Indie singer-songwriter-pianist George Tandy Jr. (GTJ) seemingly burst on the scene out of nowhere, armed with piano skills and a message. After years of writing and recording songs with his equally talented siblings, as well as training, performing, competing, and touring the world as a hip hop dancer, GTJ decided to venture out as a solo artist.
The self-proclaimed “soulternative” singer has since released his debut album, The Foundation, headed by the single “March,” which motivates listeners to persevere towards success in both life and love. And Tandy should know a little something about perseverance: in a twist of events worthy of a feature film or bestselling novel, Tandy was “discovered” while grinding as a barista at Starbucks when RedStar Entertainment CEO Cima Georgevich frequented his particular coffee shop. And like they say…the rest is history.
If you were like us at the top of the year, you heard “March” on the radio and asked “Wait, who is this?!” Tandy participated in a Q&A with Singersroom to answer that question.
Get to know George Tandy Jr. and purchase The Foundation above:
Where are you from?
Virginia, but I live in Miami now, I’m soaking in the sun.
How did you discover music? Was it something that was passed down from your parents or are you the first of the pack?
I come from a family full of musicians, my grandfather is a musician, and my dad is a musician. Both parents performed or are passionate about music. My siblings performed something like the Tandy 5 or something like that, but it was always a part of the home atmosphere.
While growing up and molding your art, what is one of the best moments that helped you get to this point?
On the personal side, my mom encouraged me to move from Virginia to Florida to develop my relationship with my dad and I learned a little bit about the music industry just by being around it more. That was one of the best pieces of advice I had gotten up until that point. And on a professional level, the moment I met Cima, the CEO of RedStar Entertainment. I was working at Starbucks, working my 9 to 5 and hustling my music on the side, and he would come in as a customer every day and somehow we struck up a conversation about music, he showed an interest and developed our relationship around it, and here we are, it’s right in front of me, I’m just so grateful for everything that’s going down right now.
Yeah, I was gonna ask you about how you got discovered while working your day job. That must be amazing to just be working one day, and then it’s like “Oh!”
Yeah, you never know who you’re gonna meet and I think it’s a very encouraging story. I think sometimes as young artists we get it in our heads, that “I’m an art-teest, I don’t need to have a 9 to 5,” and it’s like, we all need to do what we NEED to do, so we can do what we WANT to do. And at the end of the day, it’s about the people; there are people everywhere, there are people that work, so you can encourage anybody anywhere you are, so I’m really happy that I’m able to do that.
For an indie artist, your debut single “March” made a huge impact, what was that moment like for you, knowing you finally made it?
I actually didn’t really know how to interpret it, to be quite honest, because it was all so new to me. I was telling somebody yesterday, when I dreamt about putting music out, all I really thought about was just wanting a whole bunch of people to hear this music that I’ve made and think it feels good. So, I wasn’t aware of the stats and the charts, and how all that really worked. So when it started to happen, and I stared to get an understanding, I was like wow, this must mean a lot of people are hearing my song because it feels good! So, it’s very encouraging, I’m grateful to have a great team around me. I created the art, but it took a whole bunch of people to put in a whole lot of work to get it up the charts the way it did, so I’m happy about that.
What can you tell us about your debut LP, The Foundation?
The Foundation is a very heartfelt piece of work, I’ve been working on it for the past 9 or 10 years and I put my whole heart and soul in it. I think anyone who listens to it will be able to tell it’s genuinely me; I wrote everything on it, and I was lucky enough to be able to produce it with my father and some wonderful musicians down in South Florida. It’s romantic, it’s impactful, it’s introspective, it’s sexy, it has some fun moments on there, and it’s great music, live instrumentation. I think everyone’s gonna enjoy it.
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
My family, first off; My dad, my mom, my siblings, they inspire me on a day to day basis; just their relationship with music. Outside of my family, I’ll probably say Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer. I’ll be here all day, you’re gonna have to cut me off! Boyz II Men, Dru Hill, I really like some alternative music like Kings of Leon, Linkin Park, Jay Z; I’ll be here all day!
Many people compare you to John Legend. How does that make you feel?
Fantastic! I mean, before he was a legend he already had the name that described how he would end up being, so for my name to be in the same sentence as his is pretty awesome. He’s extremely talented on that piano, he has a great following, he’s committed himself to making great music and I hope that I’m able to do some of the same things he’s done and maybe when I meet him, I’ll learn from him. It just makes me feel good; it’s encouraging.
As an artist whom is rich in soul, what’s your opinion on the current state of R&B?
I feel great about what’s happening with R&B right now. There are quite a few artists coming out who are dedicated to putting out meaningful lyrics with live instrumentation, and bringing it back to what people love about R&B, rhythm and blues for real, for real. Then on top of that, I’m encouraged by some of the artist that are not only putting out music that we love, but also pushing limits and trying new sounds and trying different things and reshaping what R&B can do for the world. So, I’m glad to be able to contribute to that part of the music culture.
Where would you be without music?
I would probably be doing some type of mixed martial arts or something like that. I grew up doing sports, I was on the wrestling team and I enjoy that one-on-one one combat stuff. But I can’t imagine (laughs), to be honest, I can’t imagine not having music in my life cause it’s played such a significant role in bringing me out of some of the dark head spaces; I’ve always had a challenge of dealing with depression growing up, so music basically saved my life.
Outside of music, what are some of your hobbies?
I like kayaking; I just started doing that, that’s fun. I’m in Miami so it’s easy to do that year round. I like to hang out with good people, go to the movies. Last month, I dunno, I think I have an issue, I watched SO many movies; I kept renting movies and watching and watching, and watching them. From one day to the next, I’ll pretty much get into anything, I can’t really predict myself sometimes.
For the ladies, what is your idea of the perfect first date?
I like good conversation, so as long as there’s good conversation, it doesn’t really matter what else is happening around us. I enjoy being around water. “I enjoy long walks on the beach,” nah (laughs), but I enjoy being by any body of water; gotta be some food involved, as long as it’s laid back and chill. Nothing too staged or fancy, I wanna know the person, I want it to be real.