INTERVIEW: when the sun hits: BLOG
The Churchhill Garden is the one man band belonging to Andy Jossi. The Churchhill Garden is based in Lucerne, right in the heart of Switzerland. Growing up in time with the best alternative music (late 80’s & early 90’s), Jossi always liked the melancholic sounds of bands like the Cure, Cocteau Twins, Joy Division and later went on to become a big fan of the shoegaze movement. Please do enjoy the interview!
:::THE CHURCHHILL GARDEN:::
How and when was the band formed?
Back in 2009, I did a little session in a practice room (in Lucerne, Switzerland) with a friend of mine. She decided to record the noise on her MAC GarageBand and I thought to myself, “Wow that was easy!” Perhaps I can do this myself at home (since GarageBand is a free app)…this could be the solution to my problem (of not wanting to play “live” on stage – resulting in very few musicians wanting to record with me). Starting out, I had a fixed idea of what I wanted to record and I was not interested in just playing rock music. The first recordings using GarageBand weren’t so good, but it was a lot of fun. As for the band name “The Churchhill Garden” - it has actually been around since the early 90’s, when I organized several gigs (Stereolab, The Catchers, Naked Souls) in my hometown and did some graphic artwork for bands (Naked Souls). Note: The name The Churchhill Garden came to me on a Wedding Present single ("Churchill Gardens, Leeds" was part of the fan address listed on the single) – I just liked the sound of the words. (see image below)
Can you tell us what the band has been working on and what you've got forthcoming in the near future (new releases, tour, etc)?
The Churchhill Garden is just a "for the love of music thing". I don’t have a real goal at all. All my stuff can be downloaded for free. I will just continue to record some new songs and post them on Soundcloud, Facebookor wherever. I do it basically for my own pleasure, but I also enjoying having feedback. In the future, I'd really like to master some songs, for a better sound quality but it depends on my money situation and on my mood. I really hope I could add some more vocals on my songs… that would be my greatest wish for the moment. Touring and live concerts are not an issue for me – because it is not possible for me to tour as a one-man band (I would die a thousand deaths). If I ever do play in front of a crowd, I much prefer to be in the background.
Do you consider your music to be part of the current shoegaze & dream pop scene, or any scene?
Defining one's sound by genre can be tiresome, but do you feel that the band identifies closely with any genre? How do you feel about genres in music, in a general sense?
If you listen to my songs, you'll notice that I have a variety of different songs to sample. If you compare "Noisy Butterfly" with "The Girl with the Crystal Eyes" it sounds a bit like a mixture of new wave, shoegaze and guitar pop. I don’t really care about genres. My songs have a lot of influences because I am a big music fan and have a huge music collection. You will hear this in my songs. I really don’t need to do something very new, or try to be unique. I love those old bands and I think it is nice to hear those influences in my songs. For example – in "Beading be, You Still" the final part definitely sounds like the Wedding Present. Other bands that you will hear in my music that I grew up with include: The Cure, The Chameleons, The Cocteau Twins, but I also love guitar bands like The Smiths, Railway Children, Razorcuts and The Church. Genres are ok as a means to collect some bands/music and file it under one name. Or in the past - to find the right area or box in a record store. It also makes it easier to find new music that has the same feelings. But sometimes it is also better to not think too much about genres… just listen to what you like and it will open new worlds. For me - I collect old ‘77 era punk records, northern soul and early reggae stuff.
What do you think of modern shoegaze/dream pop/psychedelia artists, any favorites?
I think there are a lot of great bands. And since I am a member of the Shoegaze Collective Group on Facebook I explore new bands day by day. I love the Asian stuff like Broken Little Sister, Purple Bloomand Hideka (you should check out Hideka’s bossa nova stuff – great, but very different, plus she’s a very good musician). But I also adore bands like Air Formation, Spotlight Kid, and M83.
What is the most important piece of gear for your sound? Any particular guitars/pedals/amps that you prefer?
When I first started - I was a big fan of F-hole guitars and I used a very beautiful and good German guitar DUESENBERG CC. I still like that one, but I got more interested in Fender Jazzmaster and Jaguar sounds. So I start to do some combinations, if I want to produce some noise I’ll use the Fender / if I want to play more "guitar-pop stuff" I’ll use the Duesenberg and Rickenbacher. When I started The Churchhill Garden I was certain that I didn’t want to play “live” so I sold my Fender twin reverb amp, and most of my pedals. I just wanted to record music very simply. All of my new stuff is just "Guitar RIG and Logic Pro" and for the drums I use Superior Drummer. It took me ages to create a customized new sound using Guitar RIG. Finally. I am quite happy with the sounds, but I should start to learn to use Logic Pro more professionally, in order to create better recording qualities (because all of my recordings need more volume).
