Andy Milne's Music for the Human Condition - A Little Dapp'll do Y'All
AAJ: Yeah, Rickman's just a fantastic drummer who's also a current Coleman collaborator. Tell us about what he brings to the table. He's an extremely able multi-instrumentalist as well, right?
AM: He's actually no longer in Steve's band because everyone's time must come but I think we've covered that. The boy kicks ass at many things and he's really helped move the band forward musically. He's also the vibe manager and head shit talker/tour van DJ which keeps us all alive on the road. Sean is also largely responsible for the production on the CD because he has such great ears and he's dedicated to the band for the long haul. On the multi-instrumentalist tip, he's finally finished his solo CD, entitled 'One' which I think will be available quite soon. He has a website, seanrickman.com.
AAJ: How many gigs do you usually do a year with Dapp? With other projects?
AM: Dapp Theory usually goes on tour about twice a year. Because we all live in different cities, we only work when we have a bunch of gigs. We can't just do a Wednesday night hit in New York because I want to try out some new tunes- it would cost too much just to get everyone to the city. Now that we're with a label and with solid management, I'm confident that we'll be performing more frequently in the future. Because my role as bandleader requires much of my energy, I don't gig with a lot of other bands. Also, musicians in New York seem to perceive me as someone who is always on the road with Dapp Theory, which of course is not exactly true. I'd actually like to gig more with other groups because it fuels my growth and helps relax me when I'm not having to be in charge.
AAJ: What do you perceive as the differences, in the European tour circuit versus the American opportunities versus Canadian for gigging?
AM: Europeans are spoiled because all the best groups tour Europe frequently-that's just how its been for so long. When you get into the more remote places in America and Canada, you find really appreciative audiences. The trouble with touring in North America is geography. I've been determined to overcome this challenge but it's not easy. The other difficulty in Europe is that because everything is so firmly established, and with the economy going south of late, it's hard for an emerging artist to get enough attention to get a decent gig. Dapp Theory just performed the Montreux Jazz Festival but it was because we were a part of the Concord Records Night that we got the gig.
AAJ: By the way, are you Canada based now? Toronto?
AM: I've been living in Brooklyn since 1991. Before that I was in Montreal.
AAJ: Speaking of Canada, tell us about your special project with Bruce Cockburn? How did that come about?
AM: It came about when I approached Bruce about collaborating back in 2000. I have been a fan since high school, and at some point I drew a connection between the spirit of his poetry and that of the poetry found in hip-hop. I wanted to pair Bruce with Kokayi to explore the common ground between the singer-songwriter tradition and the hip-hop tradition. Bruce was surprisingly receptive to my invitation and fortunately for me, he was beginning a one-year sabbatical, so he was available for writing sessions.
AAJ: It seems like a jazzy collaboration with Cockburn could help cross the music over more than a bit.
AM: The CD hits stores August 12th so we shall see. After the Dapp Theory CD, we recorded the two songs we wrote together for Bruce's new CD, You've Never Seen Everything, which came out in June. Already that's helped bring attention to me as a composer-at least with Bruce's audience. As far as broader crossover appeal, I think we're on our own, and that's cool with me. Ultimately, the new CD is about Dapp Theory more than it's about Bruce Cockburn being a part of it. My goal was to integrate him, not showcase him.
AAJ: Is Bruce only singing on the project, or playing some guitar as well?
AM: He plays guitar on 2 tracks and sings on 3.
AAJ: How about for you, as a solo artist? Where do you do most of your solo gigs? Are there differences in Europe for you as a solo artist?
AM: I don't really do solo gigs. It's either Dapp Theory or me as a sideman. Europe is a tough market right now and basically when I've been pitching Dapp Theory, promoters are still looking at it from the perspective of it being Andy Mile's band. I'd like for it to stand on its own and I think it will, but there are always growing pains in any transition.
AAJ: How do you feel about the effects of the Internet on the music scene?
AM: I think it's been an amazing transformation. I just wish the record industry embraced the Internet like they embraced radio when it came along 50-some-odd years ago. All this scrambling to hold onto their money is sickening to me. I think they missed the boat in terms of knowing how the Internet could help them. Its certainly poked holes in everybody's weaknesses so that's sort of a good thing. The Internet has made the world a smaller place and has been incredibly valuable for me as an independent artist, trying to launch my own tours. The next couple of years are going to be very interesting in terms of seeing what the new paradigm will look and feel like.