Editor’s note: This is the first in a series we’re calling New Music Mondays, where we will endeavour to feature new music by musicians from the Greater Sudbury area each Monday. If you’re an area musician and would like us to profile your work, email us at email@example.com.
Sudbury’s Andrew Hyatt was at the beginning of a 36-date tour with fellow Canadian country music artist Gord Bamford last March when the tour was cut short due to the pandemic.
“In a period of two weeks, a very large percentage of my income — an entire festival season — was wiped out for all of us,” said Hyatt. “That’s $60,000-some dollars gone in three phone calls.”
Although opportunities for performing live have been rare over the past year, Hyatt has kept busy while eking out a living on his royalties.
Normally, he spends the coldest part of the winter in Nashville, working on new material. He’s had to do that over Zoom this year, braving Sudbury’s chilly weather.
In October, he released a new EP, “Neverland.” And last month, he released a three-pack acoustic EP with corresponding music videos entitled “The Wanderspace Sessions.”
The most popular songs from “Neverland” — “I Needed That,” Didn’t Know Me,” and “Neverland” — were included in the new EP, recorded last fall at a Toronto studio called Wanderspace (hence the EP’s name).
Check out the videos below:
“It was just basically what we would normally do in a live show, because we just live tracked it and had someone video it and put it together,” Hyatt said. “It’s basically like a live record.”
If you watch the videos, you can definitely tell they were recorded during a pandemic, as the backup musicians are all wearing masks. Hyatt himself isn’t masked (he said he’d just gotten a COVID test at the time, as he was heading for surgery that week).
“Even though we were allowed to be together, we took as many precautions as possible,” he said. “It’s kind of funny to see guys singing back-up harmonies with their face mask on.”
Hyatt said he’s received a lot of great feedback on “The Wanderspace Sessions.”
“It’s been awesome,” he said. “You can just tell people are missing live music — the die-hards, the people who that’s what they do with their summers, go to live shows.
“It’s been really encouraging to see the feedback, people saying how much they miss music. It feels good to connect with people. These songs are connecting, and that's the goal, right?”
The 33-year-old has been a full-time musician for the past five years, although he’s considering taking on other work right now due to the impacts of the pandemic and because he’s getting married this year.
“I’ve been playing and writing and making records and putting every dollar I’ve made since I was probably 19 years old into music,” said Hyatt, who’s also worked as an ironworker and in restaurants and bars.
“It wasn’t until about five years ago that I ended up signing my first record deal and having a little bit of success in the industry and getting a couple of top 10s with country radio and getting to go out and tour with bigger names.”
Hyatt, who’s now released four albums under a label (three EPs and one full-length album), said he started out thinking of himself as being more in the singer-songwriter genre than country music.
“I’ve always loved country music,” he said. “I grew up listening to it. We didn’t listen to Christmas music at my grandparents’ house. We listened to Loretta Lynn records and Waylon Jennings records and stuff like that. That’s just what we did.
“So it was pretty natural when I went to my first meeting with a label and I played a record I had recorded myself, they said ‘Oh, you’re a country music artist.’ I was like ‘Uhhh, am I? ...
“I was just creating what felt natural, and that’s kind of what happened.”
If you’d like to learn more about Hyatt’s music, you can check out his website.