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[interview]

Andrew
Staygold

The Power of Music

By OESA

I

n 2005, all the way from “the mighty metropolis of Woodville, On,” a town with two stop lights and three churches, Andrew moved to Banff in pursuit of every Ontarian kid’s dream; to become a ski bum. He worked for Lake Louise Ski hill, and After a few months of shenanigans, Andrew found something other than the bum life: “I realized that there is potential for music to be something very important for me. It was a bit of tradition at ski Louise to have a patrol band, and so we revived the old tradition.” Andrew and friends started a band and called it the “Wilkinson hook.” They performed at local parties and bars, until Andrew dreamed of going to Vancouver to “make it.”

 

“I went to vancouver. It was my entry into the real music scene and actual performing professionals who were clearly more talented than I was, more practiced, and had much more experience and much more connections. All I had were my dreams. So I got the door slammed in my face pretty hard, and I say that humbly and with respect. I had grand aspirations of what I wanted to be, but I didn’t really have any fundamental skills to do that with.”

Yet that didn’t stop Andrew from singing. Why? “The most simple answer I can give,” he replied, “is that it is just in my DNA.” Andrew’s time in Vancouver was not wasted. He studied audio engineering and observed artists in Vancouver. Until around 2014 when an old friend called him back to help at Wild Bills, currently known as Melissa's Missteak. It was then when the era of the infamous Tuesday Karaoke nights began: 

“Karaoke at that time was the worst night of the week– absolutely the deadest night of the week. It was hosted by the grumpiest old man who absolutely hated being there. It was such a negative environment. People would go up to sing who are obviously not the most terrific singers, and this grumpy man would say things like ‘ah you’re so awful’ or something else that’s terrible. So they asked me to host Karaoke, but I wanted to be the complete opposite of a grumpy man. I told myself that I’m going to be stoked to be there, that I’m going to be stoked that you’re participating in karaoke, even if you’re the worst singer on earth. I wanted to find something about you that’s awesome; Your courage, your fashion, your song choice. So we did that and it took about 16 months for Karaoke to start growing, and one day it just started popping. Back in the day the whole gondola crew would come down, and it’s been snowballing ever since. Now it’s the most busiest and financially rewarding night that venue has ever had. It’s not going to go on record, no one is ever going to give me any special credit, and no other artists have filled that room as much as I have, in my humble honest opinion.“

 

But aside from being a karaoke legend, Andrew is known around town for his talent as a musician. When Andrew sings, whether at the farmer’s market or at the Canmore Legendary Hotel, his warm voice is always bound to shock, but the greatest shock came when Andrew told Oesa that instead of an acoustic session, he wanted to do a rapping session. “Tupac is my favorite,” he laughed, “and I have a full rap album with 10 songs in it.”

 

Andrew has been performing in the Bow Valley for 8 years. He’s one of those Banff Artist veterans who never abandoned his dream. So we asked him if he has any advice to artists who are just starting their career in the valley:

“Be dedicated, because it is not easy. It is not easy to get good on your own accord. It is not easy to break into the network. Find who the venue owners are, they won’t be looking trying to find you. You’re gonna have to find them and impress them enough that they’ll believe you will make money for their venue. You won’t get paid for playing at first because you have to absolutely prove yourself. I did four or five years of gigs where I would be hired as an opener, but I wouldn’t get paid. For four & five years all I got was “here’s a beer,” but there’s no money from us. So I hope you love what you’re doing, because when you finish your set & you got no money or recognition, you better be ready, because you’re going to have to do that for a while. However, that is exactly what is sweet about music, because when you do get over that imaginary line, when the gigs start coming, when the people start calling, you will be so proud of how hard you worked to get there.”

 You can find Andrew’s music on Soundcloud and Youtube.

Live performance from Andrew on Oesa Sessions