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andyfletcherAndy Fletcher Biography Andy Fletcher Photos

For twenty-five years Andy Fletcher has been married to the music industry. A somewhat unique relationship, staying faithful to a very unique band – Depeche Mode. The band have sold in excess of 70 million records, toured extensively world wide and, most unusually – retained the same draw and popularity they’ve always had.
In May 2001, Depeche Mode released their 11th studio album ‘Exciter’ and embarked on an 84 date tour that would take them not only to the four corners of the globe, but also begin three separate journeys.
When the tour wrapped at the Maimarkthalle in Germany on the 5th November the initial thought was to rest. Despite this, Martin Gore released and toured his second album of covers entitled ‘Counterfeit 2’ and Dave Gahan released and toured the critically acclaimed, ‘Paper Monsters’ his first album of self penned songs.

Never one to let the grass grow under his feet, Andy Fletcher too had plans. He decided to do something that he’d been planning for the last 10 years and ironically; it was a unique support band from the Exciter tour that had put the wheels in motion. A band called Technique had supported Depeche Mode for some of the festival gigs that year and Andy got to know the bands’ two principle players, Kate and Sarah, very well. When he got back home to London he used to see Kate in the local pub as she lived in the same road;

AF
They started to play me some demos they’d done and I thought it was interesting and decided to work with them on the demos. I thought it had something, the girls out front rather than a male lead. It had a bit of an edge – so I had to make a decision about where I was going to take it.

There really was only one way it could go. Depeche Mode had signed a by now almost legendary deal with Daniel Miller for Mute Records back in 1981. Daniel did not offer any money, Mute were a small indie with only one person other than Daniel helping out. The deal meant: no contract, 50/50 partnership sharing the costs and the profits, and, if the two didn’t get on, then each side could pull out of the deal whenever they wanted. It was basically a deal made out of trust and meant the band had equal control over every aspect of their career.
For the first 15 years or so Depeche Mode largely managed themselves earning Andy valuable industry experience. It was with this experience that Andy took Kate and Sarah (now Client) on to the next level. He had a choice of managing them or using his industry contacts to get them signed. Daniel Miller suggested Andy forget these ideas and start his own label. So he did.
In early 2002 Toast Hawaii (named after a favourite Depeche Mode toasted sandwich from the early years) was founded. Starting a record company from scratch is never an easy undertaking, but in the present recording industry climate of dwindling sales and massive staff cuts some would consider it madness. However the years of experience garnered in the early Depeche years stood Andy in good stead and Client were signed on a similar 50/50 type deal. The ethos of Toast Hawaii and Mute before it has always been to keep costs to a minimum to get the maximum return on your sales. (In the early days, Depeche Mode were nearly turned away from legendary BBC show Top of the Pops because they arrived on foot.) In sticking to these ideals Andy believes bands have a great deal more longevity.

AF
The amount of money that was and is wasted, recording and starting up new bands is ridiculous. How can you justify spending half a million on a bands first album when you have no clear indication of how many will sell? That’s why so many bands only last for one album or even a couple of singles.

Client recorded their first album for around £15000, that included mixing, recording, artwork, photography – basically everything. Using the latest recording technology meant that they could make a perfectly good sounding recording at home so there was no need to hire an expensive studio. The money saved obviously meant they had less money to make before they were in profit;

AF
In this day and age you shouldn’t really have to be a superstar to earn a decent living from music and that’s what Toast Hawaii is about, using the technology available to keep costs down and quality high.

Technology is a key word for Toast Hawaii. Whereas major labels have been slow to take advantage of the internet and all its capabilities, Andy sees it as a vital promotion tool. Given the huge forum available through this medium, Client not only established a worldwide fan base, they were also able to start their own website, create their own style and image, and treat browsers to exclusive videos and audio samples before the first single ‘Price of Love’ had ever been released. There is, of course always the fear of the download, but Andy remains positive about that subject too.

AF
I realize that CD copying and downloading is inevitable but if this happens to you at least it gives you a signal that you are becoming popular.
I think the industry has been terribly at fault by not dealing with the internet download problem sooner, they’re starting to deal with it now but unfortunately they’re about 10 years too late. When Napster and the like came along they didn’t really tackle it and join with it, they ran away from it to try and secure their profits which was the wrong thing to do.

As record company impresario, Andy is keen, but cautious to add to the Toast Hawaii roster. Between running a record company, continuing the success of Client, Dj-ing and contributing to one of the most successful bands of the last 30 years – there’s precious little time for anything else. However, while sifting through the hundreds of demos that arrive on his desk each week, one of the hopefuls caught his eye and Andy was pleased to recently announce that a deal has been struck with Legate X.
At present, details are very much shrouded in mystery and the band are working hard on demos for the first release. However, Andy is confident we’ll be hearing from Legate X before 2004 comes to a close and Toast Hawaii will continue to add to its stable. Along with this new career as a record company boss, fate dealt Andy another curious career opportunity in mid 2002. Client were already Djing at Thirst, a club in Soho, London. The nights were an opportunity for friends and fans alike to gather and listen to the artists that inspired the band and a great opportunity for Client to showcase their music.

AF
One nice thing about Sarah & Kate is they can do different things, they write their own songs, make records, DJ, remix, play live and design their own merchandise. They were running a club night called Being Boiled in London (now monthly at the Notting Hil Arts Club) at the same time as we started the record company and they asked me if I’d like to do a bit of DJ’ing. I used to DJ many years age when I was about 17 or 18 and I’d always enjoyed doing the music for my restaurant so I thought, why not?

In time, word got round and the guest list swelled. Not only were the gigs attracting the more astute Depeche Mode fans, who had worked out that the DJ billed as Client F, was actually Andy Fletcher, but club promoters from around the world began to take note. The odd hours spent on the decks were soon expanding to full sessions.
Andy’s reputation and confidence as a DJ has grown immensely in the last two years, and his newfound talent has taken him and Client from Russia to New York, and Barcelona to Mexico. Andy’s eclectic electro set is a mixture of some you’d expect to hear and some you may not. On a typical night you might go from Fad Gadget to Client, then Yazoo to Donna Summer – with a bit of Madonna to round the evening off.

AF
My set is really classic electro from New Order and Depeche Mode mixed with some new stuff like Client and Scissor Sisters. I try to tell a historical story of where Depeche Mode and Client have come from with artists like Bowie and Donna Summer, so the listener has some sense of influence.

Andy’s DJ’ing future looks secured with gigs already booked for most of this year all over Europe and South America. So maybe it’s not quite the rest he was planning, but Andy’s clearly enjoying his new occupation although he admits that DJ-ing can be more nerve wracking than playing a stadium with Depeche Mode.

AF
The main thing is you’re by yourself… also if I make a mistake with Depeche, I just say sorry to the band but if I make a mistake DJ-ing there’s no one to hide behind and really no one to say sorry to.

Not having the whole Mode entourage does have its advantages of course and Andy is enjoying being able to revisit all the locations around the world with time to enjoy them. The usual itinerary for Andy on tour is; flight, sound-check, hotel, gig, hotel and then take off to the next city. He now has time to walk around and enjoy the cities he’s visiting, without the Depeche Mode mayhem.
The mayhem of course will come calling again. Also on Andy’s busy agenda is Depeche Mode’s 12th studio album, which is planned for release some time in 2005… but don’t expect him to trade in the decks for his keyboard completely.

For further information on Andy Fletcher and Toast Hawaii, visit www.toasthawaii.com