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Meet Andy Tran of Waffle & Vibes in North Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andy Tran.

Andy, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born and raised here in San Diego and have lived here my entire life. I started searching for music on my own when I was in middle school. I naturally gravitated towards hip-hop, and like every fan of the genre, thought that I could give rapping a try.

This was around the time that YouTube was becoming popular, so it was really inspiring for me to see fellow Asian Americans trying to pursue music as a career. I found myself bouncing between rap and spoken word throughout the end of high school and into early college, driven by its ability to inspire and unite people from different cultures and backgrounds.

At the end of my first year at UC San Diego, I started my site known as Waffle & Vibes. I wanted to create a platform to spread the word about all the artists under my radar and give a voice to those otherwise unheard. Genuine support without all the click bait.

Waffle & Vibes has connected me with many talented people in San Diego and around the world while also allowing me to appreciate the arts from a different angle. As I propelled into the realm of journalism, writing and producing my own music have been on the back-burner. The following year, I began working as an event manager at University Centers, UCSD.

With help from my team, I have proudly brought many artists to San Diego including Daniel Caesar, KYLE, Brent Faiyaz, E-40, SOSUPERSAM, and more. In addition to concerts, our office also handles a wide range of special events including movie screenings, DIY events, and more. Being able to produce an event from start to finish and unite people in a single space has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my career so far.

In addition to Waffle & Vibes and my role at University Centers, I also have the pleasure of being one of the senior writers at NEST HQ, a media publication and free-release imprint founded by Skrillex and a few others. Additionally, journalism has helped me develop skills in concert photography and as a social media manager at an art label called As We Arrive.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It was until last year that I realized I wanted to pursue a career in the music industry. I’m still studying bioinformatics at UCSD, but there have been plenty of times when I thought I wasn’t taking the right path, I should have changed my major earlier, or the degree I’m working towards is all for nothing. I’ve learned that college isn’t only about what I take away from the classroom, but also the overall skills, connections, and memories I’ve developed during my time here.

One of the hardest things for me has been trying to balance work and play, but I’ve recognized that both are equally important. I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to listen to your body and take care of yourself before anything. If you’re not in the right headspace, it’s easy for everything else to suffer, too.

Although I still wrestle with self-doubt, I always remind myself that everyone has their own path. On top of that, timing is always perfect and everything takes time. Life might not manifest itself how you imagined, but it always finds a way to work itself out.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Waffle & Vibes – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Waffle & Vibes aims to highlight rising talent from San Diego and beyond in the form of day-to-day articles, interviews, and event recaps. Music has been our main focus to date and we’re currently looking to expand to cover more mediums including fashion, visual art, and more. We take a lot of pride being based in San Diego, especially because many other media publications are often found in cities like Los Angeles or New York, and do our best to foster the creative scene here. There have been several occasions where an artist reaches out to our team to let us know where the first press coverage they’ve received for their work and we love watching their artistry continue to evolve.

At this point, I’ve had the opportunity to explore many different avenues of the music industry and overall creative scene. The main umbrella that links all of my work together is artist development. Whether it be through writing an article, booking them for a show, or something in between, I want to work as a connector to help others flourish.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Recently, I’ve been shifting my focus to the visual arts, specifically concert photography and digital arts. I’ve reeled back on the day-to-day articles to focus on more original content for my site. I’m also planning to expand Waffle & Vibes and the rest of my creative endeavors into more physical media, including zines, prints, and events. It’s been a great experience to see the community continue to grow in San Diego and I’m excited to see what the future holds for my hometown.

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