The keytar. We all know it, recognize it, want to be part of it. It’s a powerful tool with ancient 80s roots that have only grown stronger through the years – that’s right, when you thought the keytar had faded away, it was only lying in wait…gaining strength, function, desirability…until today. The charming, powerful relic is alive and well in the hands of our latest feature, NYC-based genre bender Andrew Feyer. Better known simply as Feyer, this multi-faceted artist is making waves at the young age of 23 – though the ambitious Feyer feels he’s behind his potential – and he might be right. The electronic pop rocker is certainly one of those players with unlimited ceiling, as you can hear on his latest record, Signals Internalized.
We asked Feyer to tell us more about the new music – he said, “Each song gets written and produced differently, but it all starts in my head and makes its way to my laptop. However, sometimes through the recording process, the compositions of the songs can come out as something very different than what they started. With this album, my fans can definitely expect a lot of things. For one, the album is multi-dimensional. I love the idea of blending genres and am trying hard not to seem repetitive…I’m also trying to stray away from the concept of ‘target audience’ because I believe that people in general are very complex, and are able to enjoy different music in different occasions. I want to provide an experience where different groups of people can come together regardless of who they are just to enjoy music.” Click to http://www.feyermusic.com to check out Signals Internalized – it just landed last month. And if you’re in the NYC area, hit up a show! There’s a friggin’ keytar there! Now, keep reading. There’s still so much more to dive into in all the answers to the XXQs below.
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Known as a genre bender, how would you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from others in your genre?
Feyer: I don’t try to think in terms of genre. To me, genre is such a limiting concept. I think more in terms of particular arrangements, instruments, sounds and song structure. But I’d say my sound comes together in a combination of electronic, pop, and rock. I feel like we’re entering a period in music where the lines of genre are becoming blurred, and we have rock bands incorporating electronics into their sound, and electronic artists incorporating live instruments into their setup. I do the same, but what I believe makes me different is my tendency to add a personal lyric narrative, and my friends describe my vocal style as “unconventionally and unintentionally theatrical.” I suppose I have a lot of Broadway and musical theater in me that I was not even aware of until my songs are recorded and presented. Another thing I’m a big fan of doing, that I don’t see much of anymore, is performing live with a keytar. You’re probably thinking, “a keytar? That’s so 1980s.” And my response to that is, “yes, and it’s awesome! So why should it stay in the 80s?” Cool instruments should not be restricted to a time period.
PEV: Calling New York home, what kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
Feyer: My parents introduced me to many obscure folk artists that I was into at a young age, and also many classical composers. You know, the greats: Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. But when I was 11 or 12 I started getting really into classic rock bands. While most kids those days were listening to Rihanna, Akon and Panic! At the Disco (no shade to those artists by the way), me and my friends were obsessing over Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and Queen. We wished we were alive in the 70s and 80s to experience those legends while they were putting out their most famous material. I grew up in a small suburb outside of NYC, so I wasn’t as exposed to as many indie bands as my friends living directly in the city were, at least until I got to college. I also didn’t go to many concerts until I got to college. In high school, while many of my friends would go to whole slews of concerts, I would stay at home, either because I needed to study for classes, tickets were sold out, my parents thought it was a bad idea to go, or my anxiety of large crowds got in the way. However, I found myself at a college that hosted multiple concerts every weekend, so my fear of large crowds dissipated, and I actually grew to love the feeling of them. All the while, my friends got me into both indie rock bands and EDM DJs, whom I’ve grown to love as much as the classic rock bands. My first big concert was spending all three days at Governor’s Ball 2014, some of the best three days of my life.
Feyer: It was tricky. New York is one of the hardest cities to get started in. It’s insanely competitive, and not for the faint of heart. Most musicians in New York want to achieve great levels of success, but there are only so many slots. In NYC, there are more music venues than any other city in the country, but since everyone wants to play there, all of the venues get flooded with hundreds of emails daily, all from hopeful artists and bands. I noticed a strong contrast playing in Manhattan versus playing in Brooklyn. In Manhattan, shows often result in venues booking several bands per night that have nothing to do with each other. Those venues don’t seem to care what style of music it is. They care mostly about the band’s draw. If a band can’t draw at least 30 people, the venue will not be happy. Such a case is especially difficult for solo artists. In Brooklyn, the scene appears to be less about draw, and more about putting on great shows with similar, well-respected indie artists. That scene is also hard to break into because it can be cliquey, and some shows become almost too focused on the indie aesthetic. My first show was an acoustic set at Caffe Vivaldi in the West Village. Soon after that, I dropped playing acoustic sets in favor of more elaborate, electronic sets. I broke ground in 2015 by playing Leftfield Bar, Pianos, Fat Baby, and the Delancey. Mostly, it was friends and family in the audience. I continued my venue journey in 2016-2017 by landing shows at Arlene’s Grocery and The Bitter End, as well as expanding out into Brooklyn and playing the Knitting Factory.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Feyer show?
Feyer: As I said, the keytar! I have various setups depending on the show. For bigger shows, I perform live with a band, and we’re synced to pre-recorded backing tracks. When my band is not available, I perform solo with my backing tracks, almost like a karaoke DJ set that I sing along to, but play instruments on top of it. Each show is full of surprises, and I try to mix it up, otherwise I’d get bored with my own set. I also try to incorporate visual elements such as projections or some sort of light show. I have some friends helping me with that.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?
