Solasta Festival is leaving its original grounds in northeastern Tennessee for the misty, hill-bound Deerfields Retreat in the Pisgah National Forest in southwestern North Carolina on August 16-18. Now entering its third year, the event is known for its niche curation, booking the cream of the contemporary crop in psychedelic broken beat music. Unlike their location, this ethos hasn’t changed. Solasta draws crowds, performers and some of its organizers from Asheville, North Carolina, a fertile place for electronic music culture. Our Sound of Solasta interview series investigates the back stories of those performing at Solasta and for this installment we’re focusing on one of those Asheville artists, the ascendant audio alchemist Pathwey.
He is a diverse and persistent musician whose career creating art in multiple forms has taken him across the country and back again. Although he’s been playing all sorts of music his entire life, lately Pathwey has been working at 140 beats-per-minute, and he’s one of the only producers at this glitch hoppers’ paradise of a festival who does so. But he plays it like few others do, integrating psybass sound design, world instruments, organic textures, and themes of transcendence and appreciation for nature. Make no mistake, though, Pathwey will get you pitted. He’ll just lift you up on high afterward and perhaps tickle your pineal gland along the way.
Pathwey, who usually goes by Andy, expresses himself through visual art as well. All of his songs save for compilation tracks or remixes are accompanied by his own artwork. He’s fabricated stages and worked on projection mapping projects for some of the most enduring acts in electronic music. When he was living in the Boston area, he learned from his roommate, the visual jockey Zebbler (Peter Berdovsky), and became part of FractalTribe, the New England collective with a distinguished fabrication operation.
These experiences have given Andy a holistic familiarity the electronic music culture. When he ascends the stage to spread that culture through his music, a decade and a half of history stands behind him. His persistence was recently rewarded when Street Ritual’s booking agency picked him up in April, ensuring that he’ll be holding space in more clubs across the country soon. Ahead of his “hometown” performance at Solasta, we shot Andy some questions to learn more about him.
The Rust: How long have you been producing music as Pathwey?
Andy: It’s been about two years since I started going by Pathwey, but in my mind this project has been in motion since I started creating electronic music over 14 years ago.
The Rust: What do you try to communicate with your music?
Andy: Music is so intimately connected with the feelings and experiences of the person creating it. In that sense, all of my music is translating and reflecting on some thought, feeling, or experience I’m going through at the time. For me, making music is really the most potent way I know of to process my emotions and transform them into something positive. Sometimes I’m reflecting upon spiritual and philosophical ideas around life and death. Sometimes I’m trying to translate a deep psychedelic experience. Sometimes I’m expressing my frustrations regarding global issues like environmental and social justice. Other times I’m just simply having fun and fucking around with my friends. Whatever it happens to be in the moment, I think ultimately I’m just processing what is happening in my life and trying to create something from it that is beautiful and means something to me.
My greatest aspiration with Pathwey is to use it as a vehicle for positive environmental and social transformation. We are currently faced with so much fucked up shit in our world today. Not like that’s anything new to the human experience, but sometimes it’s hard not to get overwhelmed with sadness, anger, and feelings of helplessness just thinking about it; what effect I could possibly have as one individual? But I think that music can give us the ability to create positive change in a powerful way. That change could be as immediate as uplifting someone into a positive state of being or as lasting as generating funds to donate towards environmental relief efforts, social justice programs, or building communities. This is something that I’m currently working towards with Aquatic Collective and The Undergrowth. We’ve got a lot of really exciting ideas and projects in motion. I feel like as an artist, I have a responsibility to use my platform to promote projects, ideas, and issues that I think are important. Using the gift of music to make a positive impact on the world while simultaneously doing something that I love is the ultimate reward for me.
The Rust: Can you talk about some of the projects you’ve worked on in the past, particularly visual art?
Andy: I feel so blessed to have discovered art and music at such a young age because they’ve both been incredibly positive guiding forces and teachers in my life. Art and music are like an endless feedback loop for me. One is always inspiring the other and the two are intimately connected for me. All the artwork for Pathwey, with the exception of some of the compilations and remixes I’ve released on, has been my own work. The art to me is just another piece of the full expression and I plan to continue creating original artwork and video content through this project.
