Photo by @MIKEFOLABI
Andy Mineo is uncomfortable and he’s perfectly okay with it. The New York native and Reach Records signee is touring the country preaching this notion to sold out shows night in and night out following the release of his latest album with the title, you guessed it, “Uncomfortable.” Reaching No. 11 on the Billboard 200 charts, “Uncomfortable” is a powerful work of art that has sparked conversation about music, faith, and stepping outside of your comfort zone. We sat down with Mineo during his recent stop in Minnesota to get the full tour update, hear stories about how his music has affected others and hear his sister Grace’s response to “Hear My Heart.”
Interview by @taylorlovaas
Creating Memorable Experiences
With the release of his sophomore album “Uncomfortable” in September, Mineo rolled out a special Instagram experience where each track received its own page complete with art and a short explanation behind the music. But the New York native didn’t stop there to make the release something extraordinary; Mineo loaded his Nerf choppers and emptied clips on his fans for special listening parties across the country.
So as a performer, how do you keep that energy rolling into live shows? “There’s elements of theatre, elements of performance, elements of video interactiveness,” said Mineo. “We’ve been able to really create an experience for people to come out and see. This isn’t your regular rap concert where it’s me and 15 homies on stage screaming into mics, it’s a well thought-out, planned night that doesn’t have a dull moment.”
After seeing the show first-hand it’s easy to see that Mineo and his team have truly taken time out to make each stop a unique masterpiece. From using his mic as a gun to blow holes in his light board during “Desperado” to going up against the NBA’s greatest during “Lay Up,” Mineo had the sold-out crowd at Bethel University on their feet for the entirety of his 75-minute set.
The reason for going all out every night is simple, “A lot of artists make their bread and butter off radio and stuff like that,” said Mineo. “We make our bread and butter off of touring.”
So it’s no surprise that Mineo has gone into live performances with Sway, DJ Enuff and DJ Suss One with his head held high, “this [touring] is our radio in a sense so our skill set there is very sharpened.”
Molding “Uncomfortable” Into a Cohesive Body of Work
Not only has the content in Mineo’s work improved immensely, the sound has also evolved into something pure and clean. To Mineo, that’s thanks to the fans, “I think the fan base has grown, the pallet has grown and a desire for more types of music and sounds and feels and vibes has grown,” said Mineo. “On this project I pulled from a lot of my favorite producers and let them all create something that they loved but at the same time tried to be very selective in the songs that we chose to put on the project so that there was that sense of cohesion.”
Mineo doesn’t have bad taste either as the likes of Alex Medina, Jon Bellion, SykSense and Ducko Mcfli all had their hands on the project overseen by executive producer !llmind. “When you get in the room with enough talented dudes they can do anything, create any sound, go any direction,” said Mineo. “Everybody that produced on that project is a top notch, A-list producer in my opinion.”
Disturbing the Comfortable and Comforting the Disturbed
With a wide array of subject matter covered on “Uncomfortable” from homosexuality to racism to systematic injustice to marriage, Mineo has stated that he wants his art to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.
“I’ve definitely seen it on both ends,” said Mineo. “I’ve seen that there’s been comfort brought to people who have been hurting. People saying, ‘Man, thank you for your words. I feel understood, I feel loved, I feel equipped to have deeper conversations with people.’ That’s the stuff I love to hear.”
Things have even gone as far as a hotel manager telling Mineo that his music helped a suicidal front-desk worker find peace. Mineo shared the hotel manager’s words, “This dude’s entire life has changed, he’s no longer suicidal, he’s started asking questions about God, growing in his faith.” Mineo went on to say, “Those are the kind of stories where I’m like; man, the music is comforting the disturbed.”
But there’s two ends of the spectrum, “obviously I’ve seen the lash-back of that and the opposite direction where people don’t get it and don’t understand what I’m trying to do,” said Mineo. “That’s from both sides, from Christians and non-Christians; it’s been an interesting dialogue.”
That doesn’t stop Mineo from living and breathing the notion of being uncomfortable. “That’s one that’s been instilled so deeply into my craft and my direction as an artist,” said Mineo. “Comfort breeds selfishness and self-focus, discomfort allows us to be more keen to the needs of others… I want my life to be aligned with the highest good. That’s a life principal that’s bled its way into my music and everything else.”
Learning Sign Language
One of the standout tracks on Andy’s new album is “Hear My Heart,” an apology to his deaf sister, Grace, for not learning sign language. “Sometimes all you can do is say you’re sorry,” Mineo sang on repeat to conclude the tracks live rendition.
Now that the album has had some room to breathe, Grace has been able to get her thoughts out on the track. “We have a family group text so she was texting me on there,” said Mineo. “She was so moved by it and appreciated it… the speechless announcement where I announce the song in sign language she was grateful for that.”
Through Grace’s encouragement Mineo hasn’t given up on becoming fluent in sign language and having full on conversations. “She said don’t worry there’s still time for you to learn sign language.” And that’s exactly what he has been doing. “I’ve been learning bits and pieces,” said Mineo. “I haven’t been home to formally meet with someone regularly but just through YouTube and there’s little phrases here and there that I’m learning.” But don’t call it work, Mineo’s creative influence has shown through into the process. “It’s fun actually,” said Mineo. “It’s pretty fun to learn to because it’s creative. It’s like, ‘Oh I see how you’re tying these hand motions and gestures into words.’ Yeah, it’s fun.”
Stay tuned for the music video for “Hear My Heart” and get “Uncomfortable” with Andy Mineo by downloading his album on iTunes.