts, which some might like to stay away from, but for me I find they provoke really important insights that can help us live in more meaningful ways.
What’s your local music scene like?
It’s OK. Lots of amazing musicians. Not quite as much going on as they merit though. I guess it’s the same in a lot of areas right now. The live music landscape is changing a lot in the wake of the internet and home entertainment.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
I’m releasing the new EP in October and then the plan is to play a few gigs, and get back to writing and recording new material. I am being a lot more consistently creative with my songwriting at the moment, and I’m committed to my community to keep showing up and sharing new works in progress and to keep experimenting. There’s honestly no shortage of inspiration right now. As someone who is influenced and activated by the events going on in the world, I’m like a kid in a sweet shop at the moment.
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
Loads of people… but I think I would be too awestruck to do anything good. I’ll keep it secret for now though if that’s OK? ;-)
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
I don’t know if it’s funny, but one story I sometimes remember is when I supported Two Door Cinema Club. It was about 3 months before they broke big, and I played with them in Southampton to a room of approximately 7 people. That included my friend, their manager, and the bar staff. To this day I’m not sure what happened between that show and the next time they came to town when they sold out an arena. Baffling. I have a history of supporting bands before they broke big. It happened with The Enemy and Noah and the Whale as well. I guess I must have the magic touch… for them at least.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
Haha what a hard question to answer. As an introvert my initial response is, "nothing really”. But then the fact that I’ve said “as an introvert”, I guess the fact that I’m an introvert, and that it’s OK to be one. A lot of the work I do through my website is encouraging and supporting people who want to be creative in life but feel like they’re not good enough for all sorts of reasons. For many it’s because they’ve been told they’re too quiet or whatever. The truth is, we all struggle and we all have great things inside of us. It’s not where we believe we want to get to that matters, but how we explore the terrain along the way. That’s what I’m doing, and despite the struggles, it’s not something I would change for the world. When I look at everything I’ve created over the years, I feel happy that it reflects the points in my life in really authentic and meaningful ways. Don’t succumb to other peoples’ definitions of success. Define it for yourself and understand why it matters to you like that. That way, you get to call the shots.