The past few months have been a good kind of hectic for Andy Grammer.
The singer-songwriter and 2007 CSUN music alumnus who brought us the hit song Honey, I’m Good released his second album, Magazines or Novels, on Aug. 5, and he debuted on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars on Sept. 14. Grammer recently released the single Good to be Alive (Hallelujah), and on Oct. 27, he sang the national anthem at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series. His run on Dancing with the Stars ended Nov. 2 — the eighth week of the competition.
Grammer found some time to speak with us this month about DWTS, his burgeoning music career and his time at CSUN.
CSUN: Can you describe what your schedule was like week to week with Dancing with the Stars, especially while promoting a new album and single?
AG: Pretty intense. There are at least five to seven hours of dance every day, along with interviews and filming for the packages. Then, with the traveling for shows and promoting my new single Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah), it gets to be a lot. My (dance) partner traveled with me to all my shows, and we somehow managed to get it all in.
CSUN: Was DWTS more grueling than expected in terms of the time, energy and difficulty?
AG: It’s about as physically grueling as I expected, but mentally, it’s really challenging. [One week] we had four dances to learn. That’s a lot of choreography. There is an element of finals week vibe over here.
CSUN: What’s been the toughest part?
AG: Learning all the choreography in such a short amount of time is really hard. Then having to do it on a national stage makes for some pretty intense rehearsals.
CSUN: Did you want to win DWTS to satiate a competitive drive, or was there a bigger, more significant reason?
AG: I did this show in memory of my mom. She passed away around six years ago, and she loved the show and dance in general. [The last] week in particular, we [were] doing a dance to a Stevie Wonder song, Isn’t She Lovely, and it [was] really sweet. It’s a crazy way to grieve, but it’s been working for me.
CSUN: What would you say is the biggest impact CSUN made on you?
AG: The network of friends I made was the biggest takeaway. I met my wife, my current guitar player and a bunch of our lifelong friends there.
CSUN: When did you begin street performing on Third Street in Santa Monica? Were you doing that while being a student at CSUN?
AG: I was street performing a little bit while at CSUN, but started doing it full time the day I graduated.
CSUN: Being a recording artist these days is so much different than just 10 years ago. Album sales are different. Promotion is different. The way the public consumes music is different. How difficult is it to find success in the recording industry these days, especially for a young artist like yourself?
AG: The music industry is a service industry. I promise you, if you are an artist and you make music that serves people, you will make money. Whether it makes people want to dance in a club, cry alone in the car or freak out at a festival, if it is serving someone, money will come. Focus on serving, delivering an undeniable song, show, record — the money finds a way to you.
CSUN: How would you say your music has evolved from when you were a street musician to today?
AG: It has become increasingly more honest. In the way a friendship works, you slowly learn more about each other and share and give of yourself. That has been my growth as a writer.
CSUN: You scored your first Top 10 hit with, “Honey, I’m Good.” How has your life changed since the release of that single?
AG: I wrote over a hundred songs for my second album, and Honey, I’m Good was 101. Hit songs are like turbos in the set, so the live show has another song to make it really pop. The big acts that tour stadiums have hit after hit after hit. That’s what makes a show. So to answer your question, my life is the same, but with a song that takes the crowd into hyperspace every night.
CSUN: How much does your single Good to be Alive describe your current state of being?
AG: It’s pretty autobiographical. It’s been a crazy ride, and I’m loving it all. It’s good to be alive.
CSUN: What you’ve accomplished could be seen as a major inspiration to so many young musicians — not just students at CSUN, but people around the world. What’s your best advice for someone who wants to ‘make it?’
AG: It might sound hilarious or cheesy, but here is a quote I posted on my Instagram today that sums it up: ‘Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling, but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just … start.’