Being a full time artist can be exhausting, demoralizing, and detrimental to your health. It’s something that no one ever wants to face, but most artists do at one point or another.
Andy Wilson-Taylor made it through a dark time in his life and came out stronger, wiser, and with a brand new goal: turning an abandoned farmhouse in Southern France into a fully functional destination studio for artists around the world.
Because of Andy’s willingness to learn new skills, never say no, and pure willpower, that conversion is almost complete! His first project in the new studio was his own band, Midgar, whose album Unity was released just a few weeks ago.
Listen now to learn more about Andy Wilson-Taylor of Midgar, and what you can learn from his life and career!
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– Lead Your Children To The Sky
Andy Wilson-Taylor on Instagram
“I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing”
Jason Wilson – Stakeout Studios
Academy of Contemporary Music Guildford
Welcome to episode 84 of the Bandhive Podcast.
It is time for another episode of the Bandhive podcast. My name is James Cross and I'm not here with Matt hose today, unfortunately couldn't make it, but it is for a very good reason.
He's up in Washington with his band alive in Barcelona and they are back in the studio. So keep an eye out for new Alive in Barcelona songs soon. But I'm very pleased to have here Andy Wilson-Taylor of Midgar and Sector Seven Studios, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for joining us, Andy, how are you doing today? Yeah, I'm very good. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you so much for having me. It's nice to be talking to a human being rather than being stuck in the studio working on stuff by myself.
Like I seem to perpetually be doing these days. Well, I'm glad to hear that you're doing well and like I said, thank you for joining us and it is definitely good to be outside the studio bubble for a bit. I definitely feel your pain on that. It is always good to get outside of the bubble and take a step back from music and audio work and have a conversation. I can definitely appreciate that. So let's talk about that. But before we get into it, let's go back in time to about 2000 and eight, which is when you founded Midgar, your band and you took a break for a few years, but now you're back and on june 25th, which at the time this episode airs will be in the past, you'll have released your new album, Unity, Can you tell us a little bit about your story as an artist, both before and during Med Gar, wow.
I mean, how to reduce 13 years into a digestible little story here that I'm not gonna drag it on for ages and ages and ages. So I've been a musician my whole life. I was kind of classically trained in my primary school years and then picked up guitar and drums through secondary school when I realized that that's a bit more exciting than the piano, especially if you're trying to meet girls and stuff. I mean, no one goes to the classical recitals, but they love it when you pick up a guitar.
So, I was really into that in school, So into it, in fact, that I ended up going to music school afterwards where I studied drums and percussion at the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guilford. And I started there in 2006 and I was sat next to a guy who became my best friend at music school and ultimately has become one of the best session drummers like in the U. K. Or in europe. I mean he was on the front cover of Rhythm magazine last year is crazy. He's just been doing the edge here in tour.
Anyway that gives you an idea about how great he was. I had this idea back then that I was going to start a band and he was going to play drums in it because I was like he's so much better than me. I can get away with singing and playing guitar and writing songs and we're gonna do this together. So we started Midgar all the way back then and we spent following kind of four years or so doing like the D. I. Y. Underground circuit tours and you know, I mean toilet venues, I mean sleeping on van floors, like waking up in the gutter in Dundee in december when it's like minus nine degrees outside, I mean just hell.
But the stuff you have to do if you kind of want to make it as a band and we did that for a few years and you know, loved it for the most part, struggled through, released a couple of records and ended up touring with some of our heroes as well, which was just kind of Dream Come True stuff. And we got to around late 2012, early 2013, right around the time the last Midgar album came out, Holographic principle. And it was around that time that my life just kind of fell to pieces.
I think it was kind of maybe the years of kind of doing this touring stuff wears you down. It definitely broke the relationship I was in. And ultimately around kind of easter time 2013, I found myself at the end of this relationship that I thought was going to be the one we want to get married and have kids, and then it was over in a second and I was not equipped to deal with that situation because of all the years I've spent maybe doing music or kind of not focusing myself as a person.
And I just completely went the wrong way with it and spent the next few years not making music at all, because I was too invested in drinking and partying and just being, I guess a tornado of bad decisions and I ruined my voice, like I couldn't sing and it was really terrible and I wasn't being creative. And a few years after that I actually met the girl who would soon become my wife and things took a completely different town after that point. And in the early days of our relationship we had a lot of fun, but she was like, this has to stop the madness and the self destructive stuff, like it has to stop, like I love you, but this sucks, we need to do something about this.
So we ended up leaving the UK and moving to France and buying an old rundown farm house, like a ruin which we spent, you know, a year renovating by ourselves, ended up building a recording studio on the grounds here, which is what I'm in at the moment and I made a promise to myself, the very first thing that I would do once the studio was finished, to the point where I could just occupy, it would be to revisit what I wanted to do for the last decade.
And that's to make another Midgard album. So then I said about beginning that last year, it was a solo effort this time, mostly because of circumstance, you know, with travel restrictions and like Ali is super busy and I would love to make a record with him again. We just didn't get to do it this time. So I did everything here at my studio in France and finished it towards the back half of last year. And now here we are, it's coming out in a couple of days time, and by the time people listen to this, it's going to be out.
