Born into arguably the most adventurous year in pop music history on August 8, 1967, and the product of both the weirdness that was the '70s (bubblegum music, Free to Be...You and Me) and two musical parents -- her pianist father, a music professor, and her mother, a classical composer and performer as well as the producer and host of KMFA's Into the Light radio program -- Andrea Perry was perhaps destined to take up the musical trade. And after hearing her parents' Beatles albums, the sole pop band spotting their LP collection, that is precisely the road she decided to travel, though it took a lengthy gestation period before she finally realized her longstanding aspiration.
When she was five years of age, Andrea Perry's family moved from Ohio to the musical hotbed of Austin, TX, where her father had accepted a teaching position at the University of Texas. Perry tried taking the requisite piano lessons, but soon begged out of them, citing the fact that the Beatles also were unable to read music. Nonetheless, she continued to plug away at the instrument on her own, and by the time she was ten or 11 knew that she wanted to write songs. Perry listened obsessively to Top 40 radio, an avocation that continued until a boyfriend introduced her to the Clash, the Talking Heads, David Bowie, Lou Reed, the Police, and the Pretenders when she was a teenager. With those bands as guideposts and with a borrowed four-track machine, she began making her first recordings throughout the summer before going to college.
At the University of Southern California (where her father now taught) for her freshman year, Perry bought her first electronic keyboard from a member of Animotion, as well as a used four-track and a $40 microphone, and continued her progress apace. At Hampshire College, to which she transferred the following year, Perry picked up the guitar and, as keyboardist, joined her first band, the R.E.M.-ish Ice Weasels, which also included in its ranks future labelmate Aaron Tucker (the Sleepwalkers), singer/songwriter Paul Melançon, and drummer, animator, and filmmaker Billy Greene. After graduation, Perry lured all but Greene down to Austin and, with the addition of drummer Mike McElhaney, they formed Wax Elephant. The band developed a small, loyal following throughout 1991 and 1992, even managing the release of a cassette, but ultimately split up due to mutual dissatisfaction with the band's musical direction.
Perry returned to her four-track and began making solo tapes and then CDs, printing them up in limited quantities while also finding work writing music for video games and CD-ROMs. She eventually added bass to her list of instruments, switched to hard-disk recording, and enlisted drummer Chris Searles (David Garza, Shawn Colvin), resulting in her first official solo record, Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe, in 2000 on Trust Issue Records. It included songs that dated back years, but with the newly confident production and its classic pop melodies, the album felt fresh, immediate, and timeless all at once. It met with a great reception (thanks especially to the online site www.mp3.com) but disappointing sales. Perry returned with the equally infectious Two in 2002.