Interview with composer Andy Kotz

andy-kotz-on-stage-DeBarge

September 7, 2012 Blog, Interviews Leave a comment

About a year ago, I got an e-mail saying something like “Hey guys, here’s a song I recorded using your Latin Drumming pack. Feel free to use it on your website”. The sender was Andy Kotz, a Minneapolis-based composer/producer/guitarist/multi-instrumentalist who just bought a couple of our loop packs and got inspired to write the song OG in da house. Since then, Andy is using pretty much the entire OddGrooves loop catalog in his productions. He has several film scores on his resumé and has toured with El Debarge and Michelle Shocked among many others.

I recently did a short interview with Andy, and here it is:

Per: How did you get started in music?

Andy: My mother’s side of the family were all performers. My grandfather was renowned Argentine folk guitarist Agustin Cornejo. He even has a museum in his honor in Mendoza, Argentina. My mom and aunt were also a famous recording singing duo “Las Hermanas Cornejo” (The Cornejo Sisters). I guess it was “in the blood”!

Per: Who were your major influences when you grew up?

Andy: Lee Ritenour is how I fell in love with the guitar. I was working as a sound and lighting intern at a nightclub in Huntington beach, CA (where I grew up), when his band came through. I was blown away. He was touring at the time in support of his album “The Captain’s Journey” and I must have worn out 3 of those vinyl records! Then it was a long list of guitar players: Larry Carlton, Robben Ford, Steve Khan, Pat Metheny, Weather Report, The Brecker Brothers, Miles Davis, The Yellowjackets, oh man… I could go on for days!

Per: Cool, I love all of those artists! Do you still listen to them?

Andy: Not as much now since I’m almost completely away from playing the guitar anymore. I have “composer chops” now… (LOL!)

Per: Let’s talk about gear. Could you give us a brief description of your studio setup? DAW, plugs, outboard etc.

Andy: I work with the Apple Mac Pro as my computer so I went with Logic for my DAW. Made sense to me to keep “in the house” (Apple also makes Logic). I’m currently still using Logic Express 9. I chose LE because I didn’t need some of the “extras” that came with the more expensive Logic Pro. As far as plugins go… I favor Native Instruments’ Kontakt sampler and just about all of their software. I’m running Kontakt 4 and 5 plus, Reaktor 5 and all its machines, Absynth 5, Massive, Kore 2, the Scarbee JayBass, M-M Bass and Mark 1 Electric Piano, a ton of Soundiron, 8Dio, SoniCouture, Sonokinetic, and about 200 other 3rd party Kontakt libraries! I’m really digging’ the Best Service “Engine”. I downloaded a demo version and can’t wait to own it someday!

There’s so much stuff out there I wish I could buy! My wish list is: All the Spitfire Audio libraries, AudioBro’s LASS, CineSamples Brass series, Project SAM’s Symphobia’s 1 & 2, Spectrasonics Omnisphere, and I would be a happy camper!

Per: What’s your favorite guitar and amp?

Andy: I don’t own my favorite guitar OR amp!! But what I DO use is a Line 6 Flextone III and my home assembled guitars. I love the Line 6 amp because of its excellent modeling which I record with directly to my DAW. I get a very satisfactory tone with it… in all styles.

Per: Do you use the same rig in the studio as when gigging?

Andy: Yeah… it’s my only amp! (LOL!)

Per: You use OddGrooves drum loops in some of your compositions.

Andy: Almost exclusively. I love Magnus’ feel. I credit him in my work as well, as my session drummer!! (LOL!)

Per: What’s your opinion on using pre-recorded loop versus working with a real drummer in the studio?

Andy: I love it. As a composer with only a DAW Studio to work with I can create on the fly. I’m extremely comfortable with the MIDI loops because I can customize them as needed. I’ve always been around sampling and loops, as a matter of fact (while in Los Angeles) many years ago I would be hired to program drums for people. I did programming for Chanté Moore’s tours, Chukii Booker’s TLC tours, Gerardo (yes, “Rico Suave”!) albums and tours… as well as play guitar for most of them…

Per: Do you use other types of loops (apple loops, rex etc)?

Andy: Before owning Toontrack’s Superior Drummer and XLN’s Addictive Drummer I would use sample loops exclusively. My first (and only) CD, “It’s About Time” (www.cdbaby.com/cd/andykotz) was entirely made up of sample loops for the drums and percussion!!

Per: What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you during a gig? (mine was when a couple of Russian sailors got up on stage and started taking Magnus’ drum kit apart)

Andy: Mine (unfortunately) was a rather violent one. During a song, a drunken patron climbed onstage and insisted our drummer get off the kit because he was going to play it! I put down my guitar… asked him to leave the stage immediately and he hit me. My guitar neck was snapped in the ensuing fight!

Per: Ouch! You have written and recorded many songs, which one are you most proud of? Why?

Andy: I have written quite a few for other people’s records and my own solo project but the song I love most is the one written for my son when he was born… “Song For Marc”. It’s on my CD.

Per: Do you have a musical goal you’d like to share with us?

Andy: Well, in the year 2000 I had “retired” from music. I began driving trucks for a living. After a few years I began realizing how much I missed music and the music mistress was pounding at my door. I finally let her back in when my sister and filmmaker Cristina (Kotz-Cornejo, www.wildwimminfilms.com) asked me if I would compose music for her film “3 Américas” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0847204/). That was all it took… now, I write everyday and my dream is to one day be able to be making a comfortable living as a composer…

Per: What would be your dream band? Any musicians of any era, living or dead.

Andy: Joe Zawinul and Kenny Kirkland on keyboards, Robben Ford and Eddie Van Halen on guitars, Jaco Pastorius on bass, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Miles Davis on trumpet, Michael Brecker on tenor sax, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley on alto, John Lennon, Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson (male vocals), Sarah Vaughn, Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin (female vocals)… That’s a band I would pay to see!!

Per: Thanks Andy for taking the time to chat with me.

Andy Kotz can be reached at www.akmusicproductions.com and http://soundcloud.com/akmusic-productions . He also has an album out, which can be purchased at CDBaby

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