Musician also sound engineer

By Liz Keeney

A sound engineer walking across the stange in headphones, checking mikes and speakers moment before a concert starts is a familiar sighting. The Justin Andrew Band with the Spring Standards

Club Café

Today, 8 p.m.




The Justin Andrew Band with the Miniature Tigers

The Smiling Moose

March 8, 7 p.m.


All ages

(412) 431-4668

A sound engineer walking across the stange in headphones, checking mikes and speakers moment before a concert starts is a familiar sighting. But it’s not so typical to see the sound engineer remove his headphones and strap on a guitar.

Justin Andrew, a local singer-songwriter who moonlights as a sound engineer at Brillobox, doesn’t like to confine himself to one profession.

Andrew began his musical career at the age of 9 with the discovery of an old guitar. Since then, the 32-year-old has immersed himself in as many different facets of the musical world as possible — from playing an assortment of instruments in various local bands to working in the more technical fields of the industry. He has played professionally for 10 years and officially been in The Justin Andrew Band for three years.

Andrew believes these experiences have helped him develop a three-dimensional understanding of his art.

“Being a sound engineer in general, especially a live sound engineer, gives you a little bit of an advantage as far as knowing how to behave when you arrive at a club and knowing how to be a professional when you’re onstage,” Andrew said. “There are little things that you see a band do that you know ‘Oh, you shouldn’t do that.’” He went on to say that bands often alienate their audiences or upset the door person or promoter.

Drawing inspiration from the music of the ’70s — specifically Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Cat Stevens and Paul Simon — Andrew prefers his sound to have a simple “airy” or “honest” quality, defined by a rougher texture and absense of extensive production.

Sean Soisson, a drummer in Andrew’s eponymous band, said  the sing-songwriter’s attention to detail and ability to artfully compose songs set him apart from similar musicians.

“He puts a lot of time and care into the way that he writes songs, and I think that has everything to do with why his songs turn out so well. It seems to me like he doesn’t really skimp on any of the elements of the song,” Soisson said.

Courtney Brooke Hall, one of Andrew’s oldest friends, said music allows the singer-songwriter a peculiar means of communication.

“His lyrics come from this place in him that, if he didn’t have music to say it through, I don’t think they’re words that would ever cross his lips. I mean, the man wrote a song about his dog, and the first time I heard it, I cried,” Hall said.

Andrew said music’s ability to provoke an emotional response through song encourages and interests him enough to continue his career in music and keep him driven from day to day.

“I think it’s really neat that you can have one interpretation of your song and somebody else can have another one. It’s nice to be able to share something that I’m feeling and have someone else relate to it in a totally different way, or the same way, even,” Andrew said.

There seems to be a niche in the Pittsburgh musical scene for performers like Andrew. Both Soisson and Andrew agree that the local music scene is heading in a direction more geared to a folksy, classical rock atmosphere, and Andrew is perfectly happy to fill the niche.

“I think that what’s going on in Pittsburgh is a real supportive scene for the kind of music that I’m doing,” he said. “It’s nice that there’s a scene for what I’m doing now, and it seems to have come about at the same time I decided to start forming this band.”