Andrew Ford (Inner Pieces / Lunatrix) [Interview]
Andrew Ford is a man of many talents. He’s a multi-instrumentalist able to turn his hand to almost any musical situation imaginable; a meditation and mindfulness expert; and a fantastic teacher who keeps on giving and giving. His latest musical project, Inner Pieces, also inspired the very first short fictional piece to be featured here on TMMP.
I got in touch with Andrew to discuss meditation, happiness, the past, present, and future, and many more topics besides. Let’s get stuck in:
Hi Andrew – thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Can you tell us about your current project, Inner Pieces? What’s it all about?
Hey, no problem. Inner Pieces is about music and helping people. For me these are two really important things and I wanted to marry the two together. I’ve been lucky enough to come into contact with some amazing contemplative musical instruments which are conducive to relaxation and meditation. The CD’s I have made in collaboration with James Duff are sold in a number of meditation and yoga studios with all profits going to charities such as Shooting Star CHASE children’s hospice and Buddhist Global Relief.
You’ve moved into live meditation workshops and teaching mindfulness. What can potential attendees expect from your classes?
I’ve started running mindfulness of sound meditation classes. The meditator is guided into relaxation and then invited to listen without judgement to the sounds around them. Some sounds being pleasant and musical, others not so much depending on location..
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is paying close and continuing attention to ones own experience moment to moment. In my classes, it is paying close and continuing attention to the experience of sound.
Any tips for meditators, or those interested in meditation?
Meditation is very simple but difficult. Especially for first time meditators. To begin with I would suggest spending 5 to 10 minutes in the morning, sitting comfortably and watching the breath. The mind will be restless but that is ok. Gently bring your awareness back to breath. If one continues to do this over weeks, months, years, it will become much easier to stay focused. Like anything in life, it takes practice, so don’t expect instant results. But what is the point? Over time you become more aware of your states of mind in everyday life. For example you may catch yourself moments before responding in furious anger to some situation and instead of striking down upon thee with great vengeance, choose to act in perhaps a more fruitful manner.
How did you first get into music?
I started playing piano when I was 4 or 5, it’s just something I’ve always done.
What inspired you to start Inner Pieces? You used to be part of many more energetic projects…
Yes I used to be in a live drum n bass/reggae project called Strobe Circus, it was great fun. We did some awesome gigs. I had to leave eventually as my hearing was starting to suffer. Some of the guys have started a new group called the Future Dub Project who I highly recommend!
It was when I left Strobe Circus that I began to reassess my mission in life. I came to the conclusion that my life was about music and helping people or any combination of the two. Thus, Inner Pieces was born.
You’ve written at length about your experiences as a musician with tinnitus. Are you planning any more literary endeavours in the future – a book, perhaps?
I am sure I will write about something else in the future. Just haven’t felt compelled to just yet. I’ve been throwing around an idea for a novel but haven’t found the time to invest in it properly. One day perhaps.
What are your passions outside of music?
Recently I have been getting into photography. I had no idea how expensive a hobby it was going to become… I like taking pictures of people and being outside.
Besides Inner Pieces and your meditation workshops, are you involved in any other musical projects at the moment?
I have done occasional gigs and festivals with gypsy swing extraordinaires Lunatrix. I would definitely check those guys out!
You’ve played a number of shows at The Boileroom, which is currently under threat of closure. How did you feel when you heard the news?
I was saddened by the prospect. The Boileroom has done a lot for the community as well as the local music scene. It would be a massive loss for Guildford.
Any happy (and publishable!) Boileroom-related stories to share?
Having the opportunity to support Dreadzone and Easy Star Allstars were two particular highlights.
But many many good nights have been spent in that building and I have met lots of great people there too.
What are your feelings and views on the state of grassroots music (live and recorded) in the UK right now?
In some ways it is becoming much more difficult with the threat of venue closures and the questionable record industry practices, but social media and crowd sourcing is empowering musicians to carve their own path. I think we will always find a way to share music with each other.
What makes you happy?
Lots of things. Music, people, nature, laughing, reading, meditation, traveling.
If you had to choose just three moments as the all-time highlights of your journey so far, what would they be?
Hmm difficult. One highlight would have to be journeying to Switzerland to chose my beautiful Hang. That was amazing, I am blessed to have had the opportunity.
2. Recording Native American flute with esteemed lucid dreaming teacher Charley Morley for his lucid dreaming CD which was released worldwide. (Available from amazon)
3. Finally after 2 years of solid practicing, I got my grade 8 piano last year with distinction.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I am very lucky to have all the people and things in my life that I have. I am looking forward to finding out what happens next.
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