From YouTube to radio and now live performances, this music personality can't be contained.
By Tracy Quitasol
Andrea Russett created a YouTube channel from her Indiana home when she was 12 years old — and it flourished. Like many creators, she might have remained focused on her videos to continue the trajectory of her rising star, but instead, at the age of 15, Russett started as a nighttime DJ at a local radio station. Amazingly, both channels grew. Russett became the youngest syndicated radio host. Ever.
And even though it might be considered a retro medium, working in radio actually benefited this video star. “My radio manager helped me negotiate my [YouTube] brand deals,” Russett said. “There were a lot of local events to attend, I learned quickly how to be on stage.”
Russett’s experiences in video, audio, and live events have all contributed to her understanding of how to create content for multiple social platforms. Now, she’s a multi-faceted creator, using music, visual art, and the written word to express herself and foster an online community with millions of fans.
A new start in L.A.
As her creative work and gigs became a larger part of her life, Russett decided to make it a full-time pursuit. So, she left Indiana, moved to LA, and surrounded herself with creative friends and a support crew.
Then, she had to contend with the lockdown of the pandemic, which brought with it new challenges to her mental health.
Russett is open about her mental health struggles, and she has found that sharing her journey helps her connect more intimately with her audience. “When I’m open about it, it brings my community together,” she said. “They’re talking about it with their friends and being open. If it helps one person, that’s all that matters.”
How she keeps the creative energy flowing
Russett has some tools for both managing her mental health and harnessing her creative energy: painting, journaling, and songwriting. “I love painting,” she says, which is evident from her growing collection of skate decks, canvases, and more. “I’m running out of wall space!”
The arts are clearly part of her DNA. She grew up in a creative family and painting is a peaceful outlet for her emotions. “When I was younger we had art nights. I thought everybody did that. I thought it was totally normal.” In an era when technology dominates, her family’s offline pastime has influenced her worldview.
Meanwhile, journaling captures her pent-up thoughts and emotions, and these expressions of her inner world often make their way into her songs. “It’s important to jot things down,” she says.
Andrea's Journaling Tips
The wonder of voice memos
Russett swears by using voice memos on her phone to record her thoughts and inspirations electronically. Whether it’s a beat she hears while waiting in line or a few words strung together that appeal to her, her phone captures it. “Voice memos are the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “You never know what it could turn into.”
Her written and recorded memos have yielded a rich encyclopedia of beats, tunes, phrases, and other elements that will add to her work on an upcoming album due out this year. Not only are her thoughts and emotions captured in her songs, but also conversations with her fans and community.
In fact, the conversation with her community on Twitch helped lead to the opportunity at SXSW where she played a live show. “I’ve been waiting for this chance to perform. I haven’t been able to do these live shows. This was my opportunity.”
Wherever her journey may take her, Russett has built an artistic empire that is nothing short of inspiring. And she has a lot on her plate as the rest of the year unfolds. She hopes to get to the studio, release singles, and do more live shows.
Of course, while her musical endeavors flourish, her journaling and painting will continue to evolve. Don’t be surprised if a live show also includes a gallery exhibit of her artwork.
Andrea Russett is a multi-faceted creator, painter, songwriter and singer based in Los Angeles. She released her debut single, “Darkest Hour” in 2020 with plans for a full EP in 2022. An advocate for openness online, Russett has been consistently outspoken and honest about her mental health journey.