Interview: Big Neil Anderson

We sit down with Big Neil Anderson following the launch of their first album.

multiple writers
21st March 2022
Credit: Big Neil Anderson

Big Neil Anderson is the musical alias of Tom Leach, a Newcastle University student who has worked on their ambient and electronic music over the past few years. We catch up with Big Neil following the launch of their first album, BNA.

When you were first interested in making music, what was it that first sparked interest?

Really, I got into playing and making music before I started listening to it. In year three I started playing trumpet - me and my brother took lessons together - and my music teacher got us to join his brass band.

Do you feel there's a brass influence in your ambient music today? Would you ever whip out a trumpet?

Ooooh, I don't know, I like brass sounds but the nature of the music I'm making... synthesised brass sounds like shit most of the time. So no.

Do you feel maybe there's a connection between oom-pah music and house music?

Like polka? I mean they're both dance music. You could draw comparison between polka Tuba basslines and disco basslines, there's a lot of that [makes noises].

So, you've recently released what I suppose is your 'debut' album, BNA, can you tell us about that and what's inspired it?

Yeah, I'm sort of reluctant to treat it as an album because there wasn't a concept behind it, it was more I wanted to put something out. My creative process is basically make something, if I like it enough I'll upload it somewhere, and I ended up with enough tracks to put something out. But there's no concept.

And, the readers want to know, where does the alias Big Neil Anderson come from?

I'll give you the real story, I don't have a funny one made up. I just changed my name to Neil Anderson on Twitter, as like, a laugh. Thought it was funny for some reason. The 'Big' got tacked on later and then it kind of spiraled. Neil Anderson in my head is a sort of middle class, middle aged, British bloke, drinks Peroni, in a sort of not weird, not loveless marriage, but close. It was just a name. I never intended it to be the face of my music, but when I decided to upload something, Tom Leach just didn't feel special enough. Nobody's going to ask, "who is Tom Leach?"

What's your favourite track on it?

Probably H Plus - it was the second to last one I completed and I really like how the kick sounds on that. But really, I like them all. That's why they're on there.

It's very similar to some of your earlier work?

Yeah, but with a kick.

Would you say most of your influences come from, say, 'conventional' music?

Great question. I guess electronic music. I only relatively recently started getting into electronic music, I was always more of a rock guy. And my interest in electronic music sort of coincided with starting to make it. As far as influences go, I suppose just whatever I'm listening to at the moment. I guess I like nineties sort of British hardcore rave, it's fun and I think a lot of dance music is way too serious. Especially in Germany where I'm living, it's really dark and brooding.

Would you say there's any kind of artists you listen to and you go, that's the kind of stuff I want to make?

I suppose in terms specific influences, Four Tet is kind of not too heavy, but still fun and rythmic. Brian Eno of course. For the ambience.

Does your music sort of span from sort of ambient stuff to techno stuff to drum and bass, do you design your music to be sort of danceable? Will we one day be dancing to it in a nightclub in Berlin?

No, I guess, I don't think it's club ready music. It's not sort of heavy. I guess it's like pop music in a dance style - if that doesn't sound too pretentious.

Find BNA on Big Niel Anderson's spotify here.

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