Andrea Wittgens Biography
Common wisdom in the entertainment business dictates if you can't describe it in two sentences, go back to the boards and refine your pitch. However, those experienced and well traveled in the business know that in truth, it's the ones that you can't describe easily that are the true and lasting artists (think Rufus Wainwright, Erykah Badu, Jeff Buckley).
New York City-based singer/songwriter Andrea Wittgens is the freshest original new voice on the scene in years. Combining sultry, engaging vocals (she has been compared to artists as varied as Rickie Lee Jones, Regina Spektor and PJ Harvey) with original songs that are both hypnotic and exuberant, and always showing immaculately appropriate musicality with clever yet disarmingly honest lyrics, she has been holding audiences in rapture throughout the Northwest.
Originally from small-town Antigonish (pronounced anna-ga-'nish), Nova Scotia, Andrea's earliest stage experiences were tap dancing as a precocious four year old, then twirling in pink tutus at the local ballet school, as well as atop (several) telephone books at piano recitals. Eventually outgrowing the telephone books (and hanging up her size 2 taps), she continued with both classical piano lessons and dance classes, which combined to form a deep physical connection to music which carries forth through today. Continuing with piano through high school, Andrea eventually spent several years teaching music, dance and movement, while refining her chops playing keys and singing in the high school jazz band. She continued with advanced classical music studies, graduating as a dual major (French and Music) at Queen's University, Ontario.
Moving to Seattle, WA in the mid-90's, Andrea began her pop writing career in earnest, playing late nights at raucous beer and joints bars in Pioneer Square, Seattle (with what was to be future members of Sugartown), while next morning slogging in bleary-eyed to her day gig programming interactive music at Microsoft. By 1999, Sugartown was more than an idea, and in 2000, they released Blue Eyed Fool. The EP stirred up a wave of notice in Seattle, despite being an earnest fun-pop outfit pushing against the considerable tide of flannel-shirted insouciance.
After the release of Sugartown's second effort, How Do You Love, Aquamarine?, the band hit the road, up and down the West Coast -- Seattle, Portland, Ashland, Eugene, San Francisco, and on to LA.
Finally, after 5 years, Sugartown seemed to have run its course, and rather than being the voice and face of a band, it was time for Andrea to shine as a solo artist. With the help of Grammy producer/mixer Bob Power (Erykah Badu, Maktub, Citizen Cope), Andrea released her first solo effort, Alibi, in October 2006. The EP and Andrea's instantly arresting voice garnered excited reviews both in the Northwest and in her new home of New York city where Andrea performed to packed houses at legendary NYC venues like The Living Room, The Knitting Factory, and The Bitter End.
While touring to support Alibi, she was - of course - plotting and writing material for her full-length follow up album. In the Skyline arrived two years later in November 2008 and was released nationally in June, 2009.
An adventurous mix of instrumentation, In the Skyline, is a 12-song ode to escapism, a vividly spun world where reality meets fantasy. Working with rock producer/mixer Johnny Sangster (Mudhoney, The Briefs), the album represents a return to a more viscerally emotional live band setting. From dreamy ("Empires of Straw") to dramatic ("Cardboard Cutouts"), from playful (“Summer Escape”) to ironic ("Creature Feature") the songs jump out of a dynamic foundation featuring Andrea at the helm on piano. As befits the fantastical lyrical content, evocative arrangements make use of a broad and colorful sonic palette weaving spooky Mellotrons, quirky Farfisas, and luscious string quartets into the mix. The album also includes a reunion with producer Bob Power (on the hypnotic "Beautiful You") as well as some magical co-production teamwork between Wittgens and guitarist/producer Vincent Gates (check out the disarmingly starkly honest opening track "Punchline" the darkly humorous "Marching Orders" or the stunning final track, her first original French recording, "Comme tu veux")
In the Skyline is a convergence of the writing, singing and riveting stage presence that with the CD's national release marks Andrea Wittgens' arrival as a singer/songwriter of the highest order.