It wasn’t the first time in Chicago for the independent artist on the rise, Andy Velo, but this was his first time playing at the prominent Windy City Smokeout festival. “It’s a world-class festival and it really is an honor to be here,” Velo said of the opportunity to play the Blackhawks Lounge at the fest. His favorite thing about Chicago? “The fact that there’s this much love for country music in Chicago. These people are diehard fans and it really shows how global the country music reach is.” I couldn’t agree more, and it was evident that he had quite the following supporting him in the packed-out lounge.
I had the pleasure of getting to know the Suwannee, Georgia native immediately following his acoustic performance at Smokeout. Although we discussed his success with his latest single, “Half-Truths & Other Lies” the content of the interview contained no half-truths or lies. Instead, Andy Velo dished the whole truth on his background, his wisdom regarding music, and his future plans.
Andy Velo knew that music was something he wanted to do from a tender age of 11. “I always had a passion for music,” he stated. In pursuit of that passion, 10 years ago he quit his job and told himself that if he’s going to do this, then he needs to “just do it.” So after working his music for two years in Georgia, he packed up and moved to Nashville where he has spent the last eight years honing his craft. “I don’t think anyone in the music business has a direct line of like, ‘ok you’re doing this and then you’re going to end up here’ that’s just not what happens.” And so began Andy’s unique path.
He explained, “My first job in the industry was selling merchandise for Corey Smith. He was a teacher at my high school and when he started touring, he needed a merch guy, so he asked if I wanted to sell merchandise for him and that was when I first fell in love with the road.” While discovering the road life, he realized something about himself. “If I’m in one place for too long I get antsy. I’ve discovered that I really like playing San Diego, Nashville, and of course back home. Places where I like to go for myself, are Navarre Beach in Florida, New Hampshire…and I love it here (Chicago). Any time I can come to Chicago I’m always happy and I love to play shows here because it’s always a rowdy time.”
With the travel involved in life on the road, inspiration is sure to be abundant. Velo divulged, “I get inspired by life and life experiences. It’s all about the idea of ‘can you change people’s lives?’ Not saying every song needs to be a huge Live Like You Were Dying moment, but you begin to realize you’re the backdrop for other people’s experiences. It’s cool for me to realize that maybe even right now there might be someone driving down the road listening to one of my songs and it’s their own world, their own emotions, but somehow, someway, my song is playing into that. That’s pretty damn cool.” He explained. “Music is a passion of mine that I get very inspired by with chord progressions and all of that, and sometimes a song just hits you the right way.“
A song that seems to be hitting the nation the right way is his current single, “Half-Truths & Other Lies” which was the number one video on CMT’s 12-Pack Countdown two weeks in a row. Andy discussed when he first heard the song, “I didn’t write it myself but it’s my job as an artist to make sure the best songs get heard. When I heard this song, it made me feel a certain way. I was like, ‘why is nobody giving a voice to this song?’ I knew I needed to put it out and when I did, I had people coming up to me telling me they are this guy in the song, etc. and I’m pretty proud. I think this song has some strong legs and CMT was a great litmus test for that.” Andy is certain to see continued success with “Half-Truths & Other Lies” through streaming and sharing, or maybe even on Sirius XM The Highway.
When it comes to choosing which songs an artist will put out, Andy explained what’s most important to him in that process. “People don’t buy songs, they buy brands. You look at someone like Luke Combs, for example. The music is fantastic, you look at him, hear him, and you believe him. That’s what it’s about for me – continuing to refine my brand to make sure that everything that comes out is authentic to an experience I’ve had or a way I feel.” He went on to say that there is a track he’s been intrigued by, titled, “Whiskeysippi River.” If that sounds familiar, that’s because the song, written by Trevor Rosen (of Old Dominion), Matt Jenkins, and Josh Jenkins, was previously released as part of the Deluxe Edition of Fired Up by Randy Houser. However, Andy feels as though it would make an excellent single for him because it is the epitome of his brand as an artist and it is a natural fit for him.
You can look for “Whiskeysippi River” as well as 3-4 more songs to be released by Andy Velo by the end of the year. Be sure to keep up with Andy on his website, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook for all of the latest music and tour announcements. Until then, you can stream his music on Spotify or purchase on iTunes.