At first glance, it may look like Ingrid Andress’ 2019 solo breakout materialized from thin air. In 14 months, she amassed a steady list of accolades that many an aspiring singer-songwriter would hope to realize over the course of a career. An abbreviated version of that list includes: being recognized on Sounds Like Nashville’s 2019 list of country artists to watch, landing on multiple charts with her hit single, “More Hearts Than Mine” (the track would go on to be the only debut song by a solo woman artist to crack the top 20 of Billboard’s Country Airplay Chart in 2019), headlining her first international tour and making her national TV debut on Late Night with Seth Meyers.
But just minutes into our conversation it becomes abundantly clear that what could easily be mistaken for a case of spontaneous combustion is in fact, the result of a steady, methodical burn that was sparked following her graduation from Boston’s famed Berklee College of Music. From there, the Colorado native spent time in New York and Nashville honing her craft as a songwriter and producer while working alongside an array of artists like Charli XCX, Sam Hunt, Bebe Rexha and Brooke Eden.
She speaks with conviction while reflecting on her decision to nurture her musicianship in lieu of seeking early notoriety as a solo artist. “It looks like all of this happened super quickly, but I feel like the past five years of me being a songwriter is really where all of this started. I don’t think I’d have the confidence that I have right now if I didn’t go through the grind of being a songwriter behind the scenes.” Though Ingrid would have you believe she’s “winging it all the time,” there’s a sense of intentionality that’s evident in her decision making and her songwriting, both of which are driven by a love for honest storytelling.
Below, we talk about Ingrid’s plans to follow up her 2019 breakout, her debut album and a pair of impending arena tours where she’ll play alongside Tim McGraw and Dan + Shay.
“More Hearts Than Mine” cracked the Hot 100 chart this week at No. 82. What’s it been like to watch one of your first singles take on a life of its own?
Honestly, it’s been mind-blowing. The fact that this song started as an idea in my bedroom and now people are singing it all over the place will never get old to me because it’s such a personal story. To be honest, I had no idea if this song had a chance or not when it first dropped so the fact that people are connecting to the story the way that they are is pretty incredible. The whole reason why I’m in music is to share these stories with people.
What’s it been like making the transition from songwriter to solo artist?
It’s different not writing every day because I learned how to write by doing it a lot. It’s been an adjustment having to actually commit time to writing as opposed to me just being able to write whenever for whoever. I’m really glad that I put the time in to learn the craft of songwriting before I decided to be an artist right away. Working with a ton of artists you get to see their do’s and don’ts and it makes you think about what you would or wouldn’t do. Because of that experience, I feel like the whole transition process has been very natural and nothing has been forced.
In your Chartbreakers interview, you mentioned that you wanted to establish your credibility as a songwriter before stepping out on your own. Why was that credibility significant?
I just wanted to be taken seriously and I feel like a lot of the time people would say things like, “Oh yeah, you must be a singer because you’re a girl.” That really bummed me out and I’d usually answer back, “No, I’m actually a piano player, I play drums, and I can write music.” I didn’t like being put into this tiny box just because I had a good voice. I really wanted to be respected as a musician the way that other legends that I look up to were respected.
So at what point did you realize it was time to introduce the world to Ingrid Andress the artist?
I think it was when I started writing songs that were very personal to my story and it got harder and harder to let other artists record them. As a songwriter you want other people to tell your story. I was totally fine with it up to a point but I think the more I got to know myself, the more I started writing from a real place and there were a couple of songs that I wrote that I didn’t want to hear anybody else’s voice on other than mine.
We initially met in December at the all-women songwriter’s camp that was hosted by She Is The Music and American Express. What was it like to spend that day recording alongside Alicia Keys and the other songwriters at Record Plant?
Opportunities like that are amazing especially after being in the songwriting community for so long and not being able to work with a ton of women. We’ll run into each other and have those conversations like, “How are you? We should get in a session together,” and then it ends up not happening because people assume, “You two probably do the same thing in the room, so why would we have two girls?”
It’s always nice to step outside that norm and work with a studio full of talented women. Working with Alicia was dope because she’s just pure talent and being able to work with an artist who’s on that level of musicality was really refreshing because you don’t always get that a lot with artists. I met Alex Hope (writer and co-producer of Selena Gomez’s latest single “People You Know”) through the first She Is The Music camp, and in December I was so pumped to see her and work with her again. We’re huge fans of each other’s work so it was a nice little reunion.
Two days after that camp you took to Instagram to announce that you’re touring with Dan + Shay. What are you most looking forward to when you guys hit the road this spring?
Dan + Shay have been working around Nashville for a long time and now they’re really having their moment in the last year or two so it’s exciting to see that happen for them and to be a part of that. Other than that, I’m honestly just looking forward to playing for a huge amount of people. That’s one thing I haven’t experienced yet so I’m excited for this new chapter.
And a few weeks after that tour with Dan + Shay you’re going to be back on the road with Tim McGraw. What music can Ingrid Andress fans look out for in the midst of all these shows?
There’s an album on the way and we actually just listened to the mixes today! It sounds so freaking good and comes out in March. Releasing that is definitely what I’m most looking forward to this year. I feel like I’ve put so much time into those songs, and they’re all exactly the way I want them to be, and I co-produced all of them. It’s going to be a really big moment for me because you only get to make your first album once.
With that said, I guess the countdown to March begins today. Once the record drops what are you hoping your fans take away from it?
I’m hoping that it invokes real emotions from people. There’s not a lot of frills on this album and a lot of the songs are going to be speaking from a very real and vulnerable place with a depth that songs these days don’t normally have. I really just want people to get in their feelings when they listen to it because those are my favorite types of records.
When people hear my songs, I hope they’re reminded that it’s okay to feel things deeply. I think we as humans are very complex creatures and have a lot of emotions, but we don’t always have platforms to express them as deeply as we want to, so I hope that my music can do that for anyone listening.