Your new project is called “Dreams of a Troubled Man” Why did you decide on that name and what was the craziest dream you’ve had?
I started that project where I left off from my first album. The Trouble Andrew record that I first wrote had the first songs I ever written and the first beats I ever made. That was released in 2005. When I started doing this music thing, I didn’t plan to make anything more than my first record and move on. It was more of an art side project for me. From then to now, it’s kind of like grown into this whole situation that became a career I guess. Before, I just kind of blew it off and never took it that serious even once I had my first record done. I was already living my dream with my snowboarding career. That’s what I wanted to do. Skateboarding and snowboarding was all I cared about and music was my main inspiration to keep driving me. Doing this wasn’t my dream. I became very passionate about it. After getting feedback, this was my creative outlet. It was transforming into my new dream. It’s the whole process from that time to now. I’m having more people involved and turning it into a business. As much as it was a beautiful dream coming true, at the same time, it was a nightmare with all the people involved. That’s including all of the politics in the industry.
Here is a dream that’s relevant to the whole fucking story. I’ve had these dreams years ago way before I was ever doing anything with music. I was just snowboarding professionally and that was it. All of a sudden I was on a stage with a band and didn’t know any of the songs. I wasn’t supposed to be there. I would be on stage and it would be the most frightening thing to me. It was just like “why am I here?”
My favorite song from you is “Reporters” with Santogold. What inspired you to write that song?
I wrote it around the time when the whole Britney Spears thing happened when she hit her car with an umbrella. It wasn’t about that. It was more about how our society is caught up in each other’s business. The whole bullying thing that kids have to deal with. She’s a superstar and she’s being bullied by the media and whatever. I looked at it more as a kid and even myself going to school, being picked on. When people start talking shit about you, it’s not a good feeling. I wrote it from the perspective of reporters and how they’re all in people’s business.
What is your favorite spot to play live?
Don Hills was fucking awesome. Then it got closed down. We played there three days before he passed. That was a great venue. I like that and I like The Roxy in Los Angeles, CA. It was fun there. My favorite was definitely Don Hills. I loved how grimy it was in there with the street art and it really felt like a comfortable living room. It was awesome that Don Hills stayed there every night just hanging out and watching the shows. When I first went there, I didn’t even know that Don Hills was a person. He was always in the basement hanging out and watched soundtracks. He was an amazing dude for even having a venue like that. It was good for people like me to make our own scene. It was a great spot.
Aside of the obvious differences of snowboarding and playing music, do you feel that there are any aspects of performing that are similar?
A live performance feels like the competition to me where it all comes down to that moment. It doesn’t matter what pictures you had in a magazine. It doesn’t matter for anything except for that run that you just threw down. The pressure is on. It’s very similar to a show. It doesn’t matter how dope our record was. It’s all on that moment at that show where people haven’t heard of your record. The creation of a record is really similar to creating your video for snowboarding contests. It’s really similar to that because you have the freedom and the time to put together your best moments and ended it how you want. It’s everlasting like a record. That’s how I see the similarities for myself.
You followed your dream at a young age. You dropped out of school at 14 to be a snowboarder. What do you say to kids that are afraid to follow their dreams?
You have to find something that you love and that you’re passionate about. You have to dream and if you don’t have that then I honestly don’t know what you’re going to do. I achieved everything I have through the dreams that I had. I just pushed myself. What made me successful is that I love what I do. I’m really fortunate to have parents that let me dream and encourage me to dream. I always thought outside of the box. I feel like that’s what got me around the world and back. I’ve had that freedom to dream and loved what I was doing. You really have to truly love what you want to do.
What’s the songwriting process like for you? Is there a format for how you write?
The way I usually start is I make my beat first and lay down the track. I build my instrumental. Then I will listen to the track and mumble over it and find my melody. From there, something will pop from the mumble that reflects what the song is about. From there, I just build the song. This is what the song’s about. I’m going through my melodies and I write my lyrics based around that melody pattern. I send it off to get mixed and mastered and it’s a wrap.
By Gerard Ucelli