You may not have heard about Andra Day yet – but it won’t be long. It was barely two months ago when the singer posted a handful of videos on YouTube – singing mashups and covers with a voice that will knock you off your feet. Now, she’s got a brand new record deal. One listen and you’ll understand why. I chatted with Day about online stardom, the unpredictability of ‘planning’ your career, and what’s next for the artist.
GETTING TO KNOW ANDRA DAY
BRIAN: I have to tell you – the moment I watched and heard you sing on YouTube, I thought “In my own small way, I want to help the world see this woman!” I want to contribute in whatever way I can to your success! Have you found that to be happening a lot where people want to help, or do you instead feel more from the people who are ‘barnacles’ – who just want to jump along for the ride and take advantage of it in what might be the wrong way?
ANDRA: The funny thing is – this is like night and day – I had actually experienced that through the early parts of my career – I had experienced the ‘barnacles’ – But this is such a blessing in my life – my manager and my producers – I’ve never met people that are so passionate about me! They want to see me succeed and I had never seen that before outside my family. It’s such a blessing.
MORE OF THE INTERVIEW BELOW… But here she is singing Jessie J’s “Mamma Knows Best”!!
ANDRA: My sister and I jam together a lot – random stuff – my sister plays guitar and piano. She’s actually the genius.
BRIAN: Has it always been music for you? When did this love affair start?
ANDRA: I guess I’ve always loved music. My dad was always into Motown and soul and R&B, my mom loved classic rock. But actually, I was a dancer when I first started. When I was five I started dancing – and I guess it really went that way right into music
When I was 12, I went to a performing arts school called the San Diego School for Creative and Performing Arts, and I was exposed to jazz and classical. I was in the sixth grade. It consumed me, pretty much.
PHOTO AT LEFT BY Giuliano Bekor. Check out more of his work at www.giulianobekor.com/
BRIAN: This year, you posted a bunch of videos of yourself performing. Suddenly out of nowhere, there you were – and people all over the world (myself included!) were blown away. When did you realize that these videos weren’t just being viewed by a few people – that they were in fact going viral?
ANDRA: I didn’t expect it to happen this way, so it’s a pleasant surprise to say the least. I mean, I’m still working! I’m still working on songs – so I wasn’t really thinking about it at first.
In one day we recorded a bunch of them – we were planning on doing this over a course of six months to a year. Then, my manager was calling me. When (views) got up to hundred, I was excited – but when it went upwards of 100 thousand, I was like ‘I cannot believe this is happening.’
And the label interest – and offers on the table – in went crazy in under two months! I’m still kind of catching up.
Here she is with a mashup of (Amy Winehouse) and (Lauryn Hill) “He Can Only Hold Her” vs “Doo-Wop That Thing”
BRIAN: You got some offers – what made you able to wait? Wasn’t it killing you?
I think because I was with such a great production company – my manager, my producer – Jeffrey Evans and Buskin Entertainment, they are more than capable of putting out something themselves. They have the ability to do it and promote it on their own.
UPDATE: Great news! In the days since this interview took place, Andra Day signed a record deal with Warner Brothers! So the waiting has certainly paid off.
BRIAN: Are you modeling your career track off of anyone in particular?
ANDRA: Yeah – Michael Jackson! Hahaha! I’m just kidding! No, not really. I never thought that I would be doing YouTube videos and go viral. I remember when I was young and I would have this ‘plan,’ but time and God would intervene, and be like,’No.’ Well THIS was my plan.
We don’t model my career after anyone specific, but we do like to model it after something organic – not too overproduced. Let the audience relate. Any artists that are similar to that I kind of relate to.
ANDRA: It’s funny… that’s pretty much me. We thought about stylists, and it’s not necessarily that what they sent over wasn’t amazing – but when you’re trying to put on something that doesn’t feel natural and you’re moving and singing on stage and feeling uncomfortable ….I’m glad to have the freedom.
BRIAN: What do you hope for next?
I know it sounds cliché, but I do want to reach people – because there is a much more personal story in what I’ve done with this album, as opposed to when I was younger just doing what I thought my music was supposed to be. There are a lot of lessons in my music now, and I hope it translates to people. It’s more about forgiveness and being forgiven, and being completely honest.
And sure, I’d like to get it across to people in a 60 thousand stadium!
BRIAN: You will! It won’t be long now!
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