Andy Bull’s most recent album, 2014’s Sea of Approval, was a critical and commercial high point for the Sydney artist. It was an auspicious sign of what was ahead for Bull, who had left behind his more conventional singer-songwriter beginnings to focus on a synth-injected pop sound.
But then: silence. No new music arrived from Bull until November 2020, when he released the standalone single, ‘It’s All Connected’. 18 months later Bull is back again, this time with a revamped version of the Sea of Approval highlight ‘Baby I Am Nobody Now.’ We asked him to explain what he’s been doing for the last eight years, and what’s ahead.
The top ten things Andy Bull’s been doing since releasing his last album
1. I toured as part of some amazing festivals like Laneway and Groovin The Moo.
2. I played loads of my own headline shows. One of those shows was immortalised as a triple j Live At The Wireless. An older English bloke at the bar told me it reminded him of Gary Numan playing Wembley in 1982. Thank you, my dude.
3. I took a year out to just travel overseas. It was a total luxury, but it really was the best decision. I even taught myself the basics of some languages. I’ve since kept my French up, and I’m told my accent is good, but I still get a little muddled with more complex stuff – my French friends have told me it’s like speaking to a Parisian toddler.
4. I won three Emmys. Well, a TV show I was on did. I voiced a character on a Netflix original called Beat Bugs, and sang duets with Sia, Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell, The Shins. It was a kid’s animation, a million miles from Sea Of Approval, but you know, it actually turned out to be a really sweet experience and I’d do it again. I’ve also now got some merchandise toys that play my voice, which is weird.
5. I produced a bunch other bands. Some personal favourites include Melbourne’s Merpire – an incredible singer and songwriter who’s bloomed into a breathtaking performer. Also, Sydney band Hollow States – ‘I’ll Leave’ was one of the most played songs on Sydney’s FBi Radio last year. I also did a bunch of recording with Bec Sandridge, which I’m not supposed to tell anybody about yet.
Hollow States – ‘I’ll Leave’
6. I had a bunch of kids. Obviously, it changes everything. Surprisingly, though, I think it’s made me a better musician, songwriter, the whole bit. I’ve had to sharpen my process, and being less self-focused has made my creative ideas better too.
7. At the very end of 2020, I put out a song called ‘It’s All Connected’. It was amazing to reconnect with people through music. By chance, it came out a couple of days after my dad died, following a long and really heartbreaking illness. It all felt kind of significant somehow.
8. I started animating, something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. I do it in the old school frame-by-frame technique, which seems to facilitate the sketchy, nostalgic DIY aesthetic that I really like. It’s very time consuming but very satisfying. I taught myself by animating a video for ‘It’s All Connected’, and it brought the actual music to life for me in a whole new way.
Andy Bull – ‘It’s All Connected’
9. I took up a little recording suite in a very beautiful recording studio in Sydney. It’s been nice to be around so many folks making music. Loads of people are always coming through to make records – some are big, world famous artists, while others are starting out and doing their first ever recordings. It’s been nice to hang out and feel connected to that energy, and to the creative community.
10. I recorded a new album. Took a leeeetle longer than expected. Although the music itself flowed out, a lot of real life stuff barrelled into me after Sea Of Approval. In 2021 for instance, a serious, unexpected life event had me preparing to become a widower, and to raise my babies alone. And yet still, somehow, not only did the situation miraculously turn around, but in amongst the upheaval I got the record finished.
I’m still not sure how I/we/everybody managed it, but I am so excited to share it. Life can be really unexpected, you know. So I’m all about making life-affirming art.
Andy Bull’s reimagined ‘Baby I Am Nobody Now ’22’ is out now.