Despite COVID-19’s hurtful impact on the music industry, one Ottawa-based musician has dedicated himself to his career.
Andrew Waines, a 23-year-old musician and lifelong Ottawa local, released his 12th single “Come Along” in November 2020. He has released three singles during quarantine and doesn’t plan on slowing down.
He also studies accounting at Algonquin College while simultaneously managing a career in the music industry. I caught up with Waines for Ottawa Showbox to discuss his involvement in music amidst the ongoing pandemic.
I was in Grade 7. My brother had done the guitar club in school. And you always want to one-up your brother like, “I’m better than you.”
It was kind of immediate because I had played Guitar Hero before doing guitar lessons. When I started actually playing the guitar in the guitar club, some of the songs weren’t too hard to play, and for me it was like, “Oh, okay like yeah I can actually do this.”
We’d play all these songs with the classic rock riffs that I loved and it slowly morphed into a love for all music. Now I can play well in pretty much any genre and I also produce music in all sorts of genres.
It’s changed a lot throughout the years because I’ve gone through phases. When I first started I was very guitar-driven, and I wanted to be like Slash from Guns N’ Roses. Then changed when I started looking more into the lyrics.
I found that I really enjoyed John Mayer because he bridged the world of cool guitar riffs and good lyricism, at least for me. Now, I look up to the people behind the scenes, the people producing the records for artists and just the instrumentalists.
Because the more I produced and the more I worked on tracks for other people, I had started to learn how important the role of producers who actually sculpt an artist’s sound was.
I look up to producers like M-Phazes and others like him as well as Billie Eilish’s brother, Finneas. He’s really cool.
I believe it was kind of late, It was around the age of 16 or 17. I loved my guitar and I loved the musical portions, but I just never really focused on lyrics and I didn’t realize that until much later in life.
I’d been playing guitar for so long that I just worked together with the base knowledge of music.
So when it came to making chords and trying to put things together in DAW (digital audio workstation), I was able to do it fairly easily.
I used my guitar as a songwriting tool. It took me a while to really grasp the ropes of producing. How to make drum beats, and synth and all that goes with it and knowing what fits well and what doesn’t.
The best thing I had was playing the guitar because I think being a good songwriter means being a good producer because you understand the arrangement of songs.
On the other hand, being a good producer means being a good songwriter because they understand the importance of more power in the vocals.
It was one of those things where you first have to do something and keep at it, people don’t treat you as seriously when you’re just starting out.
When I started to put out more work into videos that had a little bit higher quality, that’s when people were starting to look at me in a different mindset like, “Okay he’s actually serious”.
So, they started following me online and I think it was after I put out my IMPERFECT EP which streamed on Spotify that I had got a fair amount of streams from that—specifically my song “Til The Music Stops“.
Then later that year I had my own cover version of WHAM!’s Last Christmas on Canadian Radio, and that got a lot of people listening as well.
I put a song out at the beginning of the year called “Safe With Me” and it accumulated over 200,000 streams just this year.
It’s really good validation that everything happens but it happens slowly and you’re on the right path.
There’s bad, then there’s also some good. Networking has come to a halt, and I was actually in touch with some labels, but it hard to go down and talk in person.
Even just being able to network, people in my city or play shows. On the other hand, one thing in the music business is that people are always hustling, you don’t take a break.
Instead of just getting up and working on music every day it was nice to work on music when I wanted to and kind of go, “Oh yeah like these records are why I fell in love with music” so that helped me ground myself a bit.
For me, it’s working together with other people in this industry. People that are putting out really good music, it’s inspiring. The people are awesome and there’s so much talent in this industry. It’s one of those things where your hometown will support you until someone else does right?
[This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity]