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Andrew Lipke isn’t a singer/songwriter so much as he is a composer. His complex, multilayered arrangements go beyond what most Philly musicians do with a guitar or piano.
“I always felt a strong connection to music, and ever since I can remember, I was either going to be a composer or a marine biologist,” Lipke said. “Composing won.”
Since arriving in Philadelphia, the 31-year-old, South African-born multi-instrumentalist has made a splash in the local music scene, signing to Drexel University’s beloved MAD Dragon Records, on which he released two LPs in two years.
Lipke’s brand of alternative rock infuses acoustic and electric guitars, piano and string arrangements into a hypnotic musical stew that typically blurs lines of genres.
“Once I hit 16 or 17, I really didn’t see any difference between genres of music,” Lipke said. “Music was music, and I stopped aligning myself to any particular scene based around a sound and really just found myself intrigued and inspired by any good and interesting music.”
The singer/songwriter lists a diverse collection of influences ranging from Bach to ABBA to John Denver. His four-piece backing band, The Prospects, fill out the sound adding depth and precision to every measure. Lipke calls The Prospects “the most versatile and talented group of musicians” with whom he’s worked.
Lipke described his upcoming recording project as an operetta or song suite album called The Plague, which he hopes will be finished this year. The songwriter calls it his most ambitious work to date.
“It’s a series of apocalyptic vignettes,” he said. “It’s mostly piano based, and I’m writing a series of string quartets to play behind the piano and vocal performances.”
Lipke began playing piano at age 5, before moving to the United States at age 9. He came to Philadelphia in 1996 to attend the University of the Arts and has been here ever since.
“I love Philadelphia. It’s small enough that you can form relationships with many people who are influential and active in the music scene but big enough that you can discover new and interesting people doing wonderful things all the time,” he said. “I’ve laid my roots here. This is my home.”
Kevin Brosky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.