“Everything was in place and we had already put our stuff into a storage unit when we found out we were expecting a baby. The timing was actually perfect, because if we had found out we were pregnant even a couple months earlier than we did, I’m not sure that we would have planned the tour so – I don’t want to say risky, but maybe we wouldn’t have planned it so nonchalantly. Going into it, we thought, “It’s possible that we’ll make money, it’s possible that we’ll break even, and it’s really possible that we’ll go into debt.” But, we were ready to take that plunge. From a career standpoint and a personal standpoint, it was a huge risk, but we really needed to try it. So I spent the first four months of my pregnancy on the road. The only thing that has changed about our plan is that we upgraded our travel situation and bought a minivan because we didn’t have room to add a baby. It works out well because Adam prefers to drive on the road, which meant I was able to sleep as much as I wanted to – which was quite a bit, being pregnant.”
–Andrea Melia, “Adam & I”
‘Adam & I’ are actually Adam and Andrea Melia, a young married couple who moved from Phoenix, AZ to Nashville, TN in 2012 to pursue their individual musical dreams. Once they arrived, they realized that their sounds meshed perfectly together, and the musical duo was born. Unsure of what to call themselves, Andrea enlisted the help of some of her co-workers from the restaurant she serves at when she isn’t touring. A friend’s advice turned out to be just the ticket: “You’re always telling us stories starting with “Adam and I did this,” or “Adam and I did that,” so why don’t you call yourselves ‘Adam & I’?” It was the perfect title to encompass their passion for music and each other.
Andrea and Adam met playing in a church band in Phoenix, and their soft, catchy melodies are still loosely rooted in their faith – not so much so that I would describe them as a Christian band, but just enough to offer a snapshot of the kind, gentle people they aim to be in their day to day lives. On their first self-titled record, you can expect simple, catchy melodies juxtaposed with inspired harmonies. You’ll hear piano, guitar, harmonica, and mandolin, all of which the two play themselves. Many of their songs have a vibe similar to The Civil Wars, Dawes, or Conor Oberst. If you’re looking for easy listening with a refreshingly deep message, this record is for you. In fact, I bought 3 copies: one for myself, and two for my sister and mother as Christmas gifts.
I have had the pleasure of collaborating with the duo as a production assistant on more than one occasion, and I can confidently say that Andrea and Adam are two of the most dedicated, hardworking, and deserving people I have ever met. In addition to being their own manager/publisher/label by day and musicians by night, they also self-produced and recorded their first self-titled album completely independently. If that’s not impressive enough, take this into account: just a couple of weeks before they left for their first cross country tour, they found out they are expecting a child. Most people would have reconsidered, but not Adam and Andrea. Their confidence in their dream, their craft, and their love for each other has carried them through every trial and tribulation life has thrown their way, and that simple comfort will no doubt continue to drive them onward.
Give their beautiful music a listen, buy their record, and join me in anticipating their sophomore album this summer.
Where are you from?
Andrea: I’m from Phoenix, AZ. Born and raised.
Adam: I was born in Albuquerque, NM. I lived there until I was 8, then moved to Phoenix.
How did you meet?
Adam: We met playing music at our church. Andrea was head of the music program, so she was my supervisor, for lack of a better term. I was the drummer, with long black hair. I have some incriminating photos. She thought for sure that I came to mass stoned out of my mind.
Andrea: I almost kicked him out of the band a couple times because I thought he was coming to church high.
Gracie: Was he?
Andrea: (Laughing) No!
Adam: High on spirit, maybe.
Andrea: He just looked like a stoner. He had dyed black long, stringy hair and his eyes were always bloodshot because of the desert being so dry.
Adam: We knew each other for about 3 years before we ever hung out outside of church. It was just kind of a professional relationship for a long time.
Andrea: I think we actually started liking each other once we saw each other perform music individually outside of church.
Adam: Yeah, because we both were singer/songwriters, and we had been for a long time. I had a band in Arizona, and Andrea performed with a little chick duo. We would go to each other’s shows.
