My favorite thing about interviewing artists is getting to hear their story and perspective on making their dream a reality. People come from all over the country, get into music at different ages and have gotten exposure in a variety of ways. Bryan Andrews caught the Tik Tok wave early. He went from posting funny videos at work to following his love for music and putting out his own songs that people could relate to. Very quickly, Bryan figured out how useful a tool Tik Tok is and capitalized. As he may not be the "industry standard" of living in Nashville, writing songs 5 days a week and playing writer's rounds, Bryan is paving his own path in music. I sat down with Bryan Andrews and talked about his single“I Pray", how Tik Tok has grown his audience and helped him tell his story, and how getting humbled in Nashville really helped him to work harder.
Get To Know Bryan
"I'm from Carrollton, Missouri. My mom is from an hour north of here and my dad grew up where we live now. They wanted to move to the mountains when I was a kid, so we moved to Idaho and I lived there until I was 8. Then we moved back here to Carrollton. I always tell people I'm from Missouri because that's where I was raised. I remember a little about Idaho and that's where I learned to fly fish, but that's about the only thing I remember about being there.
I love my small town. They have shown me support since day 1. It's funny because you can't hold people accountable for not showing support in your early days because you're just a normal guy who's just getting started. But it's cool when I go to the local bar and they compliment me for what I'm doing and show me support. That means a whole lot to me and I always have the mindset of "never forget where you came from". I really like the small town vibe and probably don't like Nashville as much as most people do. I feel like I don't really fit in there. I got started in music because my parents are music teachers at the high school that I went to. I was a band nerd and all that. Being a small town, everyone played sports and did stuff like that as well. I worked to get all my buddies to join the choir, so we had a whole show choir made up of all the senior football players. It was fun.
I went to college at the University of Central Missouri for two and a half years and played the Euphonium there. I was in the university wind ensemble and we got to play at Carnegie Hall and stuff like that. I was a music major there and figured out I hated going to class. I was doing a lot of drugs and drinking at the time so I wanted to quit college. At that time, a lot of my buddies were welders. They had started when they were 18 and 19 years old, were making $2,000 a week and it really caught my attention.
As a result, I went to welding school and the rest is history. I've worked on the road welding pipe for 4 years and was writing songs in my hotel rooms as well. I started writing when I was 18, in college, but I was so bad at guitar. I had just started learning guitar and I focused more on that. I really started writing when I got on the road."
Raw And Real.
Bryan Andrews has a chip on his shoulder and is out to tell people his story, and do it in an authentic and raw way. "I Pray" is a great example of what Bryan brings to the table. This song was released on January 11th and has surpassed 1,500,000 streams on Spotify. "I Pray" is a mix of some Country, soft Rock and has singer-songwriter vibes that are stripped down and really make you take a look in the mirror. The lyrics are a cry for help, talking to God when you feel nobody else is listening and questioning yourself about whether this is the way you want to live your life moving forward. This isn't a song necessarily made for mainstream radio. It is a personal song that so many people who fight addiction and depression each and every day can relate to. "I Pray" shows people that there are others dealing with the same struggles. A very powerful song from Bryan Andrews.
Inspiration Behind "I Pray"
Written By: Bryan Andrews, Produced By: Bryan Andrews & Blake Phillips
"I wrote this song by myself. I've been trying to write with other people. When I was out on the road, I was writing alone. I've written about 100 songs, but 30 of them sound very similar to each other. I wanted to start writing with other people and some of the songs I have now have been co-writes with other people. The song "I Pray", and the rest of the Carroll County Sessions are all songs that I wrote when I was on the road. "I Pray" is a song which I didn't write until just over 2 months ago. It was one of the quickest songs I've ever written. I put out "Liquor & Pills" and other songs and felt stagnant. I haven't felt like that in a long time, because when I was on the road I was always doing something. When I was only writing, I felt as though I was getting complacent. It was making me feel like I did when I was in college doing drugs, was depressed and felt myself slipping.
I took a trip to Texas and was hanging out with some folks down there. The night I got back somebody told me about a relationship they were in and said something about how important Christian values are to them. I told this gentleman that I cuss a lot and I'm not your "country club Christian", but I've always been a God fearing man. And that's what really got me sitting down and writing part of another song talking about not being able to do this alone and needing help. I woke up the next day and started writing, got in a groove and I wrote the chorus and wrote the first verse. It was about out running your mind, because I feel like a lot of people go through that. It’s about having a bottle and putting it away for a weekend. For me when I feel like I'm slipping, what I do is talk to God. I feel like in my life, I can't do it without God.
After I wrote "I Pray", I thought I would leave it alone, but I made a Tik Tok video. It got 900,000 views and did really well. I wrote the song for me personally, but my dad saw it and told me I should finish it because people were really connecting with it. When I put "I Pray" together and was putting out a promo for the song, the first video got like 2 million views and it just kept rolling."
Q & A With Bryan Andrews
Q: What was that "light bulb" moment that you knew you wanted to pursue music?
A: "I don't think I really had that "light bulb" moment, but I had moments that were like "why not me?", "why can't I make it to the big stage?" and thoughts like that. It was really a string of events. When I put out "Liquor & Pills" I didn't know how big that song was going to get. I had just quit my job and within the first week it only had 9,000 streams. For me, that was awesome; I didn't know any better. I had a video go off on Tik Tok and started getting DM's and comments saying "yo man, this song saved my life" or "that helped me from relapsing". Those moments when I would read the comments were very powerful. This was especially true with men. Men generally don't share their feelings, though they do more now than they used to. It's still not what it should be."
Q: How has Tik Tok impacted your music and how does it help you share your story?
A: "Honestly man, it's changed my life. It's the most organic exposure app out there. For me, I've never put too much time into Instagram and I should, but with Tik Tok - I got it two and a half years ago - I knew you could get discovered that way. At first I was just posting videos for fun after work. As a result of that I started gaining followers here and there. I got to 10K or 20K followers just making funny videos. Then I wrote and posted "Liquor & Pills" and it was my first video that got over 500,000 views. I put an iPhone recording of the song on YouTube with me in a hotel room and that got over 400,000 views.
At this time, I was talking to labels or getting put in front of people in the industry in order to advance my career. Nothing came from it and I was really humbled. I was riding a high thinking people were really into what I was doing and then I realized "I wasn't all that and a bag of chips". The experience helped me to keep grinding, writing and doing everything I could to show people I'm not only a "Tik Tok artist". I will claim to be a "Tik Tok artist" to the day I die because that's how I was discovered. My goal for 2022 was to have 250,000 followers and I'm currently sitting at 1.4 million.
The part that's so challenging about Tik Tok is that when I write and put music out, I want people to stick around. It is something that's really hard about Tik Tok. You rely so much on the "For You Page", and not necessarily your followers."
Q: What's some of the best advice you've ever been given?
A: "There are two things. The first one is "you're not special". Nobody is made more important than someone else, so when they are sleeping you have to be grinding. Nothing is given to you. Take what makes you unique and work as hard as you possibly can, every second you can. Your 9-5 will build your dream and 5-midnight will make your dream a reality. The second piece of advice is "get rejected and get humbled". Each time I was put in front of someone who I thought was going to advance my career and was told I wasn't good enough or not what they were looking for, then I'm just going to do it myself. Those people in the industry are just a select few people. I'm going to work hard and let the market decide if I'm good enough. I put my shit out there and let the people decide."