Q&A with Andrew VanWyngarde from MGMT at MoogFest in Asheville

By Sam Parvin and Eileen Tilson; photo by John Thelan

Andrew VanWyngarde, from NYC mega-band MGMT, is not your average rockstar. His hands shook during the interview where he was doodling aimlessly on a paper cup.  Wearing a fuzzy hoodie, his eyes barely met my gaze.  Andrew was not pretentious or too “uber-cool,” even if he does live in Brooklyn Heights. He was genuinely gentle.  Coming to life to show us his mini- binoculars, made from ivory, that he had found at an antique shop in Asheville. He got even more excited to show us, that when you look into the light with the Barbie-sized binoculars to see mini-pictures of 1920’s Paris. Here is the bits we finally got out of him about the music.

During your first few years as a MGMT, there was a lot of fast and heavy awards and accolades. How has that changed your creative process?

Well, we have had less time to hole up in a studio and create music, since we have been on tour a lot, but I don’t think it has effected our creative process. With the second album, we still wrote and recorded the same way we did with the first, we were just able to rent a little nicer equipment.

I read an article that said that with Congratulations, you guys wanted to go in the completely opposite direction from your first album, is that true?

That’s just absolutely not true. The biggest difference between the two albums is the emotions involved with the albums. The first one had this sort of post-apocalyptic, mystical, kids on the beach sort of thing with a little bit of label paranoia, cause we were a little freaked out about signing with Columbia. And the second album is a less up in the clouds. It deals with more real emotions and real life stuff, and much more ambiguously personal. I don’t know why people think because we did something different on our second album, means that we didn’t like our first album. I think we are just the type of people that like to change things up.

So we are here for MoogFest, has the modular synth, or any Moog products effected your music and if so, how?

Ben and I first bonded over “making noises” and it first it was just on the computer, but then we started taking classes, and really learning experimental music and circuitry. We bonded over synths, and both have our favorites. We definitely have used Moog synths, but Ben is learning to write his own plug ins and getting really into computers, so we really aren’t using any right now.

What are your expectations for career?

I would like a long career. If we had a box set of our music that would be cool. I like the fact that our music can be interpreted differently by a different types of people, makes the music last longer.

Steve Lillywhite was quoted saying “’Artists that push boundaries should always be applauded and MGMT do it better than most.” Is there any producer that you would like to work with?

Wow, that’s really flattering that he said said… I know I have always wanted to work with Brian Eno and Sonic Boom.

What are you going to be for Halloween?

I am going as Daphne fro Scooby Doo, I don’t mind dressing in drag.

Check out more pictures of MGMT in our Picture Book above.


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