Andrew Armstrong feels comfortable with himself, and you can notice it in both his music and his words. After launching his latest vehicle, the Daddy Squad project, with a collaboration with long-time collaborator and friend Dita Von Teese in September 2021, he releases today the debut album All Day All Night Automatic.
Appreciating the value of being independent and not relying on so many people in decision-making, being able to do what he really wants and expressing himself as he is, Andrew, who was half of synth-pop project Monarchy as well as swamp pop project Horixon, features an impressive array of collaborators and remixers in this latest release.

The artist does not care much about having fewer resources or a smaller structure that supports his musical project. Welcoming the freedom and flexibility that Daddy Squad gives him, he knows he doesn’t need a huge record label behind him nowadays. “It's much better to be independent,” he says in the interview you can read below, in which we also talk about how he in the past always put music first and his sexuality and self-worth second, and of course, about his new album, All Day All Night Automatic, from which he had to drop a few tracks off. “I guess I might release them on other labels later in the year.”
Hello Andrew and welcome to METAL, how are you and where are you answering us from?
Hello! Thanks for having me. I’m answering from Madrid today. I live between London and Madrid, which I love. I get to enjoy the lifestyle of Madrid, and the inspiration of London.
In these last two years, we’ve seen how your latest vehicle of prolific musical output, Daddy Squad, has been taking shape. What balance do you make of your project so far? Is it letting you know a new side of yourself?
I’ve loved being solo and independent again. With Daddy Squad I can release at my own pace, which is much faster than big record labels. I’m my own record label and art director, I find collaborators and remixers, as well as writer and producer. I find it really inspiring knowing I can write a track, and that it will get released within a few months, and that pushes me forward every day.
I’ve also enjoyed finding my feet with the project and heading back to ‘clubland’ a bit. I do a lot of DJing, and that’s been an inspiration for the tracks, thinking about how they will work in clubs. I then combine that with what I know about songwriting, structures and musicality, and bring it together.
What would you say are the three most recognizable characteristics of the Daddy Squad? What differences and similarities does it have with everything you’ve done before in the music scene?
I would say Daddy Squad is first Italo Disco, secondly queer, and see points 1 and 2 above. Italo Disco, as a genre, doesn’t take itself too seriously, which I love. It’s something joyful, and even if people haven’t heard a track before, they can understand it. It still can have a dirty and dark underbelly, like all good disco, but it isn’t a bunch of boring guys stroking their chins and looking at the DJ. It’s more about losing your inhibitions and going crazy on the dance floor. I would say the project has a lot of connections to my past project Monarchy because I used a lot of analogue synths, disco elements and French Touch, but it was less club-oriented than Daddy Squad. Before Monarchy, I was an indie dance DJ and involved in breaks, so that comes through a lot.
All my different experiments and projects are an influence. Sometimes I’ll programme a hi-hat and think ‘that’s just the way Toby would have done it’ from a collaboration on a project from decades ago. That’s the great thing about collaborations and having history as you can always bring it forward to now.
You were half of the synth-pop project Monarchy as well as swamp pop project Horixon, what did these experiences bring you and what did you learn from them?
I think every step we take in life we learn something. And I spent ten years with Monarchy, so of course I learnt a lot and changed a lot in that time. We spent a lot of time looking at songwriting with Monarchy, and so I bring some of that knowledge to Daddy Squad. Lyric writing, playing with pop structures, different ways of making a song great with little variations or little production tricks. Over time, we wrote hundreds of songs – most of them not released –, so every one of them I learned something from. A lot of club producers just think writing a pop song is chucking a vocal on top of a beat, but it’s not. There are lots of details that go into a great pop song.
My production also changed over time, so I brought all the stuff I developed into Daddy Squad, from playing with noise and tape saturation to analogue synths. Even vocal production ideas and chord structures. Horixon was a smaller project, but I still learned a lot from collaborating with the other half, who is Joseph Ashworth. He’s doing big things now with a lot of producers like DJ Tennis and LP Giobbi and stuff.
Before Monarchy came to an end during Covid, you performed around the world, including Coachella, Bilbao BBK Live, LoveBox, Low and Arenal Sound, among many others. Were you tired of this frenetic pace with so many performances and trips on your schedule? Had you thought in recent years about leaving everything and starting another project from scratch?
Touring with Monarchy wasn’t too crazy. We would often do a gig on a weekend, chill during the week, and then perform again the following weekend. For sure it was fine getting back to that routine again. I love some of the festival shows, it’s so exciting playing to a ready-made audience like that.
Do you feel that now you are freer and more connected with what you really want to do in Daddy Squad?
Yes, I am definitely freer with Daddy Squad. I can take it in whatever direction I want, release at my own pace, talk directly to the people listening, and be more open. Because Monarchy was part of a larger structure, I was encouraged to be quiet and not express myself too much. I found it very restrictive and didn’t feel I was being very honest about myself, like I was being asked to be someone I’m not.
It was also slow. If we wrote a great song, we had to get the permission of a lot of other people before we could even consider releasing it. Albums took years to get released. And things like artwork, which is super important to me, would not be representative of the music I had composed. Now I can bang out the music quickly, pick who is the best remixer for the track, make the artwork, and push it out to DJs that I love.
Getting remixes and promotion for the tracks is just down to me, so I can work with people I love and write to remixers I respect to get some great remixes. Of course, I have fewer resources, but much more freedom and flexibility. But these days with streaming, an artist like myself doesn’t need a huge record label behind, it’s much better to be independent. 
