Mixing Influences to Deliver a Powerhouse Live Show
GENRE: Rock and Roll
HOMETOWN: Medford, MA
ARTISTIC APPROACH: Writing honest music full of character.
In a small dive bar on a Friday night in any given borough of Boston, it might all of a sudden feel like Joan Jett has taken the stage when really, it’s none other than Andrea Gillis. Joan Jett’s shoes aren’t the only big ones she’s being pegged to fill. With comparisons to Etta James and Jim Morrison under her belt, she’s got a big hill to climb to live up to the hype. Fortunately, she’s got the personality and talent to do just that.
She also learned from these musicians, saying, “Their live performances taught me you need to give the people a show! Be happy and enjoy what you’re doing, try to inspire and be inspired, sound the best you can and roll with the punches.” It wasn’t just the live shows that she studied, it was songwriting as well. Gillis says, “As far as the songwriting, these are the folks that take a chance, lyrically and melodically. They transcend gender. I try to do that, write songs that men can sing to women, women to men, men to men, women to women, etc.”
Gillis, who’s had no formal voice training, believes that her ”years of experience of slugging it out in the bars and clubs” is another form of training. She also jokes around that her “instrument gets better and better very time I use it.” Although her voice is what she’s known for, she admits that her knowledge of mics is limited, saying that she “should learn” but that she “does love (her) Sennheiser e835 for live shows. That’s my baby!” As for guitars, she’s partial to a nice, late-’50s Gibson ES-125, which she refers to as “dreamy”.
When it comes to what she respects in musicians, she says she “looks for earnestness, character, and individuality. I also love it when a singer makes you believe that they are feeling a song, even when they really aren’t. Some people may call that going through the motions, I call it Frank Sinatra. At the end of the day the singer is really there for their audience.”
photo by Michael D. Spencer