Andrew Hoyt

Whether it was his dad being a local Des Moines drummer or Andrew making melodies in Garageband music was and continues to be very much of his life. 

Andrew Hoyt Music Pic 1.jpg

Take us back to you as a kid.

I grew up in Grimes, Iowa just outside of Des Moines. It used to be a small town but has grown significantly in the past ten years. Throughout my childhood, there was always music in some aspect of my life. For example, my mom would play Hall and Oates, Phil Collins, and Norah Jones around the house; while my dad is an amazing drummer and would occasionally play for local bands around Des Moines. I remember always having melodies in my head and would spend my time making little songs via Garage Band on our home computer.

Who did you want to be?

I think every kid has an idol they look up to, and for me, I knew I wanted to be a musician with original songs like John Mayer. It’s surreal to have the opportunity to sing and perform, knowing this has been something I’ve always wanted to do with my life.

What was last Monday like for you?

My Monday started off recording a cover song and uploading it onto a music sharing website. I also sent 40+ emails to venues and event planners in order to pitch my music to them in hopes of scheduling a few performances.

Walk us through the days leading up to you doing your own music?

As a senior in high school, I went to a friend’s house and they showed me a ukulele they had bought on vacation. To my enjoyment and surprise, I couldn’t put it down... I just loved the simplicity and unique nature of the instrument. Learning the ukulele was a way for me to call something my own and take steps toward my dream of writing original songs. Since then, I’ve learned guitar and incorporated it into my shows as well.

"Reaching out to other Des Moines musicians has kept me focused and reminds me of the power music has to bring people together."

Describe your music.

I typically play 60s-80s, modern, jazz, and original music. My original songs sound like a mix of my favorite musicians: James Taylor, Jason Mraz, and John Mayer.

What keeps you busy?

I recently went to a singer/songwriter competition at Eagle Wind Sound studio in Winter Park, Colorado. I met many talented musicians and have started to collaborate with them on a few projects. I managed to win a free day in the recording studio where I was able to professionally record my original song, “Lucky Duck.” I was extremely fortunate to have this experience, and if you want to hear the finished product you can find it on social media and SoundCloud.

How do you stay focused?

Reaching out to other Des Moines musicians has kept me focused and reminds me of the power music has to bring people together. Networking has helped me discover new performance possibilities that I would not have known about without the guidance and support from other musicians. I’m grateful for the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made.

"Unfortunately, it takes a lot of trial and error to find your groove."

What’s been the biggest challenge?

Songwriting has been one of the biggest challenges recently. I used to write a song every week when I was at Wartburg College. But due to an internship for music therapy and upcoming exams, my priorities had to shift for a while and I put songwriting on hold.

How did you overcome it?

I have always believed in setting realistic and attainable goals. With the end of my internship and a bit more leeway in my schedule, I’ve been writing a new song each week since the beginning of March. In addition to writing solo pieces, I will be recording a few songs with other musicians in Colorado this Summer.

You get to redo something you’ve done. What would that be and why?

I think it is interesting that despite how often I perform, I have yet to attend more than three large concerts. Going back in time, I would have enjoyed branching out to experience more live shows throughout high school and college. I hope to make up for lost time by seeing James Taylor and Shania Twain this summer!

Someone is starting their own thing. What would you say to them if they came to you for advice?

I would first encourage them to remain resilient. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of trial and error to find your groove. They should start off by creating a set list for a two-hour performance, squeezing in a few original songs will help the audience get a sense of who they are as an artist. Making calls and writing emails is a huge part of landing performances, but it is important to not let the 10 responses of “no” deter them from those last few “yeses” at the end of the call list. Investing in themselves after their first few gigs by purchasing a quality PA system and equipment goes a long way.

"The city is full of extraordinary people and I feel grateful to live in a region that both welcomes and encourages live music."

Why Des Moines?

Growing up outside of Des Moines I have always loved the open-mindedness of the community and the support artists receive. I moved away from Des Moines to attend college but knew I would always return to the area. The city is full of extraordinary people and I feel grateful to live in a region that both welcomes and encourages live music.

What’s one new thing that has caught your eye?

The live music scene is strong in Des Moines. On any given night, there’s something going on at Wooly’s, Vaudeville Mews, Gas Lamp, Social Club, Lefty’s and more.

You can grant Des Moines one wish. What’s that wish?

I may be biased, but Des Moines would be an even better place if everyone learned to play the ukulele. As the renowned Jake Shimabukuro said, "If everyone played the ukulele, the world would be a better place."

For someone new to DSM where do you suggest they go?

The downtown Des Moines farmer’s market is a must. It showcases the support of local small businesses and farmers—I’ll even be playing there this summer.

The most underrated thing in DSM is ________. Why?

Entrepreneurs. It’s a seemingly small capital city with immeasurable potential. The present-day circumstances are quite favorable for the Des Moines entrepreneur.

"Being true to myself when I perform is a value I always want to uphold."

What are you most proud of and why?

The unwavering support from my friends and family makes me proud to be surrounded by such caring individuals. 

It’s been six months, what do you hope to have accomplished?

I hope to have created more professional content in six months. Currently, I am working on a logo, branding, and merchandise for my shows. Building my social media presence by recording more songs and videos will hopefully help increase my fan base. 

One thing that matters most to you is what?

Being true to myself when I perform is a value I always want to uphold. It’s a balance between playing music that is familiar to the audience, while also singing songs that are meaningful to me. My hope is that my love for music will be evident in the songs I sing.

Photo credit: Jean Luc Lebowski

Derek Jensen