Trouble Andrew

World Cup-winning Olympic medallist Trevor AKA Trouble Andrew made a name for himself on slopes the globe over. Since high school, Trevor’s been letting loose on the mountain, snowboarding his way to some sort of stardom, akin to king of the hill. Now this Canadian wunderkind aims to make records rather than break them. While he once left tracks in the snow, Trevor’s out to create tracks of a different type; the kind that don’t disappear when the sun shines a little too bright.

That’s right, this visionary has his sights set on performing sold out shows to fun-loving fans with an ear for amazing music, a cross between crunk rock, hip-hop and punk, among other mix-ins. Together with his indispensable band mates – drummer Ian Longwell, guitarist Joao Salamao and bassist Masaru Takaku – better known as the Trouble Gang, Trevor’s making waves in a whole new way. And, take our word for it, you won’t want to miss this ship.

Authentic as anything, Trouble’s sure to stir things up with his pitch-perfect, timely rhyming on the mic, synth-heavy, danceable beats and urban-meets-outdoorsy appeal. A long-time role model for skateboard and snowboard kids alike, this recently rewarded (the industry took note in November) audible endeavor is sure to draw an equally dedicated – and addicted – following. Combining street savvy with innate talent, not to mention catchy hooks, the Trouble crew is nothing if not real. And damn, they’re delicious to listen to. Now, that’s music to all our ears.

“I would love to play huge stadiums and shit like that, because that means that you’re really successful and you’ve reached a lot of people. But, I definitely love small, grimy clubs. It just feels like a party to me.”

Format: You recently signed with Virgin/EMI. How did this all get started? When did your interest in music develop?
Trouble: I’ve always been really into music. Music has [had] a huge influence on my life. I never created [music] until I hurt myself snowboarding [in 2003-2004]. I always felt like I would do something with music, I just didn’t know what. I had turntables [but] wasn’t any good at deejaying. When I hurt myself and was staying in Philly gettin’ better at Santi’s [Santogold] place, she had guitars and a little SP 1200 and I just started making beats. I bought myself an MPC and a keyboard and she bought me a guitar and an amp and I just started making little songs. I didn’t know that that’s what I was going to do with music. I was just experimenting and killing time, basically.

Format: And then what happened?
Trouble: Then I wrote “Chase Money” and “Uh Oh” and “Either Way.” Those were the first songs I wrote. I just kept writing and didn’t really play for anybody. I played for [Santi] a little. She snuck out of the house and played [my songs] for some producers, Shitake Monkey, who ended up producing the record. They were like, “Yo, these are good songs.” I knew they were good songs, but wasn’t feelin’ it. I was self-conscious [about] puttin’ it out there, because I felt they were just for me. They weren’t for anybody else. And then I [put it out there], and it kinda snowballed into what it is now. I got the record done [and] was like, “I’m not gonna do any shows.” Then, I got some offers and was like, “Fuck it. I’ll do it.” I was scared as shit. But I did it and it was exciting. Shitake Monkey were my band at that time, ’cause I didn’t have a band, and they wanted me to progress, so they played the songs live with me.

Format: That’s awesome, but couldn’t go on forever. How did the current Trouble gang we know and love come together?
Trouble: I wanted to find a band. I started asking all my friends in New York. I auditioned all these people, some great musicians, but nobody I felt was meant to be in my band. So, I kept asking and then, through mutual friends, I met everybody. I met Joao first, and then I met Ian online; a friend of mine had reached out and was like, “Yo. My friend Trevor’s doin’ a band. You should get at him.” [Ian] sent me an email and was like, “Yo. Don’t even bother auditioning anymore people. I’m your guy.”

Format: That’s what Ian said?!
Trouble: Yeah! I wonder if I still have that e-mail. He literally said that. I was like, “Okay. Fuck. I like that confidence.” I knew when I met him and met Joao it was more about people I could hang out with and share the same kinda taste in music. It just came together. Masa came last. We met him about a year ago. So, that’s how it was.

Format: Out of curiosity, what exactly made you a “bad” deejay?
Trouble: I didn’t have the patience for it. It wasn’t me. I love music and I love playing music, but piecing it together, mixing and scratching and stuff like that just wasn’t my thing. I realized I wasn’t good at it. I moved on. I discovered making little riffs on a guitar. I could spend hours just messing around and making songs. I don’t know how to play for shit, but I know how a good song feels. So I could play it on one string [and] come up with little riffs that touched me.

Format: Do you play any other instruments for real, or is it solely vocals?
Trouble: To write, I play guitar, keyboard, bass. I play on the MPC and make beats. But, I wouldn’t say I play anything great. Enough to write songs. Maybe down the line I’ll bring a guitar or a keyboard on stage and play, but for now I’m just singing.

