tinyhuman | Andrew St. James
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Andrew St. James

According to twenty-one year old songwriter Andrew St. James, “the millennial malaise is real.” Yet despite that, the prolific multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter has managed to craft a record that vibrates with energy; burnishing precise, eloquent pop songs to a high sheen with a sonic cloth woven of dizzy psychedelia. Born of a stranger-than-fiction life filled with intrigue and truly prodigious creative output, St. James is already barreling along at escape velocity. We are lucky to be caught up in the turbulent ripples spreading out behind him.

Conceived during the 1994 Rolling Stones Voodoo Lounge tour by birth parents working in the live music realm (“apparently there’s a Phish song named after my mother” he shrugs), St. James was raised by an adoptive family in San Francisco, CA. Seemingly destined for the arts, his first job was singing in the San Francisco Opera as a ten year old. He discovered late 1960’s rock, taught himself how to play piano, and started writing songs.

St. James formed his first band at twelve, singing lead and playing organ. They cut a bedroom EP while playing a handful of shows and parties. By the time St. James was fifteen the band had split due to creative differences. Band-less, our protagonist decided to go it alone. “I figured the only way I could distinguish myself was to write a lot of song in rapid succession – like a poet or something” says St. James. “I wrote about 40 tracks, recorded 17 of them through a computer microphone and ‘released’ them on Soundcloud. I had spent the summer hitchhiking the California coast, and named the album Humboldt.” The demos found their way to a manager at Bill Graham Presents who in turn connected St. James with local producer Jim Greer.

Doldrums was released in September 2013. St. James did a brief stint in Boston, MA attending college. He quickly decided it was “total nonsense”, and returned west in the spring of 2014. His sophomore album The Shakes was released that October. “By this point I had started writing an absurd amount of material (between the release of The Shakes and the completion of this record St. James recorded more than 200 demos). I was involved with management in LA , started playing a lot more shows. Everything was looking up”. Then it got complicated.

“The tale of two Veronicas”, quips St. James, “Christ, I just couldn’t make it work with either of them”. With one Veronica as a girlfriend and another as a manager, St. James found himself stuck; mired in a life of outrageous partying and constant waiting. “I was dating a debutante, working a labor job and praying for some sort of change – through management, through anything.” Change came, but not the kind he was hoping for. After a bazaar year filled with strange happenstance and a move to Los Angeles, St. James found himself Veronica-less. “I never got a chance to apologize to the Veronica’s for my part in our falling out. I decided I would make a record to serve that purpose.”

“When time came to decide which songs would make the record” explains St. James, “I wanted each track to be different enough to have its own world while still being part of a cohesive work.”  The bulk of the album was recorded at Opus West, with additional tracking taking place in St. James’ bathroom in San Francisco.

“The Veronica record is just an introduction to my work” says St. James. “Yet it’s also me shedding all of this extraneous pointlessness I was surrounded by. Freeing myself of the malaise. People have become desensitized; we’re aware of what’s going on now more than ever, but no one seems to care. If someday I can write manifestos more cohesive then catchy records perhaps I will. I just need to make people pay attention first.”

 

Since the release of The Shakes St. James has been featured as part of the “30 Days, 30 Songs” movement, and released a single entitled “What A World!” in January of 2017 featured on CoS. He has a 7” record called You’ll be Fine coming out on Austin Town Hall in March. A track from the record “In The Morning” is being featured on a vinyl-only compilation entitled Vinyl Moon for an April-May release.  The Big Ole Veronica Apology Record will be released on June 16th, 2017 via Island Jar Records. 

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Photo by David Dutton