And that scares the hell out of me, because it's just been this long, long journey and such a personal process of, kind of, rebuilding my life, and then this album kind of tells that story and it's like, I'm getting my diary of the whole process and I'm just going like, here, read this, it's just such a terrifying prospect to put that all out there. So, it's been a roller coaster, but a journey that I'm really proud to be at this point in right now. Yeah, that definitely sounds like quite the up and down.
And one thing I think that's interesting to me, although I play music and I do audio. I'm not a songwriter and I always see so many songwriters who are they put out their best work when they're down in the dumps and everything is going wrong. And for you, it's the exact opposite when you were having such a tough time, you gave up on music and now that you're doing better. That's when you came back and revisited music to tell those stories, I'd love to go a little bit more down that path and talk about what that experience was, like, looking back on the bad times now that you're having good times, can you go into that a little bit?
Yeah, I mean, obviously was tough in a way to revisit some of those feelings and those emotions because I still feel them really deeply and I think you have to put your entire self into those moments if you're going to draw something creatively from them and you don't want to rile the beast. You know, you don't you don't want to awaken those demons that you've put to bed all that time ago. But I think if ever there was a part of me that hadn't fully dealt with the stuff that I went through over those years writing the songs about it and being creative about it, finally confronted all of those things and gave me closure on them, you know what I mean?
So in a way this is helping it come full circle in that chapter of your life essentially. This is putting it to bed saying, okay, this is me now, I'm good. Is that kinda what you're saying? Yeah, kind of Yeah, yeah. It was all the stories that I was too embarrassed or ashamed to tell while I was going through them and all the things I was too afraid to admit to myself. And it sucks when you're in it, right, and you look at yourself in the mirror and you go like, what am I doing?
Have I become? But you can almost like take a snapshot at that moment and then, like, recall it later and measure yourself against it and go, well, like really come a long way. I value that moment for what it was and there's something to be learned and to be taken from that moment, right at the bottom. And I guess this album confronts what it is to be human and have faults, right? And to accept them and to learn from them and to know that those folks made you who you are and that's okay.
It's totally fine. Yeah, I mean it's a cliche, but no one is perfect. That's just how we are. So I think it's incredibly powerful that you're able to look back and like you said, you know, open up your diary to your audience and put that out there. But you know, it's also with the Van type podcast. I love to dig deep on business topics. So obviously you're releasing new music which is great, but you're also working in a couple different fields, you're doing composition for film and tv advertisements, particularly, you're working with major brands all around the world and as part of that renovation of the farmhouse, you've opened a B and B, which is not a thing right now with the travel restrictions, but it shows really that you have not just the passion for music but also the entrepreneurial spirit.
Another thing is you want to open up your studio and have that be a residential location where people can come work with you and you produce, they're music. So you've got a couple of different things cooking and just to get into that side of things. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started in the composition for film and tv side of things? Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It's something that I never really considered doing, but people have always said like the music you write great in the film, you know, they said that the whole time I was songwriting And it was it was funny enough around that late 2012, early 2013 time period when things just completely broke that I actually started writing music for TV and film, this is the crazy thing.
So I was working a full time job in retail at the same time and I would kind of work through the nights doing music for TV and film and it was because of Midgar that happened. One of our music videos that we recorded in 2010. We had a pretty decent crew on that music video. We were really lucky that we had loads of people working on that and many of those people then went on to go and do amazing things in film and tv one of them I stayed in touch with and she became a producer for some short films and ultimately some Hollywood films.
And she asked me to write the little score for an independent film which had like a Hollywood name in it. It was just like a little short independent thing. No budget. The contract was I was gonna get paid £1 for this score that I wrote. I never got the £1 they never sent it to me. But this film ended up being the thing that I could then use as a portfolio and attract a little bit of attention from people across the United States. And I got an email from a company who based out, well at the time they were Portland only but they became Portland los Angeles in new york.
And then they contacted me saying, we'd love for you to take a run at making some music for some of our projects. And most of their projects are I guess they're feature advertisements for companies like Nike and google and coca cola. Like they get Hollywood directors to do the commercials for them, the kind of things you might see at the Super Bowl, the biggest commercials on the planet. And they were just like, yeah, have a go at doing some of this. I'm like, okay, I don't really know what I'm doing, but I'll try That turned into a career for me and I did that for a few years and it was great.
I loved doing that and I still love doing it. The problem is that it was quite intense working that day job and working that night job and that was one of the things that contributed to me just kind of failing so epically in my life at the time because I guess I was quite a high functioning addict in a way like I loved working and I would focus all my attention towards working because working would give me money and I could spend that money on getting out of my mind, so it was just this cycle of working crazy hard and then also letting off steam in the most destructive way possible because I could afford to and it just drove me into the ground like a meteor, you know, it just it hit so hard and it was that decision to get out of it and to come and do something more practical, maybe something a bit slower paced, you know like renovating a farmhouse where your problems that you have to solve a much more straightforward like I need to plaster this wall and that's like a hands on job and there is a tangible real product at the end of it.
