Andrew Stonehome has an ear for natural hooks nestled in a truly original but warm, familiar sound. And the guy does it all on this album. Stonehome is a serious talent.”, writes a fan on Andrew Stonehome’s Bandcamp page.
Stonehome tells Sweet Sweet Music that he spent years polishing and tinkering with the songs and the sound before he wanted to share them with the rest of the world. The self-titled debut is out now!
What was the moment you knew you were on to something?
The honest answer is that I’m still trying to figure out if I am or not because I’m mostly starting out when it comes to releasing music. As I was writing and recording the songs that are on the album, there were lots of things that I thought were strong. But because this is my first real release, it’s hard for me to know what others will think. Since I do everything myself, I don’t generally get much feedback from others throughout the process, so I don’t have a great sense of how they’ll be received.
One moment that helped me feel like I was on to something was when I released my first song, “I Am King”, in 2019 and didn’t do anything in terms of marketing or sharing it. It was somehow discovered by a couple of blogs that included it in their recommended singles, and I was then contacted by a few people who said they’d heard the song and liked it.
This was my first experience getting this kind of feedback from people who didn’t know me and had no reason to tell me they liked something I’d done. That meant a lot to me because I generally assume that positive feedback from people who already know you tend to be obligatory. After all, they want to support you.
How did this record come together?
The ideas for these songs came a few years ago during a transitional time in my life. I’d wanted to create and share music since I was younger but hadn’t taken the leap to do it. I’m still in the stage of discovering my voice and exploring different musical styles to see what resonates with me, so this album reflects that in its eclectic mix of styles.
My goal was to do everything myself, so I wrote, played, recorded, and mixed everything in my 103-year-old house. When writing, I often come up with a melodic line first, generally accompanied by semi-gibberish lyrics. I then record the initial idea (usually a verse and chorus part) and try adding other instruments and parts, which is my favorite part of the process.
Coming up with final lyrics is generally time intensive and laborious. I recently heard another artist say that 70% of the song usually comes quickly, and then the other 30% can take months or even years to finish. That seems to be generally true for me too.
It was important that the final recorded versions of the songs sound professional, so the majority of time spent making the album (3.5 years) was spent on recording and mixing. I have a background in recording and production, but it had been a long time since I’d done much, so there was a lot of trial and error, watching videos, and getting feedback and advice from professional engineers. In the end, I was satisfied that I’d recorded something that sounded like it was competitive with something created in a studio.
As an artist, you choose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?
Definitely not, and not just as a musician, but as a person. I generally operate as a logical thinker more than a feeler, so I actually don’t even show emotion to myself, let alone others.
In some ways, this album mirrors my tendency not to reveal too much emotion, even when doing so would be healthy and necessary. A few of the songs are about things that are personally painful or challenging, but they’re wrapped up in music that is pretty upbeat and simple, which can be an interesting juxtaposition.
One of the things I’m looking forward to in the future is revealing more, if even just to myself.
Suppose you were to introduce your music to new listeners through three songs. Which songs would those be and why?
“When You’re Leaving”
It depends on who the new listeners are and what style they like. The reason is that the music I make is somewhat eclectic stylistically, and these three songs are examples of some of the styles that I touch on.
For example, if I’m talking to a power-pop audience, “Heartbreaker” is the song that I’d share first because it’s an example of playful, driving power-pop. On the other hand, “When You’re Leaving” is a folk-pop acoustic song, so I’d share that one first with people who prefer that style.
I also include the song “Stay”, which may not have as much of a broad musical appeal as the other two because it’s probably the best example of me expressing things in a way that’s more unique to who I am. Similarly, there’s another song that I’ll be releasing in the future that will be the most honest and personal song I’ve written, and it will likely become the song that I’ll share first with new listeners.
Going back to the previous question, this song will be a way to reveal a side of me that most people don’t see.
How great is the urge to stay creative? To keep writing songs and lyrics?
I’ve now realized that if I’m not being creative in some way, I’m not being me. Being creative is something that I’m constantly driven to do rather than something nice to do occasionally. I’ve gone through some stretches in my adult life where I wasn’t engaging myself creatively and felt like a shell of myself, a robot with no soul. As a person who doesn’t express their emotions naturally, music provides a great vehicle to be able to do that in a way that’s creative and uniquely mine.
Lyrics are too often taken for granted. What is the line of text, or are the lines of text that you hope listeners will remember? And why?
I’ll admit to being one who takes lyrics for granted because I’m a music-first person who is obsessed with the individual musical parts and the production. In any case, from this album, this lyrical line from the song “Stay” would be one I’d hope would resonate with people:
“All the scars left on my face from the things I can’t erase”
Another line that comes to mind is from a song that I will be releasing later:
“Painful memories of the future, they won’t leave me alone”
These lines come to mind first because they express some things that I have a hard time otherwise telling. There are other lyrical lines in other songs that I’m proud of for different reasons that are less personal and more playful. Still, the personal ones would be particularly meaningful to me if they resonated with people.
Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?
That’s a tough question, and I could go either way. Because I’m now at the stage where I’m trying to get my record heard and because I’m essentially starting from scratch when it comes to listeners, my first instinct is to say a resounding “Yes!”.
At the same time, I worked on writing, recording, and mixing it for over three years, but I can instantly share it with anyone in the world once it’s done. The challenge is getting it to the people who might like it, and then them having the time to listen to it. We’re inundated with things competing for our attention these days, so getting even a small amount of people’s time and attention is a challenge.
You can pick three co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?
Hawkley Workman: Great writer and multi-instrumentalist, and his writing and production style would be a contrast to mine. I’m slow and methodical – he seems to work more quickly and instinctively, and it would be interesting to be pushed to work in a more instinctive and raw way.
Sting: I love his constant evolution, ability to mix styles, and always giving things a unique twist.
Ben Folds: Just seems like it would be a lot of fun.
Cassettes are back. Which 5 five songs would make your first mixtape?
“You, Me and the Weather” by Hawksley Workman
“Only Living Boy in New York” by Simon & Garfunkel
“I Hung My Head” by Sting
“Bird with a Broken Wing” by Weezer
“Eugene” by Sufjan Stevens
Who would you ask if you could pick three singers to sing harmony vocals on your next record?
Good question and I’m going to give my answer based on the idea that it be more about featuring them as an individual singer rather than just providing harmonies that would blend in with my voice.
I would love to work with a great female vocalist, particularly a soul-style solid singer. One that comes to mind that I saw live was Joy Rose, who sang backup for Sting for a while. She brought the house down with the kind of goosebump moments that make music so powerful and intoxicating. It would be fun to be a part of that.
Two other women whose voices I’m enamored with are Norah Jones and Emmylou Harris. Their voices are so wonderfully expressive, nuanced, and personal. For my taste, there aren’t many better albums than “Wrecking Ball,” and I feel like her voice can be expressive and unique in various musical contexts.