ando san


It’s a breezy, heated morning over here in the desert, yet somehow it seems like a truly perfect moment to mark the official release of Ando San‘s latest EP. Humble is at once effortless to fall into and slow to digest. It’s two tracks are densely populated, and in a way, we mean that literally: “Aura” floats, buzzes, and grooves like fireflies on a distant island. The sound is quintessential Ando San, resulting in what is easily some of his most layered and engaging music yet.

There’s also an expertly laid bait and switch on “Big Surprise,” which bobs, weaves, and eventually flows into a powerful, poignant prog-hop finale. It’s all over so soon, you can’t help but run it back. Ando San’s production is constantly gearing up, and really, it feels like we’re starting to experience a level of world building when it comes to the mix, or some grander creative process. Whatever it is, the energy behind this project has been steadily rising, and hopefully, Humble is sign of more to come soon.

To tide us over, we actually reached out to the man himself, who was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us. Ando was incredibly giving in this regard, and to be honest, it’s lent yet another level of depth to our listening experience since we had our chat – and it just might do the same for you.


FB: The new EP is going to be called Humble – how does that word relate to the songs on the record?

Ando: I think this year has been a tough one for me and the one sentence that kept popping up in my head was “stay humble”. I feel like each project that I name has something to do with what going on in my life at that moment in time. This time I wanted to remind myself to be humble. One song is titled aura and I hope the listeners get the vibe of the song. Just living in the moment and just appreciating the things around you. The music video will mos def give you a sense of living in the moment and enjoying things while you have them. The other song is titled “Big Surprise” I kinda want the listener to pick up on the meaning of that song and how it corelates with “Humble” so I won’t say anything haha. It’s a nice and simple 2 song ep but it’s going to really show people my production chops and song writing skills as well.

FB: A good portion of your guitar technique blends these shimmery, emotive melodies with laser-precise rhythmic slapping. Do you tend to start song ideas as melodic phrases or something more rhythm based?

Ando: I usually start off with a very simple chord progression. Then I start producing the beat. After I produce the beat I retrack the guitars. Might add a little bit more flare to it. Then from there I start adding melodic lines, those melodic lines could be built in with the chord progression that could act as a harmony. From there If I wanted to add thumping it would be less melodic and more rhythmic.

FB: Since Sometimes It Be Like That, you’ve pulled in a variety of different genres and adapted them to your style. If you were to put a label on it, how would you describe your sound?

Ando: I would totally call my style of music prog hop. Progressive Hip Hop and I have been giving it that label for like 4 years. It’s really simple and I think people could probably get the gist of it. My music would be really hard to describe so I usually say that.

FB: What/who would you say your main influences are?

Ando: For sure J Dilla, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, MF DOOM and Tosin Abasi (of Animals as Leaders). Tosin Abasi is literally the reason why I play guitar today. I saw them on the Summer Slaughter tour 2010 when I was 15 and I was in awe. Especially seeing a black guitarist playing in a metal band it was something to behold for my teenage self. J Dilla was one of the first Producers that I fell in love with. I was 13 when I first heard J Dilla and He has shaped the way I produce and make music for me since day 1. If it wasn’t for Flying Lotus, I don’t think I would be actually be making beats right now. Everything About him reminded me of me when I was younger. The weird nerdy black dude that loved anime lmao. But also, his music was so different from all the other producers when I was young. I found out Flying Lotus around the same time I heard J Dilla. I play how I play on the guitar because of Thundercat. His chord progression…. everything about him shaped me as a musician. I first heard of him when he dropped Golden Age Apocalypse in 2011 and man the way he solo’d was just insane. I don’t usually solo like a traditional guitarist but I think I solo more like a bassist and it’s because of Thundercat. MF DOOM Is the reason why rap today. I was always a closeted rapper and never really told anybody that I wanted to take it seriously. After he passed away that’s when I started rapping. That was a big blow for the hip hop community, and I just felt a powerful urge to just send. I been practicing rapping for years so I though now would be a good time to show case what I could do. RIP MF DOOM.

FB: How would you describe the relationship between production and guitar playing for you at this point?

Ando: I feel like I am mos def more of a producer now. But the way I produce is all about the guitar. It’s my main instrument. I am usually in my home studio every day. So, when I do practice guitar, I am also Practicing production at the same time. It’s actually a dope ass relationship haha.


FB: What’s the best part about working with SoFar Sounds on this year’s shows?

Ando: The people that come to Sofar shows are all about the music. It’s a beautiful thing. They are incredibly kind and quite when you play. They listen to every word you say. Not only that you get to play in the most unique places. I played in a rock-climbing gym a couple of months ago and it was freaking amazing lmao. The Sofar production team, promoters and sound engineers are ALL very professional. Also, it’s a good side hustle for the full-time musician. It has helped me so much financially that I get to have a little bit of breathing room and actually take 1 day off if I wanted to. I say 1 day off because I am constantly working lmao. But its really nice man.

FB: Live music has really taken on a new energy in some ways post-pandemic. Has anyones live show inspired you this year? Or livestream?

Ando: I recently played with an artist at sofar, her name is Vadia. That shit was absolutely insane. I implore anybody that’s reading this if you see that she is in your town please go see her. It’s a god damn ritual. Ground breaking stuff!

FB: How did the Plaid Session with The Cell Dwellers come about? Do you have any favorite memories from that?

Ando: It was so sick dude. Playing with Mike Mitchell aka Blaque Dynamite, Joe Cleveland Chris Fishman and Antonio Anzaldua. These are A1 musicians and it was an experience and a blessing to apart of it. Annie Abbey was the creative director of the project and she absolutely killed it! Seattle Washington is such a beautiful place and honestly made me want to move over there. Do keep a look out on more stuff from Annie Abbey, she has a lot of awesome ideas and projects in the works. If your keen and you like cool videography and stop motion stuff mos def keep her in your radar.

FB: The social media landscape is a sea of constant change, but it’s one of the few reliable places to find new music. When you’re trying to grow your audience organically outside of shows, what works best for you? What’s the biggest challenge?

Ando: The biggest challenge for me is getting people’s attention and getting them to actually care about a project. I have always done the organic route and it has worked out for me. It’s a slow grind but its been paying off for me and I see the gains. I really want to put my energy in to the fans that already show love and appreciation for my work. I try not to dwell on the people that are not listening or paying attention to my music. I really want to focus on those that are already showing me so much love and support and there is a lot of people that are giving me that. I am incredibly humbled every day by the nice messages I get from folks that like my music. That’s honestly what keeps me going.

Big thanks to Ando San for being so forthcoming with the answers. Like we said, it definitely enriched the way we listen to his music, as well as that of several of the influences he mentioned. Be sure to check out the Ando San Bandcamp here, and if you like what we do, throw some caffeine fundage our way some time here. But no pressure it’s a filthy habit – you could also check out our compilations. Wherever you stand, coming up we’ve got more goodies from Turian, Paranoid Void, and more!