Format: You once told me that you used to write rhymes on the hill.
Trouble: When I first started doing songs, doing the vocal part of it was the last part I ever tried to do. When I wrote “Chase Money,” and I wrote all those songs, I was just making beats. I was just trying to make hip-hop beats. Then they turned into what they turned into. I was like, “Fuck. Why don’t I try to sing on it?” Or rap on it. Or whatever the fuck I was doing. So, I had some rhymes memorized and that’s how it all came out. It was a big experiment.

Format: Finally Virgin signs you. What’s that been like? How have things changed since you signed?
Trouble: We’re just in the beginning stages. Having the machine behind you is nice because we were doing everything ourselves. I was always hassling my sponsors, “Yo. Let met get on a stage. Let me do a show.” Or, “Let me be included in your event.” Or, “Here’s my record; put it in a fuckin’ snowboard video. Or get it in a skate video. Put it on your website.” Burton and Analog and Oakley supported me like crazy. They acted as a label. Even though they have nothing to do with music. They flew us around the world. They got my music out to all the kids that knew me from snowboarding and it got passed on like that and turned into what it is now. Obviously the snowboard and skateboard worlds are pretty big these days, so it naturally grew into what it was. But, having the label, they are the extra support [introducing us] to the world, tak[ing] pressure off the people [who] have help[ed] me since day one [to] get it where it is. They’re gonna make sure it gets to that next level. There’s always somebody hittin’ me up. Sometimes it’s annoying, but it’s comforting [to know] there’s a team of people dedicated to help[ing] my project succeed.

Format: No huge sweeping stories yet.
Trouble: It wasn’t like I signed the deal and they gave me a box full of money. And a brand new car. It’s not like that these days.

Format: But if you were gonna get a car, what would you want?
Trouble: I would probably get an old school car, an old Charger or something. Or a muscle car. Or maybe a Mercedes G-Wagon.

Format: [Laughs] Tell me a bit about the remixed and re-mastered disc that dropped February 10th.
Trouble: For the people that already know the record, there’s [a] new bonus song on it and it’s a cleaned up version. You’ll definitely notice the difference. It’s a little brighter and you can turn it up a little more. Before, I put that record together myself on a real low budget, money out of my pocket. And I thought it turned out really dope. It turned out as dope as it could [have] for what I was payin’ for. You get what you pay for. I was on the production and mastering side of it. So, we went in and cleaned it up and made it so that you can turn it up really loud. But, it’s all the same shit. It’s more so we can get it out to the rest of the world, the people who [don’t know] Trouble Andrew. It’s probably new to a whole lot of people but, for some people, [it’s] like, “Oh yeah, I know those songs.”

Format: So, coming this summer, if everything stays on schedule, you’re going to have a whole new album.
Trouble: That’s what we’re startin’ to work on. That album’s gonna be crazy. I’ve been workin’ on it for, like, the last fuckin’ three years now. There’s, like, 30 new songs. I narrowed it down to 17 for the record. There’s gonna be a new mix tape that’s gonna come out between this record and that record and a bunch of different singles that might not be on the record, just ’cause there’s so much material. Now we have that muscle behind us to get in the studio and make it a fast process. That’s what [is] hard for indie artists doing it themselves; to get your shit out in time. The big artists that are already successful and have that muscle behind them look at the small artists that have [a] new sound, comin’ with that new shit, bein’ innovative, and they take that shit and put it out there. And then, by the time the indie guy makes it, it’s like, “Oh, he’s just copying so-and-so,” when really he was the one who came up with that shit. So, now we have that force behind us and we’re not gonna have that lag time. We can just put shit out, which is awesome.

Format: And you write your own lyrics?
Trouble: Yeah, I only write my own lyrics and my own melodies. Nobody writes my shit.

Format: Are there people with whom you’d like to work?
Trouble: I’d like to do something with BG or Juvenile. There’s so many people I respect that would be fun to work with. That’s a tough question. Caught me off-guard. There are a lot of people out there. I would say I would like to collaborate with Darryl Jenifer from Bad Brains. I’d like to do somethin’ with The Descendants. There aren’t too many people I’d be geeked out to meet. There’s not many people in the world left like that for me, which kinda bums me out because, when you’re a kid, you look up to these people, like when I looked up to pro snowboarders. It’s that feeling you get, that I would get, to meet someone like Craig Kelly or Jeff Brushy or Sean Palmer, because they influenced my life so much. There are people that I look at and respect and think are cool, but I don’t really wanna meet them or really want to work with them.

Format: There’s no idolizing anymore.
Trouble: Not at all. So, I love when I have a chance to. If I got a chance to meet BG or Juvenile, you know, I would feel a little bit like, “Oh shit,” because I listen to them so much. But, yeah, there’s not too many people that I feel that way about. That sucks.

