We recently lost a great musician, supporter, and friend. Last month, Andrei Androsoff died suddenly in a motorcycle accident in Thailand, his adopted home of fourteen years.
I met him as a child when he moved to Deep River Ontario, and joined our Grade 4 class at Cockroft School. It was instantly clear, even at that young age, that he was a unique boy. He stood out with his bright blonde hair, boundless energy and musical talent. Early on, he was recruited to play Oliver in the Mackenzie High School Musical.
One of my early memories with Andrei was helping him turn his house into a disco club (using his mother’s records). We did not have a big turnout for that first gig.
Our friendship deepened in high school. We, along with many other friends, began skateboarding. He and I encouraged one another and pushed each other’s limits. In a time before the internet, in a small town, there were few resources for learning to skate. We just made it up and did what felt right.
During this time, Andrei was playing a lot of music: Guitar, keyboards, drums. He had been attending jazz camps in the summer and started playing in a cover band: The Young Offenders. They were a lot of fun and played some hits of the day by artists such as U2, Level 42, and The Romantics at school dances.
Andrei and I both became interested in electronic music. We started experimenting with MIDI composition. He had a cassette four-track, so we were able to record some of these experiments. Listening back now, the first ones were terrible. Even so, we used a couple of them in our Grade 13 final English project, which was a half-hour skateboarding video.
The Cheese Army
As high school wrapped up, we planned to form a band with Jamie Tait and Steve O’Shaughnessy. “The Cheese Army” was never a proper “band” but early demo recordings included more electronic / indie-dance recordings, and some indie pop rock songs.
In 1990, Jamie, Steve and I moved to Ottawa. Meanwhile at the University of Guelph, Andrei put together a demo album of original tracks. Known as “Era,” by the Cheese Army, this completely opened my eyes as to what was possible with indie songwriting, producing and recording.
While we never really had a full-time “band” together, Andrei and I collaborated intermittently through the years. Without Andrei, I likely would not have had the impetus to start on Isotopia, Isonaut Music, or any of my other music projects. Overall, whether acoustic, electric or electronic, Andrei Androsoff’s music inspired.
At some point back in Ottawa (by then, Andrei had moved there), Andrei acquired a new acoustic guitar, and essentially abandoned his old one. I still have it. I’ve written almost every song for Isotopia, the Subtitles, Team Leader on it. Even some Integer & CWWT tracks got their start on that old six-string.
Neither he nor I were overly spiritual, but playing this guitar is a great reminder of his “spirit” and creativity. I haven’t pondered this every time I pick it up. I may from now on.
When John Holt and I began writing songs together, we had no way of recording demos. For Andrei, that just wouldn’t do. He immediately lent us his four-track recorder. On another occasion, he lent me a rack of his electronic music gear to try for a few weeks. So, he bore another key character trait: generosity – whether with his possessions or his time.
While Jamie and I headed out west, Andrei moved to Korea and then to Thailand, and on to many new interests and adventures. Over the years, he applied himself to teaching, kite boarding, coding, travelling and flying drones. Pretty much everything he took on, he excelled at. His musical output wavered somewhat through the years, but his support and encouragement never did.
So, in honour of his passing, we have given over the Featured Track section entirely to Andrei Androsoff’s music. Listen and enjoy.
– Daryl Askey