I feel like making something with your hands and taking the time over it and investing some physical I guess energy and some love into what you're building gave me a completely different kind of satisfaction than the one I got from making music doing competitions for tv and film coincidentally it also didn't pay me any money. It was just I was doing this for myself and that was the kind of therapy I needed to like slow my brain down and fix everything like putting the house together. I felt like I was putting parts of myself back together again and it was a nice little bonus at the end of it that what we built was somewhere where we could have holidaymakers come and stay with us and we had a business that we could run ourselves and we owned and would ultimately facilitate a life away from the madness of the city.
You don't have these crazy expensive bills to pay your cost of living. And pace of life is very different and I find my mental health is in a much better place living out here in the countryside than I was doing the rat race thing and just burning the candle at both ends as hard as I possibly could. Absolutely. You know, I live in Vermont which is a very rural state in the US and not even the city in Vermont, I live in the outskirts, I can see two houses from where I'm at and it's amazing, I've lived in the city and I love the city but it's so different.
I totally understand what you're feeling because I'm looking back Yeah, I used to be so stressed and I live in the city now, I'm just like okay, cool, whatever like this is life, this is great and I don't want to go back to the city, I mean I'll visit but I don't want to live there. So I think that makes a huge difference to and I see so many artists, even from Vermont who have decided to say, hey, if we want to make it as an artist, we have to go to the city and I think that it's great that for you, you're saying no, I'm going to set up this business where I can make a living, I can make the art that I want to make, but I don't have to move to a city to do this and you did the exact opposite.
I think that's really great. Yeah, I mean, maybe I accidentally hit upon something which has become really relevant over the last 18 months. I mean, we moved out here in 2018, so None of us saw 2020 coming, you know, but working remotely is such a normal thing. I mean, what we're doing now, talking to one another. I don't think this would have been suggested even in 2018 because it's like you would reach out to your network that's local to you to make this kind of thing happen. Whereas now it's like we have the whole world talking to another via these kind of meetings and It doesn't matter where I am at all.
And that's a really happy coincidence that we did that when we did it. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it would have been nice if people had 2020 vision pun intended. Yeah for sure. But Being set up for that purely by accident is really a lucky thing. Same for me. I was in a city until the end of 2018. So good to be out of there. I have one question for you about the T. V. And film. Not just one but one big one which is when you came back to music now that you're out in southern France in the country, are you still composing for tv and film or is that something that you've moved on from entirely?
I'm still doing it. I'm doing less of it. Not because we're here but because most of the productions that I would normally work on are on skeleton crews. The budgets are slashed. Everybody's kind of experiencing this lack of opportunity to work in the way they used to so bits and bobs here and there. But it's I guess there's another happy coincidence that that's kind of slowed down a little bit while I've had the opportunity to focus on this album campaign because I think I was juggling both those two things.
I didn't know how much work really goes into releasing an album I guess I'd forgotten or things have changed a lot since we last did it. Like it's a lot. I mean the kind of demands of been a content creator as well as being a musician. There's so many more things expected of you these days than there were when I last released a record all that time ago. Not that I'm 100 years old or anything but just I don't know it's gonna make all these Youtube videos and everything and I'm not sure I would successfully juggle that because the deadline is normally for the T. V. Stuff is just like they want it yesterday.
You know it's like here's the email at 4 35 in the morning. We want this back the second you've had your breakfast basically. Let's talk about the process of putting out an album a little bit because I see a lot of artists doing so well with it pushing their album and putting out great content. And then I see a lot of other D. I. Y. Artists who they'll say hey our album's coming out next week and the next week hey the albums out and then you never hear anything again.
And so let's dive in and talk a little bit about everything you're doing to push this album because you are putting a lot of content out there. Can you give us I guess like an a dizzy of what you've been doing to lead up to the release? Yeah, I mean, the music videos is the big one. So I finished creating the record in autumn time last year. And that was when we kind of set up the arrangement with a record label, Year of the Rat Records as well.
And kind of set our timeline rolling for the release and kind of decided what we're gonna do and once we decided the singles and what order they're going to go into James at the label was like, we need music videos for these things. And I'm like, okay, we need music videos, but I mean, I can't pay for them and I don't know what I'm doing, but I didn't tell him that. I was like, yes, okay, yes, we need music videos for these, these songs. So I figured out how to make music videos over the winter, which was a really fun, rewarding and exciting learning process for me as somebody who had absolutely no idea what they were doing beforehand.
So, like, that's been a huge amount of work planning all the shoots and actually delivering them and editing and all that stuff. I mean, each one would take me probably a couple of weeks front to back minimum, and then I guess there's a few other things that I'm doing at the moment, which is, I guess lifting the curtain on some of that behind the scenes process. I'm creating a little bit of like behind the music Youtube series, which is just the little teasers running up to the album, giving people like first looks at different sections of the songs, maybe what the songs mean.
Next week I'm doing behind the music video thing. I go fully in depth and into the detail about how I actually created these music videos because I feel like I've learned all of these things will be really just unkind of me not to share, right, because there's going to be so many people out there also like this, you have this music, they want to release, they wanna make music videos, but they just think it costs crazy money and it doesn't anymore. You can just do it by yourself if you're resourceful enough.
