Same Boat Music Asks: Andy Harsant, Producer and Arranger of The One series

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Andy Harsant has been Arranger and producer at Out of the Ark for nearly 30 years and we’re super excited to have him on the Same Boat Music journey with us. The vast majority of our songs have been through Andy who works his musical magic in the studio to give them that distinctive sound. We caught up with Andy to ask him a little bit about what he does and how he does it!

Andy Harsant on stage at Big Church Day Out

How did your journey into music start?

When I was about 4 years old I used to try and strum along with my Dad who played guitar. I had guitar and piano lessons at primary school, and never looked back! When I was a teenager I developed a fascination for synthesisers and music tech, and was quickly hooked.

You’ve been with Out of the Ark and Same Boat Music since the early days!! How did you first get involved?

I was introduced to Mark & Helen Johnson through a mutual friend. They had just written their first OOTA nativity called ‘Off To Bethlehem’ and asked me if I would have a go at arranging and recording it for them.

How do you think your arranging style has changed over the years?

There have been so many different musical influences that have informed my approach to arranging OOTA songs over the years, and the tremendous advances in computer recording technology have made it possible to achieve amazing results. Sound samples and programming software provide so many options for making great music. However, whenever I can record real instruments played by real humans, I will! Every day is a school day and I’m constantly learning my craft.

The best part of the process though, is recording the children in our choirs. Over the years I have had the privilege of seeing dozens of wide eyed and very enthusiastic young ones come to the studio, sing their hearts out, and go away with a memory they will never forget. That’s the icing and cherry on the top of the cake for me!

How do you go about arranging a song, turning it from a demo to a full-blown track?

It varies. In most cases I hear a song and immediately have a seed of an idea. Every arranger has a method. For me it tends to start with rhythm tracks (drums, bass etc.) and then I build the track from there. I try to make the music sound ‘live’, as though a band has played the track. I think it helps the songs to maintain an accessible and timeless quality.

What do you think makes a “Same Boat Music” song?

The gold in the songs from SBM is the lyrical content. All of our material has either a moral, ethical or spiritual message within it, and often a combination of all three. Whether the song is sung in school, at home or at church, all age groups and particularly children will learn positive and affirming truths for life, and I passionately believe that if you want to communicate something healthy and positive there’s no better way than singing a song about it!

We saw you on the stage playing with Kings Village at Big Church Day Out! How does it differ playing on the big stage compared to your studio downstairs?

Wow, so very different! I love playing gigs in front of an audience. There are a couple of reasons why. Firstly, there is nothing quite like the immediacy and connection when performing music to a listening audience in real-time. It’s a relationship that goes both ways. I am always humbled to be able to play music ‘live’ and see an audience enjoying the experience – (well, I hope so anyway)! I’ll never take it for granted. Secondly, when you play live you have one chance to get it right! It keeps you sharp!

What impact do you hope that Same Boat Music will have on children around the world?

For me, it’s about creating positive and joyful memories and stories. Songs are such a great tool for that. I take enormous satisfaction in knowing that I have played a small part in enriching the lives of thousands of children across the world through singing fantastic songs. Long may it continue!

What’s your favourite Same Boat Music song and why?

That’s like asking me if I have a favourite child! Having said that, ‘Keeper Of My Heart’ from One Of A Kind is a personal favourite. I love it’s message.


About the Author

Hannah Rayson

Hannah Rayson

Hannah coordinates the day to day work at Same Boat Music as well as being the first point of contact for our partners. Hannah lives in Brighton with her Husband, step daughter and dog!

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