Andy Allo complimented my shoes. I gushed over her lavender-colored hair. We chatted about her newly released EP One Step Closer and then, she shared with me a sacred piece of advice from her mentor, none other than the late Prince.
“It’s easy to want to be someone else, especially when that someone is so great. It’s much harder to figure out what is right for yourself and be different from the greatness you’re in the presence of,” Andy said of soaking in the genius of Prince and the emotional road she had to take in order to find the voice she has on One Step Closer.
I caught up with Andy, who will appear in the film Pitch Perfect 3 later this year, a few hours before she was slated to play at New York City’s Highline Ballroom, part of a tour of the Midwest/East Coast she began on April 1.
From her new music to the best advice Prince gave her, Andy got real and raw with DuJour.
What was it like recording your new EP?
I lucked out. I went into the studio with a friend and used his studio. I had written the songs beforehand. We started recording on a Friday and needed to lay down drums and guitar that weekend. That night we jumped on our phones and started reaching out to friends who were in town and game to play. The drummer we got was a friend of the producer and he plays with Andy Grammar, my slide guitarist drove down to L.A. from Northern California; it was so cool how everyone came together and made it happen.
Is there an overall theme throughout the songs?
The title track was written a couple years ago and I never released it. The overall theme matches what the song is about which is One Step Closer. A lot has happened in the past year or so that has pushed me to self-observe and to get out of my own way. I feel like I’m getting one step closer to being myself as an artist and a person. These songs are part of that journey. Then I threw in a Johnny Cash cover because, why not?
How does it feel to be referred to as “Prince’s protégé”?
It’s a lot of pressure because of the artist that he was. Everything that he stood for is… a lot. Sometimes it’s too much to handle because there is a lot of expectation.
I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to be better and to aim for greatness because that is what his name is associated with. When I first started working with him, I had never met anyone of his stature. I soaked in everything he taught me. I was obsessed with funk.
I wanted to be him and to reach the success that he had; the success that I was inspired by. I realized that he was great because he crafted a space for himself. He championed the idea of having your own voice. With this new EP, I feel I’m that much closer to being the person I’m supposed to be. I wouldn’t be who I am without that journey.
What is the best piece of advice Prince gave you?
Him reinforcing how much he loved my acoustic sound is something that I cherish so much now. It’s what I do. I am able to do a lot of other things musically but now, playing my guitar and singing acoustically is where my heart is. When I first met Prince, he and I would grab our guitars and sing together acoustically and those memories mean more to me than anything now.
He also always preached about having integrity in your work. It’s easy for someone else to tell you what you should be doing or what you should look like or sound like. He always said about how easy it is to get distracted by other voices. If you have integrity in what you do, you can weed out the voices and listen to what you truly want.
You found your acoustic sound and you just wrapped Pitch Perfect 3! How was that experience?
It was a dream. After we wrapped filming, I was talking to some of the other women on set, telling them that I was flying out the next day to start my tour. I was a little stressed about flying and performing. Then I realized that I’m kind of living the dream right now. This is what I’ve worked so hard for – to finish a movie that combines music and acting and put out an EP and go on tour!
What was it like working with such a powerful all female-cast?
It was so inspiring. The director, Trish Sie, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson; you’re watching them do your thing. Their craft is incredible. There was a moment when Rebel and Anna had to just riff and throw out funny lines one after another. I’m standing there trying so hard to hold back my laughter because it was just joke after joke. It was very impressive.