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Music City

Interview by Holly Gleason

In a bold move for an upcoming artist, Ingrid Andress decided to limit Lady Like, her debut album on Warner Music Nashville, to just eight songs. “It’s what I needed to tell the story,” she says calmly, fully cognizant of the fact that integrated longform work isn’t the norm in today’s streaming world. But the fresh-faced, Berklee-trained daughter of two high-level athletes recognizes the power of diving deeper. For her, the real marrow of meaning comes from something interconnected—something more complex than three minutes of hooks and riffs.

“I’m good at turning singles into doubles/Falling out of love and into trouble,” she coos in the string-bathed Julie London-style ’60s Britpop-goes-mariachi album opener “Bad Advice.” A thoroughly modern young woman, the 28-year-old writer/artist is more interested in self-expression and compassion than in traditional battles of the sexes. Andress’ knack for going to the heart of the matter is showcased on key songs like the nascent-relationship lament “Both,” the hushed, in-too-deep “We’re Not Friends” and the angst-ridden “More Hearts Than Mine,” which she delivers with an unflinching earnestness.

You made an album that tells it like it is for young women.
Yeah, I think it does. The songs that made it are my stories, or stories I strongly relate to. There were other songs that were catchy, but that’s not the point. It’s “Here’s what’s really happening in the world of young females.” I could’ve had a bunch of hits, but if I don’t feel them, then why? I’ve not heard many songs that make me feel like they represent the way I feel. So I wrote songs I wanted to hear. “Bad Advice” is playful and not taking it all so seriously. “Both” is sticking up for yourself, but it’s also heartbreaking. There’s family stuff [“More Hearts Than Mine”] and party stuff [“Life of the Party,” “Lady Like”] on the record, but there’s always more to each song if you really listen. You don’t have to feel just one thing in any moment; it’s usually snippets of everything.

The title song torpedoes every female 
There are so many standards women are held to, and I’ve never understood those. It’s why I’ve felt very free to write whatever. Until I moved to Nashville, I’d never noticed how people acted and reacted based on gender. I’ve hung with girls; I’ve hung with guys. I’ve never thought about it, and why should you? But suddenly, I was hearing, “That’s not very ladylike.” What the fuck does that mean?

Country music has so much room to tell stories.
Look at all the women who came before. Loretta Lynn and “The Pill,” to name one; it was happening at the time, and she went for it. Is that part of your kind of country?
Who even knows if I fit? But the stories and the emotions are real. Country used to be that way, and with country wanting to go more pop, this is a place where the songwriting remains. I can still go deep, still dig into a moment. Country needs to represent what’s really happening in our country, how people really feel. We have free speech and free choice, but what are we doing with it?

In terms of the pop overlay, look at Dan + Shay.
I’ve been listening to them for a long time, seeing them ramping up and really committing to their music. Touring with them, playing on an arena stage and seeing how the people are responding to this, it’s a testament to where music’s going. I sound so different from Band Camino, who are so different from Dan + Shay. But all three are really pressing into the music and the songs. Everyone listens to everything. People who aren’t in the music industry make their own playlists and seek things out based on what moves them. My friends don’t think about what it is; they have Lizzo and Morgan Wallen. We have more access than our brains can handle. We have everything at our fingertips, but there’s something about expressing things physically and in the moment that creates a whole other thing. It’s shared experience. It seems with country, there’s something more sincere when it’s good, where that sincerity makes people want to experience it.

You can feel the sincerity in these songs.
Well, I don’t want people to succumb to being a stereotype, like I did when I got here. We all want to be happy and authentic. Who you are is enough—it’s a powerful statement. “More Hearts Than Mine” obviously means a lot to me, but “Lady Like”? That message is important to me. If putting your boobs up high and flaunting it makes you happy, great. If you wanna wear jeans and just be, go for it. I’m not abiding by gender stereotypes anymore; neither do most of my friends. And if people expect that, fuck off. It’s not about being angry or women being better, it’s about accepting people as they are, who they are.