Earlier this week we had a chat with We Heart It user and musician Andy Grammer — such a cool guy with an amazing perspective on creativity and inspiration.
See below for our exclusive Q&A with Andy, and make sure to check out his collection (and don’t forget to give him a follow…his stuff is pretty cool), where you can see a ton of album and non-album related stuff Andy loves.
You’ve got quite a following on We Heart It — what message do you hope to convey to your followers through your hearted images?
It’s a really cool way to highlight lyrics. I spend so much time writing and agonizing over getting lyrics just right, this is a fantastic platform to let them be seen.
As a musician, you express yourself through words and melodies — how often do visuals play into your creative process?
I actually have something called synesthesia. It’s where you associate sounds with colors. So when I hear a song I immediately hear the colors that it sounds like. I thought that’s how everyone listened to music but my friends tell me I’m crazy. A song will come on the radio and I’ll be like, “come on guys you all know that sounds purple and white!” and they’ll just look at me strange. When I’m writing I definitely take what colors I’m feeling into account.
How important is your physical environment when writing songs? Where do you typically do most of your writing? Do you have any rituals?
I think it’s actually really important. Vibe is one of the only things you can control about songwriting. Also the headspace you are in before you start to write. So I like to get up and workout, eat something healthy and then head into the studio. Almost the way you would prepare for an interview or an important meeting. I did a lot of writing for this record in a studio in Hollywood that had super vibey lighting, a piano, a bunch of guitars and a drumset. Just a great place to create.
You’ve made a career out of being creative, which is something many of our users dream of! Needless to say, it’s not always an easy path. What advice do you have for anyone hoping to make a career out of self-expression and go down a non-traditional path?
You can’t steer a bus that isn’t moving. You have to be the engine. The truth is when your career is being creative even YOU don’t know what’s going to make sense or work. That’s the joy and the paralyzing fear of it. You just keep moving and fall in love with the process of creating. I wrote 100 songs for my new album, the best ones came in the 90-100 batch. The artist that keeps moving will find the beauty, if you wait nothing happens.
How important is self-expression and creativity in gaining a better understanding of yourself?
To me it’s an amazing form if therapy. Especially the more honest you get. I think the songs that really connect are ones where the songwriter is being honest with himself or an area of life and the listener is like, “ME TOO!” With that being the case I think I constantly am digging around in my heart or in my own life to find something that will resonate. It’s a cool job.
“Holding Out” is a super romantic song with an upbeat melody. We see a lot of this type of juxtaposition on We Heart It — happy vs. sad, romantic vs. silly, etc. What type of impact do you think that “opposites attract” approach makes?
It’s a technique that can let you get a point across. For a song like holding out if you match the sound with the content it gets cheesy quick. It’s a form of musical jiu jitsu. I had to find a way to get this song out without it being heavy handed and the fresh beat if it keeps you in.
Have you always found it easy to express yourself? If not, how did you maintain your self-confidence when producing art?
I don’t know if I always do. If I write 5 or six crappy songs in a row it’s really hard. I think it’s the allure of the great song that keeps ya going. It also goes back to an earlier answer that you can’t steer a bus that isn’t moving. I am only comfortable when I’m moving. That’s the bench mark, if the songs are bad I can live with that, but if I didn’t create at all… that’s a real issue.
When you were growing up, what were your favorite ways to get creative? Any unique or funny stories you can remember?
Everything. From tap dancing to juggling, jokes, magic, piano, anything I thought would be impressive. I liked making people happy. I found that you could do almost anything you wanted to someone else’s heart through songs. That’s when I started to really focus in on songs as my main medium of creating.
One of your songs on Magazines or Novels, “Honey, I’m Good,” is about resisting temptation. What was the last temptation you resisted?
The last temptation I resisted was the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Hagen Das in my freezer last night. “I could have another but I probably should not…”
Last question — can you point our users to a favorite image on We Heart It you think sums up your point of view as an artist?