LOOK TO WINDWARD: Embracing Results

Andrew McCully

Look to Windward is a progressive rock studio project by London-based musician and composer Andrew McCully, who has just launched his new album titled ‘In Fantasy‘ — a record that in the musician’s own words “began slowly as a collection of thematically separate songs but when a direction began to emerge Andrew realised they were all telling a similar story.” In a new interview for Prog Sphere, McCully discusses what it took to write In Fantasy, what is its message, and more.

Define the mission of Look to Windward.

This project is really an outlet for all those ideas I have bouncing around in my head. I usually tend to not question what comes out of my brain and hands when I’m writing and recording and embrace the result.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your new album “In Fantasy” and the themes it captures.

Going in I wanted to bring forward the melodic and natural acoustic elements of LTW’s sound, maybe using the ‘metal’ part of ‘prog metal’ more sparingly.

Generally, most LTW tracks begin with me on guitar playing around with riffs and chord sequences, building melodies on top of this. The songs are generally built out of multiple sections so I will piece these together in a manner that creates a ‘feel’. Often it’s not until a song is laid out that this becomes apparent.

Writing and recording the first few songs was more free flowing, without a specific end goal in mind but once I formulated the idea for the album I wrote the rest to fit within the whole. This is also when I dug up 2 tracks from an old band, and re-recorded a song from the last EP; they were all suited to the sound and atmosphere of the record. Additionally I collaborated with Benjamin Morley on the song ‘Hydrocarbonsoul’ for which he wrote some killer riffs.

Look to Windward - In Fantasy

What is the message you are trying to give with “In Fantasy”?

I don’t assume the message of ‘In Fantasy’ is particularly profound or unique but it does cover a number of my thoughts in regards to what is called the Anthropocene; this era of human caused change on the planet. I tend to fall on the side of pessimism most of the time so the message is rather bleak. It’s difficult to reconcile human tendencies on the individual and global scale with a sustainable vision of our future. I would implore anyone to take it seriously and try make changes for the better, especially if they are in a position of power, but I can’t assume people are willing to change or even acknowledge the problem.

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

When ideas comes out of the blue I might quickly record them on my phone, but most of the time I am demoing directly into my DAW the same way I would be recording the final tracks. When it comes to instrument parts that will be performed later, or melodies for other vocalists, I will record guide tracks with virtual instruments so I still get a sense of how they will fit in the song. It’s amazing how realistic they can sound now.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected?

I spend a lot of time on arrangements and song structure to develop the dynamic flow. This is really crucial to the Look To Windward sound.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

Most of the time I’m writing and recording the song simultaneously, moving seamlessly from the demo of a part to the final recording. The majority was recorded in the bedroom of my London apartment. Then at the beginning of 2019 I spent 7 weeks in New Zealand with the vocalists and musicians I had recruited. This intense process was very satisfying as the songs truly came together there. In particular Emily and Ben’s vocal performances transformed the emotional elements of the record.

How long “In Fantasy” was in the making?

It was 18 months from the first demo of ‘Calming Waters’ to the final master of the album.

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

There are a multitude of artists who have influenced my musical output but recently its been the musical and production philosophies of Steven Wilson and Devin Townsend that have really inspired me. It’s probably obvious in places where they have had an influence musically but I think it’s their approach to constructing their records, from arrangement and instrumentation through to mixing, that is the biggest influence on Look To Windward.

What is your view on technology in music?

Look To Windward couldn’t exist without affordable modern recording technology so it’s an incredibly crucial tool. That being said I do everything I can to try make Look To Windward sound natural and not a product of a potentially artificial sounding tech.

Do you see your music as serving a purpose beyond music?

It depends on how people listen to my music but I would at least hope that for the hour they are listening to the record they are immersed in it’s atmosphere. If their day is just a little bit better as a result I’ll be happy!

What are your plans for the future?

My goal is to continue creating Look To Windward albums for as long as I still enjoy doing it. I’m already itching to write and record again so that’s a good sign.

In Fantasy is available now from Bandcamp. For more information about the project follow it on Facebook.

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