So all of this additional content tells the story of the record and I guess that's what differentiates people these days, is the story behind the record. Because music's everywhere. The value of the music itself sadly is diminished to the point where like everyone's releasing albums that you say, and no one really cares that much. If you have a compelling story about how the album was created, what it means and what you're investing into it yourself, then I think people pay attention a little bit. What I struggle with is the social media stuff because Facebook and Instagram and stuff just unless you're paying to promote the content, it's just really impossible to reach your audience.
I mean, we've got almost 4000 people on them. We've got Facebook page, but I don't think any of them see the content. So it is tough and you have to just consistently post stuff all the time and I'm terrible at that. My wife always tells me off for it. She's like post something every single day. I've got too much to do. I can't think about that. So feedback for myself, that's the thing I need to get better at to make the algorithms happy and and push this stuff out to people, content is king make as much content as you can and give people stuff to consume and they will consume it.
Hopefully, you know, again, I feel your struggle because I always advocate for artists to post on social media daily and I'm terrible posting on social media. But one thing that has helped me a bunch and I hope it will help you is that I just batch content and schedule at all and that is so much easier because I used to just try to post something every day and it never happened. And now matching that content at least doing, you know, three or four days worth at a time has helped so much and then using a scheduling to like publisher or buffer or something like that.
I hope that's something that if you aren't already dabbling with that you can pick that up and make your life a little bit easier. I will look into those apps. Yeah, I use the native scheduling tools for some Facebook stuff, but I really only figured that out like in the last 10 days that makes it easier for me to deliver on this stuff. But then I kind of feel guilty in a way because stuff goes out and I'm not kind of there to respond to stuff, you know what I mean?
Like I sometimes forget the posts going out then I feel kind of detached from it. So I don't know it's it's I think it's difficult either way. So what I like about publisher and buffer, both of them do this is you can first of all scheduled content if it's appropriate for the platform on multiple platforms. So for example, we have little teaser clips for Band five podcasts, there will be one or several of you from this episode that will pull key things you've said and put them on social media and they go out to instagram and facebook and I can schedule them both through publisher or buffer.
I've been using public for a while now but buffers what I used to use and I don't even have to set a time because I have a predefined schedule that it posts on. So I just say for example, at this time every week post something with the tag preview one and then the next day preview too. And so when I go in and I'm scheduling and I just say put this in the next empty preview one slot because that's always going to be the next week that I'm scheduling.
And so it takes all the thought out of scheduling. It it's like as simple as it can be. Whereas on facebook, if you're using their scheduling tools, which are quite useful, you have to think about what time do I want to post this? Like where do I put this in? Whereas with publisher I just look at my analytics to see when people are most online on that specific day of the week and say, okay, this is the time it's going to be and then I set that and then every couple of months I check up on it to see if that's still a good time to post.
But I'm not trying to make this episode about me just trying to share some information that I think will be useful to you and others who are listening. I wish that I got this information from you three months ago. Better late than never. It's super valuable. I'm going to do that. I'm going to do it. Yeah man, I really hope it helps. It's gonna still be a struggle for what you mentioned about not being there when it goes out, but you can always put your push notifications on and do that.
Or if you're like me, my phone is on. Do not disturb almost 24 7. So I get to when I get to it, you know, social media is about being instant. Well, okay, maybe people can wait a couple of hours. It's not the end of the world, in my opinion. Anyway, enough about that, I want to touch on something else you said, which was you didn't know how to do a music video and you said, OK, cool, let's do it. There are so many artists who would have said, no, we don't have the money for that.
We're not going to do that and put up resistance to any suggestions like that. But it seems like you just said, okay, we'll figure this out, like, we'll do it. And having seen some of the videos you've put out, they look professionally produced, it's not A D. I. Y. I mean, it is D. I. Y. You've done it yourself, but it's not the typical D. I. Y. Looks like it was shot on a potato music video. Like, I want to highlight their the fact that you didn't put up resistance to it.
And then when you figured out how to do it, you didn't put in the minimum effort possible, you actually went and learned how to do it and learned what would make it look good, which I have a feeling your experience in the audio world tied into that, because with audio, you know, hey, quality is so important. So when you have that experience in audio, you look at video and say, you know, I have to do this right? Because quality is important. But I think that's a really valuable lesson to learn for artists who don't have that experience.
Perhaps would you be able to share some of the resources maybe that you looked at when you were trying to figure out how to put out a music video for no budget. For sure. And I think it is really valuable that you pick up that moment where I just said yes, that's not something that I would have done Maybe 10 or 11 years ago. And I don't know if it's just like the madness or the nativity or like the completely ridiculous positivity that I seem to have towards solving problems these days.
It comes from a few things like I worked for a company, that company I worked for when I was working for them in the daytime and doing the composition of tv and film the evening. I'm not gonna name them, but the biggest company on the planet, right? So there's like a culture that comes with that company and the experiences you have with that company and the training you get with that company that maybe just makes you look at the world in the way we go, I have a problem.
