“Hi there, it’s Andrew speaking,” the sincere voice flowed over my ears as the 22 year-old acoustic performer from Glasgow answered my call. And just like that, it felt like we were two friends having a chat over a few cold beers! It’s the same feeling of home and familiarity that you’ll experience when you give Andrew Duncan a listen.
First things first, where did it all begin?
So let’s travel back in time to meet the 5 year-old boy with the curly hair and friendly eyes. Growing up in a home where musicians roamed the rooms of the Duncan home in Glasgow, 10 year-old Andrew picked up his granddad’s guitar and started playing. With music in his blood, all he needed was someone to teach him the beautiful chords that he plays today. Who better to teach you the art of guitar picking than a grandfather who was a folk singer in the 70s? And just like that, Andrew Duncan decided that he wanted to be a musician. Although music was his first love, he had his first crush on a girl when he was 12 years old. And with a simple crush on a girl, Andrew the songwriter was born. Unfortunately for the small town boy, the girl didn’t like him back (sobbing right here).
But I’m pretty sure that like the girl too good for Skater Boy, she is sitting in front of YouTube right now, wishing she had liked him back.
“She turns on TV
Guess who she sees
Skater boy rockin’ up MTV”
So, now that we’ve enjoyed a milkshake with 10 year-old Andrew, let’s travel back to the present.
At 17 years old, Andrew was busking on Buchanan Street in Glasgow while also working part-time. With his guitar in his hand, he was comfortable sharing his love for Coldplay and Ed Sheeran on the streets of Glasgow. And before you can shout “bring us another beer”, Andrew Duncan went from busking on the streets of London to a show at Camden Assembly! After asking Andrew about this surreal event in his career, the sincerity in his voice grew stronger. Everything came together and he now appreciates street performing more than ever. Why, you may ask? Because of street performing, Andrew felt comfortable in his music and it pushed him to keep on playing, even after the lights of the Camden Assembly were switched off.
Original songs full of raw emotion are what Andrew strives for when it comes to writing his own songs. His songs are a jumble of feelings, words and melodies about personal experiences. When Andrew told me about the hidden meaning in his original songs such as Silver Lining, City Nights and It Will Get Better, the words of Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters came to mind;
“When a crowd of 300 000 people sing along to your songs, there are 300 000 different interpretations of your song.”
With that in mind, I asked Andrew more about his original songs.
When I asked him whether he writes the lyrics or the melody first, he said that it depends. Sometimes he writes something about love and immediately connects with the words, and the music will just spread out of that personal connection. Other times he will just sit in front of a piano and the melody will come to him as his fingers stroke over the keys, which will help him to write the perfect lyrics.
Sometimes Andrew knocks on the doors of his family, friends and other aspiring musicians for inspiration and opinions. He appreciates the opinions and perspectives that these people in his circle can contribute to his creative process. They write together, come up with sounds that he didn’t think of, and push his boundaries to becoming an even better musician.
But don’t let that beer get to your head too quickly, because that’s not where this journey ends! With 4.2 million video views on Instagram and a fast growing fan base of more than 77 000 followers on his Instagram account, Andrew embarked on a journey to create his first EP.
Today, Andrew rubs shoulders with big names in the industry such as Jake Gosling and Adam Coltman of Sticky Studios. Jake and Adam are known for working with artists and musicians the likes of Ed Sheeran, Christina Perri, Paloma Faith, Shawn Mendez and One Direction. Andrew knows the importance of music, and working with the right people is key in doing something right. If I lost you when I mentioned Ed Sheeran, close your eyes for a second and listen to Andrew’s cover of Coldplay’s Adventure of a lifetime.
You forgot about Ed Sheeran, right? Because I most certainly did!
Andrew is busy with a two-part EP that you can get your hands on early next year. This EP will be laid-back and full of raw emotion. You can expect guitar picking and beautiful notes on the piano when you listen to this EP in the near future.
When you see him playing on the streets or are enjoying one of his live shows, and you want to go give him a high-five (or a hug like I want to), he will spark up a conversation with you, because he understands that without fans, live music wouldn’t exist at all. Forget about labels and make a connection with him instead — the feeling of friendship will stay with you long after Andrew Duncan has packed up his guitar. But with being a rising star and having fans all over the world, you may choke on your beer while thinking “I can’t give him a high-five or a hug because I live across the Atlantic Sea!” Don’t you worry, Andrew shares his creative journey on his social media platforms so go and give him a follow.
And if you’re an aspiring musician playing guitar on your bedroom floor or at your gran’s 70th birthday celebration, here is some advice from Andrew that you can add to your vision board:
“Don’t wait to do the right thing. There is no such thing as a perfect journey, but when you start with small steps with your head focused, you will reap the benefits. Make mistakes. Go through the struggles and remember that only passion will carry you when it gets hard.”
As our conversation came to an end, I wondered how to savour this familiar feeling of friendship that I had experienced while chatting to Andrew Duncan.
While waiting in anticipation for the release of his EP, I asked him to give me his fantasy league of band members. With a chuckle in his voice he immediately answered: “The craziest people in classical rock that I grew up with.” This meant Phil Collins smashing drums, Eric Clapton playing guitar and Freddie Mercury at centre stage.
“And you? Where in this fantasy league are you?” I asked.
“I’ll entertain the crowd after the biggest, craziest show of their lives with my acoustic guitar,” Andrew answered, not even realising that he had summed up our whole conversation in one single sentence.
Andrew Duncan’s music will make you sing along, want to grab a beer with your friends and make you feel right at home.