Artist Spotlight: Andrew Tufano
This month we shine a spotlight on Andrew Tufano. Andrew is a songwriter and musician based in Nashville, Tennessee. After spending the last three years living out of his car on a 700-show tour in every major US city, he now stays home and writes songs.
First off, thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Tell us a bit about you and what got you interested in a career in music.
Of course! Music was all fun and games for me until I was 16 years old and needed to get a job. I realized I could make a lot more money teaching piano lessons and playing at hotels than I could as a cashier, and I soon became intensely obsessed with the idea of doing something I loved for a living.
You played a 700-show tour across the US – tell us a bit about that. Was it all planned out or did you plan along the way? What was your favorite city to play?
I never would have guessed that my first tour ever would have snowballed into three years of nonstop shows. That initial two-week stint across the Northeast took me six months to book. I sent hundreds of emails from public library computers, because I didn’t own a laptop at the time. I didn’t quite know what I was doing, but almost managed to break even during that tour…I think I only lost about $250. Figuring out how to tour profitably as an independent artist became a personal challenge I HAD to overcome. Before I knew it, I was addicted to traveling the country.
As I became better at booking (I was doing things like impersonating my own fake booking agents, lying about having already played at nearby venues, cold calling random artists and asking to trade shows), I was eventually able to tour sustainably. After my first 100 or so gigs, I signed with two different booking agents, and things became especially hectic. It got to the point where I was only home in Nashville 3-4 days per month, so I stopped paying rent, sold all my furniture, and lived out of my car for over a year. During that time, I stopped planning every little detail of tours like I used to, and started asking crowds each night if anyone had a couch I could crash on. I met so many interesting people around the country. My favorite city I visited was Seattle – I’m absolutely in love with that city.
Tell us your craziest story from that tour.
I don’t even know where to begin! That entire tour was a never-ending crazy story. One of my favorite moments was accidentally driving to Canada as a 19 year old, without a birth certificate or passport. I was in Buffalo, and had a show that night in Detroit, and blindly followed my GPS along the shortest possible route between those two cities: through Ontario. For some reason I didn’t find it weird that I was driving by Niagara Falls. I had no idea something was off until the toll worker on the bridge asked if I was paying in Canadian or American dollars. I froze up and realized that I was now an internationally touring artist.
There was no way to turn around at that point, so I texted all my friends nervous selfies and pictures of the Rainbow Bridge until international texting fees kicked in. My friends all thought it was hilarious. I was so flustered when I got to the other side that Canadian police searched my car with dogs to try and find the drugs. They, of course, found nothing, except for some alcohol in the backseat, which they said would have been illegal ten minutes ago in the US. Once my entire car was searched, they said I was free to hang out in Canada, but might have trouble getting back into my country. Luckily there was a security video of me doing a quick U-turn, so US Customs let me back in without too much of a hassle.
Explain your typical song creation process.
This isn’t the most efficient way to do it, but too often for me things end up like this:
Chords → Melody → Concept → Lyrics.
Nowadays, I’m practicing concept-first and title-first writing because that’s how the pros like to do it. But chords will always come most naturally to me!
What has been your favorite song you’ve ever written? Why?
I don’t have a favorite! But if I was forced to pick the most “important” song I’ve written, I would choose an unreleased song about suicide I wrote last year called “Laundry in the Basket.” I believe the conversations that song has sparked with people can make the world a better place by fighting the stigma around the suicide.
Which artists / musicians / songwriters influence your overall sound?
In no particular order: Billy Joel, Chris Thile, John Mayer, Julia Michaels, The Tallest Man on Earth, Julien Baker, Stevie Wonder, Norah Jones, and Ray LaMontagne.
Who are your top 3 musicians right now?
Really into Phoebe Bridgers, Julia Michaels, and Theo Katzman.
What are you currently working on at the moment and what plans do you have in the future?
I recently built out a modest home studio, and am focusing on writing and producing commercial demos to pitch to artists and publishing companies. I’m doing a good bit of weekend-touring over the coming months, and working with Nashville-based artists to write songs with and for their artist projects.
Anything else that you want to say?
Musicians, songwriters, music enthusiasts, and strangers: hit me up! You can message me on any social media platforms. Visit Nashville and sleep on my couch. Also, I gave a TEDx Talk once, and I almost exclusively wear women’s sweaters and jeans because they’re better. Thanks for reading all this!
Below is one of our favorite songs Andrew made with Songfinch. It’s a personalized song for a gentleman to give his wife for Valentine’s Day. Listen to that chorus and try to tell us it isn’t in your head after you listen. 🙂