Following the release of his debut EP Half The Man in July, Northwest Washington based singer/songwriter Van Andrew dives into the next chapter of his music with his upcoming single, “Highwire.” Described as “80’s inspired rock-meets-synth,” the track captures personal undulations for Andrew, who explores his own anxieties, fears, and doubts throughout the song’s lyrical progression.
Read our conversation with Andrew below where he elaborates on the songs origin and the evolution and deeply personal themes within the track, and check out the exclusive early listen lyric video prior to the to October 11th release.
heirwaves: I am so excited to dive into your new single, “Highwire.” Could you elaborate on the origin of this song, how it evolved, and what it means to you?
Van Andrew: Thanks Abigail, I really appreciate the genuine interest. “Highwire” is a special song for me. It was born out of the desire to push myself to write a more upbeat rock and roll song, that had a since of drive to it. On a more personal note though, I am a chronic over-thinker and this song was me learning to vocalize my own mental anxieties, my struggles with comparison to other artists, and my fears. Some of the lyrics in this song are very abstract, and I’m ok with that. They speak more to the feeling and inner struggle I had while writing the song, than clearly articulating a story in a stale and matter-of-fact way.
HW: Could you briefly describe your songwriting process, how you tapped into the personal scenarios on this track, and what it feels like for you to finally share this with the world?
VA: Man, my songwriting process looks different for each song. Sometimes I write lyrics out first and then find a melody for them, other times I sing out the lyrics and melody simultaneously in a stream-of-conscious manner and then go back and refine what came from my subconscious. For this song I think I just picked up my guitar and started crafting the melody and lyrics at the same time.
HW: Is there any specific lyric or instrumental moment in this song that really stood out or really hit you hard throughout the recording process, or even now listening to the complete track?
VA: I think the energy and passion in the chorus has always been a special element for me, both singing it live and the recorded version. It’s an honest confession of me being lost in my own head. Wrestling with my fears, doubts, and the insecurities that come with comparison, yet choosing to be honest about it and allowing myself to stay there and express that inner turmoil and not feel the need to hide it or change it right away. I also really love the synth that kicks off the song. My producer Stephen Folden and I started experimenting with sounds while in the studio and really fell in love with the very throwback 80’s drive it gave the song.
HW: We live in such a crazy time where everything is filtered in a way, but you have really allowed yourself to be super authentic and vulnerable in your music, touching on issues and themes that have really impacted you. How do you think you’ve managed to keep your music so honest and real and why is it important to you to do so?
VA: That’s a great question… I think it comes from trying not to over filter yourself. Songwriting for me is very cathartic. It gives me the opportunity to take a thought or feeling that I have and put it in a tangible art-form for others to connect with. I’ve always felt like music was a way for me to express my doubts, fears, and questions, and even though I may not get the answers I am looking for, and the circumstances might not change right away, at least now my inner struggle is out in the wild for others to connect with, and somehow that makes it a little less lonely. I think this in and of itself gives the music it’s own unique voice.
HW: There is a wildly immense amount of music out there right now – and the boundaries of the industry are constantly being pushed. What would you say are some of the key influences in your sound that make it unique to you – specifically on this song?
VA: Man, I can’t begin to list all of the artists that have influenced me over the years… I think for this song specifically, I wanted a very 80’s inspired rock-meets-synth feel to it. I like to think it has a bit of a Springsteen flavor and drive. I’ve seen a lot of beloved singer/songwriters widening up their sound the last few years and experimenting with new tones and song elements, and that’s really inspiring to me. David Ramirez’s last album “We’re Not Going Anywhere” is a beautiful example of this. Scott Ruth and Noah Gundersen also created a brilliant track called “Take it Back” with a wonderful throwback rock and roll drive to it. And then lastly, Frightened Rabbits’ last album “Painting of a Panic Attack” written by one of my favorite songwriters, the late Scott Hutchison, is a beautifully crafted record, weaving both classic acoustic instruments with modern beats and synths.
HW: How would you say this song differs from your previous releases and transitions you into the next chapter of your music?
VA: I think for starters, sonically “Highwire” has hit a new level of production quality for me that I’m really proud of. All of the pieces came together to create a tight energetic song that hopefully makes people want to roll their windows down, crank up the volume, and just cruise. I think Highwire differs from my previous releases by feeling closer to the kind of music I want to make. The longer I do this, the more I start to step into who I want to be as an artist, what I’m trying to say, and honestly just what I personally love and love to listen to. I think this new single is a step in that direction.
HW: Is there any message you would like to add for readers and listeners?
VA: This new single is just the beginning of some really fun music projects in the works. I’m excited to share more music soon, and would suggest for whoever wants to be in the know on new music, feel free to follow my Spotify page to be updated on new music when it first drops.
Lastly, just thank you. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to listen to my music. It’s a dream come true that I get to do this, and I’m humbled by all the love and support.
“Highwire” will be available for streaming and download on all platforms on Friday, October 11th.