Tell us your love story.
Andrea: Honestly, I went and saw Adam’s band at their CD release party in Phoenix. Shortly after, he came and saw me perform at an outdoor mall I was playing at. I think we both kind of felt like we should get to know each other better.
Adam: It’s all about networking! (Laughing)
Andrea: I wasn’t at all interested in Adam, until for some reason, out of the blue, he decided to cut his hair. He cut his hair and came to church and I literally did a physical double-take when he walked in. He was like, “Hey guys!”. I was doing something and I was like “Hey Adam….oh, HEY!” I had never seen his face before!
Adam: It was quite obvious, the double-take.
Andrea: So I thought, wow, he’s pretty handsome. The violinist that played with us was really pushing for us to get together.
Adam: I thought she (the violinist) was into me at first.
Andrea: Maybe she was, but she kept pushing the issue. We actually really hung out for the first time one night when I was out with the violinist. She said, “Adam and his friend are at this bar, let’s go hang out!” So we did. The very next night he texted me and asked what I was doing that night. I told him that I was going salsa dancing by myself. I was not sure that I wanted to date him because if things went south, I would lose my drummer, and I didn’t know if it was appropriate, because I was his supervisor or leader of the group. But, he was persistent, and we started dating. We went on that first date, and there hasn’t been a single day since that first date that we haven’t talked at the very least. From that point on, every single day, we were communicating or seeing each other
Adam: There’s really only been a handful of days that we haven’t seen each other.
When did you move to Nashville?
Andrea: We moved in August of 2012.
Gracie: Why Nashville?
Adam: Because we couldn’t afford L.A. (Laughing)
Andrea: Or New York!
Adam: Coming from Phoenix, the logical choice for aspiring musicians and songwriters might have been L.A., I don’t know. But Nashville’s been going through this boom, and that was kind of in the beginning of it. I feel like it’s really taken off since we’ve been here, but maybe that’s just because we’re here and seeing it firsthand. We had started seeing Rolling Stone articles that were coming out like, “Hey, have you heard about Nashville?” Jack White has lived here for awhile. Kings of Leon kind of blew up, and they’re here. When The Black Keys moved here, a lot of publicity started to spread. We weren’t really tracking where the songwriters were, it was just kind of a coincidence.
Andrea: We wanted to move to a music town.
Adam: And Nashville is cheapest!
Andrea: It was the most feasible financially for us.
Adam: It’s nice that it’s kind of been taking off.
Do you see the abundance of musicians in this city as a positive or a negative?
Andrea: Both. It’s incredibly inspiring to be surrounded by so many artistic people, and it’s incredibly discouraging to feel like you can’t stand out or get people’s attention because the market is so saturated. It’s been good for us. We have grown a lot as musicians and a lot as songwriters being here.
Adam: You go out to a show and get your ass kicked by whoever’s up onstage, and there’s nothing really like that in Phoenix, necessarily, or pretty much anywhere else except maybe L.A.
Andrea: This town is a major ego blow, which I think is a really necessary thing for artists to go through. You kind of move to Nashville thinking, “I’m really good!” Then you get here and realize, “I really suck!” That’s not the end of it though. It’s like gold being tested in fire. If you can come out stronger for it, if you can rise to the occasion and let that challenge you to work harder on your craft more and try to get better, it helps to see yourself in a humble way. I think as an artist you have to have a humility about what you do. Not everyone’s gonna love it. Not everyone’s gonna get it. But that’s what really strengthens you as an artist: to be around so many people that are better than you are in one way or another. It forces you to find your strengths.
Adam: Being an artist is all about growing and learning, to a certain extent, and moving forward. Your individual journey will encompass different directions, and I feel like being in a city that is rich in art and, in this case, music, it has a unique influence on your specific journey. It kind of recalibrates you in interesting ways. If you’re a big fish in a little pond, you’re not necessarily going to get as much out of that journey.
How many instruments do you play?
