Listen to the debut mixtape from the creative spirit influenced by everything from AC/DC to MTV
“Music is your ears painting a picture,” philosophises model, painter, and most recently, musician Andreww (AKA Andrew Westermann). He isn’t your everyday multi-hyphenate though: the German-Briton spent much of his youth walking for the likes of Dior, Versace, Virgil Abloh, and Tom Ford, while his artwork has splashed campaigns by 3.Paradis and Cartier. Out today, his debut mixtape, he explains, is partly inspired by his time in the high fashion limelight.
Never Alone came to life after a trip to LA with friend and producer Nico Bellagio — the man partly behind the tape’s hushed trap tinctures and noirish R&B, as well as hip-hop heaters by rappers Damso and Hamza. The pair became fascinated with paparazzi culture, and its fever pitch in the mid-late 1990s. For Andreww, being exposed to his own image on a daily basis was a process that has fed into his music. “It’s been this way for the longest time,” he intones on “Expectations”, a cautionary tale about the temptations and pressures of fame. The intimate and sinister mood continues throughout the mixtape, as he navigates his personal demons on “Best of Times,” and longs for genuine connection on “Pause”. Here, he explains his passion for music and finding the most expressive balance of his creative interests.
Hi Andreww. Can you tell us a bit about how you started making music?
Andreww: When I was nine, my dad came into my room one day and told me to come with him. He sat me in our cellar and said “you will not get up or leave the room until the music's over,” and he put on AC/DC’s Back In Black album. The next day I wanted a guitar. That’s what really got me into music, and thank god to MTV and YouTube after that because I had access to everything and I soaked it up like a sponge. Once I got a guitar, I just tried to play all the songs I heard and I sat in my room for months listening to rock music. At 14, I joined the church band where we played masses with the only four chords we could play. We kept on progressing and played covers, and then the only five people left in the band started writing our own songs. That’s where I really learnt to write, when I was around 16 or 17.
Were there any other artists your parents introduced you to, and did they influence the mixtape at all?
Andreww: The first music I can remember was Fleetwood Mac, Tracy Chapman, Michael Jackson and The Cranberries. My parents would play these four artists all the time and when I hear them now they feel like a brother or sister that have been with me since I was little. Once I got older anything that generally had interesting or good melodies or good rhythm, I would listen to. I think the inspiration for the mixtape or whole project was a collection of 27 years of research and obsession!
“Music is your ears painting a picture... (It) has always been a very important part of fashion, so has art” — Andreww
Your work scretches across the arts, how do all of these creative interests work together for you?
Andreww: In my opinion, music is your ears painting a picture. They all belong together and none could live without the other. Music has always been a very important part of fashion, so has art, so for me, I don’t even think of the three separately, but as one. I enjoy any kind of creation, and the more mediums I can use, whether it’s art, fashion, or music, the better. I kind of know which one to use for which type of expression I want to show, it feels very natural.
And does making music feel like the best way to express yourself now?
Andreww: In a way music has always been the priority — I was just waiting for me to find out who I am and what I want to talk about, and especially what team I want to work with. I now feel like I have all of that. It’s been a long time coming, but it will be my main focus. Modelling and art will always be a part of the procedure though, I’ll never just do one thing.
Away from your own projects, are there any authors or artists you really admire at the moment?
Andreww: The last year I’ve been quite obsessed with Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea — I’ve read it so many times. I feel his use of words has a big effect on me and I feel very at home when I read it. My musical idols of the 21st century are Bon Iver (I have the word “Holocene” tattooed on my chest), Frank Ocean, and Sampha, but then the new 6lack album and anything Travis Scott gets me going. These are constants, but there’re always new ones every couple of days that I really draw inspiration from. There are so many I can’t name them.