Andy Brown isn’t afraid to bare it all. Most of his fans are already intimately familiar with his soul; his songwriting is a visceral open-chest examination of heartache and wounds that may never heal. For Andy Brown that might not be enough. As a self-confessed ‘over-sharer’, he’s striving for that deeper connection with his audience, whoever and whenever that might be, even if it means pulling out photos of himself in a bubble bath five minutes into an interview. “I’ve always wanted to use this, just to see who would ever publish it.”
“I’m probably a hard person to date because number one, I make you take photos of me in bubbles, but also I write songs about breaking up. You come from work, and it’s like, ‘Hey, Honey. How was your day?’, ‘Great! I wrote you a song!'”
Andy got his start as a musician in his early twenties. Almost as soon as he could play a guitar, he was performing to crowds of Fredericton’s restaurant-goers every Monday night, “That’s where I really started writing songs. Because a lot of people really weren’t listening, I would use that time to make up songs on the spot. Sometimes it went really poorly, but a lot of the time it would end up turning into something. If it was half decent, I’d work some words around it, and change stuff week after week, and sometimes by the sixth week I’d have an actual song.”
Playing week after week of live shows has honed his skills as a showman, to the point that his brand of earnest, honest, self-deprecating stage banter weaves through his set like a full experience. It’s nothing for him to stop mid-song to explain his solo-set isn’t quite up to the full orchestral vision for his song, coaxing out an audience sing-along amidst a room full of laughter.
“I love playing shows. If you don’t like touring you’re probably in the wrong business. I hear people saying they don’t enjoy touring, it’s like a baseball player saying he doesn’t like to bat.”
Since then, his life has become a non-stop tour. After a particularly successful trip Down Under to the Woodford Folk Festival he’s relocated to Sydney, Australia, but life on the road has him back in Fredericton, New Brunswick on the regular. He’s currently touring his latest album, ‘Seasons’, through the Maritimes, and across the rest of Canada.
“The thing about the songs that I think are really more internal to me, is that a lot of them come with a serious undertone of hope. A lot of times when things come to a close, people don’t really leave that door open, and I think that’s important, especially on the new album, it’s all about hope. That’s why it’s titled ‘Seasons’: the one constant is that seasons change and everyone changes with them, but those seasons come back too. The idea of perennials is that they die, and they come back even better than they were the year before. Things don’t always do that, but I think that if you reserve that hopefulness and that if you truly believe in your heart that it should, that there’s a chance it might. That’s what the whole thing is about: sadness with a lot of hope; hopeful sadness.”
Years of being on stage with an acoustic guitar hasn’t just been an opportunity to work his craft as a musician, but allowed him to pinpoint his market. He knows who his audience is, and there’s little surprise for him as a show goes from having half the tickets sold in advance, to promoters bringing in extra seating to accommodate everyone at the door. Three quarters of them are easily women, and they are thrilled to be there. His music comes across with an honest vulnerability, fragile in its tenderness. It’s the sort of music that gets played in a film over a montage where the couple breaks up, get back together, find out they’re pregnant, except the mother dies in childbirth, but the baby lives and has her mother’s eyes, and we are awash in a sea of tiny puppies that all need to be held. “Music is really important to me, and personal. There’s a real honesty about what I’ve saying. If you want to come to the show to dance, you’ve probably picked the wrong show. But if you’ve come to feel something, then I’m your man. You need to write about what you know, and I don’t know anything about politics. I do know some stuff about heartbreak, so that’s what I write about.”
“There are certain things that can happen that can define you, and become a part of who you are, and it doesn’t matter if it lasted five hours or five years. It can still leave a life changing hole that can take a lot of material out of.”
“Was there one that got away?”
“Next question. That was the first time I’ve ever said that in my life. I would love to overshare, but…”
“I like to think I’m a romantic. We’ve all been out on a date, and it’s romantic, the gentleman is supposed to pay, and after this we’ll all go off and get into a bathtub. That’s romance.”