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Striking the perfect balance between parenting, music-making and his day job is a challenge that UK-born, Melbourne-based Andy Donnelly has become increasingly adept at over the past 12 months. Even today, with the superb Sea Levels six-tracker on Brooklyn label Styles Upon Styles to spruik, the producer known as Kloke does so from his car on the roadside in the middle of his lunch break.
Not that he has to do much of a hard-sell on his productions. Esteemed electronic music portals FACT and XLR8R are unabashed fans, while Juno Plus dedicated ample column space to its review of Sea Levels.
The Sea Levels descriptor is an appropriate one for the collection, which is drenched in washed-out layers of synths, samples and effects painstakingly pieced together by Donnelly from years’ worth of studio jams. Think the early sonic meanderings of The Orb, wandering lost through long-abandoned stormwater drains.
“I guess it’s headphone music, mostly,” Donnelly says. “I do get lost in that a little bit. I’d love to be able to make stuff that’s simple. I really like listening to music that’s just three elements and it kind of works and sounds full, but I’ve never been particularly good at it. So I just keep throwing things on top of each other until it sounds good really.”
It makes for a beguiling sonic brew, and not one that Donnelly is interested in recreating on stage. He has stepped up to the decks recently in his adopted hometown but in Donnelly’s world, performance takes a back seat to creation.
“I made the decision to focus more on making music rather than performing years ago,” Donnelly says. “I used to perform in bands a lot, and what appealed about just making music is not having to stand on a stage and recite stuff which has never interested me. I’m not interested in getting a laptop and reproducing my existing tracks live.”
One year on from his journey to New York City as a Red Bull Music Academyparticipant – “I’m sort of struggling to remember a lot of it!” he admits of his two-week stint in NYC – Donnelly is keen to clear what he describes as “a big backlog of music”.
There’s a remix coming up for Byron Bay label Widlife Recordings, plus the potential for original sets to be released on both that label and Styles Upon Styles. Then there’s his experimental Travancore project in conjunction with Leo Moyza from the Entrada label (which release early Kloke material) and veteran Melbourne DJ Ed Coogan. Named for the obscure Melbourne suburb in which their music is created, the trio are sitting on an album’s worth of material which should see the light of day soon.
“It’s just a bit of fun really,” Donnelly says. “It’s live, improvised… we just get together occasionally with our shitty old gear, guitar pedals and stuff, and make noise for a couple of hours and get tracks out of it.
“I don’t know where it’s going really, but it’s good for me to get out of that me on my own kind of thing. It’s been fun, and more improvised than the way I do things mostly which is piecing stuff together bit by bit and making a track over days, weeks, months, whatever.”