Ethereal, unique and original: the three words that encompass the sound that Mexican hailing singer, songwriter and producer Andrea Balency is pioneering. From classical beginnings to the sound she is now fronting, her music is as diverse as the countries she has lived in – Paris, Argentina, Mexico, New York and her current home and favourite, London. Whilst her peers aged twelve were requesting Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys at birthday parties, Balency’s composer of choice was Scarlatti; and even now she does things the unconventional way, improvising, recording and paying a whole lot of attention to the details in her production.
Having sparked comparisons to the likes of FKA Twigs, Balency is one to watch and having told us exclusively that she is working on her next EP at the moment, we’re expecting big things. We caught up with Andrea over a cup of coffee in Hackney Wick to find out more…
What did you grow up listening to? You’re classical piano trained aren’t you?
Andrea Balency: Yeah I am. It was basically classical music, there was this album in particular that I really loved. It was baroque classical music by a composer named Scarlatti that was my favourite. There’s a really funny story actually which my mum told me, when I was about twelve in Mexico I had all my new friends over and everyone was playing their music until they were like: “oh Andrea, your turn!” They had been playing like Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys and I started playing Scarlatti. Obviously they were like: “What is she doing?!”. It was my favourite!
And when did you start playing the piano?
Andrea: When I was five.
And when did you realise that you wanted to sing and perform?
Andrea: After finishing school I moved to Argentina. I wanted to go somewhere new, I was only supposed to go for three months but I stayed two years. One of my friends there was a singer/songwriter and showed me that world. It made me realise that it wasn’t that hard. To me composing a piece in classical music is a huge thing and for them it was just so easy. They would do it in a couple of days, then play anywhere and everywhere. It was really inspiring for me, so that’s when I started singing and writing music.
Didn’t James Blake pick you as one of his supporting acts, when was that?
Andrea: Yeah, I supported James Blake in Mexico. Yeah that was two years ago and now I collaborate with his guitarist. We’ve produced music together and hopefully he’ll produce my next CD so that is pretty exciting.
You also supported The Cure, how was that?
Andrea: Yeah it was their closing show for their tour, that was crazy. That was the craziest gig I’ve ever done because it was in a huge stadium and no there were about 50,000 people there. I never imagined it would be like that, it was exciting.
W: So how would you personally describe the music that you’re producing? Some people have termed you indie-electonica…
Andrea: I have so many influences so it’s really hard to label the music. Also what does electronic music even mean it’s different for everyone. Indie is as well. Maybe alternative-electronica or something like that. It’s just music…
So what’s the inspiration behind your track ‘You’re Never Alone’?
Andrea: Well it speaks about a relationship I was in, it was kind of a letter to the guy I was with, just saying: “I’m gonna go but now, you’re going to have to figure out things by yourself and you’ll be okay”. It’s affectionate not angry or anything.
And what’s the process like when making your music because obviously there’s so many different sounds and different paces…
Andrea: Sometimes I start with a concept or an idea that I want to express or sometimes I’ll just be improvising and think “oh, that’s cool”, then I’ll work on that. It can start with a beat, whatever , but but usually I’ll start by improvising and recording everything that I’m doing slowly, very slowly because I love detail. I pay so much attention to detail and I spend so much time sculpting my music as if it’s a sculpture…
You can tell then you pay so much attention to detail, your work is so intricate…
Andrea: Yeah, I slowly structure the songs. I don’t just write the song, then put music under the vocals, I like slowly building the song so the structures are a bit weird. I’ve tried doing it the other way, but I can’t!
What about collaborations, are there any that you would love to do?
Andrea: Wow, I don’t know. I think I have my dream collaborations right now, because for me it’s not about working with my favourite artists because if there’s no trust, there’s nothing. For me the ideal collaborations are with people that I can trust completely, the songs are like my babies, you don’t just give them to anybody. So yeah finding that person is really hard, really really hard.
That’s so true. Are there any emerging artists at the minute that you’re backing?
Andrea: I really love this Alex Cameron, he’s amazing, he’s from Australia but he was in London for three months and he’s actually one of Kai from Mount Kimbie’s best friends. I met him while he was here and I saw his show four times and once in Paris. It was so good.
You’ve lived in Paris, New York, Argentina, London and obviously Mexico, London, which is your favourite?
Andrea: They’re all amazing places, but London for me is the best because I feel so inspired here. Creatively there’s always something pushing you forward, an energy or something that makes you avant garde, in front of the movement.
What would kind of your perfect day in London consist of when you’re not working?
Andrea: There are many things I love to do in London but I got a bike recently, so just cycling to somewhere new, exploring, eating and drinking.
I seem to just eat my way around London!
Andrea: You should recommend me some places, I’m still discovering!
Okay last question, what does the rest of 2014 hold for you?
Andrea: This is very new private information that I’m going to tell you…
Andrea: I’m working on a second EP right now and finishing it at the moment, and I’m super excited. It should come out in October and I’m doing the artwork with an artist called Marilyn Baker, she’s amazing.
Can we expect more of the same kind of sound?
Andrea: No, it’s pretty different because for the first EP, the songs were finished two years ago and a lot can happen in two years. I never took singing lessons, so since the first EP I’ve learned how to sing and how to use my voice. It’s much deeper now and the music is a bit more masculine, a bit stronger. I’m really excited.
Catch Andrea Balency at the following venues:
29/09 Birmingham @ Hare & Hounds
30/09 Brighton @ The Hope
01/10 London @ The Shacklewell Arms
02/10 Edinburgh @ Sneaky Pete’s
03/10 Middlesbrough @ Westgarth Social Club
Words: Brooke McCord