Some musicians are magnets for attention. No matter where they go or what they’re doing, they always seem to demand recognition and flattery.
But Andy Shauf, one of Toronto’s best kept musical secrets, is the exact opposite of that attention-seeking stereotype, remaining unobtrusive even at his own gigs. In fact, he might be one of the only people that’s thankful to have to wear a mask, since it allows him to camouflage in a perpetually frenetic city.
“I feel like that’s a Toronto thing where I’m self-conscious all the time,” Shauf remarked in his signature hushed, careful voice. “Having to wear a mask has solved my Toronto self-consciousness.”
Shauf, 33, is a fairly unassuming character. Almost always hiding behind a rotating collection of floppy baseball caps, the native of Estevan, Sask., listens far more than he speaks, a trait that comes across marvellously in his woodwind-infused, humour-laced brand of indie folk. Like Elliott Smith or Paul Simon, his music doesn’t aspire to make sweeping, forceful statements. Instead, Shauf’s records — especially his latest release, the wondrously polished “The Neon Skyline” — focus on the rustic, idiosyncratic happenings of everyday life.
Since the pandemic suspended his world tour last March, he’s spent most of his time between his Parkdale home and nearby studio. Though he’s eager to get back to playing shows, Shauf has some apprehension given that he might be expected to have new material ready and polished. After all, his latest effort could be almost two years old when he returns to the stage.
“I gotta get my s–t together and get some new stuff going,” he said.