I'm going to solve it and I took that with me and then used it like you say, with audio, but then also with the house, like the house taught me that too. Like the electrics need redoing in this house. Okay, well I can't afford to pay someone to do it. So I'm just going to have to do it myself. Like you don't have a choice. You just push forward you either scale the wall or you redefine the problem. That's how you get to where you want to get to and doing the music videos was the same.
It's like I have a problem. I either scale the wall and climate and get over it or I redefine it and I try and figure out a way to get the result I want without having to solve the problem in the difficult way. So I guess that you say recognize that a certain quality is necessary and you just drive for that. You just push for that quality with what you have and you don't stop until you get it. So the resources that I would use to try and make these things, I mean Youtube, it's all on Youtube, everything.
It's all there. I would just spend days weeks even just crawling through content for those little nuggets of information and don't get me wrong, like some of its trash, right? Some of the information on Youtube is from people who shouldn't be sharing information. There's a lot of Youtube experts out there who just don't know what they're talking about. But there are actually some really valuable opinions and bits of information out there as well. And you go through enough information eventually you'll get something worth reading or hearing.
And I would watch all of my favorite movies or favorite tv series and just like pause it and just look at it and just look at the position of the characters on the screen or look at the color palette that they were using or like just try and have some kind of sense of what I was feeling while experiencing watching that and why. Like what are the elements that have made it possible for me to feel that way we're watching this thing and just go online and just search like, okay, this director of Photography, did this, Have you ever written a blog?
Great, cool. I'm going to read that blog or what camera did they use? Why did they use it? What shutter speed or frame rate did they use and just digest everything, all of it and then eventually have a go. But doing it, I guess it sounds really daunting. It's not, it's just immersing yourself in the world of the stuff you want to learn about to the point where it just goes in eventually. And there's then also no better way of learning than doing. So, once you kind of absorbed enough information, you think, okay, well I've got nothing left to read or listen to or look at.
I'm gonna go and have a go at it and just see what happens. And I was lucky and fortunate in a way that they came out great, I want to dress it up and say that there's a very specific thing that I did but it's just that's it. Yeah. Well I think I'm going to have to take this interview down this path more. I was already to talk about composing but what you've been saying here is so great. I think I'm going to ask one more composition question and I'm going to go back to what you're learning.
And that question is if there are other artists out there who want to supplement their music income from their band or their solo project by composing for film and tv, what would you suggest they do to get started? Okay, so diversify the kind of music that you want to create. First of all, many musicians and songwriters. They say I do this this is what I do, is what I will always do, working for tv and film does not work that way. You'll get a brief and that brief will tell you what you need to do.
And it won't be something that you've done before, 99% of the time. I had to do all sorts of stuff from like, you know, electronica, through to recording a bunch of cornish fisherman, doing an Old World War One song for Sony playstation, forget your preconceptions of what you are as an artist and explore other sounds and spend plenty of time working on creating those sounds, learn how to arrange strings, learn how to play piano, learn how to produce. You have to be able to produce two are enough standard because They will be using your final mixes on these things.
I didn't know that going in do have time to tell you really quick story about one of those jobs I did. It was really crazy. Absolute. The first thing I got, like I landed was for a commercial that was a joint commercial from McDonald's and Coca Cola. They were doing their first flagship ad since the 1970s. I'd like to teach the world to sing thing. It was a combination of that song and the Big Mac song, the two all beef patties special sauce, lettuce cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, which as a brit, I've never heard that was not a thing in the UK. I've heard the coca cola thing, but not the Mcdonald's thing.
It was just completely new to me. And the email came through, I was visiting my dad who lives in Connecticut and I flew over there and I got there in the morning with nothing other than some clothes and the email said, we need you to demo on this today. We want to mash up of those two songs. It needs to be kind of contemporary modern. But with a call back to the original thing, I'm like, I'm in America, I don't have any instruments and I don't have a computer and I'm jet lagged.
So, I mean, you know what I said, right? I said, yeah, that's fine. I'll be with you in a few hours. This is my life. I say to my dad, hi, nice to see you. It's been quite a long time. I need to do some work and I need to borrow your computer and I need you to go to your office and get a conferencing microphone. And I need you to dig that guitar out of your cupboard That hasn't been played since the original Coca Cola. I'd like to teach the world to sing.
Ad came out in 1976, right? And I'm gonna do this on your desk and I'm gonna write this mash up of the song and I must send it to them. And that recording, right that I did in his house in Connecticut with no studio gear, his old 2011 Imac and his crappy guitar and microphone. That recording ended up getting played to 15 million people during the first outbreak in the american music awards as like coca cola Mcdonald's like flagship advertising campaign. It was crazy. So what's my point? Forget what you think you do?
I could get that email and be like, I don't do Junglee Big Mac songs, I'm a real artist. I write sad songs and I use fun time signatures and I'm much more serious than that. That could be in my attitude. But instead, my attitude was like, yeah, I'm gonna have to go at that because I'm going to see what comes from it. If nothing comes from it, I just learned a new skill, whatever and you do that enough times and something is going to stick and it did and that that commercial changed my life completely.
