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28 Sep 2017

Singer-Songwriter Scene: Andrew Victor, a Veteran of the New York Music World, Makes a New Home in the High Desert

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Andrew Victor. Andrew Victor.

There aren’t a lot of singer-songwriters in the local music scene—but thanks to a new arrival, the desert now has one more.

Meet Andrew Victor. After years of touring and playing in clubs, he is ready to start playing in the local music scene. He’ll be performing at a show in Yucca Valley on Thursday, Oct. 5, at a warehouse space called Hell, with friends Anna Tivel, Claire Wadsworth and Nigel Roman.

During a recent interview at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club before a performance, Victor discussed his music.

“It’s definitely drawn from folk music,” Victor said. “It’s been (formed though) years of touring and meeting tons of people from all sorts of different groups. It is its own thing, especially earlier on, (when it) was a bit more jazzy, but it’s definitely folk-based. Live, it’s starting to turn a bit more gritty, which I like a little bit. I don’t want to be the boring singer-songwriter, so I’m trying to figure out ways to do that. When you play solo, you have to keep it interesting for folks. You have to mix it up.”

Victor agreed when I mentioned Bon Iver and Iron and Wine as singer-songwriters who are trying to do something different.

“It’s almost anything goes right now in music, in all genres,” he said. “They’re all starting to become really mixed, which makes it a really cool and exciting time. It’s a hustle, and it’s hard, but at the same time, it’s so easy to get your stuff out there, or at least try to throw it out there. There’s so much at your fingertips as far as recording and ways to do it.”

Born in Los Angeles, Victor had stints in a few big cities; he spent the most time in New York.

“I was playing clubs by the time I was 18—like really crappy clubs. I’ve kind of maintained that crappy level, like those really small clubs where they would make us wait outside until it was time to play,” he said with a laugh. “I did that whole thing. It just continued, and I was living in Seattle for a few years, and I was getting radio play and playing big venues when I was real young still.

“I got bored and moved to New York in my early 20s. That’s pretty much where I’ve been for most of my adult life until now. I was in Philadelphia for a few years, but I was still New York-based.”

Being a part of New York’s music scene was exciting; he was able to watch as some of his fellow musicians made it big, he said.

“I saw it all happen. I saw The National. I played a show with Grizzly Bear. We were part of that Brooklyn scene, and we were really lucky,” he said. “Just the timing was perfect. I got to be there through all of that and got to watch my friends make it, which was cool, and they still do it because they love it. It was the best time to be there, and it was still affordable to live there in 2004.”

What brought Victor to the desert?

“My wife is from here. She has family out here, and we have an offer right now on a house, which was accepted, but the tenant won’t leave, so we’ve been in escrow for like three months,” he explained. “Hopefully, we’ll get in. It’s a fixer-upper, though.

“I’m still testing the waters here. I played the Joshua Tree Saloon, and it was interesting. I played here at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club a couple of years ago, and it was awesome. I’m a newbie here to this scene, so I don’t know what to make of it yet, but I like it. I have some friends coming through on a tour I’d like to have play some shows. There’s a lot of local support; you can tell.”

Despite not being a big name, Victor said he still loves what he does.

“I have seven albums out officially, but I’ve probably done about 15 albums,” he said. “You can find them if you really dig. I was on a couple of really small labels, and they ran out of money. For the most part, I’ve released them myself. For this last one, I did Indiegogo, so it completely paid for the vinyl.

“I try to break even doing this; it’s just something I love to do. I’m never going to stop, and I’ve always accepted that. When my friends and I saw all of our other friends in New York were making it, and we weren’t, we kept on doing it and never got picked up by huge labels; it was still a labor of love. I love to be able to pay the mortgage with it, and sometimes, you can.”

Andrew Victor will be performing along with Anna Tivel, Claire Wadsworth and Nigel Roman at 8 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 5, at Hell, 55536 Santa Fe Trail, in Yucca Valley. Admission is $8. For more information, visit www.instagram.com/wearehell.

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