Singer songwriter Andy Shauf is an admittedly shy guy, but in his new album, “The Party,” he uses his social anxieties as fodder for his songs.
It’s a sort of concept album that follows different characters one night at a house party -- where social awkwardness and regret are center stage. Shauf has been compared to other singer-songwriters -- most notably to LA’s own Elliott Smith --and he’s from the same area in Canada as Joni Mitchell and Buffy Sainte-Marie.
The Frame's James Kim spoke with Andy Shauf about the inspiration behind his latest album.
Your songs, both on this album and in the past, have such an emphasis on storytelling. What inspired you to write your songs in a narrative format?
My interest in the storytelling songs came from listening to Randy Newman. He's the only example I can think of for someone who does really well at being an inconsistent narrator all the time. Song to song he'll be like a girl at a funeral or a slave ship owner. I just got that kind of an idea from listening to his music.
Andy Shauf performs an acoustic version of "The Worst In You" at KPCC.
What was the genesis for this album?
This album started out not as a story album. A lot of the songs that were the first ones for the album that related to a party theme were just stories about my life. Probably the most personal song on the album is "Twist Your Ankle."
It's about a specific night in my life. It's kind of about a low point. Just the idea of being misunderstood or the outcome of being really honest in a moment and how that can feel when it backfires or someone just starts laughing at you. It's kind of one of those things where you don't want to talk about it, but you do. So the easiest thing for me was to just write a song about it.
Would you describe yourself as a shy person?
I think I'm a pretty shy person. I'm kind of nervous a lot so there's always a fear of looking dumb or being made fun of or something.
What's the attraction to writing songs based off of your personal experiences?
I think you can relate more when things are just similar to how they actually happen in your life. I like watching movies where nothing happens except a character's inner struggles or something. In this album, I wanted to make it so that if someone wasn't paying attention to the lyrics, they might not even notice that it's a concept album or a story at all. It's just music.
Andy Shauf's new album "The Party" is out on May 20.