Adam: What I really enjoy about music is songwriting. I’m not a virtuoso on any of the instruments that I play. I started playing drums, that was my first instrument, and then I wanted to be able to sing and be out in front, so I learned guitar. I play harmonica. I play a little piano, maybe. If you don’t know how to play piano, I look like I can play piano, but if you know how to play piano you’ll know I don’t.
Andrea: The same probably goes for mandolin. You can work your way around a mandolin.
Adam: I can fake it. I can fake more instruments. I can fake trombone pretty well.
Andrea: I play piano. That was my first instrument. I also play some organ, which is very similar with a slightly different approach. I play guitar, which I picked up when I was 15, because I wanted to be writing songs. Ironically, I was classically trained on piano. I had no idea how to write or play anything that wasn’t a piece of sheet music. I’ve played mandolin since we moved to Nashville. Well, some people would say that I play the mandolin, some would say I just fake it.
Adam: She sure looks cute with that mandolin, whatever she’s doing with it. (Laughing)
Is music your sole source of income?
Andrea: Not always. Not currently.
Adam: But it was.
Andrea: It was when we were on tour this past fall, and it will be again in about 10 days.
What do you do when you aren’t on tour?
Andrea: It’s different every time based on the needs of what the music requires versus what our living situation requires. Right now, we’re working day jobs. When we come off tour at the end of February, we’ll be recording for the month of March, and then we’ll be “chilling” while having the baby in April. In May we’ll be gearing up and getting ready to go on tour again. We’ll be releasing the second album at the end of May and touring in June. We just do what we need to do, basically, when we’re not on the road.
Paint me a picture of your personal lives.
Adam: I guess we spend a lot of our time in coffee shops working on the office side of the music. I work on the website, I do the social media stuff. So if there’s a show to add, I design the flyers, video editing.. A lot of the stuff is fun and I get some gratification out of it, but it’s more or less the boring side of things.
Gracie: So you’re basically managing yourselves.
Adam: By day, we’re the record label or the publishing company or the manager, and by night we play music. Even when we’re not on tour, that’s what our days are consumed with. I drive for Lyft if we’re not on tour.
Andrea, you planned your whole tour and then found out you were pregnant. What was that like?
Andrea: That was a shock (laughing). Everything was in place. We had already put our stuff into a storage unit when we found out we were expecting a baby. The timing was actually perfect, because if we had found out we were pregnant even a couple months earlier than we did, I’m not sure that we would have planned the tour so – I don’t want to say risky, but maybe we wouldn’t have planned it so nonchalantly. Going into this last tour we thought, “It’s possible that we’ll make money, it’s possible that we’ll break even, and it’s really possible that we’ll go into debt.” But, we were ready to take that plunge. From a career standpoint and a personal standpoint, it was a huge risk, but we really needed to try it. So I spent the first four months of my pregnancy on the road. The only thing that has changed about our plan is that we upgraded our travel situation and bought a minivan because we didn’t have room to add a baby. It works out well because Adam prefers to drive on the road, which meant I was able to sleep as much as I wanted to – which was quite a bit, being pregnant. It really hasn’t stopped us from doing anything. In fact, getting to the end of my pregnancy and not being able to tour has actually allowed us this perfect span of time to record our album. We didn’t really know what we’d be able to do for an income with me being pregnant, so it just carved out this little space of time in which we’ll be waiting for the baby to come or adapting to the baby, and not really having much of an income. It’s the perfect time to record, since we need to do that anyway.
Adam: When the pregnancy happened, with the timing of it, it seemed like, “Oh my Gosh, we just planned this tour, and now our music career is over.” At first glance it looked like that, and it was a little scary, you know, because we had worked so hard. It’s crazy, because people say “You’re never really ready”. You try and plan to have a baby, but you never really totally get to that point where you’re fully ready. It’s totally been that way for us. Seemingly, it’s really bad timing, but after a closer look, it’s turned out to be perfect timing. We couldn’t have planned it better if we tried.
