Feature Friday: An Interview with Andrew Waines
Andrew Waines is one of Ottawa’s hottest up and coming pop musicians. As a student, guitar teacher, and popular musical social media presence, Waines has a lot going on and a lot going for him. This crazy talented musician just released his first single, “Loving Carefully”, recorded in Nashville with producer Maks Gabriel, and we’re anxiously waiting for the full release of the music video that was shot in St. Lucia (check out the teaser below), due out in a couple weeks. Bytown Sound had a chat with Waines about his debut single, his music-making process, and what’s next for him in 2017.
BS: So your single for “Loving Carefully” debuted recently; can you tell us a bit about the track and your inspiration behind it?
AW: I wrote it last year around August, and the inspiration behind it was–I mean I think I was watching old movies or something– but love nowadays is very quick and it’s very hard to be on the same page as someone else. I felt that I was in a moment where I kind of wanted something a bit deeper with someone, but they weren’t as interested and wanted something more casual. So, that’s really where the inspiration for the song came about. After I wrote it, I went down to Nashville and recorded it, which was really, really cool. I got to work with an amazing producer by the name of Maks Gabriel.
BS: Why did you choose to record the song in Nashville?
AW: Part of the reason we chose Nashville is the quality of the work down there speaks for itself, and the other reason was that my manager had a connection with the producer, Maks, so it was very easy to setup. It made sense for us to do that because we knew what kind of work he is capable of doing, and he works in pop and country, which suited the sound we were going for.
BS: We see from your YouTube channel that you have many great original tunes – what made you decide to release “Loving Carefully” as your first official single?
AW: I wanted to choose something that would be relatable. The vibe of the song is that we often want something deeper, yet love is very quick nowadays. At the end of the day it’s about realizing that you just have to move on and love yourself. Just get over that people might not want the same thing.
BS: The video for “Loving Carefully” was filmed in St. Lucia – was that the plan when coming up with concepts for the video?
AW: We’ve been working with some great videographers, like Max Perron and Cyril Swayz, and we really wanted to make this video stand out in comparison to the covers I have filmed. I love doing covers, but I also love creating and making original music, so we really wanted this one to show that. As for St. Lucia, we liked the idea of this tropical paradise, the perfect setting for people to fall in love–and it’s almost like the opposite of what you think–because it’s actually an internal struggle about trying to fall in love. We decided that St. Lucia would be a very cool place to film, and the scenery there is just unreal, too.
BS: The video teaser looks gorgeous.
AW: Yeah, actually one of the Dr. Doolittle movies was filmed on one of the beaches that we shot!
BS: It looks like you had an amazing experience; can you tell us a bit about your time in St. Lucia and filming your first official video?
AW: I’ve done some Canadian tours, and gone into the States and travelled a bit there, but I’d never actually left North America before going to St. Lucia. So it was a massive culture shock for me. The biggest thing I found down there is that there’s a big sense of unity, and there were so many people there that I hadn’t met that would just invite me into their house. They would feed me and talk to me, and it was very–not necessarily different from here–but it was on a whole other level. I was telling my manager that it was a perfect blend of work trip and vacation because we got to film at all these great spots and scout out locations, and at the same time, you’re realizing that you’re on an amazing beach or overlooking a massive cliff. I would never get too bored. It was awesome!
BS: We noticed that you’re quite active on Instagram – how do you find time to balance your budding music career, school, home life and keeping up with social media?
AW: I bought an agenda, you know, one of those things you would get in public school and throw out right away? For the first little bit it was very hectic, like as you said I’m doing music, I’m at school in Finance, and I also teach guitar four times a week, so my schedule’s a little bit off the wall. At first there were moments when I would be staying up late because I forgot to work on something. But now with the agenda, it keeps me organized, and I can gauge how long it will take to make an Instagram post, so I can plan my time, like “okay I have to do the Instagram post, when there’s still daylight out”. The biggest thing is keeping track of what I have to do, and what is top priority.
Q: What is your songwriting process? Do you tend to write the music or hooks first, or the lyrics? Do you tend to write from experience, or is it more like stories?
A: I was a guitar player first before anything, so for me I definitely write music first. From the mood of the music, I try to create a story. My idol and favourite artist is John Mayer. I used to not get how people can be obsessed with one artist; it didn’t make sense to me. But then I started listening to him, and when someone’s singing a song and it relates to you on such a level, and feels like they’re just talking to you, that kind of feeling is just like, wow. So when I started listening to Mayer, especially his “Continuum” album, I realized that this is the kind of songwriting I wanted to do, where you’re able to really paint a vivid picture and tell a story. So my songwriting process is get down the music, then try and create a story that matches the vibe of the recording.
BS: So we read that you played for many years with your “favourite classic rock records” – Could you tell us what some of those were, and how you currently draw inspiration from them?
AW: Some of the older ones were, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, KISS, Poison, Def Leppard… I went through a crazy ‘80s hair metal phase. Those songs were so guitar driven, there’s just so much to learn from those guitar players. When I came to modern writing pop song, I really thought that John Mayer was able to bridge pop and rock and blues really well, because his music is extremely guitar driven, as well. I was interested in the way Mayer is able to do really neat guitar things and make it work with a pop sensibility.
Q: On your Instagram you like to take requests for covers – how long does it take you to learn, and are there certain genres or songs you refuse to cover?
A: Certain genres definitely work better, if I try to do a metal song on an acoustic guitar, it doesn’t quite come across as well, but I’ll still try and do it. For the covers, it’s usually learning the words, the guitar part I’m usually able to do in 10 minutes, it’s mainly just remembering the words. Sometimes I’ll do several in a day on an Instagram story, or I’ll do a post. I’d say it takes about half an hour, and it’s just the dreaded words. Remembering all those words…
BS: So, what does the rest of 2017 hold for Andrew Waines? Any tour plans, releases?
A: Right now we’re waiting for the release of the video, which is going to come out in a couple weeks. We’re doing a lot of press stuff, meeting with radio stations, going to networking events, a lot of meeting people and getting my name out there. I do have 3 or 4 songs in the works that are going to be on an upcoming EP. So there’s that on the way. I have a couple of shows booked in the summer; I’m doing Canada Day and Walter Baker Centre, ZealFest at Algonquin College, and the Marmora Fair. It is early in the year, there’s lots more coming up.
BS: And finally – since we try hard to promote local artists here at Bytown Sound, could you name us a few of your favourite local bands or artists from here in the city?
AW: My former guitar teacher, Dan Hay, plays for a band called Amos the Transparent, and he also released a side project called Mystery Weekend; I’m a big supporter of those. There’s one other local country singer that I first met at the Brass Monkey by the name of Vicki Brittle, she has a wicked voice.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.