Listening to love letters with yours, andrew

Andrew Pham posed against a brick red background.
Thornton junior yours, andrew is planning to release his full EP later this year. (Photo courtesy of Casey Liu.)

Andrew Pham — or yours, andrew, as you might know him — is writing love letters through his music. 

Pham, a junior majoring in popular music performance, started playing guitar when he was 12 years old, but didn’t start writing songs until he was about 18. Despite writing songs for four years, it wasn’t until last year that he put a team together to record all of the songs he’d written.

Recently, he released songs “Tell Me” and “DYGWYW?” (an acronym for “did you get what you wanted”) on Nov. 13, 2020 and Feb. 12, 2021, respectively.

“In the past, I’d write for projects I was in or write just to write and not really do anything with it,” Pham said. “Last year changed that, and I felt inspired to explore that part of myself. I truly only wanted to see if I could record a song and have it sound good. I didn’t really come into it with aspirations; I just wanted to see how it would turn out.” 

Similarly, while he was growing up, Pham didn’t think of pursuing music until he saw his cousin playing a ukulele at a family Christmas party in the fifth grade. He describes that instance as his first introduction to music and ended up begging his parents for a ukulele soon after. Eventually, they gave in and he was hooked.

“Once I learned ukulele, I just wanted to know more,” Pham said. “So I bought a guitar, took lessons… went to electric guitar and then bass and then just made this little world of music.”

He started practicing up to six hours a day, learning “the songs [he’d] always wanted to.” Then, he attended an arts high school, further cultivating his love of music, before going to USC. Now, he’s making his own music.

“Tell Me,” which is an upbeat but “indie pop” song, was promoted with nostalgia-tinged videos of utility poles, a crisp picture of “tell me” inscribed candy hearts and of a stop sign. It immerses listeners into feelings of longing. Also, it details the conversations you often have in your head when — despite there being undeniable, romantic feelings lingering in the air — you’re wishing your crush would confess their feelings for you, so you don’t have to. 

The song also utilized samples of a phone ringing and a car door closing, further immersing listeners into Pham’s specific recollection. 

“A lot of the time spent with the person [who the song is about] happened in cars, so it was just me painting a picture of the conversations in the cars,” Pham said.

On the other hand, “DYGWYW?,” which was teased with more faded, nostalgic videos and a picture of a dog with a “DYGWYW?” bone-shaped collar tag, is a more somber song about trying to find peace and overcome the feeling of being used by someone. 

Pham co-wrote both “sentimental funk” songs — “it’s groovy, but it’s heartfelt,” Pham said — with his friend, musician Brett Kramer. While they’re both very much rooted in Pham’s real life experiences, he describes his writing process very abstractly. 

“It’s funny because sometimes I feel like I’m thinking about my life as the words are coming out,” Pham said. “I haven’t put too much thought into it, but the lyrics are truly just [telling a story] of an anecdote in time; just me painting a picture of the world.”

Pham was inspired by musical artists like Phoebe Bridgers, Astronauts, etc. and Teri Moïse and says that with “Tell Me,” he wanted to make the song story-centric and have a proper narrative threaded through the song’s lyrics. However, there was a lot of thought that went into the visuals, too.

David Linkletter, who did the cover art for “Tell Me,” said that there was a long brainstorming process when he and Pham worked together to create art for yours, andrew. He talks about how they put together mood boards and sent ideas and albums they liked back and forth for weeks. Then, they were able to narrow down the final things they wanted to include in Pham’s project.

“It was very stream of consciousness,” Linkletter said. “It wasn’t a very organized process by any means, but what helped it come together was that we’re both creative-minded and that there’s a lot of crossover between fim and music, visuals and sound, so it was easy.”

With “DYGWYW?,” Pham said that it was more about working with a video team to make sure that the song and its accompanying visuals properly embodied the feelings he wanted to convey.

“The director wanted to capture the feeling of overcoming or…. of moving on,” Pham said. “It’s just recognizing that the situation you were in didn’t serve you, and you’re gonna move past it.”

Sarah Hinesley, who is also a junior majoring in popular music performance, helped with the background vocals, synth and piano in “DYGWYW?” and praised not just the work environment that Pham and his collaborators were able to create, but their strong relationship as well.  

“Getting to see [Pham’s] process unfold from the demo stage to the final product really taught me a lot,” Hinesley said. “His relationship with the producers Jonny and Brett is really special, and I could see that from the minute I walked in. I think being able to go into the studio with an open mind and playing off of each other’s ideas is really important, and it was truly such a creative environment with caring individuals.”

Though the creativity and care that was delivered through this project is evident, Pham credits the project’s inspiration and expansion of his “little world of music” to the people he has around him.

“The people I collaborate with in my own music has been inspiring,” Pham said. “Every time we work together, we always feel like we either learn something about each other or about the musical world we’re creating, and it’s exciting to see that unfold and become more nuanced and complex.”

Despite the pandemic and the fact that methods of contacting or staying in touch with each other has been limited, Pham has still found a way to create art and fulfillment through connecting with people in whatever ways he can.

“Getting to know people more has been inspiring,” Pham said. “In this time, you can’t really experience life, but you can still experience people through conversation. All it truly takes is a phone call.”

Or a letter.

Pham’s songs “Tell Me” and “DYGWYW?” are available on Spotify. His EP is projected to come out sometime before the end of the year.