Andrea: Had we not gone on this fall tour, I think it’s very possible that we would have gotten pregnant and thought, “Our music career is over. How can we possibly do this with a baby?” But now we’ve had firsthand experience on the road knowing that we were pregnant, seeing that we could do this. We actually realized, probably for the first time, that it’s a possibility to make this our livelihood. We saw how we could get through any situation, even with a baby. We got to see firsthand what our life would be like if we were to continue music, and we’d just kind of mentally pop the baby in the picture as we were going.
Adam: We made money, too. We didn’t stroll into shows and just go flat broke. We were able to walk with money, and that’s huge. That’s a success in itself.
If you could envision the peak of success for your musical career, what would that look like?
Adam: I don’t want to low ball us or anything like that, but we would really be happy just being able to make a living off of our music. We don’t need a place in Malibu or the Hollywood Hills to be successful. To be able to tour,
Andrea: To provide for our family through the music.
Adam: However that may be, that’s kind of the dream. We work hard on it. It would be great to win Grammy’s and sell millions of records and play stadiums and tour with the big guys, and in a way we do work for that, but it’s not like we have to get to that point. It’s more like, if it happens because we’ve worked hard for this, it would be icing on the cake.
Andrea: We try to keep our focus on the next immediate step. Yeah, maybe we’ll step our way to the Grammy’s sometime, maybe we’ll step our way into what is considered wealth of some kind….
Adam: We really just enjoy playing. We enjoy songwriting together. We enjoy playing together. There’s nothing like playing a good show, maybe getting a little bit of money out of it, and being able to pay your bills. It’s as simple as that.
Andrea: All the bills paid. That’s the success we’re shooting for right now.
Adam: If you’re a painter, you’re just shooting to make money off your art. You just want to sell a painting to pay your rent and buy more paint. We try and stay grounded with that stuff. I feel like the music industry can be, you know – there’s definitely a lot of art in it, but when you tell someone you’re a musician or a songwriter, often times you get put into a category like “You must want to be the next Mariah Carey, You must want to be this big superstar!” Well, I guess, but I’m not going to go on American Idol or The Voice just to jumpstart my career.
Andrea: Fame and fortune is not really the goal. It’s a byproduct of the work, hopefully, that we would put into it.
Describe a time you turned to music for comfort.
Adam: I listen to music all night when I drive for Lyft. That’s comforting. I don’t necessarily want to be out there.
Andrea: I definitely started writing music as an outlet when my Mom died when I was a teenager. That’s really how it started for me. I’d been taking music lessons my whole childhood, but it didn’t really sink in what music meant to me or could do for me or how ingrained in me it was until I had this thing that I had to express. That was the beginning. From there, it just grew and grew and grew. I turn to music just about every time I’m brokenhearted about anything. I generally tend to write. Back before we got married, all my songs were probably either angry because I’d gone through a breakup, or they were sad because I was going through something dramatic. It’s been a cool thing to have something positive to express, which is what we have together now. I turn to music anytime I’m having any kind of intense feeling.
What is your favorite memory from being on the road?
Adam: We played a house show in Austin, and it was a really cool situation. We played in the living room and there was a staircase that went up into a balcony. We had a really good turnout, probably 40 or 50 people there, and they were all lined up along the balcony and down the stairs through the living room and the kitchen. They just really loved it. I think we even got an encore! One of those things where we had to say, “Okay, this is really our last song, or we’re going to start repeating stuff!” We met some really great people there. That was our first day in Austin. We spent a couple days there.
Andrea: Our favorite times are our shows. We love performing. I think our performances are the majority of our best memories. We had two really great shows that stuck out in my mind as my favorites. We got to play a house concert in Pine, Arizona underneath this huge blanket of stars out on this deck. People had brought camping chairs, and it was a really great turnout. It was almost completely in pitch black – all the pictures are so dark you almost can’t see anything. There were certain songs, like “Searching for Salvation”, where on our album you hear the crickets in the night time in the beginning of the song, and there were moments where it was like, “We have that right now!” The atmosphere was just beautiful, the weather was perfect, it was a clear night playing out under the stars and the crowd’s response was really amazing.