You’re now releasing your debut album under your new name, All Day All Night Automatic, which someone can put on from start to end and suits a certain mood, as you’ve said. What does this release mean to you and how long have you been working on it?
This album is the more club-oriented side of Daddy Squad. I’ve put remixes on there, or the clubbier versions of the tracks. I wanted it to be something people can put on and be lost in Club Daddy Squad for an hour. It’s got a lot of Moroder bass lines, a lot of nods to Cerrone, Patrick Cowley, as well as early house.
The album came together very quickly in the end. When I put together all the tracks and realised I had a full album, I even had to drop a few off. I guess I might release them on other labels later in the year. I write quite quickly and I’m quite dedicated to music, so I get a good pace going for the releases.
“This project is all about being in full colour, full of personality, bringing positive energy and queerness to this little corner of Italo Disco,” you answered when asked about your musical project. Could you tell us more about the vision that you project from Daddy Squad, what are the pillars on which the project is cemented?
I sometimes see DJs and producers being moody and serious, or even worse, just straight-up dull, and I kind of despair. There are a lot of bedroom producers who don’t particularly have much personality, and so hide behind a blank Instagram and some releases on anonymous record labels. I guess I wanted to be the opposite of that. Life is bland enough; we don’t need more of it. As musicians, I think it’s important to express our personalities so that other people can engage with them, understand who we are, and link to them.
When leaving Monarchy, I wanted to really express myself more freely as well. I spent a lot of time hiding my sexuality in music, and I think that had a big negative impact on my self-esteem. In the past, I always put music first, and my sexuality and self-worth as second. Only in the last year or so, I have been more comfortable in my skin, and I feel more free to express myself. Amazing how that’s a lifelong journey!
Another important pillar for Daddy Squad is enjoyment. If I’m not enjoying the process, then I’m not going to do it. Of course, there’s hard work to be done, but still, I want every collaboration to be enjoyable, and every gig to be with enjoyable promoters. So far, it’s been possible! Each one has been very easy and fluid to work with. But I’ve had to eject a few collaborators that were getting a bit diva-ish. Funnily enough, it’s the smaller ones that are problematic. The bigger collaborators are much more professional and easier to deal with.
And how has the feedback been on the releases so far?
It’s been really great. Sometimes I see big DJs sneak into my Bandcamp and buy a track and it makes me so happy. Or I read the DJ responses, and they are DJs I love and admire who are raving about my tracks, it makes it really special. And hearing my music being played out when they don’t even know I’m in the audience is a real buzz, of course. Added to that, my ridiculous name of Daddy Squad means I sometimes get fully grown men yelling out ‘daddy!’ at me on the street, which makes me laugh so much. The more I get of that, the more I know the project is working.
Besides bringing together the clubbier side of your new project, the album features an impressive array of collaborators and remixers. Who are they and why have you decided to join forces with these collaborators?
I’m also so happy with all the collaborators on there. Dita Von Teese is on there twice, and I’ve been collaborating with her for ages. There’s a collaboration with S’Express, who was one of the very first acts to bring sampladellic disco house to the charts, back in 1988. He’s a total legend, and a lovely guy and friend, so I was excited to be able to collaborate with him. It was very easy, throwing ideas backwards and forwards. In the end, we used an interview with him from 1988 as the vocal sample for the track after he posted it on his Instagram one day.
Zoot Woman were a big inspiration for Monarchy, so it was great to go full circle and collaborate with them. They are a legendary synth-pop act I used to listen to all the time when I first moved to London in 2003. Hard Ton are super queer Italo Disco bears from Italy, and great to work with. The track on here is actually one we wrote together that they then remixed, which I then re-remixed. So it went through the cycles a few times in the end!
For remixers, I had the lovely Lauer and Chinaski adding their magic. They are both legends in the modern Italo scene. I learned something from each collaboration and pushed forward each time because each had their own personality and own way of working. 
Let’s talk about your long-time collaborator and friend, Dita Von Teese, with whom you have worked on many occasions. How did you meet her and what do you like most about her?
Actually, we met on Twitter when Monarchy performed at Coachella. She tweeted how much she liked it, so I was talking to her a bit, and she invited me to Paris to hang out with her and her friends on Christmas. That was probably about ten years ago or more, and we’ve been friends since and collaborated many times. I’ve written for her shows, and even for some of her adverts and stuff. Just this week we were talking about writing something new for one of her shows and for some more Daddy Squad, so I’m super excited about that.
From all the songs included in All Day All Night Automatic, do you have a favourite?
You can’t ask a daddy who their favourite kid is: it’s unfair to the other children. Each one has their own personality and moment. I love all my children.
You also run a 100% independent record label, being the creative director for the releases and directing all the videos and creating the artwork. How do you combine all these facets and what do you enjoy the most about the entire creative process?
For me, freedom is the thing I enjoy the most. I can create the artwork that I feel suits the track, I can look for the right remixer to bring out some aspect of the track that I want. And best of all, I can release at the schedule I want, which is pretty much a track or remix every two weeks. It’s a lot.
I have run my own labels in the past and started as a musician running my own label, so I’m used to it and enjoy it. There's a lot of emails and organising, which I understand isn’t for every musician, but I don’t mind it. I have a strict schedule of writing music in the morning, having a break, and then doing emails and administration in the afternoon.
Is there anything you can tell us about your next projects?
I’m already thinking about my next releases after this album and thinking about doing something a bit more vocal-oriented for a moment before returning to the club. Let’s see!
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