Andy Kim hit it huge in the sixties and seventies, with era-defining songs like Baby, I Love You, Sugar, Sugar and Rock Me Gently. Since then, the Montreal-born musician has experienced the ebbs and flows of the music business. For his latest album, It's Decided, Kim found an unlikely but like-minded collaborator in Toronto's Kevin Drew (of Broken Social Scene fame). The musical odd couple will perform together at this week's Field Trip Music Festival in Toronto. Here, Kim shares some of the secrets to his success, including why real musicians don't compare Twitter followers.
You can't schedule inspiration
When Paul McCartney was asked about his songwriting with John Lennon, he said, "I don't know how we do it – it's magic." I've always had that same experience, which is actually a calming thought when you realize that you can't control everything. In my mind there is always a fight between my conscious and subconscious, and sometimes lyrics or song ideas will just pop out. Maybe they're things I am thinking about, but I don't realize. On my new album, there's a lyric: "I went to my gravesite/to see what it was like. You know I kind of liked it/away from all this fight." That just popped into my mind one day. I'm not one of those writers who sits in a room and thinks, "Okay, I'm going to write a song now."
Find human connection and the art will follow
Meeting Kevin Drew was a reaffirmation for me – not as a musician, but as a human being. He is just so filled with love and understanding, and he cares about community. Back when I was first recording music, you would write in a cubicle and strangers would come in and play on your song, and that was it. With Kevin, it was about getting to know each other. The music that we created is based on the fact that, as Kevin says, we just wanted to hang together. There are no rules in his world of music, which was a lesson for me. You're in the studio at four in the morning on your second bottle of tequila and maybe you come up with something. Today there are so many musicians picking up a guitar because they think social media will get them a hit. Don't tell me how many followers you have on Twitter. What is the song?
To find success, follow your wind
My mom used to call me the friend of the wind. When it was time to be at home, someone would always have to go looking for me. I was just always sort of out there on my own adventure. I'm not one who's going to live in the regular world. I always felt that deep down inside that as soon as I had an opportunity to follow that wave, without knowing the details, I would. Today people want everything explained to them. We want a GPS for our lives. I've always felt that if you have the courage to know what you need and to go after it, you'll find a way. My life isn't a blueprint for anyone else.
This interview has been condensed and edited by Courtney Shea.