Andrew Tufano – 100 Songs in 100 Days

Andrew Tufano

Writing a song can be difficult, writing a song a day for 100 days can be damn near impossible, for multi-instrumentalist Andrew Tufano, it was a challenge he couldn’t resist. A musician for over a decade, Tufano moved to Nashville a couple years ago and has been writing and performing all over town for other bands as well as solo gigs and has also released and handfuls of EPs.  He began writing and recording songs for the 100 song project at the tail end of 2015 and his journey is nearly complete. Creative Control caught him to explain the method of the madness to write 100 songs, in 100 days.

Creative Control: What got you into music?

Andrew Tufano: The first two years of me playing music was my parents just signing me up for piano lessons and got me a Casio keyboard and that whole thing. They just wanted me to do a little bit of everything just to see what stuck, like basketball, but I hated that. Music stuck around, though. My dad was in a band in high school and there was always a guitar in the house so that helped, but he never really played much and none of my siblings play so it just stuck.

CC: What was the idea to do 100 songs in 100 days?

AT: For me I couldn’t tell you where the inspiration came from. I like setting my mind to weird stuff like this and I wanted to see if I was up for the challenge, help me build a YouTube presence and be more comfortable in front of a camera. Also just to push myself and the possibility and prove that it is possible to do something like this.

CC: What was the thought process on day one?

AT: The first song, every song has a different story, so with that song I wanted there to be a theme of being the first song. I wanted the concept to be starting something new and how important it is to just take the first step and then the rest will figure itself out. There are songs like that where I’ve got the concept first and then write from there, about a quarter of them have been like that. Most of the songs I’ll just have a musical idea, a melody or a chord, and then record that. I have hundreds of snippets recorded on my phone of chords or phrases of lyrics. Then there are some that start with a phrase or title, if I hear a certain set of words that I think belong in a song. There’s been no one set formula; it’s just been a variety of methods, which has been interesting. I figured there would be a groove and I’d get mechanical at a point but it never has.

Andrew Tufano

CC: What has been the biggest difference between day one and now (day 41)?

AT: I’ve noticed I’ve gone through some phases. The last three or four songs I’ve recorded in a drop tuning or a few songs will all revolve around a certain idea or concept. As far as the biggest change, I’d say it’s that I’m more confident. Now if I only have an hour to write a song I don’t worry about it as much. I’m more confident in my abilities; the first week there were times where I was unsure. I can also write a lot faster now, sometimes I can finish a song in an hour. Some songs can still take a day, but I couldn’t have written a song in an hour before this project.

CC: What’s been the most difficult part of the project?

AT: On the logistical side, it’s really just time. Every day is different and you can never predict how long you’ll need to write a song. Sometimes I feel like I put out a song that I’m not entirely happy with because I only gave myself an hour to write it. I make it to the point where I’m ok with it, but sometimes I feel like I put the song out and it’s not where I want it to be. I’m trying to write faster but also trying to write past my benchmark and not to the lowest common denominator. A lot of people ask “What if you run out of ideas?” or “What if you run out of inspiration?” and that hasn’t happened at all. That’s probably been the easier side of things. From the random snippets I probably have over 100 of those left. It’s really the timing and recording the videos and posting the videos takes longer than I thought.

CC:  You said you have some stuff left over; has there been anything within this project that you started with, or was an idea, then revisited it but you tweaked it to the point where it wasn’t what you originally had?

AT: Yeah that has happened! That’s very specific, do you write songs?

CC: I’ve helped write a couple songs and a few raps for classes [laughs].

