George Andresen: Finally Finding His Voice

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New Jersey-native George Andresen has been infatuated with music since a young age. His guitar playing started early, but it took a boost in confidence to finally tap into his singing voice. George shares how difficult it was to initially believe in his own voice and road he took to finally performing his first show. Just at the beginning of his musical career but with a lifetime of music behind him, Progressive Man is proud to showcase our latest featured artist, George Andresen.

Hey George, thanks for taking the time to speak with us! Just so we get to know you a bit better, tell us how you first got into playing guitar and singing.

No problem, thanks for having me. Well, music has been a very big part of my life for a very long time, I’ve always been surrounded by it. From playing with my dad outside on my back deck ’til early in the morning to just hanging out listening to music with my family and friends. So at a very early age I really connected with it. That’s what sparked my interest in playing guitar and I haven’t put it down since.

Now I’ve been playing guitar for the better part of 10 years, but singing and performing is fairly recent, maybe 2 years now. I’ll be the first to admit (and I’m sure my friends would vouch for me) I was never the most outward person growing up. During school and social situations, where I didn’t know anyone, I mainly kept to myself. Then when I was around my friends and I was comfortable I was very outgoing. So, for me ,being the center of attention with strangers made me anxious.

When I started driving by myself I liked to rock out and sing to my favorite songs (as I’m sure everyone does). That’s when I began to notice I was hitting the same notes as these guys on the record were. That’s when I started to play and sing, but still very secretive about it. When nobody was home I would wail on my guitar singing out my favorite songs. So loud that if the windows were open the neighbor across the street heard me.

That’s when I wanted to get an outside opinion, because I knew if I showed my family and friends they would say that it’s good to spare my feelings, or that’s just what I told myself because I was too nervous. I recorded a cover of “Creep” by Radiohead and put it on YouTube under a sort of stage name so nobody knew it was me. So after putting that up I hadn’t heard anything as far as feedback.

After a night with family I had a few beers in me and everyone had gone to bed except for my Mom and me. Somehow my cover of “Creep” came up in conversation and I pulled up my video and showed her. She was blown away and couldn’t believe that it was me. The next day I was talking to my Dad and he had seen my video after she had told him about it. He was just as impressed as she was. That’s when it started to click that I had something.

Soon after that, there was an open mic at my mom’s job and she suggested I perform at it. I thought to myself, what did I have to lose? So I put together a few covers and played it. I nervously started playing for these strangers. Then when I finished the crowd response was overwhelming, people were coming up to me handing me business cards and asking for my information to play their open mic’s or benefit shows. It felt like nothing I’d ever felt before. Ever since then I’ve just been hooked.

A lot of artists model themselves after their favorite artists when they first start out. Did you find yourself looking to certain artists for ideas on how to structure your songs?

Actually, not really, there are so many different types of music I love that it’s hard for me to pick a certain artist. I just started playing random chords up and down the neck ’til it kind of whittled itself down to a progression that stood out. That progression would soon become a song.  All I knew was that songs had verses, a chorus, and a bridge so I just based it off that. 

Now, you’re currently based out of Vernon, New Jersey. What’s the music community like there? Are there many venues for emerging artists to showcase their talents at?

Vernon is a pretty rural area surrounded by farms and such, so there isn’t much going on up here. The only things in my area are open mics.  So it’s tough getting shows booked around here. I have gotten in touch with a few people in New York City so I’ve had some shows in clubs and bars. But if I want to find the music scene I have to go where there are more people than trees.

Let’s focus a bit on your featured song, “Demons.” The way it seems is that the song is about how the realities of life can change a person to the point that they’re unrecognizable to the people that love them. Does that seem to be along the right lines?

That’s pretty much the main message of the song. Unfortunately, there is a big drug problem up here and 2 years ago there were a few people who had overdosed on heroin all within the span of a few months. At that time I didn’t really know these people but I felt inspired to write about it. I tried to put myself in that position of an old friend watching somebody they care for be drained of what the once were and feeling helpless to do anything.

George Andresen music

Does the song happen to be based on any personal experience or perhaps the experience of someone you know?

At the time no, but last year I lost an old friend to a drug overdose. I had spent a lot of my childhood at his house, but life happens and we drifted apart. It had been about 2 years since I had last seen him, so it was shock when I heard what happened. So, in a terribly foreshadowing way, I had experienced it.

Just two months ago you released “Demons” along with 2 other songs. The songs are all live recordings that sound incredible. Was there added pressure performing these songs live while knowing you couldn’t make any mistakes due to the recording?

The show that was recorded was at the Ella Lounge in NYC and when I got the disc I was impressed with the quality as well. The guy running the show had a recording set up so he said for $30 he’ll record my set. The set was longer than those 3 songs, but he had stopped and started recording at the wrong time so some of the songs were cut in half, for 30$ what could I expect. But, I’ll be honest, I did mess up on one or 2. I was a little more nervous then usual, but I had 10 or so of my friends come into the city, so playing to people I know makes it a bit easier.

So now that you’ve released those 3 songs, what are your plans for the remainder of 2013? Are you planning on releasing any more music this year?

I do, I have a few more songs that I would like to re-record because its not at the quality I want. Definitely plan on seeing an update on my page fairly soon.

We’ve spoken with a number of acoustic musicians here at Progressive Man that eventually seek a full band to fill out their sound. Is that something you’re interested in or do you prefer the raw emotion of acoustic?

I love the emotion you can convey with an acoustic instrument. I mainly started out solo just because I was eager to play out again and I couldn’t wait. There is a certain something about listening to a solo acoustic act. Somebody up there by themselves with nobody to fall back on. That, I feel, resonates with more emotion than a full band. But, like all musicians, I love to play loud and shake the house. So, ideally if I can find a group I click with, I would love to form a band.

Many musicians live for the thrill of playing a live show. Out of the many shows you’ve played, are there any that stand out as being particularly memorable or fun?

There is no other feeling in the world like people appreciating something you worked so hard on. It was probably the first time I played out, when all those people came to me and told me how much they enjoyed what I was playing. I’ll always remember that initial great feeling

Thank you George! Where can people go to find your music?

Thank you so much for having me. You can “like” me on Facebook and that’s where I’ll keep everyone up to date on my shows and when I release new music. If you click “About,” underneath the profile picture, there’s a link to my bandcamp page where I have my songs free to download.

Author: Nader Ahmadnia

Nader Ahmadnia is a writer for Progressive Man Magazine, an online music publication that features new and emerging talent.

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