Day job: I work for a company called E-Z Traxx. We make and distribute power sport accessories. I also work for Ecofile, which helps companies go paperless.
How I got started: I first started taking piano lessons when I was around seven, and learned on an old Ennis upright that my dad bought for five cents. I mostly played classical music until I went to an arts high school [Etobicoke School of the Arts], where I learned different styles. Everyone in the band went to the same school, so we all grew up playing and learning together. I played in a stage band my first year there and didn’t really know what I was doing. I remember the first time I tried to do a solo, I just played a bunch of random notes and couldn’t wait for it to be over — some things never change, I guess. I basically looked for any opportunity to play with other people and took it.
Band: Toronto-based Tiny Danza. Like any self-respecting hip-hop band, we started off as a folk band. Our vocalist was into rapping, so we started to write more in that style, and a friend who was an emcee joined us. Shows were confusing for a while, playing hip-hop and folk in the same performance. Audiences didn’t really know what to make of it, so we figured we should pick one style and stick to it. Hip-hop won out, and we never spoke of those folk songs again. Our style is a mix of R&B/pop with rapping thrown in. We are definitely influenced by bands like the Roots, and usually throw in one of their songs. We usually play in some of the music clubs in Toronto, like the El Mocambo, the Horseshoe Tavern, and the Drake.
Influences: Billy Joel was one of my biggest influences. The first “non-classical” songs I remember learning were “Piano Man” and “Billy the Kid.” My favorite recording by him is The Stranger, which I’ve listened to more than any other album. I don’t know what exactly keeps me coming back to that album. I just think every song on there is perfect. I also always come back to Ben Folds and Regina Spektor.
Why I play: Because they make me. Actually, it’s like an addiction, and I find it hard to walk by a piano without playing it. It’s a great release and escape from whatever’s going on.
“The Nord Stage Compact is perfect for what I need. It’s great for setting up splits,” says Andrew. “Like having a synth bass on the bottom, Rhodes in the middle, and organ on top. It also looks complex, so if I’m not playing at some point during a song, I’ll just turn a bunch of knobs to make it look like I’m getting ready to do something big. I use a Traynor K2 as a monitor. I’m currently trying to tell myself I don’t need a Korg SV-1, but it’s not going so good.” [See our review of the Korg SV-1 on page 52. —Ed.]
Regina Spektor, Begin To Hope (Sire)
Andrew Santaguida admires several keyboard artists, but he puts Regina Spektor near the top of this list. Spektor’s music falls in the anti-folk category, along with artists like Ani DiFranco and Billy Bragg. For a sample of her piano work, including the swirling arpeggios of “20 Years of Snow,” check out her 2006 release, Begin To Hope.
Check out these keyboard-heavy acts, on tour this month.
Simian Mobile Disco
Tower of Power