Trouble Andrew on Yelawolf tour, snowboarding, & social media
Photo By Eva Blue
Trevor "Trouble" Andrew lives a life at 31 most guys would envy at any age: He's a professional snowboarder turned musician who now finds himself on tour with Yelawolf, and he gets to design products for cool lifestyle companies like Native Shoes, Yes and Analog. Oh, and did we mention Andrew's also married to Santigold? It was she who encouraged him to take his music seriously after he stumbled upon his music career quite literally by accident.
Nursing a snowboarding injury in 2004, the Nova Scotia native passed the time tinkering with tunes, never expecting anything to come of it. Now he's promoting his debut album at sold-out gigs with the dirty south rap phenom, whom he met at the X-Games years back before he signed to Shady. Andrew taught Yelawolf how to snowboard and in turn the rapper promised to take him on tour one day. "Turns out he was a man of his word," Andrew says.
Trouble Andrew's debut album comes several years after self-releasing a dozen tracks himself, picked up by bloggers and other tastemakers ("New Kid" and "Chase Money" were obvious highlights). Fronting his four-piece band, Andrew has a sound as grimy as his fashion sense -- one that runs wide circles around a number of genres, dipping into hip-hop, '80s new wave, indie, and folksy alt-rock with a confidence that's somehow both naive and respectable.
Because his tracks tend to maintain a similar tempo and all feature his similarly treated vocals, it makes a samey impression in spots. But this doesn't take away from its enjoyability. This is catchy stuff from a guy who might not be the best musician in the world but is doubtlessly entertaining. In that respect, Andrew's pairing with Yelawolf feels completely appropriate.
We chatted with the singer/songwriter from his tour bus parked in Yela's home state of Alabama, and he had much to tell us about just how he got here and where he plans to end up.
How was recording this debut different from when you first set out to make music?
The songs on the first album were literally the first songs I ever wrote. "Chase Money" was the first time I was experimenting with producing and writing. I didn't know when I started that I would even do vocals on it and I didn't realize it was something that would actually come out. It was a learning process all the way through, and I was trying to really just get comfortable with the idea of making a record. I was still professionally snowboarding at the time but got injured so it was just something to kill time. A couple years later I got around to the second record and was more comfortable with the idea of me actually doing this. I accepted it and had a few shows under my belt. More experience in the studio gave me a bit more confidence.
Action sports like skateboarding and snowboarding seem to go hand in hand with music. Were you a big music fan when you were competing?
Oh, totally. I was really known in snowboarding as the music dude. Music always drove me to really do what I was doing on my snowboard -- that's why I'd always have music playing. I had mixtapes for every jump that I went on and every concert that I went to. Those songs would drive me to feel like I was doing some Superman shit. I first got a skateboard when I was 7 years old and my neighbor -- one of the only cool dudes from Nova Scotia where I'm from who skateboarded -- put me on to skateboard videos, which brought me to some really cool indie music I would have never known about otherwise. Skateboarding and the videos opened my eyes to art in general. Even skateboard graphics alone were inspiring to me! So definitely, music has always worked both ways with skate and snowboard culture to inspire each other. It all goes together.
What music in particular were you into?
I listened to Beastie Boys, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, The Descendants, and I liked a lot of West Coast rap too. I grew up in the country, so I listened to a lot of country music then. I wasn't fond of it but I appreciate it now. I think it really influenced me -- you can hear it in a lot of my new stuff. I feel like the song "Reporters" with Santi is not a country song but could be. I just mash stuff up so much that there's a lot of little pieces of things I like. It's like collage work. I actually love doing collages and I think that has an effect as well.
Speaking of Santigold, it's well-known she had a hand in your music career. What's her role now that you've come to the forefront more?
We still work together here and there -- we did a show together in Van Couver just recently. To be honest, we are so busy all the time that when we do get together, we're definitely not thinking about going to the studio to record. Instead we're like, "Let's lay in bed and watch TV and eat food." She definitely has been a huge supporter from day one. When I wrote "Chase Money" and all that in 2004, I was looking at it like a little project I'd put back in the drawer and close it, and she was the one who made me a MySpace page and was like, "No, you need to take this seriously." At that time in my life, I was so into snowboarding, it was like, I'm already living my dream so it wasn't like I wanted to be a rockstar or something. I just wanted to be a snowboarder and live the life I was living. It all happened accidentally but Santi's confidence and support helped me put it out there more.
You and Yelawolf seem to share a similar aesthetic -- how did the pairing with him on tour happen initially?
I met Yelwolf at the X Games a few years ago. A friend has a party there every year and he had Yela as the headliner, so I met him while we were out there and taught him how to snowboard. It was crazy, he learned faster than anyone I've ever seen. We kicked it out there and he brought me out as a guest on stage, and he told me just before he signed the Shady deal, "Yo man, I want to put together my own tour, we need to go out on the road and snowboard and rock out." I have had a lot of people over the years tell me they want to do this or that with me, so I didn't totally count on it. I thought he was a cool dude and we had a great time. Turned out he's a man of his word because he hit me back two years later and said, "Man, I got it together, I'm doing a tour and I want you to come." It meant a lot to me.
How did you get your sense of style?
Traveling is one of the greatest ways to get up on what's popping and to see new things and how people live. I just think that plays into all the different stuff I'm into. I've always been open -- my parents really always told me to be original and not try to conform, so I've never been too scared to push it as far as fashion, music, whatever. I don't feel I've ever really had barriers in that way, I was really fortunate. I left home at 13 and have been on the road since. I'm lucky my parents let me do that, and it led to be absorbing a lot. The more you're exposed to, the more you have ideas.
What item in your closet you'd never part with?
Probably my Trouble Gang jean jacket I've had for about 7 years now. I sewed it up all myself. It's like a collage.
Talk to me about the design work you do for brands.
Every brand relationship I have, it's some real shit where I can just be honest and tell them what my visions are. I just dropped a sunglasses line with Electric Visual, and I'm working on stuff for Monster, Yes snowboards, and clothing with Analog and Native Shoes. I'm just always looking for creative outlets. That's what I love doing with my life. It's such a blessing because now that I'm in this music thing, I don't have a label. I'm doing everything myself. So when we do these projects together and I design something or whatever, it helps when I go on the road because then I have somebody behind me pushing it. That's the reason I can do this stuff, because Trouble Gang records is just me.
What's your favorite drink?
Monster Energy (laughs).
What's the best and worst thing about social media when you're a musician?
The best thing about it that you can reach people when you're doing something yourself, when you're an artist or anything. You don't have to try and travel around the world to reach people anymore, you can just drop it online and things can happen. The worst thing about it is the fact that people have forgotten how to really connect in person. They're losing the ability to go outside and live. Instead they stay in on Facebook and can't even go through eating a meal without looking at their shit. It's kind of bizarre, but I guess times just change and you have to roll with it. Personally, I like to do things for real. I like to go outside and actually like skateboard and not play a video game of skateboarding. I can't even front though, I love Instagram. Instagram is my shit because I'd rather not have to tell someone what I'm doing but show them what I see. That's fun to me because that's just another form of art.
Trouble Andrew opens for Yelawolf (and Rittz) on October 19 at Epic, 110 North 5th Street 55401 Minneapolis. 18+ $20-$35
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