Feyer: My first thoughts are “oh my God, is my setup too big? I have so many things to plug in? Why is this taking so long? Where are my cables? Does my keytar have batteries? Is my computer gonna freeze? Why am I worried about all this technical stuff when I could just focus on the performance?” Then when the music starts, I think, this is where I’m gonna be for the next hour. I better give it my all.
PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?
Feyer: The feeling when I see a visible reaction to my music, and knowing that my music is having an effect on people. It creates a certain energy and vibe that raises the bar and makes the experience not about me, but about the music.
PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music?
Feyer: Combining all of my musical training, interests, and experience into one concise package, and creating art to describe overcoming experiences with depression and anxiety. Like many artists, I’ve struggled with mental health issues for most of my life, and music is my best form of therapy.
PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
Feyer: I often wished I got started sooner. I’m 23 now, but I see artists making moves as early as 15 or 16 years old. When I was 16, I was playing in various bands with friends from high school. I played drums and sang in one, and played bass in another. I was simply a band member, and a person who took lessons on various instruments. I had hopes and dreams to start my own solo project. But to be honest, I probably wasn’t ready to take music on as a legitimate career. I was still trying to manage schoolwork, and had no clue about how competitive the industry was. I think waiting until I finished high school and college gave me the time I needed to develop. It was in college that I finally got a grasp on the recording and production aspect of music and learned how to do much of it myself. Now, as I continue to develop as an artist, I am also learning the ropes of the business side of music. The more I learn about all aspects, the more I’m able to apply to my project.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
Feyer: I once broke six bones in my foot just from falling off a razor scooter, and had to have extensive surgery for six hours. I wasn’t able to walk without crutches for three months. That mishap actually inspired some songs on my album. Moral of the story; don’t ride razor scooters!
PEV: What happens when you hit a brick wall when writing? What are your methods to get over it?
Feyer: Generally I need to take a break from my own music and listen some of my favorite music, or music I’ve never heard before. From listening to old and new music, I will find new inspiration for my own music. I try to keep my ideas original but draw influence from successful acts in each genre, style and scene. Thank goodness for Spotify playlists!
PEV: How do you think the industry has changed since you first started out?
Feyer: It’s definitely much more driven and influenced by the internet. As a result, we have a lot more music being released, and at times the market can feel oversaturated. To truly gain success, you have to have something special or unique that no other artist has. Artists have found success in ways we couldn’t imagine until recently, through the concept of viral videos and internet memes. Without the viral video phenomenon, would we have known about “Gangnam Style” or “What Does the Fox Say?” If you can turn yourself into some sort of meme, and that meme gets passed along from one person to another, until it spirals out of control, you will find yourself achieving recognition.
PEV: What can fans expect from your debut album, Signals Internalized? What was the writing process like for this work?
Feyer: Each song gets written and produced differently, but it all starts in my head and makes its way to my laptop. However, sometimes through the recording process, the compositions of the songs can come out as something very different than what they started. With this album, my fans can definitely expect a lot of things. For one, the album is multi-dimensional. I love the idea of blending genres and am trying hard not to seem repetitive. Sometimes artists can fall into this trap where they become too focused on trying to appeal to a target audience. Sure, reaching an audience is important, but the music should always come first. I’m also trying to stray away from the concept of “target audience” because I believe that people in general are very complex, and are able to enjoy different music in different occasions. I want to provide an experience where different groups of people can come together regardless of who they are just to enjoy music. At the moment, I’m not trying to sound like anyone else. I’m simply taking what I’ve learned, observed, and practiced over the years and fuse it into fully produced songs. When you listen to this album, you will notice a couple of things, sometimes noticing something different with each listen. It has been described by music reviewers as a mesh of retro and futuristic, with detailed arrangements, personal narrative lyrics, and moods that vary from song to song.
PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
Feyer: So far, most of my shows have been in the New York area, so any new city will be exciting to play in. If I had to choose just one, it would be a tie between Glastonbury in the UK, or Coachella in California. Those two are landmark festivals for any artist.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
Feyer: For the most part, it’s been nothing but support. I try to keep a good attitude, which will naturally yield support and respect. You get what you give. If you support your friends and their work, naturally they’ll support you.
PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
Feyer: Probably scarfing down Pepperidge Farm cookies while I watch 90s Nickelodeon cartoons, all while contemplating existence. I’ve been accused of thinking too much, but I suppose that’s what a liberal arts education does to you.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?
Feyer: Oh boy, how to decide? For past group, my all-time favorite is Queen. If Freddie Mercury was still alive, I would give my left leg to work with him in the studio and perform with him on stage. I have never seen such a charismatic musician and performer, who could literally play to hundreds of thousands of people like he was performing only to his parents. For current artist, I’d say Grimes, who has been able to take her one-woman DIY show and turn it into an empire, developing a following by staying true to her art and making music she likes, rather than trying hard to appeal to a specific audience. What she has found success doing is what I hope to achieve.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
Feyer: Aside from me (laughing)? Yes, I know many aspiring artists I’ve met through the years, making moves as we speak. There are too many to list, as I could go on for hours telling you about the abundance of artists and bands putting out great music and finally starting to get the recognition they deserve.
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what would you do for a career?
Feyer: Probably something else involving entertainment, such as working in the film or TV industry. I would still try to find a way to incorporate music into it though, whether it be management, booking, publicity, etc. I could never imagine myself in a non-creative field. Lawyer? Doctor? Politician? Banker? Forget about it! Unless I could sing all the way through it.
PEV: So, what is next for Feyer?
Feyer: I have some more shows coming up, as well as some new music video and single features! Be on the lookout for those, and expect some sort of tour this coming summer!
For more information, click to http://www.feyermusic.com/.