Ingrid Andress: “I’m a Sucker For All Emotional Songs”

Ingrid Andress emerged as a new voice in country music with this year’s poignant single, “More Hearts Than Mine.” A world traveler at heart, the thoughtful singer-songwriter caught up with CMT Hot 20 Countdown host Katie Cook in New York City for a chat.

CMT: So, Ingrid, you’ve been a songwriter for a while. In fact, I understand that you didn’t really want to start your artist career until you truly felt ready. What was the turning point, when you were like, “It’s time”?

Ingrid Andress: I think when I started to write songs that were more true to my own stories. When I started songwriting, I just kind of wrote about whatever everybody else wanted to write about. And it was fun, but I think the more that I started learning about who I really was as a person and what I cared about, I started making my songs a little more personal. And it became harder and harder to give them away to other artists because they were just — they were my stories. And so I was like, “OK, I think it’s time now.”

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Yeah. So it’s about making it more personal. I mean, if you’re going to be up on stage delivering it every night you’ve got to connect, right?

Yes. If you’re an artist, hopefully you’ll be singing your songs for years and years to come. And if you don’t actually connect to what you’re saying, I can’t imagine what that would be like — having to sing about something that you don’t actually personally relate to.

What did you learn during that time of just being a writer that you realize now was actually great prep for where you are now as a writer and an artist?

I think as a writer, you think a lot more about the story you’re telling and why you’re telling it, as opposed to if you’re just singing about something that you don’t really know about. You’re just kind of like, “Oh, well, this sounds pretty.” But I feel like there’s a different emotion that comes with singing something that you have experienced and have taken the time to write out and figure out the best way to tell the story.

So I feel like I appreciate the fact that I can just sit down and write about how I’m feeling and know that I will probably still be feeling that when I go on stage. And even if I’m not, I know that emotion is real because I’m a sucker for all emotional songs. It’s all about the feeling to me. If I don’t feel it, then it’s not right.

I’ve seen on your socials that you’re not afraid to definitely be yourself. Not afraid to shoot a little tequila, maybe even shoot the bird to somebody if necessary.

(laughing) Oh no.

I guess what I’m getting at is you seem pretty fearless and I really dig that about you. Would you describe yourself that way?

I mean, there are a lot of things that I’m scared of. If I really give myself time to overthink everything, I feel like I analyze everything. But at the same time, though, at the end of the day, you’re just kind of stuck with you. And so you either can appreciate that or hate it. And I find it more enjoyable to just appreciate who you are as a person. Trying to be something you’re not is so much work. It’s so tiring. I just would rather appreciate who I am.

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I have a great quote from you here: “I’m not trying to be a rebel, but I am putting myself on the line because that’s who I am. The goal is to connect to people. And that moment is all I want.” You definitely are connecting to people right now. There’s no question about that. How do you think that approach is helping you connect with fans?

I think if everybody is honest with themselves, everybody wants to connect with other people just being themselves. I guess it’s more of me trying to let people know that you can do that. You don’t have to be this thing that Hollywood or society tells you that you need to be in order for people to like you.

I think people will like you when you’re being genuine. None of us are perfect. I think embracing that and accepting it is the first step. I hope that people are connecting because I’m being honest with them. And I will never say something or do things that I don’t actually feel or don’t actually want to do.

Is “More Hearts Than Mine” about a real relationship?

Kind of, yeah. The last time I brought somebody to meet my family was back in college and they loved him so much and they still ask about him. This was like 10 years ago, by the way. They’re like, “Oh, what is this guy doing?” I’m like, “Oh, he hates me now because I totally broke his heart.” They still ask about him though.

They’re like, “He was our favorite.” So I feel like because they held on so tightly to that relationship, it’s made me have to rethink now, like, “OK, if I do bring this person home, I don’t want to have to relive this whole thing of them being attached.” So it was definitely from a real place.

Did your dad really check the tires and pour him a whiskey?

Well, my dad definitely checks tires for sure. He’s totally into the whole mechanics of it. The whiskey thing, he probably wouldn’t want to get the guy drunk because he is going to ask him so many questions. So that was more of me being like, my dad’s a cool dad. You know, he can do that. But really? He’d be, like, grilling them the whole time.

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With the video, you went pretty literal with “More Hearts Than Mine,” whereas “Lady Like” was a little more kind of abstract. So tell me what your thinking was with “More Hearts Than Mine.” You really seem to just want to tell the story.

I didn’t want the music video to take away from the lyrics and how “storyteller” they were. “Lady Like,” I feel like was more of my own personal anthem, hoping that other people related to it. So I wanted people to interpret that how they wanted.

But for “More Hearts Than Mine,” it is a straight-up story song and I wanted people to feel that emotion of like, “Oh yeah, I have brought somebody back to meet my family and this was the reaction, and if it didn’t work out…’ I just wanted everybody to cry, honestly.

Well, you made us cry. You did a really good job.

OK, good. Mission accomplished!

You’re still a new artist. And I’m wondering, where would you like to see yourself in five years?

Oh, who knows? Honestly, I’m here for a good time. I would love to just keep traveling and experiencing different cultures and meeting new people. I feel like that’s what I’ve always loved doing. That’s what I grew up doing. And as long as I get to keep doing that and sharing new perspectives and stories, that’s really all I care about.

I mean, I do want to be the voice of an animated character at some point. So if we can all make that happen, that would be great.

What kind of character?

Like probably a Pixar movie. … They would have to be funny. Not a romantic interest. Hate that. Like a Dory of a movie, you know? …I just need that in my life.

We need to make this happen.

Yeah. So if we could do that, that would be great. And then I’ll retire. And that will be it.