Andy Butler is the driving force behind retro-futurist disco house kingpins Hercules & Love Affair but 'You Can Shine', which is the debut tune under his own name, showcases another side of his musical character. Featuring the impassioned vocals of rising New York star Richard Kennedy, it's rugged, hard-hitting techno-soul, a contemporary 4/4 banger ripe for dancefloors from Fabric to Ibiza. Read More...
Andy Butler is the driving force behind retro-futurist disco house kingpins Hercules & Love Affair but ‘You Can Shine’, which is the debut tune under his own name, showcases another side of his musical character. Featuring the impassioned vocals of rising New York star Richard Kennedy, it’s rugged, hard-hitting techno-soul, a contemporary 4/4 banger ripe for dancefloors from Fabric to Ibiza.
“Hercules has a collaborative, collective approach,” Andy explains, “People who enjoy Hercules anticipate uplifting, vocal-orientated, disco-influenced music, something nuanced and quite musical, a proper listening experience. ‘Shine’ goes for a more direct approach, a stomping, uplifting club 12” but it’s me, isn’t it, so it will still have something of Hercules about it.”
Indeed it does. Hercules & Love Affair’s third album, ‘The Feast of the Broken Heart’, appeared in Spring last year to gushing reviews. It was a tougher, more electronic beast than its predecessors, hinting at the direction Andy’s solo material has headed. The man himself moved from Vienna to Brussels last May and has been revelling in the influence of his new home.
“There’s lots of good stuff happening here,” he enthuses, “Soulwax, the Glimmers, Aeroplane, FCL like-minded dance music people. I’ve been sifting through classic industrial and New Beat music in record shops and picking up piles of vinyl. It’s funny because I’ve now been clean-living almost two years so it’s a bit weird and contradictory that I’m getting into harder music. In some ways my obsessiveness about music has kicked in and re-engaged…”
His devotion to dance music always ran parallel to Andy’s fascination with the freedom offered by disco’s hedonism. From his teenage years, DJing at underground leather nights in his native Denver, to his escape to New York, home to the original wild gay nightworld that gave birth to rave culture, to inventing Hercules & Love Affair as an outlet for his songs, music was always at the heart of it. Andy’s songs are unique creatures, capable of swaying clubs and festival crowds but also boasting a punctillious attention to orchestration and lyrical bite. This perfectionism began with his opening shot, the 2008 classic ‘Blind’, featuring his friend Antony “and the Johnsons” Hegarty on vocals, and continued through successive albums, including work with John Grant and Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke.
As well as his high profile collaborators Andy has made a point of regularly unearthing new vocal talent. Such is the case with ‘You Can Shine’. Singer Richard Kennedy also “ran away” from the Mid-West as a teenager, having already established a local reputation in theatre and ballet circles. Nowadays he’s a New York polymath as happy strumming acoustic folk as appearing in musical theatre on Broadway or MCing over hip hop beats. Andy has been working on his solo album.
“Richard is one of most interesting people around me,” he concludes, “He’s genre- less, not bound by any notion of limitations on himself as a performer.”
Perfect then for Butler’s latest vehicle, ‘You Can Shine’, a song with stylistic hints of early Inner City of which he says, “I wanted to tap into the gospel tradition, for there to be a testifying quality to the record. Richard and I talk in the lyrics about putting ego aside and allowing people around you to shine. You shine when you acknowledge other people’s shine, even, if you will, the creator’s shine. I hope we’ve created something new. House is often soulful but you very rarely hear a big gospel-inflected voice paired with booming, doomy techno.”
The single, backed with whiplashing techy instrumental pounder ‘Personality Track’, will be appearing on Andy’s relaunched and rejuvenated mr.intl record label.
“I would find myself in so many countries in the span of a month that I grew fascinated by regional dance music,” he explains, “music that’s intensely popular in one area but never really reaches another country. I wanted to start releasing music on a global level, offering a representation of amazing music that’s happening elsewhere.”
Thus mr.intl will be releasing music Andy has discovered on his travels – DJs and producers from Vienna, Australia, Brazil and Iceland, for starters, the latter a band called Sisi Ey who are already making waves, coming on like a soulful reinterpretation of classic Kompakt Records fare. As well as these and his own material, he’ll be re-releasing lost classics from the acid house and Belgian New Beat eras. Mr.intl, after all, was the label that had Jack Dangers of Meat Beat Manifesto remixing for them four years ago.
And let’s not forget Andy Butler is also a DJ of the first order. With a classic DJ Kicks New York disco history mix in 2012 under his belt, he remains in high demand. He’s about to set off on a two month DJ tour of the States and the rest of 2015 looks no less busy, packed with solo releases for various labels before starting to “conceptualise the new Hercules album, reaching out to new collaborators.”
Tired of what he describes as “filler house music”, Andy Butler is punching things up a few notches, taking it tougher while remaining true to his roots. ‘You Can Shine’ is the first sally but his is a lifelong mission that’s not going to stop any time soon.