Andrew Plan and Kristine Wriding Interview: ‘People Needing People’

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Stage Right Secrets spoke with Kristine Wriding and Andrew Plan to talk about their “People Needing People” collaboration. Read the exclusive Q&A, below.

Congrats on your collaboration, how did it come about?

Kristine: Thank you so much! Our collaboration started back in 2016 when Andrew and I met through an online songwriting course. In this course we were divided into songwriting groups and Andrew and I were in a group together. As we were writing, I really loved Andrew’s voice, melodies and songs and our styles really seemed to click. We continued to write together even after the course was over and have been writing online for the past 4 years.

The song started out as an idea of mine. I was frustrated with how some people view people they don’t understand. For myself, I have a loved one with autism and it frustrates me how some people judge him from the outside, or his lack of speech. They fail to really get to know him and understand what a caring person he is and how smart he is. I thought to myself, “we are all just people in this world, why can’t we all see that”. I expanded on that thought and wrote the chorus. I then brought this chorus and idea to Andrew who instantly connected with the song. He started strumming a melody on his guitar and our words filled the page to create this song.

Andrew: Last year Kristine brought in the chorus for “People Needing People” during one of our writing sessions, and I instantly connected with the idea. During that time my heart was already heavy from all the hate and division in the world. I saw people I love and respect wall off their hearts to the experiences and struggles of other people, just because of an opinion or something they heard on the news.

We both loved the song when we finished it, but we set it aside as we continued writing more songs and working on other projects. A few months ago, Kristine came to me with the idea of releasing the song together and I immediately got on board. We really believe in the song’s message and think it’s needed now more than ever.

Was the process different since you haven’t met in person?

Andrew: Not for me — since I don’t live in a big music city like Nashville or LA, almost all of my collaborations are online-based. Kristine and I have been collaborating online since 2016, and our process generally goes like this: Kristine and I write online, over video conferencing services such as Skype or Google Hangouts. Before each session we send over any ideas we’re interested in writing together, then at the beginning of our writing sessions, we review those ideas and talk about which one we want to move forward with. Once we have the idea locked in, we get to work. Kristine is great with fleshing out song concepts and developing lyrics, so she often takes the lead on that while I work out the melody and guitar grooves. All the while we’re going back and forth, helping each other mold the music and lyric elements until it all starts to feel good as a whole.

Kristine: The process of writing online is definitely different than writing in person, but for Andrew and I, online writing flows really easy. I feel since we have been writing together this way for about 4 years, we have naturally created a writing environment and process that works for us. We are both open to each other’s ideas and have built a trust to be able to share thoughts and ideas to create the best song possible during each write.

The single artwork is gorgeous, did either of you have creative input on it?

Kristine: Thank you so much! We actually both had a part in it! I have a degree in graphic design and with that am blessed to be able to create my own graphic content for my music. When Andrew and I started discussing the cover art for our single, I told him I could create a few ideas and send his way. After seeing my initial ideas, he had a great idea of placing our faces as a sketch on the cover. I thought that was really cool and after a few proofs back and forth we had our finished cover which I think we are both very proud of.

Do you have a favorite or standout lyric from the song?

Andrew: The opening lines of the chorus: “The world ain’t just black and white, it’s a beautiful array.” With all the division in the world, I’ve found these words to be a great comfort. We all are a part of the “beautiful array” that is the human race, and I truly believe that when we choose to come together, the world is better for it. I really hope when people hear these words and the rest of the song lyrics, they’re inspired to find common ground and love each other.

Kristine: I love our second verse, “Imagine this with me, under all this wreckage beauty’s bursting at the seams. All that we would see, is the value in each other and the highs that we could reach”. I think too often people focus on the wreckage of a situation and get caught up in worry and disparity. But if instead we can search for the good, the hope in the storm, and value one another, we could really accomplish and reach great heights!

Since most of the country is or was in quarantine, what have you each been doing to pass the time? (New skills, binging shows, cooking, etc.)

Andrew: My wife and I just got our first house, so that’s taking up plenty of time! I was surprised by how emotional the whole process can be; more than once we found a house we really liked, only for it to not work out. I’m very glad to be on the other side of that and am looking forward to enjoying our new home soon.

Kristine: I have been songwriting a lot and using this time to really focus on the creation of my new Country album, which I am planning to release at the beginning of next year. Before quarantine, I had the majority of my songs picked for my new album, but since then, I feel I have written better songs and so the album is evolving. I also have been taking time to get out in nature, ride horse, go for walks and fish with my husband.

