INTERVIEW: Meanwhile

meanwhileCurrently in the middle of supporting La Roux on their UK and European Tour Meanwhile’s Tom Andrews has been making waves with his perfect fusion of 80’s synth pop and cinematic influences.

Describing himself a singer, producer and film composer earlier glimpses of Meanwhile alluded to daring young talent with songs such as ‘Bigger City’ and ‘Luvletta’ revealed an electrifying falsetto and other worldly sound and vibe.

His debut E.P ‘The Element Yes’ which will be released on the 1st December 2014 has been depicted as a coming of age record shedding some light on some of Meanwhile’s more turbulent years. Gigging NI’s Aine Cronin-McCartney managed to catch up with him just before his show with La Roux at the Limelight on Wednesday 19th of November.

Who have been the artists/bands or people that inspired you to become involved with music?

“Mainly film music and composers, actually. Tim Burton in particular and a composer he usually worked with called Danny Elfman, it was actually him that originally made me want to become involved with music.”

You have said before that at a younger age you became transfixed with Danny Elfman how much of his influence can we hear in your work now?
“Directly and indirectly all of it really. The original thing that inspired me about was not just the music but the way he manages to get out of and evoke the same emotion that Tim Burton was trying portray with his visuals. I think that whenever you see that in films and that marriage is perfect you get something powerful for the viewer and the listener it’s just one of the most powerful things, I think and the idea that you can make something that powerful is what has inspired me.”

Is that something that you are then trying to provoke as an artist that cinema-esque feeling with your music?
“Yes and no. All of the songs to date have been quite personal and quite situational to me.  What I’m trying to do is make, though it might sound silly is trying to make music that best represents the lyrical content of the song so that overall verification of feeling is the most powerful it can be. Rather than just muck about with a song and then write some lyrics afterwards I like it all to be in the same box so it can grab people that way, I think it’s the key to people’s hearts.”

Your moniker Meanwhile has been described as your very colourful alter-ego, how did you come up with the name and how does it represent you as an artist?
“Well in the sense that it is an alter-ego the idea is that Meanwhile there is something else going on at the same time.  It was a tattoo idea originally, I always wanted this tattoo of meanwhile I didn’t end up getting because I called my project it. Having struggled with anxiety and depression it was a reminder that there was always something else to worry about, something that else that made whatever I was feeling completely irrelevant.”

M8Your music has been described as other worldly and you have been compared to artists such as Bowie and Price, how do you feel being compared to artists such as these and how would you yourself describe your music?
“I’m not going to complain about being compared to those artists; I love both if those artists. I know that I get compared to or my music gets compared to Prince quite a lot but I will say that he is not my main inspiration I don’t think to myself I would love to sound to sound like Prince. I think I’ve got a set of influences that have come together to make a sound that is maybe quite similar Prince.”

“I would describe my music as situational soundtracks and there quite personal. I find it quite difficult to write about something I haven’t experienced because I haven’t felt the emotion, therefore I can’t necessarily make the music. Cinemic – pop but don’t coin me on that.”

What about your own new genre of Film Pop?
“I quite like that, cheers for that.”

You are currently on a UK and European tour along with La Roux, how have you been enjoying the experience and has there been a particular highlight?
“There hasn’t been a particular highlight because every show for us seems to be getting better and better we do have to remember that we are warming up the stage for La Roux so we can’t necessarily go fucking crazy. But it’s amazing, she’s amazing. We were actually good mates before the tour that’s really how it came about not usual the political channels as such. But in that sense it’s easy because were all mates, she’ll have a moan at me about something and I’ll do the same back.”

You recently headlined your own show at the Sebright Arms on the 27th October how different is it for you headlining your own show compared with being a support?
“It’s quite different, I think it’s important to remember like I said that you’re warming up the stage for someone else, I don’t have the responsibility to sell tickets for this like Ellie does but I do have the responsibility to make sure the crowd is in the right frame of mind before she comes out. Which is different to my own show because then it is my responsibility to sell the tickets and engage with the audience. But I don’t necessarily prefer one or the other because I just love to be in stage.”

You have written and produced a lot of your work in your bedroom, how different is it for you to then perform in front of large crowds?
“It’s very different but the idea behind the alter-ego aspect of it is that I can do it, it’s alright because it’s not who I am in my personal life. It gives me the opportunity to prance around the stage like an asshole I feel like I’m kind of invincible when I’m stage.”

M1You have described yourself as a singer; producer and a film producer how different are each if these roles and which one do you enjoy the most?
“The thing I find easiest is seeing a picture and be able to play how I think that it should sound that’s the kinda of easiest thing for me so in that sense I would say the film composing element but I feel like that confines it to an area when you say I’m a film composer. I like imagining a picture or a situation and dreaming up what the soundtrack should sound like. There not really separate things but all one in the same, you access different tools to do it but they all come from the same thing so in that sense there isn’t one that I necessarily prefer.”

Your debut E.P ‘The Element Yes’ will be released through Fiction on the 1st of December what can people (particularly those who have never heard of you) expect from it?
“Me moaning about people I don’t like. No, I describe it as a bit of a coming of age lyrically it’s about me growing up and moving on with my life that’s what I tried to get out of the music side of it. It’s quite happy and youthful in that sense then at the same time there is a serious undertone which is where I would like to go with it. I guess more simply it’s quite eighties-esque, bombastic pop music is how I would describe it.”

You have named your E.P ‘The Element Yes’ what was the idea behind the title?
“It’s the idea that being positive and being in this process of growing up that am in you can draw things to you and essentially saying yes to things becomes as much of a building block for the things around you than any other element. I like to live my life by not just not saying no but trying to make a positive of a negative and I feel like a lot of good situations I have found myself in has come about by seeing the wood through the tree’s sometimes and remaining positive.”

What can expect from Meanwhile in 2015?
A hell of a lot of incredible live shows, a lot more music, yeah were going to tear it up we’ll be back in Ireland for sure. Definitely going to hit the festival circuit, going to record my second album and obviously release my first. I finished my first album over a year ago so you will be definitely hearing that. I have a bank of stuff ready to roll out in the coming year.”

Meanwhile’s ‘The Element Yes’ is out now.