After graduating from Berklee in 2013, her songwriting professor, songwriter Kara DioGuardi (Kelly Clarkson’s “Walk Away,” Carrie Underwood’s “Undo It”), urged Andress to move to Nashville. “At the time, I wasn’t ready to be an artist,” Andress, now 28, tells Billboard. “When you’re in your early twenties, you’re still figuring things out.”
A year after the move, though, Andress signed her first publishing deal with DioGuardi’s Arthouse Entertainment/Sea Gayle Music/Universal Music Publishing, through which she formed her circle of songwriting friends, including Michael Pollack (Maroon 5’s “Memories”). “I was sticking with people [on my level], instead of feeling like I had to write with Max Martin to get a hit,” says Andress. Soon she was flying out to Los Angeles for sessions, and expanding her roster of collaborators. “Even though Nashville is primarily country, it's still a songwriting town,” she says. “Learning how to write here helped me to be able to go into a room with Akon, or a boy band, or anyone.”
Being a songwriting chameleon has benefitted Andress in more ways than one -- she says that working with such a wide range of talent taught her the do’s and don’ts of being an artist herself. “There was a huge difference in working with artists who knew who they were, versus the ones who are told what to do,” she says. “That really helped me keep a north star in what I'm doing. I'd never want to be in a situation where I'm just like, ‘I don't know who I am.’ I feel like a lot of artists have a tendency to get caught up and just say yes to anything their label wants, but there's so much value in keeping your own perspective and being able to write about it.”
By 2016, Andress’ publishing deal became solely through Arthouse/UMPG, and by 2017 she had co-written songs later recorded by Charli XCX (“Boys”) and Fletcher (“About You”) -- both of which put her on Warner Music Nashville’s radar, which signed her to a recording contract in 2018. Less than a year later, her debut single, “More Hearts Than Mine” -- a cautionary tale about bringing a boyfriend home for the first time -- arrived.
“It was around this time last year that I wrote it,” she recalls. “The holidays have a tendency of making you question your relationship with your significant other, because you're like, ‘Okay, is this at a place where I'd want to introduce them to my family?’” Turns out, “No, I didn’t,” she says, laughing.