Interview with Singer-Songwriter Andrew Duhon

Andrew Duhon is a singer-songwriter from New Orleans. His 2014 release The Moorings was nominated for a Grammy for “Best Engineered Album.” Duhon’s latest record, False River, was produced by Eric Masse and was released in 2018. Since quarantine, he’s written and recorded 18 tracks from his “Quarantine Songs” series that will be released as a new record in summer of 2021. Andrew plays us one of his new songs, tells us about his “song cave,” how he’s utilizing Patreon and his advice for finding your voice as an artist.

MC: You are usually on tour and it’s come to a halt. What has that been like on an emotional level and practical level? Can you share how you’ve pivoted some of your efforts during this time?

AD: I’ve been pretty lucky, all things considered. I certainly feel for colleagues who had to cancel full album release tours last year. Sure, we had to cancel a few tours, but it was time for me to get back to the “song cave” anyway and work on the drafts I’d accumulated, so dumb luck that it wasn’t the worst timing for me to pivot focus toward writing. The “song cave” has become more literal with no opportunity for distraction. I’ve been encouraged by the output from the cave. Discovering fire from time to time, perhaps! In November, I went to Dockside Studio here in Louisiana to record 18 tracks with the band, all of which were written during this downtime, and I hope to put out a new record in the summer.

I also started a Patreon account to share exclusive material with subscribers there. On there I’ve been sharing new song drafts, journals, covers, live tracks from past shows, behind the scenes from the studio session, etc. and that’s been a real boon creatively not to mention paying the rent. I’d previously been a little more precious about what I’d share. I’m not a social media evangelist, but the smaller community of subscribers on Patreon feels like a natural place for me to share more ideas more readily. That’s created a conversation with listeners that wasn’t there before, and it’s also a motivation to continually create and share with them.

There’s also been a pivot in what kind of songs I’m writing. The social justice awakening is the most vivid confrontation I’ve had with the question of “what do you have to say?” and I wrote several songs trying to directly answer that question. Before the pandemic, the pursuit was about trying to get at a more honest love song, casting away the fairytale, mining my personal experience with love in hopes of finding my way to those sentiments we might all relate to but don’t readily express. As I was then, I’m still trying to stick to the personal “write what you know” mentality, but I think part of my own awakening was seeing that the complicated love song was converging with these broader social issues. The “we” in the love song is no longer just “you and me.” Politics are not inspiring, but philosophy is. How do I see the stranger, how can I lead with love and not fear, how can we take care of each other? Many of these new songs are shared publicly as videos in a “Quarantine Songs” series, 21 songs so far. #15 – “Sunrise”, #16 – “Promised Land”, and #21 – “Shotgun Religion” were all spawned trying to answer that question “what do you have to say” these days.

“No one else can tell your story. No one else can write your song. You’re the only person.”

MC:It’s a tough time to be a musician (and, uh, human) right now, but music is also one of the things that is getting us through. That said, what is something you are most excited for/about right now?

AD: Well, I’m excited to release these new recordings for sure. I’m excited to play a few outdoor/distanced shows. If we stay steadfast to the priority of taking care of each other above all else, there seem to be opportunities there. I’m hopeful that releasing a new album in the summer months could be followed by some semblance of an outdoor tour, but we shall see! The travels would always feed the writing, and I look forward to when I can get back to that cyclical process.

MC: Who are some lesser known artists you love?

AD: Tough one. I wish I had more new discoveries. If I’m honest, I’m a little disappointed by the algorithms that ought to point me in the direction of new inspiration, but it seems like that’s not exactly how it works. It feels more like I’m being sold something on there. I think my favorite internet discovery in memory is Benjamin Clementine’s At Least for Now, but that was years ago. Patrick Watson was a welcome internet discovery some years back. But I really miss the introduction to new bands and writers while on tour, and I miss wandering the New Orleans live music scene and stumbling on inspiration. Marty O’Reilly and Chris Staples are a couple writers I’m glad to know from touring. Here in Nola, I miss Thursdays at d.b.a. with John Cleary solo, Sundays at Circle Bar (permanently closed now) with Micah McKee and Blind Texas Marlin, I miss seeing Julie Odell play. That’s who comes to mind from my live music experience that I sure hope finds its way back to how it used to be sometime not so far down the road.

Hear Andrew share some more advice and his new song “Sunrise” in the video below!

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