By Marisa Filippo
If you haven’t heard the name Andrew Allen yet then you definitely haven’t been to a lot of concerts recently. This singer-songwriter has opened up for top acts such as One Republic, Bruno Mars, Andy Grammer, Train, Nick Carter and The Barenaked Ladies. He has toured with some of the best.
Allen has been a face in the music scene for quite some time now. He released his first 11-track album Living Room Sessions back in 2008. Since then, he has released four EPs – Andrew Allen EP (2009), The Mix Tape (2012), Are We Cool? (2013) and All Hearts Come Home (2014). He has also performed at the 2010 Paralympic Games in Whistler, BC and at Sochi 2014.
Recently, I had the pleasure of learning more about Andrew Allen – about his background, songwriting style, musical influences and a truly interesting, one-of-a-kind story behind the inspiration for his song “What You Wanted”. If you would also like to learn more about him too, keep reading!
Marisa: What’s the music scene like in Okanagan Valley?
Andrew: Growing up in the Okanagan Valley, I always felt that the communities were incredibly supportive of music! The local radio stations seem to be really proud of their ‘own’ and the venues that still exist are well attended. I know that Vernon, where I’m originally from, has a beautiful performing arts center and attracts world-class entertainment that’s very heavily supported by the community, and for me, well, it always feels like home and the support there is insane!
Marisa: Is singing and songwriting a talent that runs in the family?
Andrew: I think there’s an underlying ability through my family to be creative, but singing or performing professionally seemed to stop a few generations before me… though maybe it’s just that the desire to pursue it ended. My mom has a nice voice, and my dad is a professional DJ, so there’s definitely something in there!
Marisa: Do you have any musical influences that inspire your style of music?
Andrew: In regards to artists that influence me, I’d have to credit the likes of John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, Maroon 5 and Bob Marley. So much of what they have in common is storytelling, using catchy hooks and melodies. I’m a big fan!
Marisa: What is your creative process when it comes to writing a song?
Andrew: I usually begin strumming some chords on a guitar until I feel a bit of a vibe happening, and then I typically mumble some gibberish lyrics and experiment with melody ideas. Once there’s a bit of a melody that feels right over the chords, I try to dig into titles that would fit the vibe of the song. Once the ‘idea’ of the song is established, I like to vomit out the words, and clean them up as I go, usually starting with the chorus.
Marisa: Who or what inspired you to write “What You Wanted”?
Andrew: I was on tour in the U.K. a few years back and I met a lovely young couple that seemed totally enamored with each other. Returning to Canada though, I got an email from the guy saying that she had broken up with him and he was hoping I might be able to put together a mix CD to send to her with my music on it in order to ‘win’ her back. I thought it was a bit hopeless, but started the process anyways, only to receive an email 3 days later from her, asking if I’d consider playing her wedding, since she had just got engaged to a different guy! I wrote the song from the original dude’s perspective, looking at her, saying ‘is this really what you wanted?’
Marisa: Do you also create your own beats as you write the lyrics or is that a separate process?
Andrew: There’s definitely a beat that I’m feeling as I write, but I typically wait on that until the song is complete. In my opinion, I think a great song is one you can strip down to just an acoustic guitar and a vocal. If it can stand strong like that, then anything you add to it will just make it better! So my writing process is the same mentality, write it and make it great stripped down, and then dress it up later.
Marisa: What was it like touring with big acts such as, Bruno Mars and One Republic?
Andrew: Inspiring. Those guys are where they are because they’ve worked hard to be there. Ryan Tedder of One Republic is a monster songwriter and front man! Bruno Mars is a ball of talent rolled into one human! They were great to support on stage and awesome to see how they do it!
Marisa: What was is like to write alongside Meghan Trainor and Carly Rae Jepsen?
Andrew: Meghan Trainor is such a serious songwriter… I remember working with her thinking that she had some crazy talent going on in that head of hers! She was such a hard worker too, and was not only writing, but producing her own stuff at the same time, all at a really young age… definitely inspiring! Carly and I had fun working on our tune “Where Did We Go” and I dug her quirky lyrically sense.
Marisa: Can your fans expect an album or EP release any time soon?
Andrew: I sure hope so! There are no dates set in stone, but there’s definitely a bag of songs waiting to be opened!
Andrew Allen will be performing in Toronto on July 9 at the Lovin’ Local Food Festival happening at Yonge-Dundas Square. Be sure to check him out and enjoy some good food if you’re in the city!