What is your process for recording your music? What gear and/or software do you use? What would you recommend for others?
I am actually not a good guitarist and I am happy the software offers me the possibility to record "takes". If I have an idea for a new song, most of the time, I just record a very short melody. At this point – I don’t have a clue as to how the final song will sound. When I am recording an idea - I am fast, and most of the time I record the song in one Sunday. Then, I just have to add the drums soon thereafter. I can’t sing!! That’s very bad, I wish I could. It is not very easy to find musicians with nice voices nearby. It my hope that my recordings and songs start to attract some of my favorite vocalists to contribute. I will definitely record some other songs with Eva Tresch (you can hear her beautiful voice on “Lost” and “1001 Wee Birds”). I really like her voice. I don’t have to tell her how I want it done. She has a great feeling for it and I am very thankful that she took the time to support me with her lovely voice. There are two other music vocalists that have told me they will sing for me - I hope we will be able to do this!
How do you feel about the state of the music industry today?
There is no doubt a massive change underway; how do you see it and do you feel it’s positive at all?
Basically, for me as a non-commercial home-recording band, the situation is quite good. I could reach people in the whole world. Just a few years ago nobody would take notice off The Churchhill Garden. But now I receive feedback from different places in the world (except my home country Switzerland). I heard that one of my songs was played on a radio station in Lima - it’s amazing. On the other side - when I was younger, we would spend hours in record stores searching for new bands. When we finally found something - it was like the holy grail! We couldn’t wait to listen the whole record at home (I am talking about vinyl, of course!). I remember fondly listening the music and read the lyrics in the booklets. There were some records I purchased just because I liked the artwork this is how I started to collect 4AD records). Now you could just download - what I think is not the same feeling.
When it comes to label releases versus DIY/bandcamp and the like, what is your stance, if any?
I like the way I work. No pressure at all. So, there no need for a label release! BUT!!! For sure it would be nice to record the songs on professional equipment and with people who know what they are doing. Anyway, I think I will continue the DIY thing.
Do you prefer vinyl, CD, cassette tape or mp3 format when listening to music? Do you have any strong feelings toward any of them?
I am a big vinyl fan!! If I can’t find records from a band on vinyl – I will buy mp3 downloads. I definitely stopped buying CDs.
What artists (musicians or otherwise) have most influenced your work?
Well as for bands, for sure it was The Cure. Other bands that touched me when I was younger include a local band called Red Rain Coat, a great Canadian band called A Neon Room and my friends from Prague - The Naked Souls. For guitar playing, it was the Edge (on the Unforgettable Fire album), Robert Smith and Johnny Marr. There were a lot of other bands I think I was influenced by... Close Lobsters, House Martins, Big Country, Wedding Present, The Chameleons, Joy Division, Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, Swans, Fields of the Nephilim...
If you had to choose one track of yours that was the ultimate definition of your sound, which would it be and why?
This is definitely not a easy question. Maybe "The 8th day". This song is only on my website because i should replace my voice. But, I like how the song is growing - for me he's really intensive. But if you like to know more about the person behind The Churchhill Garden then you should listen two songs. Start with "I Hate This Fucking World" and continue with "Yow Mow Go Chor" These two songs were recorded on the same day. I lost sleep and then started to record "I Hate..." - I was angry about what had happened during that day… then my mood turns completely around in the afternoon and I recorded "Yow…”. Two very different feelings in one day - captured in two songs.
Can you tell us a little about the band’s song writing process?
I often use My iPhone to record some melodies so that I will not forget them. Then I begin writing a song using these short ideas. I have many songs I have never posted on my website or on Soundcloud because I am not sure if they are really good enough. There are also a couple of songs that will only work with a voice (I need to find someone to sing vocals). Without a voice, I feel they are boring. When I record, I rarely think of how a voice would work.
Can you tell us a little about what you are currently into (books, films, art, bands, etc)?
At the moment I am reading “Swiss History for Dummies” (no joke) – it is quite interesting and it is amazing how little I remember from school . As for music – my favorite band at the moment is Broken Little Sister and I am listening to some older stuff like Into Paradise.
What is your philosophy (on life), if any, that you live by?
Oh, that is definitely not an easy question. I try to do a balancing act between deep melancholy and an incredible love of life and nature.