AT: I feel like that’s something a song writer would ask. But yeah that has happened! There are songs that I’ll record that are kind of stream of consciousness and I can’t quite get that exact sound or feeling when I sit down to finish it.   I think the editing process is a lot different too. As far as trashing songs, there are songs that if I wasn’t on deadline for this project, then I would have trashed them. I’ve just gotten to the point where I have to finish it for the project for sure, and I’ve just been like, “There’s no other option, I have to finish it.” And every single time that’s happened I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the outcome. That’s kind of changed the way I look at song writing. I think I used to quit too early, which I think is a natural thing to do if you’re stuck on a verse for 30 minutes and think, “This song isn’t even that good!” I’ll write a better one tomorrow it’s fine. But when you force yourself to finish it, sometimes really unique things happen. A surprise either way because sometimes you can think, “This is much better than I thought,” but other times you can be like, “This is terrible, what was I thinking? This was a horrible idea.” We’ve tried to finish a song a day or two before it’s published so that what you see has been edited and listen to it one last time with fresh ears.

CC: So you’re writing a new song everyday or are you writing ahead of time and stockpiling them?

AT: It’s weird. Sometimes a song will be written over the course of two days, but on average a song a day will be finished. There have been days where I’ll take three half-finished songs and finish all of them. As far as logistics for filming we can’t film every day, sometimes we have to do three videos in a day, so we try to stay ahead. For songs, I don’t always begin and finish a song on the same day. There have been times where I’ll finish songs from last week or start three songs then finish them the next day.

Andrew Tufano

CC: You said you’ve got over 100 saved up, are you worried there are some you’ll have to trash and start a new or worried about running out of ideas if you can’t use those?

AT: There are definitely songs saved up in my voice memos that will never be finished. There are already several hundred that are sitting there that will never be finished or see that light of day and that’s just an unfortunate reality. I’m not too worried about losing inspiration or running out of ideas actually. I was when I started, but the more I write the more ideas I get. I went for a run today and halfway through it I had an idea for a chorus verse and melody, and there are times where I’ve dreamt a chord progression. I think if you spend enough time doing something, it’s just constantly on your mind, so that aspect has gotten a lot easier. The editing process though is not any easier [laughs]. It’s a battle every time.  

CC: What’s been the most surprising thing about this project so far?

AT: Hmm, I’m genuinely surprised that Joey and Mitchell haven’t kicked me out of their house yet, just say, “We’re done with you. This is taking up your whole life.” In a weird way I expected a lot of what’s happening. Not that I knew how it would turn out, but I knew it would be difficult, but it would get easier as we went along and get into a groove. I have been surprised that there’s a small quadrant of people who have watched all the videos. I wasn’t expecting anybody to do that so I’m glad that there’s a market for that and people do want to see that.

CC: Has anything been easier than you expect?

AT: I thought the song writing would be the hardest part, and it’s been difficult, but it’s been more challenging to record and the logistics of it. I thought there would be time where I would write for hours and have nothing, and the constraints of this project have forced me to be more creative because there’s no option. If you’re writing a song and there’s no deadline for inspiration sometimes you’ll write half a song and that’s just it. This forces me to find new ways to finish songs. I think if you have constraints it makes it easier to find creative ways to finish things.

CC: Have you considered writing outside your genre for this project?

AT: That has happened pretty naturally, I think. I try to put out the same kind of music just so I have a consistent brand. But during this project I’ve branched out, there’s been some folk, country, funk, and there’ve been some funny songs. Even a couple days ago there was a co-write with my friend Juliana that was almost a lullaby. At the same time I know I can’t use half of these for myself because it’s not practical to market every type of genre [laughs].

CC: What’s the end goal for this project?

AT: The end of this project will culminate in a TEDx talk about the whole thing which isn’t completely written because the project isn’t completely done, but it’s starting to come together and will be about creativity and productivity and the restraints on art. So that’s coming up, a lot of touring, March through July I’ll basically be living out of my car. I’m hoping to put out an album or EP out from the hundred songs, maybe pick the best 10 or 12. I usually write more than I need, so to be able to cut 90 songs, I think the remainder will be really good. After that, just be on the road a lot, Florida tour, Midwest tour and then up the East Coast. Then after that we’ll see [laughs].

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