AN INTERVIEW WITH ANDY KIM
There’s something special that occurs when speaking with legend, Andy Kim. This Canadian Hall of Fame inductee has sold 30 million records worldwide, including everlasting pop #1 hits like “Rock Me Gently”, “Baby, I Love You So”, and The Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar.” Yet Kim exudes gentleness, open-heartedness, and honesty, that translate into what makes his songs, and his quiet persona, an eternal influence. Kim is not about himself, he is about the music. He brings this award-winning music to Casino Rama on April 8, 2017.
“I’m very excited about playing Casino Rama,” says Kim, the soft lilt in his voice echoing parts of Montreal and California. “Playing live is a joy in my life. I will be playing new material, songs from It’s Decided, and, of course, all the hits,” he laughs. He’s been rehearsing with “a solid Canadian band” that he put together for Saturday night’s concert, but admits they “may continue to perform together.” It’s this mystery that makes Kim like a Zen poet: in the moment, not sure of what’s coming next, but full of knowing when something is real, and in this case, when something works musically.
Kim made an unplanned resurgence with It’s Decided (2015), an album co-written and produced by Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene, Arts and Crafts), along with Ohad Benchetrit (Do Make Say Think), and Dave Hamelin (The Stills). The album features Kim’s once-banned hits like “Shoot ‘em up, Baby” along with new material. The upbeat sugary pop that made Kim famous has been rounded out to a warm, mellower sound with seamless production.
“Making an album with Kevin, or another Andy Kim record, was never in the cards for me,” Kim muses. He met Drew at his Annual Christmas Concert, a charity-fundraiser that brings together “an eclectic group of musicians,” as Kim puts it, with proceeds donated to CAMH. Kim forged a deep kinship with Drew, and later agreed to let Drew produce an album for the Arts and Crafts label. Whispers of a second album are in the works but no firm date has been set for recording.
“I take life one day at a time,” Kim, who is now 70 years old, says a few times during our conversation. “I never have a plan. No plan A or plan B…. but I’m always writing. Songwriting is my companion through the ups and downs of life.”
Kim got his start by taking the bus from Montreal, his hometown, to New York City after inquiring at a local radio station where he could learn more about songwriting. “I was told all the songs came from either New York City, Nashville, or Los Angeles,” Kim says. “So I went to New York.” Kim took his guitar, two chords, and $40 to Manhattan, and found his way to the infamous tower of song, the Brill Building, and approached Jeff Barry. He told Barry he was in town showing his music to some people. His “plan” worked and Kim went on to co-write first top 20 hit, “How’d We Ever Get This Way?”, which sold 800,000 copies. This was followed up by a slew of hits that are still heard all over television, film and radio today. Wilson Pickett, and Ike and Tina Turner have even covered him, and R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe declared “Sugar Sugar” one of the best songs ever written.
When asked about his favourite guitar or equipment, Kim pauses, “an old Martin that I wrote “Sugar Sugar” on. I bought it with my first royalty cheque from “How’d We Ever Get This Way”. It’s a friend that I keep coming back to.”
A self-proclaimed dreamer, Kim returns to the international spotlight with immortal hit songs that receive critical praise. Yet his humble, soft-spoken views on life, music, and his age-old friend, songwriting, follow a simple, sage formula: “What do you want? What do you need? Put in time and the hours and hope you get what you need.” It’s worked for Kim. Best to see him every chance you can.
Andy Kim will be playing at Casino Rama on April 8th.