You’ve both performed live-streamed concerts, how are virtual performances different for you? (preparing, setlists, etc.) 

Andrew: The big difference is that I can’t see the audience or feel their energy, so it’s even more important to create and convey that energy when I perform online. I’ve also found that live-streams are much more conversational in nature. For example, when I’m performing a song, I’ve found that people enjoy when I weave my responses to their comments into the song  — maybe I keep playing guitar but start talking in response to a comment, or even sing my response. So, the live-stream, at least for me, becomes less about the setlist and more about having conversations and making a connection, whether it’s through the music or just listening to others.

Kristine: Virtual performances are great for the times right now; but I miss seeing people and engaging with the crowd! I love to see the smiles on people’s faces and see them singing along and having a good time! I love to entertain, sing song requests and see faces light up with I start playing their favorite songs! I miss being able to meet and talk with fans after a performance. With virtual performances, it’s hard to engage with my crowd and so I do my best to sing songs that will entertain, answer online comments and bring joy to whoever is watching!

Have you found it easier or harder to be creative while at home?

Andrew: Some parts of the creative process are easier at home — it’s easier to maintain a creative routine and show up for collaborations since I don’t have to go anywhere physically and deal with those logistics. At the same time, since I can’t safely attend live shows or hang out with other musicians in the area, I find that I have to be more intentional in going out of my creative comfort zone to look for new sources of inspiration and ways of creating.

Kristine: I think it is a mix for me. I go through really creative times and then times that I need to take a step back and recharge.  When I feel that I am lacking in creativity, I usually go for a walk and listen to some of my favorite artists. I also find that for me, if I am outside doing something like weeding the flowers or riding my horses, my mind can wander, and through wandering, great ideas come to me.

What do you think the future of the music industry will be like?

Kristine: That is a great question and to be honest, I am not sure. The music industry is always evolving and changing as the world does and so I think it will be able to adapt to whatever keeps getting thrown its way. I do however hope that the industry continues to see that there are talented people throughout the country and the world not just in Nashville, LA, New York or Atlanta and they keep becoming more open to outside songwriters and Artists.

What do you each have coming up next? 

Andrew: I plan on releasing 1-2 more singles before the end of 2020, with an EP coming sometime in 2021.

Kristine: I have more new music coming and I am super excited about it! Before COVID I was planning to release a new country album by the end of this year; but when COVID shut everything down, it changed my plans. As I stated before, I have been songwriting a lot during the shutdown and using this time to really focus on what I want my new album to say. So, be looking for more new music from me!

You self-produced, performed instrumentals, and programming on the track, how did those talents come about?

Andrew: As an instrumentalist I started out playing guitar when I was a teenager, and then picked up piano while I was in college. I love both instruments and play both on a near daily basis. I’ve been dabbling in music production and programming for several years now, but my skills didn’t really come together until these past few months, when I made an intentional effort to uplevel my producing skills by self-producing several of my favorite originals, “People Needing People” included.

In addition, I’m just endlessly curious about how records are made. When I hear a song, my mind immediately goes to work: what kind of synth sound is that? Why is the guitar player playing that particular part? What’s the emotional effect of that vocal harmony that comes in at the last chorus? Having that sort of mindset definitely helps keep my musicianship sharp and makes it easier to foresee what my own songs might need in terms of production.

When did you first discover songwriting?

Kristine: I have always loved to sing and share my love of music with others. I grew up singing in church and was always making up songs. I really started focusing on songwriting around my senior year of High School after attending a Matthew West and Josh Wilson Concert. I was able to meet both Matthew and Josh after the concert and asked them if they had advice on getting into the music business. They told me to write songs and keep writing songs. I had already been writing songs, but with that advice I started writing more songs on a regular basis. As I kept writing songs, my desire to share my music with the world grew and so I chose my best written songs, produced my first full length country album, started making trips to Nashville, and not long after I signed a lease on an apartment in Nashville and moved to Music City!

Jacklyn is the Editor In Chief of Stage Right Secrets. Jacklyn's photography and articles can also be found on The Recording Academy's GRAMMY.com GRAMMYPro, GRAMMYU, PopCrush, Taste of Country, among other outlets. Besides press Jacklyn is a "Jack of All Trades" working various jobs at local concerts and touring. JacklynKrol.com