Format: Can we expect a collaboration with Santi?
Trouble: Maybe. We always talk about music and share ideas with each other. If something naturally happens we will. She did “Bang Bang” with me a couple years ago and I did “I’m A Lady” with her. I’m sure you will see something. A long time ago we talked about doing a record together. So, you never know, one day that might happen, but we’re both just focusing on our own careers.

Format: You guys got engaged last Christmas, of 2007, right?
Trouble: Yep.

Format: Wedding date planned?
Trouble: Nah, it’s all good. We’re just so busy right now and so many of our friends are busy, so when we all have time to get together and celebrate we’ll do it.

Format: On top of a mountain
Trouble: Or on a beach, or wherever. It’ll be pretty casual. We’re just kinda goin’ with the flow. It’s like we’ve already been married for the last six years anyway. We’re both committed and that’s the most important thing. But, yeah, we do want to. Obviously we’re looking forward to the time that we have free to get all our friends together and have a little party.

Format: Over the course of the past few years you’ve been performing, what’s your favorite city to play, or your favorite venue?
Trouble: I like [to] play small venues. It’s a lot more intimate. People get closer. I would love to play huge stadiums and shit like that, because that means that you’re really successful and you’ve reached a lot of people. But, I definitely love small, grimy clubs. It just feels like a party to me. Like a house party or something. I don’t really have one favorite place to play. I really enjoy doing shows in Whistler ’cause there’s not a whole lot of cool shit that comes around so, when somethin’ fun does, everybody goes out and has a good time. That makes me have a better performance, when I feel like everybody’s having a good time. I’d love to play in Halifax, my home area, ’cause I’ve never played there. Japan’s awesome. The love you get there is amazing. And New York is always really fun too. That’s another home. I feel like I have homes all over the world. I’m really lucky for that.

Format: Why haven’t you played in Halifax yet?
Trouble: It’s been talked about so many times, but it just never happened. The promoters have never made it an official thing. I’m down anytime somebody flies us out there to do it.

Format: Can we expect a big release show in the summer of ’09?
Trouble: When the new record comes out? Hell yeah! We’re gonna definitely jump it off. With the new record we’re really gonna put a lot of muscle behind [it] because this feels like my first real record. I actually feel like I’m an artist at this point. When I wrote the other songs, they were just me discovering I was an artist, and they were the first songs that came out of me. I feel like the next record’s gonna be really great. I think this record’s really great too, but what I’m sayin’ is, it’s like me watching my first video part I ever did snowboarding; some people may be like, “That’s an awesome video part,” but, to me, I look at video parts later in my career where I’m like, “Wow, that’s where I was at my…”

Format: Apex?
Trouble: Yeah. And just felt confident. Now I feel so much more comfortable with my voice and everything feels right right now with this new record. It just shows different sides of me that I was unable to show on my first record, just because I didn’t know how. I was just discovering making music. I think this record’s gonna be great.

Format: If you were ever going to settle down somewhere at some point, where would it be?
Trouble: I have a house in Squamish, outside of Whistler, and I have a place here in Brooklyn, but I’d like to have a place in Switzerland. I’d like to have a little apartment in Tokyo. I could never picture myself being in one solid place ever, because I have so many friends all over the world. That’s one thing I love about my life, that I get to keep it moving. I think that’s such a great thing for anybody. If you get an opportunity to travel, traveling is the best eye opener to the world. You get to see the world, you get to see how other people live. It just inspires me as a person and makes me grow because I’m not just stuck in one place with one perspective.

Format: Can we expect a music video at some point for one of these songs?
Trouble: Oh for sure.

Format: I know “Bang Bang” came down. Everywhere I look it’s no longer available. That was your own personal thing you put together.
Trouble: Exactly. Same with “Chase Money.” Favors of friends. We’re doing a remix video of it right now. An artist is doing some stuff to spice it up, just how we spiced up the record. But we’ll be doing some real videos for these new songs, now that we have support. It was all favors I was callin’ into friends, like, “Yo. I need a music video.” Like, when we did “Bang Bang,” literally my friend was in Whistler filming a movie and had a day off and called me; “You wanna try to do a music video?” I was like “Hell yeah.” So we went to [a] club that night and picked [a] girl out [of] the crowd. Luckily Ian was in town. We didn’t have the whole band in town. Jofo filled in for our guitarist. It was just a favor. Last minute it was thrown together.

