Long-term readers of this website – and listeners of the John Peel show in the early 00s – will recall a beautifully sparse 7″ single, ‘White Light Unknown’, by the mysterious Calamateur. Several albums later, the man behind that alias, Andrew Howie, recorded two vocals on the multi-faceted collaborative album by The Grand Gestures. He’s now emerged fully from behind the mask with his ‘debut’ solo album…


I’m Andrew Howie, a singer-songwriter/music-maker based in Stirling.


From 2000 – 2013 I made music under the name Calamateur. I released quite a bit of music in that time and you can find it all here: www.music.calamateur.com. You may also have heard me sing a couple of songs on The Grand Gestures’ first two records.

I dropped the ‘Calamateur’ moniker last year to make music under my own name. Why ditch it? Well, for one thing, it just didn’t feel right to hide behind it any more. Also, I could bore you to tears with stories of how Calamateur has been mis-spelled, mis-pronounced and misunderstood over the years. I’m hoping my Sunday name is easier for folks to deal with!


I’m originally from Glasgow, then moved to Beauly (near Inverness) for 8 years. I moved to Stirling 4 years ago. As much as I loved the Highlands, it’s amazing to be back in the Central Belt. A lot of my work now involves leading songwriting and music workshops in prisons, schools and youth clubs dotted around Scotland, so being based here makes a lot of sense.



The first album I’m releasing under my own name is out on March 16th and called ‘The Great Divide’. When I first recorded the songs for the record, I went for a very bare production; just one vocal and one guitar. It was a challenge to myself to write songs that were good enough to stand up to that level of sparseness. However, I was listening to the finished recordings in the car one day, to see how they sounded in a different environment from my studio, and ended up chucking the CD out of the car window in disgust. I hated it. So, after leaving it alone for a few months (while I completed an MA in Songwriting & Performance at UWS) I returned to the songs and decided to throw everything I had at them – woozy electric guitar, choir samples, fuzzy bass, synths – the lot. I also asked my friend, MA classmate and co-writer (on ‘The Fury And The Sound’ – the first single from the album) Yvonne Lyon to sing backing vocals and play piano on 4 of the 10 songs. Other than that, it’s all me, making as much of a racket as I can.


Why do I make music? I suppose part of it may just be habit. I’ve been writing songs for twenty years now and have been recording and releasing my own music for fifteen of those. A saner person than me would probably have stopped by now! But I still love doing it and want to get better at it. While I was studying towards my MA, part of the course demanded that I take a close look at my own creative practice as a songwriter. The main idea that emerged from this analysis was that I definitely fall into the category of the ‘confessional’ singer-songwriter; writing songs is how I make sense of myself, the world, my beliefs and my relationships. Those all look very different from when I started doing this twenty years ago, and a lot of those changes have taken place through the process of examining my life through writing songs. This is what I talk about whenever I lead songwriting workshops, in the hope that it will encourage the folks there to open up as much as they can about their own lives, so they can then pour those stories into their own songs. Songwriting (and any art, really) is a tool for getting to the heart of who we are, and gives us the opportunity to reflect, change and grow. I’ve been working a lot with a new organisation called Vox Liminis recently, and here’s an example from their website of the kind of thing I’m talking about: http://www.voxliminis.co.uk/i-wish-id-listened-to-you/

‘The Great Divide’ is out on March 16th on Autoclave Records and as a bandcamp download. More at www.andrew-howie.com and www.facebook.com/andrewhowiemusic