Black Sands is the music recording project of Amsterdam-based producer, creator, and collaborator, Andrew Balfour. A former touring artist in alternative rock bands, Andrew blends his dark rock beats with pop, R&B, and rock vocals, creating a sound that’s fresh yet familiar.
Andrew was born in Milwaukee and toured in rock bands for nearly ten years. He left music to pursue creative marketing, which brought him to a career in the entertainment industry in Amsterdam.
Do you ever look back and realize you could have done it better if you knew what you know now? Touring in bands taught Andrew the craft, but creative marketing taught him the art of iteration, the power of collaboration, and the alchemy that happens when diverse perspectives collide.
That’s the soul of Black Sands: In its namesake phenomenon, lava meets water, cools and shatters into pieces as small as sand. When a lava flow is large, it can turn a beach black overnight. “I’ve had a strong attraction to places like Hawaii and Iceland, where the contrast of the ocean alongside a volcano creates something beautiful and harmonious.”
First, the flow: Black Sands music starts with beats infused alternative 90s rock that helped form his perspective as a young musician. The distorted guitar, driving beats, and subtle synths – recalling Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, and Deftones – mingle with modern pop influences like The Weeknd, Billie Eilish, and Post Malone. There’s inspiration from the film scores Andrew is surrounded by, how music takes charge and sets a mood.
Then the waves rush in. Andrew works with R&B, pop, and rock vocalists whose lyrics soar over moody beats. On writing the debut single, “The Hardest Pill To Swallow,” Andrew says, "I had a song that deviated from some of the darker rock vibes I was used to writing. I didn't know what to do with it. Then I heard Martino's voice and it all fell into place.” The result is a dark electric anthem with a resolute rock beat and driving guitar, paired with R&B vocals and delivered in an alt-pop packaging. And just like that, the sands go dark.
From tour vans in the Midwest to sunny California to canal-filled Amsterdam, Andrew returns to music with a clarity of vision and a talent for drawing something new out of the artists he collaborates with. Black Sands music, too, has traveled the world, bouncing off rock artists in Chicago, Milwaukee, and Nashville, and creatives in New York, London, and Berlin. With each inflection point the music becomes clearer, more balanced, more solid, approaching a place where a rock element, a metal element, a hip-hop element, a trap element, a pop, and R&B element find harmony. It’s more representative of the world that way, like that composite image of faces where the average becomes more beautiful the more faces you add. It’s familiar, yet unlike anything you’ve seen. A bit like waking up to a beach gone black.