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Meet Andrew Shubin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew Shubin.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Andrew. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was introduced to music before I can even remember because my mom is a singer/music teacher and she taught private students at our house. Eventually, I wanted to start taking lessons so I started with piano and voice. There’s really only one instance that sticks out to me with music as a child, other than being stubborn when taking lessons from my mom. I was writing/singing a song about my cat (it didn’t sound so good) and my mom happened to be watching me randomly pluck on the piano and make a fool out of myself. I saw her looking at me, so I decided in my competitive nature that I’d keep plucking until something worked, and I actually played a chord that sounded great. I looked up at her and she said, surprised, “That was actually really nice”. It was little experience like that that inspired me to make music for myself and create beautiful moments for others. And part of me always just wanted to prove peoples’ preconceptions of me wrong and it felt good when I did. I ended up doing musical theater in elementary school and loved it, but as soon as I hit puberty, I stopped singing altogether and just focused on sports.

I started playing football in 2nd grade, but once I stopped singing as much, it became my goal to get a scholarship with it and go to NFL. I started learning guitar for fun because I guess I just couldn’t get away from my musical itch for long. Around 8th grade, my guitar teacher told me I should really give singing a try again, and soon after I started playing guitar and singing together. At first, it was in my guitar lessons, then my mom’s bible study with ten people, then in coffee shops, and then eventually in my church worship band. Sophomore year of high school, I got into the church choir and it changed my life. Making music became magical to me again, so I began to pay attention to it more and less on football. I even started writing songs. From there, I went to join high school choir and eventually got my first lead role as Tony in West Side Story. Being in that musical added another element that I didn’t know I was missing; acting. In college, I studied Music and Worship at Azusa Pacific University, graduated in 2015, lived in Glendora for four years after that, then finally made the move to Mid City, Los Angeles where I am today.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has definitely not been a smooth road thus far, but challenging circumstances can produce great character. I know that they have for me, at least. In high school, as I was gaining interest in a career in the arts, my mom told me to major in something other than music because she told me there wasn’t any money in it. But once she realized how determined I was, she supported me all the way. I had a great education, gained arranging/songwriting/music theory knowledge, traveled all over the world singing in choirs, including South Korea, the UK, and Italy. But after college, I felt lost for a couple of years. I didn’t know if I really loved music. I knew I was pretty good at it, but I was in a spot of life where I didn’t really feel passionate about anything. In reality, I think that I assumed I was just good at music in spurts, and couldn’t even get to a place where I was consistently great.

I got a job as a janitor so that I could support myself, and although I’m grateful for everyone I worked with and now have a lot of respect for that career, I became severely depressed because I was alone for at least 5 hours everyday, I wasn’t the best janitor (because I tend to work very slow), and I wasn’t making any music at the time. It’s not that I couldn’t get any jobs as a musician/singer during this time, but in a way I put myself through it on purpose. It was a time in my life that I still experienced a lot of self-hatred towards myself. So many people that loved me saw that I wasn’t doing okay and told me to leave the job, but I stayed. The thing getting me through the day to day of the janitor job was listening to music nonstop, specifically the soundtracks to the musical Rent and Waitress. The promise of community, friendship and comfort in the midst of my loneliness kept me going, and I kept that job for six months, from January to July of 2016. After it was over, I asked myself whether I made the right decision to even take it in the first place. I felt equal parts grateful for the experience, regretful for the way I treated myself, and free.

But I always tell people that that job, as much as I hated it, allowed me to see clearly that not only did I want to do music/acting/performing in general, I NEEDED to. I realized that when I was storytelling, whether it was through song, acting, or writing, that something in me came alive that I couldn’t ignore. Without a doubt, it gave me the absolute certainty that I was born to do it, and at that moment, I decided that I’d either be excellent at my craft and commit fully to it, or not do it at all. I wish I could say that things got easier for me in that moment with business, but it didn’t. I wasn’t getting called to do gigs that much, and I felt like I was on the outside looking in. I was experiencing a lot of performance anxiety and so often wouldn’t give myself permission to take more risks in my art.

But I started to get back into voice lessons and began auditioning for musical theater productions. I wasn’t getting callbacks or getting cast, but I was putting myself out there, and that meant more to me than booking a gig. It always will. I did end up getting into a production Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat that paid for my gas money and not much else, but I was grateful to have an opportunity and I excelled in it. And from that production, I was fortunate to do several other productions at other theaters including Beast in Beauty and the Beast, where I had the pleasure of playing Beast. I felt like I was gaining momentum in theater, but I didn’t have the confidence at that time to make the jump to bigger musical theater productions. I became discouraged and depressed by my performance anxiety starting with auditions. The discouragement took its toll, and unintentionally I took a break from theater for two years (2018-2020) as I focused purely on singing.

