It’s widely known that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at anything. Andy Grammer logged his 10,000 hours of practice on the streets of Los Angeles. With his car battery powered amplifier and acoustic guitar in tow, Grammer managed to sing his way from the streets to the center of the music industry.
One listen to Grammer’s self-titled S-Curve Records debut and it is clear that this young man became an expert. From the buoyant Top 10 hit, “Keep Your Head Up” to the breezy “Fine By Me,” jubilant, horn-laced “The Pocket,” and emotionally-charged “You Should Know Better,” his irresistible pop songs blend heartfelt, compelling lyrics with instantly unforgettable melodies. Think the relaxed vibe of Jason Mraz crossed with the rock soul of Maroon 5.
Even though he knew music would be his path, Grammer never assumed it would be an easy road or that he could take any success for granted. He played any corner that would have him—using every experience to hone not only his songwriting craft but to learn how to understand his audience. His desire to be heard led him to the streets, “I didn’t know what else to do. So I just went out there and started playing.” Even if it meant sleeping in his car, Grammer, could not deny his need to play for as many people as possible.
Named one of Billboard’s 2011 Artists to Watch, the singer recorded the album in New York and Los Angeles with a collection of top producers, including Matt Wallace (Faith No More, Maroon 5), S*A*M & Sluggo (Train, Neon Trees) and Barrett Yeretsian (Christina Perri). “Basically, it was show up somewhere, really dig in with someone who’s going to help you get your creative vision across and then go somewhere else and do it again,” he says. “We got some really great stuff that I wouldn’t have gotten if I just worked with one producer.”
Every song that Grammer wrote on the album had one goal in mind: “I’m just trying to track down the truth,” says Grammer, who was born in Los Angeles and grew up in New York. “My favorite thing is to pop up above everybody and write from a bird’s eye view. It may be about a break-up, it may be about a good relationship, it may be what we’re doing on this planet here. I like to be far enough away to see the whole scope of what’s occurring.”
While much of his music is upbeat, Grammer is quick to add he’s hardly “pink and fluffy. I’m not intentionally trying to be positive, I’m just trying to be real.”
In fact, Grammer wrote “Keep Your Head Up” as a letter of encouragement to himself after he’d spent an exhausting day street performing and had little to money to show for it. The video, which features groundbreaking interactive technology in a partnership between VEVO, Interlude and S-Curve, won an MTV O Award for Most Innovative Video, topping entries from Arcade Fire, Robyn and OK Go! “The most challenging part about the video was the sheer amount of times we’d have to tape each cut so people can go through the video thousands of different ways,” Grammer says. “It was crazy.” The clip stars “The Office’s” Rainn Wilson. “He’s such a gracious, amazing guy,” says Grammer, who met Wilson through a former roommate. “He gave me tips on how to look in the camera. The video has gotten so much more exposure because of him coming and hanging out.”
Grammer grew up in a musical household. His father, Red Grammer, is a Grammy-nominated children’s performer who gladly indulged his son’s desire to get on stage...to a point. “My dad would bring me up to sing with him. I’d just have a couple of lines,” Grammer remembers. “Afterwards, I’d say, ‘Dad, I think I’m going to need a bigger part in your show because I nailed that. Seriously, it was intense. I can see it in their eyes, they want more of me.’ I was six or seven and he just laughed and laughed.”