Claire Skelcey Interviews Andy Marshall of The Beautiful Machine

By Jennifer Bell Company, Oct 23 2014 02:35PM

C.S. When did you first start singing and why?

A.M. I first started properly singing and working on my voice over 20 years ago when I began writing my own songs and learning a few covers. It was a natural progression from (moody) indie/goth noodling around on my guitar, to discovering folk music and learning some finger picking techniques. The first song I learnt to sing and play was Hiring Fair by Ralph McTell. Fantastic song! I can recall finding it really challenging and uncomfortable at first, but just carried on after people kept on giving me compliments (good old ego...).

C.S. What makes singing a-cappella with The Beautiful Machine so special?

A.M. Jen's wonderful music, warmth, talent and direction (as well as being an all-round top person!) and singing with accomplished singers (who are equally splendid!). The accuracy needed to sing Jen's compositions is deceptively tricky and the challenge to do so brings with it fantastic reward. I think that any ensemble where there is just one singer per part brings a special quality in terms of tone and tightness. It also adds to the story within a song in a way that larger ensembles perhaps struggle with. Maybe this is due to how exposing it can be. It can very very intimate.

C.S. Tell us a bit about why you like to work with Jen Bell

A.M. See above! Along with this, Jen is a skilled singer in her own right and has developed considerable knowledge in voice work. I think her focus upon constantly improving the voice comes through in everything that she does. It is infectious. She is passionate about quality in a way that constantly pushes us to the best of our abilities. That and her silliness.

C.S. What would you like to find when you sing with organisations such as DAC Beachcroft?

A.M. It's wonderful when people from businesses want to get involved. It's about connection and embracing the ideas and stories within the project. It then becomes more than just a performance piece; it's about engaging with others in a slightly different way to what one would normally expect.

C.S. Which Bread & Butter song do you relate to the most and why?

A.M. Tough... If I were to choose one, maybe Jellyfish. It's just that childhood innocence thing and being transported back in time.

C.S. What kind of music do you listen to today?

A.M. It varies enormously. I'm a sucker for a great melody in any genre. Do you want some names? OK... Metronomy, This Is The Kit, Gillian Welch, Half Moon Run and The Divine Comedy have all featured in the last year of my life's soundtrack.

C.S. What embarrassing songs might I find on your MP3 player?

A.M. There might be some Queen creeping in, but I'm not embarrassed! I also have a weakness for the first two Coldplay albums.

C.S. If you weren't singing, what would you be doing?

A.M. Weeping. Melodically.

C.S. What genre of music can't you stand to listen to?

A.M. I can struggle with some Heavy Metal sub-genres. I guess I'm just not angry enough...

C.S. Cake or death?

A.M. Even if there is some kind of afterlife, I bet there'll be no cake. Cake it is.

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