Today, I talk with Andrew Greacen, singer and songwriter originally from Syracuse, NY. He talks to us about his process of writing his own music, what inspires him most to create, and what goes in to recording an album.
Ryan Sprague (RS)
Andrew Greacen (AG)
RS: Did you attend college or an institute of any kind?
AG: I have a Bachelors Degree from the University At Albany. I majored in Communications with a Minor in Music.
RS: What instrument(s) do you play?
AG: My main instruments are guitar and voice. I can also play bass guitar and drums. My first instrument that I learned was drums. My father was a Jazz drummer and he first taught me when I was 12. I picked up guitar when I was a junior in high school. I have also studied guitar with Mark Copani. I currently study guitar with Rick Balestra.
RS: When did you start playing? Do you sing as well?
AG: I first started plying guitar when I was 16. I began singing and playing almost immediately. I was a pretty bad singer when I first started. After struggling to sound good for a while, I began taking voice lessons. I studied voice in college as well as with independent teachers. After college, I began studying voice with Marlene Stenuf. I feel the most of my singing skills have come from lessons with her.
RS: Do you write all your own music?
AG: Yes, all of my music is original. My first record was all written by me, except for a couple of songs where I collaborated with guys like Jeff Stockham ( World class trumpet player) on horn arrangements. I also let the members of my band and people I hired to play on the record to bring their individual expression to the songs. I would encourage all of them to feel free to change parts of the songs if they felt inspired. All in all, the real mojo that was captured on my record came from the amazing players that brought the best of themselves to my music. I really cant take all the credit.
RS: What is your process of writing?
AG: I usually start with riff or a chord progression and immediately start to establish a groove. I find that melody and the rest of the song comes easier to me once I feel how the song is going to move.
RS: Do you collaborate with any other musicians?
AG: Yes, I find that the best music is made through collaborations. The record that I am currently working on has a lot more collaboration on it than my last.
RS: What goes in to writing a song for you? Do you start with lyrics? Or the composition?
AG: I almost always start with the composition, then the lyrics. Every once in a while, I’ll start with lyrics first.
RS: What inspires you to write and/or play?
AG: Every day things in life. Relationships, heartbreak, love, all sorts of stuff. I like to also write from the third person, where I am able to write about things that don’t happen directly to me, but I can relate to a situation and explain it from and outside perspective.
RS: Are you partial to any specific genres of music?
AG: I love music that has a killer groove. I can get down with all genres and styles of music, but music that is groove based is what I really enjoy.
RS: Have you recorded any albums?
AG: Yes I have. Soul Searching, recorded at More Sound Studio Syracuse NY, released May 2010. It's available at any major online retailer. (iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, Spotify)
RS: What was it like to record the album?
AG: I love recording albums. I am a recording engineer and producer when I am not out playing my own music. I currently work at More Sound Studio in Syracuse, NY. I wrote about 16 songs, chopped the list down to about ten, and then searched out and found the best musicians I could find to record the style that I was going for. I recorded all of the songs on my album first at my home studio. I gave rough copies of the songs to all the musicians and asked them to learn their parts. We then recorded the rhythm section live at the studio and overdubbed the horns, vocals, and all other supporting instrument parts as overdubs. Once all parts were tracked, I hired my good friend and colleague, Jocko Jason Randall, to mix and master the compilation album.
RS: Who are your biggest influences in the world of music?
AG: Im influenced by so many artists and styles. To name a few in no particular order... Jason Mraz, Incubus, Splender, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Rascal Flatts, Roy Hargrove, Jeff Buckley, Pete Yorn.
RS: What is it like playing live?
AG: Playing live is such a crucial part to becoming a well-rounded musician and performer. Live performances are so different every time that you play. Even the same club can feel totally different on any given night. Your monitor mix is never the same and usually bad. It forces you to perform in less than ideal situations and it makes you adapt to different environments.
RS: How does playing solo compare to playing in a band?
AG: I really enjoy playing with a full band. The interaction and vibes that are exchanged between musicians when playing together can only be explained by experiencing it. The advantage to playing with a band is that the sound can be HUGE and the color and harmonic, melodic ,and rhythmic depth can be so mush greater with a full band. One of the main advantages to playing solo is that it exposes your strengths and weaknesses. You have no one else to hide behind or lean on. You have to carry the show by yourself and it forces you to expose yourself more than you would if you were playing with an accompaniment.
RS: What's next for Andrew Greacen?
AG: I am currently working on my second album release, which should be out in early Summer of 2013. I also just started a music licensing and production company called Psyched On Sound. The company focuses on getting music from artists that we represent in various forms of media such as TV, film, and internet media.
You can learn more about Andrew, sample some of his songs,
and order his album, Soul Searching, by CLICKING HERE.
Below, you can view the official music video for his song, Subway.