Ultimately, it meant we could buy this house, you know, that was kind of where it ended up leading to so say yes to stuff. Don't let any opportunity pass you by and be ridiculously hungry for the work because there'll be someone hungrier than you if you're not the mechanics of the way it works, music supervision company, of the people that provide music for tv and film. If you work for a music supervision company as a freelancer, they are your gateway to getting this stuff sink. So music supervision houses will find existing pieces of music that directors and content creators want, But they will also get composers like me to write music for stuff if they can't find the exact piece of music that they want.
So speak to music supervision houses, if you like the way a certain film sounds, look at the credits and recorded the music supervision and email them and say, I really loved that. I'm a composer that does stuff in this kind of world. I'd love to demo on something for you and you never know you might get an email back, man, that's great. I'm amazed that they used that demo and didn't say, hey, please record this, which that tells me that you took those limitations that you had and used your knowledge and skill to turn that around and say, well, this isn't a limitation.
This is how I'm going to do this. Which goes back to, you know, not saying no, not turning it down, just saying, okay, we got this. And I totally thought that story was going to go, I called up every studio in town and finally found one that wasn't booked and then he just hit this with, oh yeah, used an old imac with an ancient guitar that hadn't had a set up in 30 years, 40 years, however long it was, that's stellar. And so that actually does bring me to one more question since you mentioned that commercial helped you to buy that house, which is awesome.
But one question that people are going to be wondering probably is how does payment work on this? Is it an upfront payment for sink or do you collect royalties or is it a little bit of both? How does that work? Typically in the industry? I think it varies region to region. I can only really talk to my very specific experiences of it and it depends where you are and who you're working for. Most of the work I do. I would get paid for my time for demoing first of all.
So like a brief comes through. It's like we want you to have a run at this. Great, I'll get paid a demo fee and that would be a couple 100 bucks for my time, which is great. And if you do enough of them, you can live off the demo fees. It's a really, really good way to earn money. The real money comes when they select your song. Obviously it's like you win, here's your check and that normally is in the form of a buyout. So well that buyout entitles the company to do is to not pay you royalties in perpetuity.
It's like we own this piece of music, we can do whatever we want with it. We can exploit it forever and we don't ever need to talk to you again. So the coca cola Mcdonald's thing was like that it was a buyout and it would have been anyway because I was dealing with intellectual property that actually wasn't even mine in the first place. There were two existing pieces of music that I then did. My thing with the buyout fees are generally pretty good, right? Because they're paying you to go away basically.
It's a work made for hire at that point. Yeah exactly. Work for hire. But there's also like another little weird loophole which I kind of benefited from over the years and I did a lot of work for coca cola in this respect. Sometimes they will need to re record vocals because the vocals were recorded with union singers and unions in the United States demand high royalty rates for their vocalists so high. In fact, that ends up making it unattractive for people to pay union vocalists someone from the outsider of this process.
I mean, I don't know, I kind of feel they're taking work away from union vocalists by doing this by making the fees too high because what ends up happening is I get a phone call saying, hey, can you do this for me in the UK so that we can circumvent these union singers and then just pay you a buyout fee and there's no royalties to pay. Yeah, they're looking at the upfront fee and saying, hey, we're done with it. Yeah, absolutely. So it's a funny one, but most stuff, generally speaking is work for hire.
It's complicated being the fact that I was in europe and stuff was going on in the United States because there are projects that I have been owed royalties on which I've never got because the collection agencies in the U. K. I don't have very kind words to say about them. Yeah let's be honest. I've been working as a musician for my whole life and I have probably only earned about £20 in royalties have been collected through the collection agencies in the U. K. It's crazy. So work for hire is an attractive option for me because I just don't I don't imagine his royalties are going to be collected basically.
Yeah that seems really frustrating because obviously the P. R. O. S. And I'm assuming this is what you're talking about is the P. R. O. S. Performance rights organizations. They're supposed to work together internationally for songwriters who've got to work out there that's being performed publicly. And it sounds like that's just not happening in your case. That must be really frustrating. Yeah it is. And I don't know what solution is. I mean I know whether people who have had published works and stuff going out in the same way that might have and their little loophole has always been find someone who works for the company and make friends with them and then they can look into it for you.
But I think it just feels like it's one of those things where it's just too much work to do and not enough people doing it and I've never seen my share sent to me. It's never happened. Yeah. I mean that's as frustrating as that is, it's good that in this situation you've had the buyouts and the work for hire Or work made for hire because that way you get the nice fat upfront payment and you don't have to worry about looking at the books for who knows how many years because there's songs that have blown up 1020 years after the fact and I can imagine that that would be quite a headache especially when the P. R. O. Isn't doing their job in the first place.
Yeah I mean I imagine it's probably easier if there are fewer people in the chain when I'm doing this work for those advertising companies. For example like I'm right at the back of the queue of people who get their name on things like the creative team will then go to the music supervision agency and not go to the music supervisors themselves and then I'll be the person ends up signing the contract to the end of it being like here's my work. But all of that gets fed back up the chain and then back down to the performing rights organizations as well.