I’ve created art in all types of mediums; painting, graphic design, installation art, video, wood/metal working, etc. I love exploring new mediums and forms of art. I’ve created artwork for album covers, events, and festivals, I’ve created logos, artwork, and video content for other artists and businesses, I’ve received two grants for installation pieces that I created, and I’ve worked on the fabrication of installations and 3D projection-mapped stages for Shpongle, EOTO, Verizon Wireless, Burning Man, DEFCON, and many other festivals and events. I feel like I’ll be creating visual art and exploring new mediums for the rest of my life.
The Rust: Musically, what were you doing before Pathwey?
Andy: Music has always been a huge part of my life, ever since I was a kid. Growing up I was playing saxophones, guitar, bass, and drums throughout school and jamming in bands with my friends at home. I was recording shitty demos of our songs in the basement, playing local DIY shows, and making beats with Fruity Loops on my family’s computer.
Way before I was going by Pathwey, I was experimenting with genres like Dubstep, DnB, IDM, Glitch-Hop, Downtempo, Psytrance, Trap, House, Ambient or whatever else I felt like making. I think the only difference is that now I’ve finally come to a place with my productions where I think they’re good enough to release. Most people who know my music that aren’t close friends of mine would probably never know I’ve been making lots of different music because I never released any of it. Before Pathwey, the only stuff I ever released was downtempo, but I’ve always been experimenting with all sorts of shit.
The Rust: How would you describe Pathwey music?
Andy: To me, Pathwey is this kind of sonic bridge between the past and the future, merging sounds of cultures from across the ages of human civilization with unknown futuristic and alien sounds that have yet to be created or heard. Somewhere where the natural world and technological world meet in harmony and dark and light energies combine to express the full breadth of human emotion and experience. Sometimes it’s high energy and moves your body, other times it’s chilled out and moves your mind. Hopefully some of it will move your soul…
People can definitely expect to hear forthcoming music from me in a wide variety of genres and tempos. My forthcoming album will showcase more of the explorations in 140 bpm music that I’ve created over the last few years, covering the spectrum from heavy bass-driven bangers to deep atmospheric heart-melters. I also have forthcoming collaborations and works exploring all of those genres I just mentioned.
How long have you been in the Asheville area? What’s the underground electronic music community there look like?
Andy: I’ve been in Asheville for about three years now. The music scene here is so dope, man! I get to see and perform alongside artists I love all the time! There’s certainly no shortage of awesome events happening here. It’s not as big of a scene as somewhere like Denver, but it’s a special place with a great community. I just feel so blessed to live around such a supportive and active music community and I’m so grateful for all the ways in which moving here has been a catalyst for my own growth as an artist. There’s so much talent in Asheville and it’s super inspiring to be around! The community here is really welcoming and open to new people and new music as well. You’ll definitely have a good time if you come through Asheville. Big shout out to The Undergrowth, Harmonia, and Envisioned Arts for holding it down here and providing opportunities for up and comers like myself to play and for hosting events for the community to gather and enjoy the music that we love!
The Rust: Have you been to Deerfields Retreat before? What can you tell us about it?
When I first moved to Asheville, I went to Kinnection Campout at Deerfields. It was such an inspiring experience and my introduction to the electronic music scene in the southeast. All I’ll say about Deerfields is, for those of you haven’t been there, you are in for a real treat if you come to Solasta this year! It’s one of my favorite outdoor venues on the east coast for sure! It’s truly a magical place!
The Rust: Anything else you’d like to share?
Yea, I’d just like to express my infinite love and gratitude to both my parents, my nana, my family, my friends, and my fans for believing in me and supporting me all these years. I certainly wouldn’t be where I’m at today without you all and I just want you all to know that your support and encouragement really means the world to me. To all the people who’ve reached out to me over the years to appreciate what I do, it means more to me than you’ll ever know. There’s a lot of stuff that’s finally coming to fruition after years and years of hard work and I’m so excited to see how it all unfolds and where the journey takes me! Also, to anyone out there reading this that’s struggling to achieve their dreams and aspirations, DON’T GIVE UP! Just keep fucking doing it! Keep moving forward step by step and eventually you’ll get there!