For better or worse, contemporary electronic music culture is unlike its underground and occasionally illegal origins. The original superstars were DJs brilliantly mixing vinyl records on a pair of Technics 1200 turntables. Producers were seldom celebrated, and a line was drawn between creators and selectors.
Now that line is blurred. Producers attract more fame and it’s the creation of original music that spurs a DJ career – not the other way around. And while the underground lives on, there’s also a civilized scene with code compliance and formal music education. Many of today’s current producers are properly trained pianists, string musicians or percussionists.
Trance DJ-producer Andrew Bayer is a hybrid of the underground and higher education movement. His love was born on dance floors in his hometown of Washington DC, his grooming happened at Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
Bayer’s day is rather standard when we track him down at his New Jersey home. He’s playing with the dog, pottering about in his home studio and drinking wine with his husband. He’s quick to recognize his Berklee schooling. Acceptance rates there are similar to Rice University, only around 20-percent of applicants get in. With The Juilliard School in New York City and the USC Thornton School of Music in Los Angeles, Berklee is on the shortlist of Ivy League-like music schools.
“Berklee was a game changer for me in so many ways. As a music lover, a musician, a producer and person, I grew in so many ways and got exposed to different ways of doing things, different ways of thinking about music and so many genres that I wouldn’t have previously encountered. It’s Artificial, my first album was basically a Berklee college project,” Bayer says.
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Two albums later, Bayer is touring with recently released third record, In My Last Life. He’s making two Thanksgiving holiday Texas stops. The first at Spire Houston on Friday, November 23 and a second at Lizard Lounge in Dallas the next day. With three albums, a few EPs and several singles, he’s armed with a collection of quality tunes. His music sounds like outer space, it’s rich and warm.
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One constant in his music is his ability to create interesting sounds. From early work such as “Keep Your Secrets” in 2012, “Nobody Told Me” and “Super Human,” both in 2015 and 2018’s “Open End Resource,” there is advanced acoustics. There are layers and vocals sound rich. It’s atypical for artists to experience satisfaction, but Bayer’s content with the new album.
“I am very happy with In My Last Life, as it represents the songs in the most natural and musical way. I will be releasing a counterpart album next year In My Next life, that takes the songs and reworks them into club mixes. These are the versions I will be playing in Houston. Exploring the songs in these dual forms is super fulfilling for me creatively,” he adds.
The difference between the album version and club mixes is generational. Mom, dad and grandparents can enjoy the In My Last Life album, while kiddos head out to enjoy club mixes on the dance floor at Spire. It’s music for the whole family during the holiday season. Perhaps Bayer’s a DJ that even the loudest dance music naysayers will warm up to. He’s happily married, he loves his dog, he graduated from a prestigious university and his values are admirable: “love, family, friends and creativity.”
Andrew Bayer performs at 10 p.m. Friday, November, November 23, at Spire, 1720 Main. For information, call 713-588-5279. Tickets start at $15 via eventbrite.com.