Whereas if I'm the owner of a song which I've written, which is being exploited, then I'm just named as a songwriter and I have access to that back end where I can just be like, hey my songs just suddenly appeared on a Toyota commercial and like I can kind of just go directly there. You know what I mean? Whereas when I'm doing the work through the music supervision companies internationally, it's really hard to marry up those two sides of the puzzle there. You know, it just doesn't happen.
Lots of red tape and bureaucracy, man. Well, to pivot back to you as a D. I. Y. Artist because I really want to go down that path more. When you were working on the album, you'd obviously already learned how to be a producer, the first few albums that you released with Midgar back a decade ago. Did you self produce those as well or had you worked with somebody else who knows? And then let's just go back and say, how did you become a producer? What happened there?
So, I was recording music on my own from age of 17, Maybe 16, just as like a vehicle for songwriting. Like, I have these ideas in my head and I want to hear them, how do I do that? So, my cousin actually bought me my first microphone and audio interface and I would just spend days home recording songs that absolutely sucked by the way and sound horrible. They were just just terrible. The earliest mid- God demos I did in 2007. And again, it was just like as a vehicle for getting them out.
I never, never intended for them to be heard by anybody other than the band members when we were learning them together. So we went into the studio with a guy called Jason Wilson who owns the studio just outside London called stakeout Studios where many of my favorite bands and artists have recorded. And again it's that process of like look at the credits, where did this happen? Who worked on it? Great. Let me contact that person. So I did And we recorded our first ep together just four tracks and that was gonna have a band launched.
So that was the of the Ancient CP. So that was not self produced at all. All produced, mixed mastered by Jason and he's a genius. He's a wizard, I love his work unfortunately, it's quite expensive. So it then came to the second kind of E. P. Slash mini album which was the Legal Children to Sky mini album. We self produced and engineered that kind of as a band at the then bass player studio which wasn't sorry which was a great studio and we had the gift of time because we could just go in there whenever he wanted, stay the night.
You know, there were times I've slept in the vocal booth for five days. I didn't see daylight when we were just like recording the cd. Like it was cool. It was like what you expect a band in the studio to be like. We didn't mix it though because none of us knew how to sew the in house. Mix engineer. Guy Davies mixed that. He's a good friend and has done some amazing work. Then the holographic principle, we didn't have access to that studio anymore. It closed so we wanted to kind of emulate that process.
So we hired a studio for two weeks down in the southwest of the UK and kind of did the same thing. Just hold up, engineered it, recorded it ourselves again, didn't mix it because none of us knew really what we were doing. So we enlisted the services called Dan Lancaster, who we toured with back there a few times with his band proceed. And dan Lancaster has since taken over the planet. I mean he's like the most successful mix engineer in the UK at the moment. It's completely crazy.
He did a bunch of to bring me the Horizon stuff on their last and previous album. He's like songwriting for the biggest rock band in Japan like one OK rock. He does all the Dawn broke. Oh, staff. I mean the guy is a phenomenon and trying to get him to work on any of our stuff now would just be impossible. So I then kind of spent the following a few years doing the film and tv stuff and working on those deadlines and just saying yes to every job and you know, doing what I normally do is just absorbing as much information as possible and honing my craft to the point where when I finally had my own place to do it, I could do this place justice and I knew what I was doing and that really took a very, very intense seven years really of just working at it all day all day every single day and trying not to fall too much off the wagon, which is what I was saying at the time and now I have a studio where I work from and and the cool thing about that is is that I now have clients who are coming in and using the studio because they hear the work I've done and I'm involved in the music scene here in France to some degree, go and do a lot of gigs and stuff and there really isn't anything like that here.
I absolutely love being a producer. I think it's one of my favorite things to do is to just inspect things so closely under that microscope and just get things sending just so perfect. I really get a kick out of it. And I loved producing this all on my own. It was such a luxury to have the freedom of time again, to have the space to work in and to be able to kind of segment those different parts of the production in the writing into different spaces. So I would spend, you know, a month writing and then go away and then come back and spent like another six weeks like recording drums, guitars, some orchestra stuff, some piano, all those bits and then go away and then come back and do the vocals and then go away and then mix the thing, Go away again and come back and master it.
And like all those different things I could do in in separate little kind of 4-6 week blocks over the quarter last year. And yeah, having the ability to do that over a long period of time, I guess allowed me to get really into the detail and make this album sound the way I wanted it to sound. Is that same thing with the, with the music videos, right? It's like, I have an idea about this end product. I want to figure out how the end product is created and I wanted to do everything I can to get something that stands up to it because it's possible.
So why not find out how that's always been my approach? That's amazing. End when you're working with the clients, do you typically, right now, during the travel restrictions, are you able to have clients come in or are you doing exclusively remote work? Yeah, I mean, my dream would be to have people coming from the UK or the US or wherever they want to come from, staying here on site. We'll get stuck into a record, a record together and then they will go away and I'll mix it.
Like, that would be the dream that's not happening at the moment. So, all the clients I've got coming to the studio at the moment are all local and you know, they want to record whatever they want to record. And it's cool because that takes me out of my comfort zone, right? Because in an ideal world I would like to record rock bands. That's what I think I'm really good at and what I can bring most to the table with. But the stuff I'm recording here is like french, traditional jazz, folk, you know, that's not my area of expertise at all.
