Andrew Watt is taking rock music to new heights
Image courtesy of Andrew Watt
Andrew Watt's resume is no joke. At just 25 years old, Watt has already performed alongside some of the biggest legends in the rock and roll music space including Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple, Jason Bonham of Foreigner and Led Zeppelin, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger of The Doors -- the list goes on. Not only that, but Watt's talents have also transcended genres and he's collaborated with artists from all walks of life including Justin Bieber, Cody Simpson, and Skrillex.
His newest EP, however, proves Watt can hold his own as a solo artist. With a little help from his friends -- Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Joey Castillo (Queens of the Stone Age), and Alain Johannes (Them Crooked Vultures) -- Watt dreamed up "Ghost in My Head," an four song collection of solid rock tracks. If this is where the genre is evolving to in 2016, we're not complaining one bit.
Watt's blues-infused guitar-riffs feels synonymous with straight-up rock music. But his distinct voice takes the tracks to new heights; his vocal swagger constantly keeps listeners on their toes. Trust us, one listen of his single "High" -- which you can stream below -- and you'll be addicted too. It's a testament to the fact that "Ghost in My Head" possess the seemingly mythical 'it' factor most musicians can only dream of.
Before you run off to see Andrew Watt perform live on the latest leg of his tour or binge-listen to his full EP, you can get to know Watt on a more personal level. We had the exclusive opportunity to talk to the soon-to-be household name about all things music. Ahead, find out what Andrew Watt's biggest musical memory was growing up, what his songwriting process looks like, and more!
And if you want even more Andrew Watt news, head over to AOL.com at 12 p.m. ET to see more exclusive features, including how he weighs in on the great Spotify debate.
When was the first time you remember really falling in love with music?
It's a good question! Well, I always loved music and I loved listening to music. I'm very much part of the CD generation so I had a boombox. There was this Sam Goody by my house and I would get CDs and it would load up saying Track 1 on the boombox. I wouldn't know what the song was, but I would sit there and listen to the music and it would really affect me. When I was about 11 years old I went to see a cousin of mine in a play and there was a band playing live music. I couldn't watch the play because I was just enamored by this electric bass player. I went and talked to the guy during the intermission and the next day I went to the store and bought a bass and literally I haven't stopped playing music since.
What was your first CD?
I remember three of my first CDs. The first three CD that really affected me -- besides The Beatles -- were "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Appetite for Destruction" by Guns and Roses, "Led Zeppelin I." And then my dad obviously played me every Beatles record and every Who record growing up -- that was in my blood for as long as I can remember.
Do you see those influences effecting the way you craft your songs now?
Absolutely! I say this all the time whenever anyone says, "I have a kid and I want them to learn music. What should they learn?" I tell everyone the same thing: A Beatles song book. If you have a Beatles song book and take basic guitar or piano lessons you will be able to write a song.
It's so interesting too because so much of modern music can be tied back to The Beatles so you're right, it's really foundational.
It's everything. And the chords that they use, they are the essentials -- they're so much further than the essentials. There's so much detail that goes into the major sevenths and minor sevenths -- they're all in there. If you learn all those chords, you'll really be a well-crafted songstress. That's the core vocabulary you need to write rad songs.
What does your creative process look like now? How long does it take you to write a song, where do you like to do it, what inspires you?
Well, that's a multi-faceted thing for me. I wish it was as simple as what you just said, but I have a lot of different things that I do. I write songs for other people and I also write for myself and those two processes while at their core are very similar, are also extremely different. A lot of times, I sit down on a couch with the guitar and I'll either be conscious or unconscious -- or I have an emotion that effects me and I will fuel that emotion through music or chords or riffs, and a melody will come after that.
And at other times, I'm watching TV or having a conversation with a girl or a friend, and something they're saying subconsciously makes me want to play a certain way; it's very un-thought provoking, your hands just start moving. For me, 90% of the time the music or the riff comes first, then a melody, then a lyric. And then there will be other times that I'll be walking down the streets in New York -- I live in L.A. but that's the place where lyrics come to me a lot -- and a lyric will come first or a concept will come first. And that hits the melody and then I'll put it to the music after. But I would say 90% of the time it starts with the music.
What's the main difference writing for yourself or writing for someone else? Do you feel like you have to tailor or alter your creative process for someone else?
Well, that comes down more to production, I would say. Obviously different artists would sing different ways. If I know I'm writing for this specific artist before I write a song, it helps. But a lot of times, I will work on a song where I know it's going to be a pop song, but when it just comes down to just the guitar and vocals it's usually much more consistent at that point. Because it's stripped down, there's a lot less in it, especially when a song is going to be for Rhianna or Justin Bieber. The production is going to sound way different than if it was going to go on my record. That shapes the song even more. It helps to know what you're doing before you're doing it, but you never know. I'd like to say there's a whole method to the madness, but some of it is really just in the moment.
It's sounds like it's basically an identical process to the way people write normally.
It is! It's writing except you're just almost more limited if that makes any sense. One of the most important parts in anyone's song writing process, but especially mine, is phonetics of words. The melody sounds like the words before you even say the words, so you have to try and craft the words around the arch of that melody and the phonetics of how that melody came out originally, because that's what feels the best. And that's something that's very important in my process.
What is it like trying to write for yourself versus what is going to be a chart-topping hit -- or is there no difference between the two and you write what you want regardless?
You're asking great questions! Especially because I live at both ends of those things. I'll get brought into a room to try and write a hit song for another artists. If you're trying to find the best fit for that artist, it's definitely in your head. That could be very crippling. Sometimes the best songs I've ever written have started on a couch with a guitar. Those are my favorite things I've ever done. But when you do that enough, you get across the right people's desk and you get brought in to the process in a more inorganic way.
But if you have the right people in the mix that you're collaborating with, it can come out really special. It's not the same as if you tell one person alone they need to write a hit, then they sit down and try to write a hit by themselves and it's almost always very contrived. Yet, when you put a bunch of really talented people in a room together it becomes a friendly competition. Put everyone in a room and split up the work equally. Everyone there will still try and top each other and it becomes this competition where something really special can happen.
YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, click here. And come back at 12 pm EST for more exclusive Andrew Watt, including how he weighs in on the great Spotify debate.
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