In that time, I got to be a background singer on the Ellen show, be a special extra on some TV shows like American Horror Story and Perfect Harmony and got into studio session singing, and it’s been an amazing ride ever since. I’ve grown in confidence, in skill, work ethic, and I’ve given myself more permission to dream. I’ve even written a song that I want to release this year as my first single. I’ve been fortunate to sing on tracks that hundreds of thousands of people have listened to on Spotify/YouTube/etc. I have casted/produced/starred in 3 short films with the help of some incredible people (available to view on my website). I am proud of myself and I believe I have what it takes to live out my dreams. It’s not that I don’t have moments of doubt. To be honest, I sometimes still feel that way.

Especially when COVID 19 hit, it hit the entertainment industry hard. I was having success busking in LA, taking on new projects and also had the privilege of being cast as Lt. Cable in a production of South Pacific in Arizona. Two weeks into the run of the show, we got shut down and everybody was sent home. For months I stayed with my mom because I couldn’t support myself. If there was ever a time for me to have waived the white flag, it would’ve been then. But this time has taught more than ever to persevere. I have allowed myself to fail during COVID 19 more than I ever have. I’ve written songs and grown as an artist. It has strengthened me in ways that I didn’t know I needed to be, and I’m grateful for that. Everyday that I wake up, I fight doubt, self-hatred and depression, and fight for the future God has for me. I know that I’m where I’m supposed to be, so through every roadblock, whether it has been anxiety or feeling liked I’m behind in life because I’m 28 years old and just starting to make a consistent living with the arts, I’ve pushed through. And now that my income is even more inconsistent, I push through. I don’t know any other way, because I understand what’s on the other side of giving up. I have God to thank every day and those close to me who know what I’m capable of.

This brings me to the final evolution of artistry that I’ve understood to be the most important. I am an artist for the love of it, yes, but I am a storyteller so that I can witness broken hearts mend, I can in some way bring peace and relief to the troubled hearts, and so that I can share happiness with the heavy hearts. To be an artist is to bring healing and life. From all the pain and struggle that I’ve experienced in my life, I can bring understanding. As I’ve experienced losing my father at a young age, going through multiple divorces in my lifetime, and having endured crippling self-doubt and addiction, I have also experienced unconditional love, intimacy, and freedom. These stories are not easy, and frankly no one’s story is, but they are all worth writing and sharing. Over and over again.

Can you give our readers some background on your music?
I specialize in pop and musical theater singing, in addition to vocal arranging and songwriting. I am also in the process of starting an online course for singers who experience performance anxiety (available October 2020). Professionally, my proudest moment would have to be singing background vocals for Jordan Fisher at the D23 expo this past August and being a Christmas Caroler for Shanghai Disney’s 2019-2020 Christmas Season. They were both such surreal experiences and made me feel like I was finally gaining traction as a full-time performer. But as far as the little kid in me goes, I posted a video of me singing the goodbye song from Bear in the Big Blue House on Tiktok in early July. I encouraged people to sing along to Luna’s part because I sang Bear’s portion. A couple of days later, I woke up to see that Noel MacNeal, the voice and puppeteer of Bear had duetted my video. I was obsessed with that show as a kid, so although it wasn’t a huge paying gig, that was a lifelong dream come true.

I consider myself to be a resilient person. I have never considered an alternative to what I’m doing now. I’m not the type of person to have a plan B because if I truly love something or someone, I commit fully to it, for better or for worse. Ever since my stint as a janitor, I’ve had no interest in dabbling in this artist’s lifestyle, and I know that half the battle in this city is not giving up. No matter the outcome of any performance, I always keep going because I know that neither I nor the world has seen the best of me yet. And as I mentioned previously, the most important lesson I will carry with me is the fact that artists do not take from their audience. Their purpose is not to drown in praise or in criticism. They create to give. That mindset will take me as far as I let it. I hope that in some way, I was able to give something back to whoever may read this.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
LA is a beautiful city where so many creatives thrive and push each other to become better. That’s why I originally moved here last August. When I drive by the LA skyline, it always inspires me and makes me dream about what’s possible if I keep working hard. This city is also so diverse, and I love all the different cultures I get to interact with here.

As beautiful as LA is, the one thing that really unsettles me is our waste and homelessness issue. And more often than not, those two are well acquainted with each other. I have grown to love and appreciate LA, and I believe that we can’t truly grow as a city until we provide a better way of life for those who are considered to be the lowest. I am excited to see a brighter future for all of Los Angeles.

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Image Credit:

Frederick Gonzalez, NancyAnn Gettinger.

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