20 Jan 2017

Live in session: The Veils' Finn Andrews

From RNZ Music, 5:00 pm on 20 January 2017

Finn Andrews, lead singer and songwriter for The Veils is in New Zealand for eight shows off the back of the release of ‘Total Depravity’. The making of the album is a story that involves film director David Lynch and heavyweight producer El-P and is excellently documented here. Finn was born in England and attended school both there and in New Zealand, a nomadic existence which provided a unique perspective. 

“I sort of flipped back and forth my whole life. I ended up here for the largest chunk when I was in high school, it was always around Auckland, I also went to Westmere primary, Glamorgan primary as well in Torbay. It was a constant ping-ponging between the two countries. 

“It means I’ve been foreign everywhere really, in England I was the kiwi kid and here I was the English one. You get used to it, not entirely belonging. There are nice aspects to it, you end up picking and choosing elements from both the countries that you take on yourself.”

It was on the North Shore of Auckland that a teenage Finn began penning the songs that would end up on The Veils debut album ‘The Runaway Found’, which was met with huge critical acclaim. Then only sixteen, Finn recorded a bunch of demos initiating a bidding war between record companies, but as Finn recalls, his early journey into music was very much down to time, place and the company he was keeping. 

“The year I first started playing music it felt like that easily could have not happened (if I wasn’t in New Zealand) and it felt like I just fell in to doing it through friends that were playing music in the folk club in Devonport and being dragged up there and consequently falling in love with it. Maybe that wouldn’t have happened if I had been in London.”

The Veils are five albums deep now with each album deepening their songwriting and sonic skills and their live shows have a reputation for intensity and intimacy. Yet it’s very rare to see the steady maturation of an artist following on from such significant success so early in their career. 

“We never had that cataclysmic rise to fame that say Lorde has experienced, that is a whole different level.  I just felt lucky we got signed, that was cool, we got to tour and that was cool. I think I did feel like a fraud for a little while, because you’re still very much learning.  I still feel like I’m learning but when you’re seventeen you're really learning and so the thought that people would pay money to see me doing anything, it took me about five years to feel remotely comfortable with that. It felt like I was just practicing in front of people”

The imposter syndrome has passed and Finn seems more comfortable in his own skin these days. yet the signs of tortured artist syndrome still exist as it does with almost all creative people.  The act of writing and releasing involves a level of exposure most people never become fully comfortable with.   

“I think if you bother making something it’s all about rustling around in there to try and find something that you feel like is worth something or is interesting in some way. So it’s a slightly self-flagellating process as it is and I’ve noticed you sort of get a delirium with it, it’s often a euphoric experience where you feel like you’ve got something good and quite often that only lasts for an afternoon. Then you throw it away. It’s a strange process; you never feel one way for very long”

The songwriting style has expanded also, while early in his career many songs were more atypical in substance with sentiments of love lost or a feeling s of disaffected youth, on the latest album, and on early works like ‘Nux Vomica’, Finn writes a lot via other characters - the first single 'Axoltyl' is a good example. 

“They still feel very personal there’s just a little abstraction which helps to talk about things I find. I did that real self-confessional style of song writing a lot of when I was younger.  I guess I’ve enjoyed more and more creating these strange little narratives and using various other characters to speak through.” 

Strange characters are the forte of someone else who has become a big fan of The Veils, film director David Lynch. Lynch hosted The Veils and producer El-P for several recording sessions in his home studio, and in May Finn will be appearing on Lynch’s much anticipated new series of ‘Twin Peaks’ (not that he can say anything about the show due to a 100 page confidentiality agreement).

“We’d been working on the record for three years at that point and he was one of the first people we played it to, so to have any words of support from him at that time was the best.”

After the New Zealand tour The Veils world tour will continue with the Australasian leg of Laneway festival and following on from that a return to North America and Europe. 

"I’d keep going forever if we could afford tour buses to go everywhere. I would honestly just keep going. It only gets hard when you’re trying to do stuff for not much money.  We did 34 shows in a row on the last tour and by the end we were just completely destroyed and your voice starts to do very strange things … that is when it gets hard.”