How did a boy from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who memorized Janet Jackson dance routines and learned to dub his vocal creations on a dual cassette tape boom box, who became an organic farmer because of a romantic attachment to a man, and who became a professional back-up hip-hop dancer for a San Francisco drag queen before returning to his musical roots, find himself living in the Bushwick neighborhood of New York City with a gorgeous new five song EP on his own label, 3KB Records, entitled Musik/Dance/Love that fuses the major elements of his life?
When Andy Kuncl tells you how this all came to pass, you begin to doubt his age—a mere 36. No slouch, he is also not hyper. He has a calming personality and a serenity of heart. All his energy gets fed into his art rather than the talking about his art. He is lanky, pale and with a strokably bushy red beard and merriment in his eyes. He is the kind of man that boyfriends might describe as sweet, low-maintenance and easy-going. (The Bushwick boyfriend of five years was not asked to verify this guess.)
A tour of the bare facts of his life seems colorized even in outline form.
Knowing his parents would never approve of art school, he chose a more conventional course of study and got a degree in geology because that is what his favorite professor taught. Inspired by Ani DiFranco, he started playing guitar in his sophomore year. He says, “In Pittsburgh I saw a poster for her concert and I went to it. I was amazed. I had never seen anyone play guitar like that. Then I discovered Patty Larkin. Finally I knew what I wanted to do. Playing and singing consumed my life. And, I taught myself graphic design while working at the school paper. My roommates were business majors and we would joke about the fact that I was the one who had actually started my own successful business called Missing String Music that was my platform.”
After college, Andy toured extensively. He says, “I played a lot of Borders bookstore coffeehouses and many college cafeterias. I did that for five years. I made a business connection that flew me down to Orlando frequently to do music showcases. I lost interest in music. That’s when a friend got me into organic gardening back in North Carolina. It captivated me because I could see things grow faster than they do in the music business. I started my own farm called Disco Beet Farm. I fell in love. We were squatting in a big old house with no heat, I had Lyme Disease and we needed a change so we visited San Francisco and moved there. I got a job at a food store cooperative called Rainbow Grocery. 300 worker/owners with no real boss. Very dysfunctional set-up but it worked. A guy who worked there was interested in me. I didn’t want to get involved with a coworker so I resisted. The first song on the EP is called ‘Tried 2 Resist.’ Its original version was a video/song I made in the backyard in fifteen minutes in response to an email he had sent me. I stopped resisting him. At the same time, I started taking hip-hop dance classes and I was doing showcase performances with different choreographers when I auditioned for and got hired by a dance company called Loose Change where I did a lot of Capoeira, house and Lindy Hop. Then I got a job with choreographer Nick Cave where I danced in one of his huge spikey ‘sound suits.’ I also was a backup dancer for drag queen Syphillis Diller at TrannyShack. When I worked with great choreographer Ronald K. Brown, I felt that I had done it with dance, and I returned to music.”
The impetus for that return was primarily the death of a close friend, Kevin Brock, one of the three KBs in the name of his label. The others are choreographer Ronald K. Brown and boyfriend Karl Beck. Andy says, “Kevin used to sit me down and say “What are you doing? Are you doing what you love? If you died tomorrow…?’ He died in his sleep, and his death kicked me into gear to move back into music.
“Musik/Dance/Love is in an alternative/dance/pop style. In it, I transition from an acoustic guitar singer/songwriter and fuse the music of my dance experience. Love is the third element in my life and I now see that I made all of my major moves because of love.”
Andy says that his musical style is sometimes compared to Sade, Peter Gabriel and Rick Astley. When a different comparison was made, suggesting that he might be the love child of Boy George and Sarah MacLachlan, he laughed and denied them as influences, saying, “I think it would be better to say ‘If Arthur Russell and Robyn had a son...’”
Andy is currently working on expanding Musik/Dance/Love into a full length album. The last track on the EP is instrumental only, a direction he continues to explore. Not afraid of dreaming big, he is looking for a DJ with whom to collaborate on remixes (Sin Morera would be a good match) and has an idea about organizing a series of performances involving teams of local artists. When Andy says, “I want to do things that excite me and make me move,” he is not to be doubted. His continuous evolution will always be fascinating but his swiftly growing fan base is hoping that music will continue its hold on him and that he will be producing and performing many more songs. You will agree when you listen to the five tracks of Musik/Dance/Love at AndyKuncl.com.