Erin McAndrew had to make a change.
Humming fluorescent lights hang above you. Staplers click and seven phones ring in audible banality. Your keyboard is covered in an oily film. Yes, it’s 9 a.m. Yes, it’s the third cup of coffee. Your horrible manager’s thumping feet make the McGriddle you scarfed down do a backflip in your bowels. He leans on your cubicle.
You raise your eyes from a company-issued desktop screen. Every drooping wrinkle, like every pathetic day he’s spent here, appears vivid and distinct in his stern face. His finger points at you. Yes, he’s actually pointing. He reminds you that he made a mistake. He blames you for it.
This is the hellscape of gray which kills incubated college aspirations. It’s the “real world” so many of us fear.
“That was the day. I’ll never forget that day,” said McAndrew, a New York City based singer-songwriter and Hofstra alumna. “That was the day where I was like ‘What am I doing?’ This is not worth it. This is stupid. I know I’m meant to do something much better than this.”
Five years of writing and performing, a YouTube channel and a full album (“Skeleton of Life”) have buried that unhappy lobotomized cubicle drone. The performer sat inside her, bubbling up. Now McAndrew surrounds herself with cheering and wine glasses.
“One of my favorite wineries to play is called Clovis Point. It’s in Jamesport. And it’s like if you were to picture what a perfect winery looks like I would say this would be your perfect winery.” McAndrew plays wineries and a lot of them. Rows of grapevines shoot and cut across a field. A patio overlooks clusters of pleasantly buzzed couples walking along the lawn that buffers the vineyard. This is McAndrew’s new office: an ever-changing variety of wineries accompanied by a blissful and relaxed audience of wine tasters.
Even at the same location, her set composed primarily of covers often has to mold to the crowd. “There’s times where I’ll play a winery three different times, and it’ll be three different sets, because it’ll really just be dependent on who walks in.” But it’s in the crowd’s reaction where she gets her confirmation and drive to create. She ends her gigs with a cover of “What’s Up” by the ‘90s super rock group 4 Non Blondes. “For whatever reason, people love that song and sing along to it all of the time. I don’t understand, this is like a random song from the ‘90s and people just love it. A few weeks ago I played a venue and I got the whole entire winery to stop what they were doing and sing along.”
McAndrew also has produced an impressive collection of wine reviews on her YouTube channel. Her series, “Rockin’ Thru the Grapevines,” features McAndrew reviewing wine that she displays on two amps in front of her. In the background, her music plays lightly. “I don’t mind even if I get like 20, 30 views on it because I’m still having fun doing it and I’m going to keep doing it. You know what I mean? And it’s a great way to bring everything together,” McAndrew said.
Her time at Hofstra was marked by a passion to lead and create. McAndrew was an active member of Hofstra Concerts and helped put on the school’s first Music Fest a decade ago in 2007.
Other than a slew of impressive jobs at radio stations, a gig at the infamous CBGB’s bar and an administrative position at WRHU, she also booked bands for Hofstra’s Coffee House concert series.
“It’s so crazy. It’s one of those full circle feelings,” she said, in reference to the upcoming Coffee House concert she’s playing at Hofstra this Thursday. “I was always a musician to a certain extent. But in college I did a lot of the behind the scenes stuff.”
It may be full circle but it’s not a cap. Other than being almost fully booked for gigs, she is planning on releasing a new EP in early June and is currently conceptualizing an online goal-coaching program. “I think one of the biggest things is, bringing down your goals.” She advises that college students approaching graduation should ensure that their goals are written down, measurable and in your face every day. “Your first job isn’t your end-all-be-all.”
McAndrew made a drastic change to secure her happiness. To wish her success is to invest in your own ability to bend a post-graduation path, often mundane and strictly confined, to one that is passionate and unbounded.