Artist Interview: Tradiio’s own Texas Singer Songwriter Andrew Sullivan
The first time I heard Andrew Sullivan on Tradiio I wanted to meet him. I mean you can just hear this wonderful amiability in his music. I noticed his music was not doing well on the platform despite being at a far better quality than many of his peers. I did was any self-respecting blogger would do; I tweeted him. I suggested that he list his music under country (even though he insists his music is more acoustic pop and he has a case for that). His music shot to three of the top five country songs in the US within a few days. I felt vindicated. I had to meet him.
The nice folks at Tradiio put me in contact with Andrew and instead of a form email interview, I gave him a call. We talked and talked like old friends. His story really is a wonderfully inspirational tale. He found himself at Texas Christian University with an interest in music. His background had been in band and he found himself naturally musically inclined but didn’t take it seriously until a bit later in life. The rest of us are glad that he did.
One of the great stories about Andrew is how he’s going about this whole professional musician situation. After years of playing all sorts of gigs in his Dallas-Fort Worth area, he has taken to the road. But for the most part he’s not doing major national tours, instead opting for house shows. Yeah, that’s right. He’ll play in your house. FOR FREE. The catch? You have to bring 25 friends but they get in free too. The reward for Andrew, often, is not just a room full of willing concert attendees, but also people who want to buy his merch and share in the experience with him. It’s really a great plan and I am hoping to bring him to northeast Ohio (24 friends? message me!). Sullivan credits folk act Jenny & Tyler as well as a book by Shannon Curtis for challenging him to pursue the house show path which he gregariously explains as being perfect for him.
And that’s the thing that’s just hard to capture with words about Andrew Sullivan; he is absolutely the real deal when it comes to being that uplifting personality. We talked a bit about his faith as something that motivates his work, but not be preachy. He has a message that is filled with hope and love (oftentimes literally about his wife). It pours out in both the melodies in his music as well as the lyrics themselves. To call his songwriting “infectious” is an understatement. His single “Already Beautiful,” the second track off of the album Lost Again is exactly the kind of pop country sound that makes Andrew’s music so enjoyable.
Of course I had to ask him about his influences and what inspires these great songs. He described a life coming of age playing his mom’s piano and later other instruments for band. But he grew up in a home with classic country music from folks like George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Clint Black. Although he doesn’t write with the same kind of country formula that those guys did, he does allow some elements of their structure to influence his work. He explains his own music as “stylistically… I write love songs.” But really it’s music that reflects his own genuine positive spirit which, even on the phone, comes across in spades.
But as we talked a bit about the modern country music scene, Sullivan distanced himself from it. He explained that where he’s from, country music has a different flavor. Texas country, it seems, is a lot more honky tonk. Instead, Sullivan’s “pop acoustic” style reflects something that wouldn’t pass for country in Texas. I asked how these unique acoustic tracks came to be, Sullivan described a process that sounds pretty ordinary – like any of us could do it. He sings lines into a voice memo app on his smart phone. Later he revisits those melodies to see if they hold up; if they do, it’s a new song and gets the full treatment. If it falls apart, it never makes it to his listeners. Oftentimes the writing process is one that works out both lyrics and music at the same time.
I asked Andrew about his experience with Tradiio, the platform where I discovered his music. It was actually a Twitter follower who suggested it to him and since it was free for artists he threw a few songs up there. He said that it’s been nothing but positive, giving him an ability to market his music in global markets. He also said he likes that it allows listeners to “quantify how much they like a song,” which is also helpful for artists. He is glad he embraced the opportunity to get in on an emerging platform for artists.
Somewhere in the midst of the conversation I managed to ask him about his album Lost Again. I focused on the title song because I think it’s my favorite on the album. It seemed to have this dual message that was potentially about a romantic relationship, but also seemed like it could be a church song. I asked. Sullivan was a bit sheepish about not wanting to give away the full meaning of the song, but yes it does have a romantic and a gospel message to it. It led us to a wonderful little conversation about the difference between those who write “from the church” versus those who write “for the church.” It was an inspired and inspiring discussion.
I walked away from my talk with Andrew hoping – literally – for the best for him. I want to host him for a house show and invite all of my friends. I want to learn all of his songs and sing them at the top of my lungs. I want to be his biggest fan. Those aren’t just lines; it’s that Andrew Sullivan is such a legitimate artist who goes about this whole music business with such integrity and cool confidence that I can’t help but want to support him. Seriously give this guy a spin; even if you don’t really claim to like “pop acoustic” you will find yourself pulling for the man, his songs, and the marriage that inspires many of his songs. He’s the genuine article.