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INTERVIEW: Andriana Lehr

1. How would you classify your music?

Hahaha of course this is the first question! I have always had a hard time pinning myself into one genre, or even a few, as I draw my inspiration from many artists across many genres, and think my music can fall into a number of different categories depending on which song you listen to. However, if I have to narrow it down, I’d say Americana Folk Pop.

2. Who are some of your top 5 musical influences?

My top 5 musical influences definitely have to be Conor Oberst (Bright Eyes), Joni Mitchell, Brandi Carlile, Lisa Fischer, and Jeff Tweedy (Wilco).

3. What do you want fans to take from your music?

It’s always my hope that people will be able to listen to my music and find some truth that speaks to them and their personal life experience. Some songs definitely have more of an existential, pensive tone of self-realization, and others speak more to universal experiences of love or loss that are straight-forward in terms of my intended content. However, it is always my hope that people can find their own meaning in any of my songs and that I am not imposing my absolute narrative or where I was at when a song was written onto the listener. That’s the beauty of any art – people can take what works for them and leave the rest.

4. Can you tell us a bit about your latest album? When will it be released and how does it differ from your previous work?

My latest album, Artifacts, was released in September 2016. It’s my second album, and I went into it really driven to correct some mistakes I made in the process of recording and releasing my first album – better songs, better, more consistent production, not rushing it – just a lot of learning from my first recording experience and moving forward musically. The songs I chose were written anywhere from 5 years before recording, to a couple months before. The content is based on a lot of self-realization and figuring out my place in the context of the complexity of the universe and the human experience – figuring out what the hell I’m doing here and why, and how I can keep learning from my own history and that of the world to live more fully, empathically, and responsibly. Then, of course, there are a couple songs about love sprinkled in there, but that’s just as much a part of the human experience as anything else. Overall,  I wanted Artifacts to show the diversity of my songwriting while sounding cohesive in overall content and production quality.

5. What do you love and hate about the Music Business?

Oh boy… well, let’s start with the positive. I love the opportunity to share a piece of myself with people – especially when those few special interactions happen where someone has been truly, deeply touched by a song. There are a few instances I have had that are truly the ones that keep me going, where someone has contacted me or chatted with me after a show and then shared a deeply personal experience that one of my songs spoke to and helped provide an aspect of healing and inspiration for them. Those are the moments that really matter and why I keep doing this.

What I hate is the necessity of social media presence as a platform for self-promotion. I have found, in my personal life, that I prefer to divest the time I spend scrolling through endless feeds of BS posts on various social media platforms, instead spending more time in face-to-face interactions with people, spending time in nature, reading books, or really anything that actually inspires me to write and create music. The amount of time I have spent at various times over the last few years just trying to have a “presence” on social media leaves me feeling completely brain-dead, frustrated, and depleted. For better or worse, I have let my presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram fall off a bit, and I honestly can’t say whether I will ever re-engage to the point I once was. I’m still working on figuring out how to balance real-living and internet-life while still being an “emerging artist.”

6. What is the best concert you have been to? What do you like most about playing live?

Choosing a favorite concert I have ever been to so difficult! I have worked in a number of venues in Minneapolis/Saint Paul over the last decade, and the number of incredible shows I have had the privilege of seeing or working are countless. An obvious choice for me are the two times I saw Prince perform – once at the Forum in Los Angeles, as a spectator, and once, while working at the Dakota Jazz Club when he did 3 surprise performances one frigid weekend in January of 2013. Seeing him perform in such a small, intimate venue was life-changing and mind-blowing. I’ll never forget geeking out with my co-workers behind the bar when he broke into Purple Rain. I think I might have cried a little bit.

What I love most about playing live is just the ultimate presence I experience – getting lost in the moments, in the songs – and making those brief connections of eye-contact with audience members who are really feeling the moment and the music with me.

7. Is there a song on this latest CD that stands out as your personal favorite, and why?

My absolute favorite song on Artifacts is the last song, The Expansion of Everything. I nearly titled the album after this song, but decided to go with something a little more concise that still spoke to the essence of that particular song and the overarching idea behind most of the songs on the album. I love TEOE for several reasons. Firstly, it was one of the first songs I wrote after starting my first record that really felt like I had turned a corner in my songwriting in terms of content and structure. Additionally, even after playing it a thousand times, it always takes me to a special place of contemplating where my place is in the vast existence of a gigantic universe that is ever expanding and growing more complex, and how special our experience of consciousness is – to be able to sit and look up at the stars and have even the most minute ability to comprehend just a fraction of what exists beyond our rote daily lives in this simple human experience. It always brings me into a mindset of wonder and gratitude.

8. How have you evolved as an artist over the last few years? What made you decide to come back into the music business?

I think my evolution as an artist has gone hand-in-hand with my evolution as a human being. I’ve spent a lot of time reading, practicing yoga, listening to and trusting the universe and my personal life-path, and setting intentions for the future. I’ve stopped being so afraid of what other people think about how I live my life and doing what feels right and is consistent with my essence as a person. I’ve spent many years in the club-side of the music industry observing many different artists and bands, taking notes on what works and what doesn’t, what resonates with me personally and what doesn’t – and the big takeaway I have found is that the music industry is a vast, tumultuous, unpredictable beast at this moment in time, and what works for one artist or band might not work for another – so do what works for me and trust that it’s the right move.

9. If you could meet, play a gig, co-write a song, have dinner, get drunk with any band or artist (dead or alive) who would it be?

Either Joni Mitchell or Prince.

10. So tell us what’s next?   

My goals are to record again – perhaps something a little less produced, more raw, authentic and similar to what you might hear when I play solo or very stripped down. Or, I have always wanted to make a record in the jazz-pop vein, so maybe that will be where I go next. Aside from recording, just continuing to play gigs (more quality than quantity), and expanding my fan-base by playing more shows outside of the Minneapolis/Saint Paul metro area.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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