Format: You’ve been well known in the Olympics for snowboarding. You’ve been built up in sports and athletics, and now you’re coming into your own in music. Most people hardly get to shine in the spotlight at all. Can you comment a little bit about what it’s like or what you foresee happening. What’s your observation of being well known and lauded in both areas?
Trouble: I feel really lucky. I think I’m lucky but I also think I’m a very passionate person. I think that I was really fortunate that my parents were open-minded enough, when snowboarding was interfering with school, to see how much I loved it and to support it and let me go for it, because it was my one chance to do it. So, I had the right people behind me. And then, with music, it’s just something that’s in my heart. I just love music. I’ve been a fan of music my whole life. So, when it came to discovering how to write music, it was like nothin’ because I know what good music is, or I at least know what music touches me and how it makes me feel. So, when I write songs, I make songs for feelings, to try to bring feelings out of people. So, I feel completely lucky but also realize that I’m so dedicated in what I do. I can spend hours doing something until it’s as close to perfect as I possibly can get it. I think that’s what it takes and it takes a bit of luck too and a whole lot of support. I had family support with snowboarding. Then, I got the sponsors that supported my whole career. And then my sponsors supported my dreams with music when they developed. And now it’s just where it is.

Format: Onto your fashion, you’re always sportin’ the sunglasses and the hats. I swear to God, I’ve never seen you without sunglasses. What’s the impetus for sunglasses at night?
Trouble: [Laughs] Oakley is one of my sponsors and I remember when I was a kid they had these frog skin glasses. They speak of a time that was purest for me with skateboarding and snowboarding. I was wearing them for years before anybody was wearin’ them and I wear them all the time. Sometimes I just don’t wanna look at people, you know what I mean?

Format: Or have them look straight back at you!
Trouble: Yeah, exactly…

Format: It’s kind of intimidating sometimes, to be honest.
Trouble: My style just speaks of influences from my life; from music, skateboarding culture and snowboarding, hip-hop and punk rock and all those things mashed together. That’s what my music is too. I feel like it’s something that’s real. I feel like a lot of big artists [will] see something, they’ll see my look, or whatever, and be like, “Oh that’ll be cool for me.” And they try to wear that shit and it’s like, “Yeah, whatever, it’s cool.” But, you know, it’s, like, this is something that any kid that really skates or has the same influences as me recognizes [as] something real and [as] something that speaks of my culture. It’s not so much fashion. I just dress from what my influences are, my real influences.

Format: Do you think that maybe there’d ever be a collaboration with a fashion line?
Trouble: I design my own clothes for Analog, Burton’s brand of clothing that we actually started, like, eight years [ago], maybe more. Jake Burton has always been a real open-minded person and I think that’s why he’s so successful. He just lets his riders go with it and develop their shit. There was a time in snowboarding where nobody was wearing that street look. Nobody was dressin’ like how they dressed if they skateboarded or whatever. There was just a group of us that rode for Burton at the time that were like, “Look, we wanna make clothes like how we dress everyday. We wanna look like that on the mountain.” So, we started Analog and Analog was basically a creative outlet for a bunch of us. There’d be the hip-hop kid, the punk rock kid, the indie kid, the skater kid. There’s a bunch of different individuals on the team and we all collaborated and made what we wanted. We got to do whatever the fuck we wanted. We just started doing this and it eventually influenced the industry and the whole line of Burton, across the board. We took those risks at the beginning and were like, “Yo we want this,” and we made it and it naturally grew into what it is. We were just like any other kid. We happened to be pro at what we [did], but we knew that kids didn’t wanna look like skiers; they wanted to look like fuckin’ skaters, or whatever the hell they were into, so we made that variety of clothing and incorporated those different influences from music and pop culture and everything. I still do that today. I’m doing my own jacket and pants for Analog and I do my own board backs for Burton for the Seven Line. I’ve been doin’ that for years now. Beyond just the actual physical act of snowboarding, I’ve always been really interested in the creative part of it too. Snowboarding and skateboarding are not really sports to me, they’re more like an art.

Format: Maybe we’ll see a Trouble sneaker?
Trouble: Yeah, probably. Actually, I think that’ll probably happen soon. A whole lotta stuff [is] happening now. I’ve been real fortunate that Burton has always listened to me and I’ve got to make exactly what I’ve wanted to wear. What I make speaks for a lot of kids, so that’s why I’ve been successful with it.

Format: Where did your nickname come from anyway? Where did “Trouble” come from?
Trouble: Years ago, when I was in Japan for snowboard contests, they’d introduce me and would have a problem saying my name. They’d be like, “Trouble Andrew!” [Laughs] “Get ready!” So, then my friends started joking around, calling me “Terrible,” and then “Trouble.” And, I was just like, “Whatever, man.” I always seem to be in some kinda fuckin’ trouble, but it’s really not my fault. I’m a good person. Everyone has trouble within themselves. [That’s] more what it means to me.

Nell Alk

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  1. billy boe leggs says:

    yo i been waiting to find somebody talking to this cat his music is hot plus he wit santi i cant believe this dude is doing it so big. keep that shit up trouble ill be listen fo show

  2. that’s a rad article – crazy how some people can just take something up and blow up like that… i’m a huge fan of Trouble’s music and never even knew he was a snowboarder

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