Andrés S. Macnamara
“I remember one of the first things that really shocked me. There was a man listening to me. He looked like he was homeless, maybe an addict, and he was staring at me, which made me feel really uncomfortable. He looked very angry. As I finished playing ‘Sound of Silence,’ he was getting closer and closer, so I got very tense and started to keep an eye on my money. He extended his arm and opened his hand. I saw a 5-euro note fall over my coins and I heard: that is the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard, thank you. I thanked him, still in a bit of a shock, and suddenly felt as guilty as hell. Don’t judge a book by its cover is a saying I thought I understood before this happened.”Andrés S. Macnamara
Our interview with the incredible Andrés S. Macnamara came during these new unprecedented times of the Coronavirus which is having a devastating effect on the live music and entertainment industry. In all the doom and gloom however, while (some) Americans are lining up to purchase guns, musicians and civilians in lockdown in countries such as Spain and Italy are singing and playing music from their balconies, spreading messages of support and hope.
That’s where we found Andrés this week.
Born in Zaragoza, the Capital of the Aragón region in the northeast of Spain, 31 year old Andrés has a Degree in Veterinary Medicine as well as a Music Degree. “I decided to go for music, as I think I’m better at it and also enjoy it more. Then I moved to Tenerife and after that to Dublin where I began busking,” he said.
“Last October, I came back to Spain to try busking over here, although lately I’m busking from my balcony due to the Coronavirus situation.”
What drew you to music?
I was born to a Spanish father and an Irish mother. Both my parents are very musical. My father plays guitar and sings, but basically he’ll make any instrument (or object) sound great. He’s a huge musical influence for me. My sister is the most talented guitar player I know. I’ve basically been listening to great music since I remember.
Do you write your own material?
Songwriting has always been a fight against myself. I love it and I hate it. For the moment I don’t have any songs released (as a solo artist) but I will be releasing my first album this year. I’m extremely excited about it but it’s also very scary as I have a lot of hope (maybe too much!) that some people will enjoy what I do.
I try to write down musical ideas that I like and that I find interesting. Then, I try to write lyrics that suit the music and that reflect either personal experiences, or invented stories. I don’t like lyrics that complain or that get too whinny. I prefer stories and music and lyrics that create a mental image for the listener.
What can you share with us about your busking experiences?
Busking was one of the best things I ever did. It changed my life. I had been playing with bands for over ten years, but was never confident enough to be the frontman. I decided to start busking in Dublin and that really boosted my confidence. I saw that people actually enjoyed my performance and I was complimented for my way of singing.
It can be very scary to go out to the street and break the silence with your voice, but in the end you realise that people in general are great and usually have nice words for you.
There are many memorable moments. I remember one of the first things that really shocked me: there was a man listening to me. He looked like he was homeless, maybe an addict, and he was staring at me, which made me feel really uncomfortable. He looked very angry. As I finished playing “Sound of silence,” he was getting closer and closer so I got very tense and started to keep an eye on my money. He extended his arm and opened his hand. I saw a 5-euro note fall over my coins and I heard: that is the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard, thank you. I thanked him, still in a bit of shock, and suddenly felt as guilty as hell. Don’t judge a book by its cover is a saying I thought I understood before this happened.
Mostly I have good memories when I think of busking but, of course, people rob you, sometimes spit at you, shout at you or fall over your equipment but hey! You’re in the street, what do you expect?
What’s a great piece of advice you’ve been given, and who gave it to you?
My dad always says: ‘la vida es jugar,’ which means life is playing, not playing an instrument or music necessarily, but just playing, making things enjoyable. Now he’s retired. He used to be an English teacher in high school and he always said: The most important thing is that you have fun, and then the students will have fun and therefore learn. I think this is the most important thing to keep in mind, no matter what you do.
What advice would you give a young person starting out busking?
I would say just do it.
Nothing of what you think will happen, will actually happen. Many things you’d never even think could happen, will happen, and that’s a good thing. It really helped me feel alive. Also, don’t think about the money, some days it will be good, others terrible, and although it does partly depend on what you do and your attitude, most of it is random. Just do your thing and try to get better every day.
If you could choose a lyric that sums up life for you, what would it be?
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. It’s from a John Lennon song called ‘Beautiful Boy, Darling Boy.’
It had to be a Lennon song. I’m a Beatle-head. Although they aren’t especially strong for their lyrics, I think this one (although it’s a Lennon song) really means a lot to me. It’s a beautiful and colourful way of saying carpe diem.
Buskers often sing material that is ‘timeless’ (The Beatles is a great example). Do you think music from quality artists of today (Ed Sheeran for example) will be sung in 30 years time or will today’s music just come and go?
I love this question! It’s a conversation I frequently have with my friends. What songs will be Hey Jude for us when we are 50 or 60? Sometimes I feel like there’s nothing like it. I mean, Ed Sheeran is really good, but I can’t see people playing Thinking out loud in 30 years, or playing Beyoncé songs. But that’s just my opinion and my taste.
On a brighter side, I do believe last year a new artist emerged that will definitely achieve the timeless tag and that’s Billie Eilish, now that’s good damn music!
What’s next for Andrés S. Macnamara?
Next is a European busking tour this summer (of course that’s if the Pandemic situation improves) and an album release, and later? Just playing!
At Busker What’s Your Story? we’ll be sure to connect with Andrés again when he releases his original EP later this year.
You can find out more about this talented artist here: