Every superhero and musician has their own origin story. A musician’s story typically kicks off with a popstar’s cosign or a viral TikTok single, not a radioactive spider bite, but just as Peter Parker’s life was forever changed from that field trip to the Oscorp lab, an aspiring musician’s entire world will transform overnight with the right attention. Andrea Russett’s origin story started with her cutting her teeth as one of YouTube’s most recognizable content creators before jumping into a brand new endeavor. “A lot of people start making YouTube videos because they want to be a YouTuber,” Russett says, “but when I started making stuff online, you couldn’t even make money off of YouTube. I was just a kid in my basement making videos with my friends. I became a YouTuber by accident and it was great, but I always wanted to do music.”
Russett’s YouTube journey began with a simple DIY lyric video to Justin Bieber’s “One Time,” a choice that today reads as possible foreshadowing to her transition into a musical career. After the video’s initial success she kept at it. Persistence, charm and just a bit of good timing helped to put Russett on the map. Before long, she was no longer just a kid having fun in her basement, she was a businesswoman making a living as a YouTuber. She managed to avoid becoming a one-hit wonder and accomplished one of the most elusive of all feats in today’s social media landscape—maintaining her relevance for over a decade.
Her lighthearted YouTube channel was paying the bills, but it didn’t satisfy all of Russett’s creative desires. She wanted to do more than have simple fun; she wanted to bare her soul. “I feel like music is such a gateway to being able to talk about uncomfortable things, get more personal and just be honest,” she says. “That’s my favorite kind of music, the music that makes you go, ‘Oh my God, I had no idea that anyone else could feel that.’ Even with the first song I put out, ‘Darkest Hour,’ I had so many people telling me that song affected them that way and it just gave me the push to keep going.”
Picking “Darkest Hour” to be her debut single was no accident. Russett knew that she had one shot to sell audiences an accurate representation of who she is and get it right. And to do so, she knew her best bet was to be brutally honest from the jump. “‘Darkest Hour’ is like my first born child,” Russett says. “When I wrote that song, I’d just met this person who I was getting into a relationship with and I was really struggling with my mental health, but I hadn’t reached out for help. The song is about if someone is going to be there when they see this dark side of me. It’s all fun and happy at the beginning, but I do have struggles, and will they be there when the time comes?”
“Darkest Hour” made a powerful impact on Russett, not only because it launched her music career but also because it documents one of the lowest points of her life. She has also memorialized this difficult time with one of her most meaningful tattoos. “This tattoo is of a girl smoking, but the smoke is someone kissing her,” Russett explains, pointing to the piece on her right arm. “The whole song is about struggling with mental health and coping with unhealthy things like alcohol and smoking. It just felt like a fitting tattoo and that song just has such a special place in my heart.”
On her upcoming EP, she’s continued where “Darkest Hour” left off, opening up to her audience and showing her artistic breadth. “This EP will be an opportunity to let people get to know me as an artist, rather than what they’ve seen of me online for the last 10 years,” Russett says. “I’ve always loved music and I’ve always talked about music, but this is the first time I’m really going for it and doing it in my own way instead of just reacting to other people’s projects. I want people to really listen to the lyrics and get to know me in a whole new way.”
Although Russett gravitates primarily toward music that makes you feel deeply, both as a fan and an artist, she’s no one-trick pony. And no single from her upcoming EP is a better indicator of her range than “Stranger.” “I wrote that song in 15 minutes as a challenge to write a song that wasn’t about a breakup or a past relationship, but something new,” Russett says. “I was sitting there thinking about walking through a grocery store, making eye contact with someone and thinking, ‘That’s my soulmate, he looked at me and saw my soul. I took that and turned it into a whole song. Originally, when I wrote it, it was slow, sad and depressing-sounding. So it was really cool to see how it changed and became this upbeat, fun song. It’s my first song to be more upbeat and I really love it.”
Since releasing “Stranger” to the world, she’s taken on a new energy in her life. Not only has she opened her mind to writing more upbeat songs, she’s opened her heart to finding love around every corner. “When the song came out, I felt like I manifested the situation,” Russett says. “I went to the Getty Museum and I saw this guy while the elevator was closing. He was walking down the stairs and we made eye contact. He waved at me and I was like, ‘Wow, he’s beautiful and I have to find this man.
“I literally told my parents I was going to search everywhere to find this man,” she continues. “I actually ended up finding him on a dating app, like, 10 minutes later while in the car and it was actually him. So I feel like I manifested that a little bit, which is cool. In general, I just have a habit of romanticizing everyone.”
It’s hard to believe it’s only been a little over a year since Russett launched her musical career, especially considering the tremendous artistic growth she has shown. With the continued success of her YouTube channel Russett has already shown she was capable of putting in hard work, and as she applied the same ethic to her music the fruits can already be seen throughout her debut EP.
“I think even vocally, I’ve grown so much and have gotten better control of my voice and my range,” Russett says. “I also love writing, it’s my favorite part of the process, so the more I write the better I get. And so with my new music I’m so excited for people to overanalyze it.”
It didn’t take an incident with gamma radiation or a famous musician’s cosign to launch Russett’s music career, she just used old-fashioned hard work. Thanks to her persistence, grit and ability to chase her dreams, Russett has two prosperous careers to enjoy. Imagine how successful she’d be if she was actually a superhero.