Meet the lyrical genius behind some of your favorite hits like “Better in Time,” “Before You Walk Out of My Life” and “It Kills Me.”
Singer/songwriter Andrea Martin has been a part of the game for a while now and knows the ins and outs of the industry. From recording demos to working closely with Clive Davis, it’s about time you get to know this talented artist. Currently teamed up with Dj Buddha, Andrea is set to release a new mixtape “Nothing New” through Roc Nation as well as another album “The Andrea Martin Project.” She’s written for some of the most soulful R&B singers like Monica, Nelly, Leona Lewis and Melanie Fiona and is ready to step into spotlight herself. We talked to Andrea about her musical journey, from early beginnings to currently working with Roc Nation, as well as the inspiration and stories behind some of her greatest hits.
Can you tell us about how you got your start in the music industry?
How I got my start was weird because I started off as a demo singer and I did one demo and got referred to another demo and one day I had this sign-up at BMI and I met a great guy named Eric Coles and we kept on being friends so one day I decided to call him and he wasn’t there anymore and he said to me ‘I’m at a publishing company,’ and every time I hear publishing I always thought about books. He said ‘no publishing company for songs,’ so I thought oh I can write songs and he hung up and said I don’t have time for this, I just started with this company I really don’t have time for this. A week later he called me and said ‘Ok you wanna shot?’ and I said, ‘yeah’ and he said ‘you really write songs?’ and I was lying my way through and I never wrote a song in my life and he said ‘go ahead then, I’m gonna give you four songs and you only have to write the one.’ I didn’t have studio time so he booked some studio time and they all came down and I did all four records in three hours and demoed it, that’s how hungry I was.
Can you tell us a little about your new mixtape “Nothing New, and the inspiration behind it ?
The upcoming tape “Nothing New” is currently on its way through a lot of things, but I wanna say that everything that I talk about is about real relationships and maybe 80% of that record consists of things that have happened to me. I’m excited about, I just had fun and it was something that me and Buddha did, we just decided to do one day. I’ve been talking about doing a mixtape for a long time and Buddha came in and we started playing music and I said to him I really wanna make a mixtape and he took one of my songs and he took a couple of his songs and he put them together and he really started just putting it together to the point where I started something where I wasn’t gonna finish again, but I ended up finishing anyways because he was so on me like ‘let’s get it done.’ He got most of it done that I never felt a time where, as a songwriter, that a producer had pushed so hard like ‘oh you wanna do it? Let’s do it.’
How did you meet DJ Buddha?’
I met DJ Buddha through Title 9 management. I heard all the stuff that he’s done and that’s what drew me to him. I think it was the greatest thing that ever happened at Title 9 for me, I thought it was good connection.
Can you talk about how Jay-Z and Roc Nation got involved ?
Well at one point I was managed by Title 9 and Title 9 had a great relationship with Roc Nation and I also knew a guy a long time ago who ended up being the vice president of Roc Nation, so it was really small world and I thanked God that I was always good to him, so when my name came up over there I was doing a couple of things, I had the Leona Lewis thing out and I was just finishing up the Melanie Fiona record and developing that and it was good that they just decided to take me on because they don’t take on everybody.
Can you talk about some of your past works like “Better in Time” with Leona Lewis, “It Kills Me” with Melanie Fiona, “Breathe,” “Don’t Let Go” and “Before You Walk Out of My Life” and the inspiration behind them and those experiences?
“Before You Walk Out of My Life” and “Wish I Didn’t Miss You” and “Better in Time” were all personally selected from Clive Davis, which was amazing. I went in and had a great meeting with him and loved it and the A&Rs loved it, Keith Naftaly and Peter Edge and say no more, they put it out there and it happened. A lot of people don’t know that “Better in Time” was officially on hold for Whitney Houston.
What Happened there?
You know what happened was the years were passing by and there was a lot of pressure because it was a song that everybody wanted so I called Clive and he likes to keep things and when it comes out you make your money’s worth, you make the time that it’s been sitting there, you make that money. We had a conversation, I said ‘what’s going on with Whitney right now?’ and Whitney was busy touring and stuff so he said don’t worry I’m going to give it to this girl named Leona Lewis. I didn’t know who she was, but then I looked on the X factor and was really happy that the song came out with her. I was going through a lot at that time and I every kind of problem you could think of and I just had to sing something to make me think that it was going to get better in time and it did.
Who was your favorite artist you’ve worked either lately or in the past?
There’s a lot of British artists. There’s so many.
Who are you currently writing for?
Andrea: Buddha help me baby
Dj Buddha jumps in: The Great Gatsby
Andrea: Right, there you go! I’ve been working so hard I can’t remember names of the movies, so I worked on the Great Gatsby. I’ve got a couple of other stuff that I’m working on right now, and I hate to talk about it.
Dj Buddha: She’s working on Melanie Fiona’s new album and she’s working on her own project so she can come with some new records, she’s working on the Andrea Martin Project.
Andrea: I don’t wanna brag about people that I’m working with because at the end of the day if the record is not on there, I look like I lied.
Dj Buddha: Over the past few months she’s had The Great Gatsby and Jennifer Hudson.
Andrea: I’m currently on a lot of different British producers albums, compilation albums also.
The Andrea Martin Project that you mentioned, is that separate from the “Nothing New” mixtape, if so can you elaborate on that ?
Definitely. Compared to the nothing new mixtape, it’s more of a compilation of 90s records that I’ve always wanted to sing on and get my message through and having fun with it and I also feature a guy named Skye, who’s on a song called “Simon Says.” Now compared to the album that we’re putting together, it’s more musical, in that vein of “All About That Bass,” but also goes really Bjork-ish, but still the lyrics is what you’re going to gravitate to and I just think it’s a different me from the first album.
Is there anyone you would you like to work with in the future, anyone that you’re just dying to work with?
I would love to work with Sia, she’s a songwriter. Buddha, I don’t know, just the DJs: I love Switch, who I’m working with also and Diplo. Dr. Luke, Max Martin wouldn’t be bad either. The guy who did the Run DMC stuff, Rick Rubin.
Do you feel like as a songwriter it’s hard to break through that barrier of becoming a mainstream singer?
I don’t think so now, I think back then it was because you get thrown in like ‘oh my god I wrote a great song’ and then you pitched it to your company where you end up being the person who sells the song and the artist and it becomes very hard because it’s hard to say, ‘no’ when they hear a hit for someone else and if you say, ‘no’ you have a problem anyways so it can be really different. I think nowadays people understand it more, like it’s alright to be an artist and a songwriter at the same time.
Listen to her mixtape here: