Slay Spotlight: Justin Andres

Justin Andres grew up playing music in Northwest Indiana, and is now an in-demand session and touring bassist, guitarist, and musical director in Los Angeles. Justin has performed in over 50 countries with a variety of artists and on countless TV appearances, including the Latin Grammys, the Tonight Show, Good Morning America, and more. He is currently bassist and musical director for legendary Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame artist Eric Burdon & the Animals.

What got you into music?

I grew up with a grandfather who was in a barbershop quartet and also did musical theater, and an uncle who is a rock bass player, as well as parents who were huge music fans.

If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing right now?

Photography

What’s the first thing you do when you open a session?

All depends on the task at hand, unless something is amiss and I have to locate missing files, yikes.

Do you have any tips for aspiring producers/engineers?

Choose a DAW and spend as much time as you can learning how to utilize it. Also, my friends that took production/engineering courses or went to programs, or worked as assistant engineers in a studio all seem to have gotten a great head start on the technical side of things. As a completely self taught engineer, I’d say that kind of experience is invaluable.

What are your 5 most used plugins or current favorite plugins?

Soundtoys EchoBoy, Soundtoys Micro Shift, Fab Filter Pro Q, Kramer Master Tape Simulator, Valhalla Vintage Verb.

What are some of your favorite VSTs?

Omnisphere! It is so packed with incredible sounds, and endlessly options for tweaking them. I also like a lot of stuff that Spitfire makes – their vintage keys library is killer.

You play quite a few instruments; how did you get started and which do you enjoy playing the most?

I started on guitar fairly late (13 y/o), and fortunately, early on I had some trouble at school and ended up getting expelled, which gave me tons of free time – I spent a year playing 6-8 hours a day, which was an incredible period of growth for me. Hard to say what I enjoy playing the most – probably bass live, but in the studio I get equal enjoyment from whatever I pick up.

What’s the best tip you could give about recording guitar and vocals?

Guitar – use a great quality, small vintage amp, and find your tone BEFORE adding pedals to the chain.
Vocals – if you don’t have a booth, I’ve had great results with the Kaotica Eyeball.

Do you prefer to engineer your own sessions when you are producing?

That totally depends on the engineer. It is a huge weight off of my shoulders to have a competent engineer at the helm so I can focus on listening, but if the engineer is less than 100% awesome it’s not worth the worry of having to micro manage that aspect.

What was one defining moment in your career thus far?

As performing live is one of my favorite things, I’d have to say big festival shows – like playing to 60,000 ppl at Exit Festival in Novisad, Serbia.

What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? Why?

Favorite – freedom and schedule flexibility, and the opportunity to collaborate with brilliant creative minds.
Least favorite – having to chase down owed money and deal with people that don’t have good communication skills.

What’s your favorite song that you’ve written and/or produced?

At the moment, probably “Tangerine” by Little Monarch.

How do you know when a song is done?

It has to be an intuitive moment, which can be easy to overlook. Often with production, less is more!

What’s your process for finalizing songs?

I actually get great satisfaction out of preparing a song to send to the mixer. Taking a super complex session and bouncing it all down to concise, sexy and simple audio files, perfectly labeled and organized.

Where do you get inspiration?

I’d have to say mainly from traveling and all the time I spend in the outdoors hiking, camping, etc.

Who are some of your biggest influences and why?

Prince and Stevie Wonder – for their insane ears for melody, chord changes, arrangements, and ability to shred on many instruments.

What are you listening to right now?

I’ve lately been digging Billie Eilish, Hiss Golden Messenger, Julian Lage, and Angela Aguilar.

How do you feel about the current state of music?

It’s like Jekyll & Hyde – there is a lot of stuff that I frankly can’t understand what value people see in it, but at the same time, there is a ton of really good music being made. I think streaming has created an exciting opportunity for bands to create some income, especially with the advancement of the Music Modernization Act.

What do you do for fun when you aren’t working on music?

I hike almost daily, and am way into taking photographs, reading, traveling, and cooking.

What’s a crazy experience you’ve had in the industry or a session?

Unfortunately multiple situations having to fight really hard to get long overdue owed fees from very well known artists and labels.

Who are some artists you want to work with that you haven’t had an opportunity to yet?

You! When are we jamming?! I actually want to focus some effort on doing more work in the Latin market, I miss those passionate crowds.

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