Andy Garbi

Award: Do it Differently Fund

Year: 2020

Genre: Classical

Instrument/voice type: Composer

Location: West Midlands

Selected by Louis Vuitton to open their 2015 Paris fashion show, Andy Garbi’s cutting edge vocal, composition and audio-visual work have gained the support of leaders in all fields of the creative arts. He has worked with Nigel Kennedy, musicians from the CBSO and as singer with cult bands Suns of Arqa, Headhunters and Celtarabia has also appeared on the same bill as The Prodigy, Roni Size, Transglobal Underground, Square Pusher, Jah Wobble and Massive Attack. He has also headlined major stages at Glastonbury, The Big Chill, The Big Green Gathering, Windows on The World, Ely Folk Festival and the Trans Musicale, Europe’s biggest world music festival.

Andy’s unfettered approach in bringing together different musical elements has contributed to the development of a unique haunting, filmic style that has been featured on BBC R3 Late Junction, Classic fm, Chill fm and RTE Lyric fm. The launch of his self-promoted/managed/released 2008 debut solo album ‘The Sound Of One’ attracted global critical acclaim. This led to an awarded scholarship in 2009 for a music residency at the Banff Centre for The Arts Canada.

Returning to the UK, Andy created the multi site-specific acoustic-heritage project The Unsung Antiquarium and became an endorsed artist with the National Trust. Also supported by Arts Council England, Roland UK and the British Library, the project became the launchpad for his large-scale work. Examples include ‘Shadows & Dust’ (2014), a commissioned audiovisual installation for the inauguration of a brand-new museum in the heart of Birmingham and VITRESCENCE (2017) a world-premiere installation/performance inside a 100ft high cone chimney featuring an 18-piece choir, surround sound system, sculptural glass horns and live glass blowing.

A graduate of both music and fine art, Andy has been awarded a double distinction, the Masters Prize and the Postgraduate Prize by the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, the Channel 4 Ideasfactory film music prize, the PRS ATOM award for advances towards original music and letters of commendation from Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Royal Netherlands Embassy for his international work. These plus other successes such as working with Tibetan refugee musicians in India and making sound diaries of ancient Himalayan trade routes up to 15,000ft led to being selected as a music ambassador for an Anglo-Dutch arts exchange. The subsequent performance at the CBSO centre featured Andy drumming on an upturned bicycle along with his bespoke ensemble (String Quartet, Drums, Gamelan, Piano, Music Technology) and received a standing ovation, though he will be forever hated by the venue for bringing an 8K p.a. rig to mic up a Steinway grand piano in an acoustically tuned classical performance space!

Andy’s collaborations extend to film, fashion, theatre and dance. Working with Northern Ireland based dance company DQDT on several productions, he has appeared on BBC2 The Art Show and Ireland’s premiere Arts programme Arena, also accompanying Culture Ireland dance tours across the European continent.

As an entirely self-sufficient artist, Andy’s music was selected to accompany the biography one of the world’s leading authorities on independent music - Derek Sivers.

In recent years I have focused on the creation of large-scale site-specific live events as a platform for my work with ‘spirit of place’. With these kinds of performances being no longer tenable right now in our re-shaped world, my vision during this time is to refocus my creative ambitions towards smaller-scale intimate storytelling works that can be interacted with online.

Resurrection as a theme of renewed activity, dovetails into what I can achieve during isolation and my journey of vocal recovery since experiencing laryngeal nerve damage. Wishing to return to lyric writing, these compositions will have more of a song structure. For the first time, spirit of place will be explored through my home and my immediate surroundings with the intention of responding to and resonating with the rising need to experience our natural surroundings in some way.

This is an ideal time to experiment and record – to launch and build online platforms for engagement and find a way through for my voice as it stands rather than to expect a return to normal. The award represents a huge contribution towards realising these new explorations.
Additional insights from music industry bodies such as FAC/Think Music will also help to consolidate my artistic brand through social media presence and corresponding audience engagement.