Adam: Our best shows are the ones where the crowd is really into it. We enjoy those shows the most. We had a lot of those on tour, and we thrive like crazy off of that stuff.
Andrea: It was a toss up between that Pine show and the show we played in Phoenix. Partially because Phoenix was our homecoming show. When we left Phoenix for Nashville, the ‘Adam & I’ project didn’t exist. People had heard me perform and people had heard Adam perform, and we had dabbled in performing together, but we feel like we have grown so much being here in Nashville. Not just as performers, but as writers, and players, and from a standpoint of playing and singing together. We loved being able to share that with our friends and family back home. We loved the responses that we got. There were people that were like, “I’m going to be honest, I didn’t know what you were thinking going out on the road, especially now that your pregnant, but after this show, you can’t stop.” They said, “We get it now.” It wasn’t even like a “Ha! Told ya so!” moment, it was just a realization that it wasn’t all in our heads – that what we were doing was worth pursuing, I think.
What is the guiltiest pleasure on your iPod?
Adam: (To Andrea) Yours is gonna be good. (Laughter) For me, probably Motley Crue. That’s about as guilty as I get.
Andrea: Gosh, I don’t know…
Adam: You’ve got System of a Down on there. That’s incredibly guilty.
Andrea: (Laughing) I don’t know about guilty… Probably Ace of Base.
Gracie: I’ve got to be honest, I’ve never heard of that…
Andrea: Oh my God, I’m so old! (Laughing) It was a chick band. I would sing every word if you put it on, even now.
If you could choose one song to accurately describe your life, what would it be?
Adam: The Beatles and Bob Dylan have followed me my whole life. “Beatles for Sale” – I’ve worn out that album. I bought “Freewheelin’” by Bob Dylan when I was 8 or 9 years old. I don’t think I could ever pick one song.
Andrea: Gosh, it’s really hard for me to do that. I feel like I’ve had so many different lives. That’s a weird thing to say.
Gracie: I totally get that. Sometimes I feel like my old lives are just stories I’ve read in some book. I don’t even feel connected to those times anymore.
Andrea: Yeah, exactly. My childhood was awesome, but it’s something that I’m so far removed from. I was pulled out of it like it was a dream. I went through a really dark spell that I can barely even remember if I try to. There have just been so many stages that to find something to kind of encompasses it all is really difficult. I’m going to need to think about that one.
Adam: Garth Brooks!
Andrea: You know what, actually, you might be onto something there. Probably “The Dance” by Garth Brooks. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely “The Dance”. That, and this song he performed after the Oklahoma City Bombing. It was on my favorite album of his, “Fresh Horses”. It’s a song called “The Change”. That song always really resonates with me, too.
Anything you’d like to add?
Andrea: Our new album is coming to at the end of May, early June?
Adam: Yeah, it’s still a tentative date, but we’re working on new music now.
Andrea: We took a week during our tour and shut ourselves in at a lake house on the Tennessee River where no one was. It was so cold. It was the week before Thanksgiving, so it was freezing. It’s all vacation homes up there, where people go in the summer, so it was just this deserted little town. We shut ourselves in and wrote our second album. It was incredible. People say the Tennessee River has magical songwriting powers, and we agree after being there.
Adam: There’s nothing like writing a song in one room, and you have all your gear set up in the next room to actually play the song. I feel like you don’t really do that. I had never experienced anything like that. You work on a song for months and months and then you get around to showing it to whoever you’re playing with.
Andrea: We were working on songs from their very first stages of being a written, from being an idea to being performed with harmonies, arrangements, musical parts that we were going to play, themes, all that stuff. By the end of the day, the song was just about complete, if not polished, at least the skeleton and framework was there. We’re super excited about the second album. When we were recording the first album, we were still figuring out what we sounded like. That album was the grindstone on which we honed our sound. Now that we’ve been out on the road and performing for a year, we’ve been touring, and now that we’re ready to put out some new stuff, we feel like we’ve come so far. We’re ready to share some new music.