Interview with Andi Hoffmann
I had the honor and pleasure to interview Andi Hoffmann. Andi and his group B-GOES have just released a new CD titled "Basil For Nino". Andi talks about his music, the new CD, his life and more. Andi answered all the questions very intelligently with thought and expressiveness, very much in the way he expresses himself through his music. I hope you find it as interesting and informative as I did. Enjoy!
[MuzikMan] What are the groups feelings on the new CD? Does everyone feel that the group
has evolved as individual musicians and as a group?
[Andi] "Basil for Nino " is my fourth CD but it is the first CD with my current band. This is also the first CD I produced and engineered myself and recorded it in my own studio. For all my previous CD's, all the band members would meet in a studio either in Europe or in the US and we would have fourteen days to record a whole album. This was usually very intense and beautiful but also stressful at times. This time we all had as much time as we wanted and the result is a more relaxed CD. Every musician is happy with his/her performance since they could work on it until they were satisfied. We also played gigs during the recording process and this combination helped us to grow as a group.
[MuzikMan] What does B-GOES mean?
[Andi] Well Keith, this is the trickiest of all the questions....here are a few clues.... it's B goes and not A goes...but basically I released tapes and vinyl 7" singles in the 80's and the band name would always change....e.g. B goes north...or B goes to Paris....once I started to get radio airplay I had to stick with something.....so I kept B-Goes. In 96' I changed the band name to Andi Hoffmann & B-Goes.
[MuzikMan] Andi, what was it like living over in Europe as compared to the U.S.? Your perspective personally and as an artist?
[Andi] It probably would make my life easier if I could answer this question in a few sentences. Let's start with the easy part of your question: If you play a gig in Switzerland, people listen carefully and are very attentive during the whole show, they ask for encores if they like the show, but after the show, nobody dares to talk to you! Over here, people hang out and talk during a show, but after the show they come and talk to you and let you know, how they like it...where ever I play in the US, I get to hang out with the people who live there!
Comparing your home country with the country of your choice is probably a part of every immigrants daily life. I realized, that I can only compare New Orleans to Switzerland. As much as New Orleans is different from the rest of the US, Switzerland is different from the rest of Europe. Switzerland is much smaller, narrower and people are more closed. Change is slow, everything is well organized and regulated, which can easily block your creativity as an artist. There is something unreal about Switzerland, you can't really touch it......where as New Orleans is full of emotions, chaos, vibrations and daily struggle to survive, it's hot, it's humid and you basically live in a city in the middle of the swamp. I'm glad to experience that, I had to learn to find security in myself, and not in a system which will constantly support you. There is another big difference in life style: It is much easier over here to meet people..but the contact between people is less deep. It might take a longer, until a European talks to you, but conversations are usually more personal.....well, I guess here it's something I miss!
[MuzikMan] Who do you site as an influence? Any particular inspiration derived from one
group or artist?
[Andi] Daniel Lanois has been a wonderful inspiration to me. I adore his ability as a producer to brake rules make the impossible sound just right! Another great influence is Elvis Costello and his songwriting. Basically I listen to a variety of music from Bjork to the Wallflowers.
[MuzikMan] What genre would you say the group falls under? Jazz, Blues, Rock? Or a
combination of all? If you had to choose a genre (like I have to!) , which one?
[Andi] It is the hardest thing for me to label my music. These days people call it roots rock or Americana...I call it multi cultural roots rock.
[MuzikMan] What do you think of Degyshop and what they are doing for Independent Artists
via the Internet?
[Andi] I think the Internet is the future for an independent artist. But even though I call myself independent artist, I can't do it all. That's where Degyshop steps in and they do a great job, not just by setting up a web site for you but also by regularly keeping you updated with other possibilities to promote your music!
[MuzikMan] Do you read many Zines online? Are you looking for reviews of your music when
you browse the net? Or do you look at entirely different subjects? Or both?
[Andi] I hardly have time to read online zines, but I just got another computer which makes my access about 10 times faster!!I moved from computer stoneage to the 20th century....great! For me the Internet is a very useful tool to find valuable information. I can find a rare homeopathic remedy or an address of a club, it's all there...and of course I do try to find reviews of my CD's!I also got a great response to having our own web site. People get in touch with us, ask questions and buy CD's.
[MuzikMan] Do you really enjoy the process of creating the music from start to finish? i.e..
writing, recording, editing, producing? Can it be drudgery at times? If so, what aspects?
[Andi] I love the process of creating everything from start to finish! Sometimes you get lost or you spend a lot of time with a song before you realize that you better toss it but you always find you way out and every time that happens you learn an awful lot. I am also in the lucky position that my musicians are very supportive and spend a lot of time on every project With 'Basil for Nino" I gave up some studio technology and traded it against control over creativity and the result is a CD which is much closer to me and my personality.
[MuzikMan] What music do you and other group members listen to while relaxing at home or on the road?
[Andi] The band members all have a different taste, but they all share an impressive knowledge of songs!
[MuzikMan] Do you have any hobbies or interest that you are passionate about as music?
[Andi] I love reading.
[MuzikMan] Did you ever think about going back to Switzernland?
[Andi] .I will go back for three weeks in March for an extensive tour to promote the CD release but I don't feel like going back to Switzerland and live there. Life moves on.
[MuzikMan] Do you feel the people involved in Independent Music such as producers, labels,
publications are as liberal and open minded as the artists are?
[Andi] I try to look for open minded people and I find them among artists and among industry people. But since $ and open mindedness don't always go together, I think it's probably easier for an artist to be open minded and I have great respect for people in any industry who stay true to their original ideas, stay adventurers and believe in the impossible!
[MuzikMan] Once you finish recording a CD you go out on tour, does the group start writing new material immediately or do you wait until the tour is complete?
[Andi] I write all the material in the band. It is a continuous process, sometimes I write being on tour. There was a four year gap between the Dante Street CD and Basil for Nino and I actually have material for another album.
[MuzikMan] What is the dialogue about with man discussing his life?
[Andi] Nino owns his Italian Cafe around the corner from where I live. Every week I bring him a pound of basil from my community garden plot ........ Basil for Nino ... one day he told me his immigration story. Being an immigrant myself, I was fascinated by his story.
[MuzikMan] What are you trying to convey on the track with the rain? Any special
meaning or just for the effects?
[Andi] Louisiana rain...it's part of life down here, it's special...and it's calming ... finally the rain! I never liked rain in Switzerland. Every bit of sunshine used to be an event ....... I love the rain in New Orleans ......put the CD on in the evening and by the time you got through the twenty minutes of rain you might be sound asleep!
[MuzikMan] Any final thoughts or comments from you or the group Andi?
[Andi] Thanks Keith, your questions were very interesting.