But again, it's, it's just like agreeing to take the work and using the skills I have, and it's been really cool. Plus it's really good for me to practice my french and becomes fluent in that as I can be, because that's that's another thing I'm trying to get good at these days. Yeah, that was my next question is, how good is your french for that to work out in the studio? It's okay, my friends, it's pretty good. It's getting to the point where I can now express myself pretty clearly.
I sometimes struggle to understand something if someone's just said it really quickly, Like casual french is so different to the kind of french you would learn from an app or a book or anywhere you being educated, french people don't talk that way. It's really funny, so trying to extract the meaning from the words you've heard can be more complicated than it should be. The trouble with a studio environment. Is that recording somebody is so much about interpersonal skills, especially when someone struggling or not getting the takes that you need, trying to communicate effectively with somebody to get what you want out of them.
In a language that isn't your first language hard enough in your first language, right? To get that kind of positive emotional response out of somebody and to push them. But doing in another language where you just kind of fumbling your way through the sentence is quite tough. But I guess it adds to the fun of the session and sessions should be fun. It shouldn't be dark and stressful and horrible. It should just be like fun creating music. If you poke fun at yourself enough people start to enjoy themselves, I think.
So it's a bit of that well and it sounds like everything you've done in the past couple of years. It's been a challenge that you want to challenge yourself and that's just an extension of that. You're saying, hey, I'm going to work with clients who speak french and my french is good, but it's not great. So it's a learning experience and it's a challenge. And I think that's just an amazing way of looking at life and if every artist looked at their career that way, we would have so many more amazing talented artists out there.
I think that all said Andy, thank you so much for joining us today. It's been awesome speaking with you an absolute pleasure. Is there anything else you want to put out there? Any links, any websites, any final words, you have the floor, you know, the label would be upset with me if I didn't say check out the album available now on all digital streaming platforms. The album is called Unity and it's released by a year throughout records, it's available on apple music, Spotify, Deezer amazon music everywhere.
You can consume music from all of the content that I produce here at the studio is available on Youtube. I have my own Youtube channel. So if you just type in the search bar, Andy Wilson-Taylor, you will find me, you will find me talking about my life here in France, what it means to renovate an old farmhouse and sometimes some extra little music bits from me on there and we're on facebook. Obviously if you type mid, go into the search bar, you'll find us. I don't expect you'll see any of my posts because that's not how facebook works anymore.
But I mean, please hit the like button anyway. And then I'm on instagram to welcome to Midgar and my personal instagram is a Wilson-Taylor and sector seven studios on there as well. So yeah, I'm everywhere. And the important thing is that you go check out the album because that's why I'm here in the first place. So yeah, please do. Sounds great. Well I will put all of those links into the show notes at Bandhive dot rocks slash 84. And you can go there to find them all instead of typing them all in and you can just click on every single one and hit subscribe like whatever it is on that platform.
And of course you to put a little notification bill and I think you can do the same thing on facebook too. So maybe people will see it. I think it's called Show first if you put that in there. But aside from that, Andy thank you so much, like I said, it's been an absolute pleasure. I hope you have an awesome rest of your day. I hope the release goes as well as you could possibly have it. Go, thank you so much for having me been great to chat.
Mhm, mhm mm mm mm That does it for this episode of the Bandhive podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in and listening. And of course, big thanks to Andy Wilson-Taylor of Midgar for joining us on this week's episode. Please go check out his new album, Unity. Like he said, it's available on every major streaming platform. And of course, if you go to Bandhive dot Rocks slash 84 you will find all the links that Andy and I mentioned during this episode, I also really want to highlight how important mindset is and it is incredibly obvious to me that Andy has a great mindset when it comes to be an artist.
He's not afraid to back down from a challenge. He figures it out and does what needs to be done. And that is what sets artists apart in the music world. So if you take one thing away from this episode, it should be that, figure it out, be self sufficient, learn, put in the time, put in the hours, put in the days, whatever it is, weeks, months, you have to learn how to do your thing the best way you possibly can, and of course be open to opportunities.
So I really hope that this is something you learn from this episode. And If you don't already do that, try and do that. And I think you'll see more and more opportunities that come your way because it is so incredibly useful as an artist to be able to say, yeah, I can do that and then figure it out. I don't even know what to say that it is incredible. So, thank you for listening. If you want to get more out of Bandhive, please feel free to join our Facebook community.
We have over 500 like minded musicians who are all looking to take their career to the next level. Whether that's having fans pay for the production of an album or going full time. Everyone's goals are unique, but it is worth sharing knowledge with one another and that is what the Bandhive facebook group is for. So you can find that by going to Bandhive dot rocks slash group or searching for Bandhive on facebook, make sure you find the group not the page, although while you're there, please go ahead and give the page alike as well.
Aside from that, we will be back with another brand new episode. Next Tuesday. I'm really looking forward to that one coming out because I think it's going to be super helpful for all you artists who are looking to book more shows. Post pandemic. That's next Tuesday at six a.m. Eastern time in your favorite podcasting app. Until then, have an awesome week. Stay safe and of course, as always, keep rockin
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