Today’s Feature, August 15-16: Andi Margjeka

January 18, 2008 at 5:28 pm (Today's Feature)

August 15-16: Andi Margjeka

There is more to Armando “Andi” Margjeka than a single album or song that makes him one of the most talented Albanian imports the United States has ever seen. You can find this out easily, simply by having a conversation with him about his craft. The way this singer/songwriter describes his passion for creating music completely reflects the quality of his songs and lyrics. Personally, I was blown away by some of his answers to the PensEyeView XXQ’s. For example; while reflecting on his first live performance (at the age of 12 in his hometown of Tropoja), Andi recalls stealing the show from a would-be performer with his own rendition of the Elvis hit “Blue Suede Shoes.î He told us that the sensation he felt was like ìa disease he could never get rid of.î

Margjeka grew up listening to the echoes and thuds of American Rock N Roll, falling in love with the sounds of Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard but it was Aerosmiths, “Get a Grip”, that addicted Andi to making music. After traveling to America and spending some time in New York, Andi invested most of his life savings and recorded an album with the help of his close friend, Brian Shea Powers. From songs of resentment towards the communist regime of Albania, to morose melodies dissecting the rickety nature of personal relationships ñ every piece means so much to him as an artist. After creating his first song, Margjeka remembered thinking that he finally had his first valuable thing that money could not buy.î You can see and hear this fervor in Andi’s performances, where he sees the stage as the only place that ìhe can be the person he was born to be.î Check out his XXQ’s and then head down to The Red Lion on Bleecker Street in Greenwich, New York to see for yourself.

XXQs: Andi (PEV): How and when did you first get involved with music?

Andi: When I was 12 years old in my home town Tropoja, there was an annual concert held at the concert hall. It involved different acts including singers that would cover different popular artists. This show brought 4000 people and was the most important show of the year. One of the artists happened to be covering “blues swede shoes.” I had become

a fanatic of american rock-n-roll, and elvis was an idol. So while sitting in the audience with my family and watching the poorest and probably saddest version of one of the greatest songs, I felt this yearning to get up on stage and grab that other microphone and perform the rest of the song and so it happened. That was one of the most life-changing moments of my life! The people’s reaction, the feeling I got from being on stage and I feel like I got a disease that I can never get rid of.

PEV: Born and raised in Albania, what was it like the first time you

came the US? Was it what you thought it would be?

Andi: Coming from a f***ed-up socio-economical situation of a country with nothing

but potential, yet a country so wounded by a 50 year-old communist regime,

America was nothing but great news and also a culture-shock. Luckily I’m

obssesed with new environment and different cultures, so adapting has been no


PEV: Growing up, who did you listen to the most?

Andi: I accidentally found a tape with 20 rock-n-roll hits that had Elvis, Fats

Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, and I was head over heels with

that tape. Then later, Michael Jackson and the whole pop culture and when

we first got MTV Europe, I never stopped watching. However, another distinct

tape that fell in my hands was Aerosmith’s “Get A Grip.” I locked myself in my

parents bedroom, closed my eyes and pretended I was playing the whole thing

live in a stadium. I remember the feeling running through me was so

unique and so fresh… some kids started smoking week at 13, I was addicted to

this weird feeling, it was like a drug.

PEV: Is there something you miss most about Albania that you can’t find

in the US?

Andi: The deep, blue Mediterranean.

PEV: Describe the feeling the first time you stepped into a studio to

record your own music?

Andi: I felt humbled and proud at the same time.

PEV: What kind of environment do you like to surround yourself in when

you write music?

Andi: Any space that has nothing to do with music.

PEV: Tell us about the time you wrote your first song. What was it and

how did you feel when you were done?

SCR: The first song I recall writing, in 2002, was called “Shine,” and when I wrote it

I think I was trying to figure out this other song and I couldn’t quite get

it. So as a result, it ended up being something original. And when it got done, I felt like I owned the very first valuable thing that money couldn’t buy.

PEV: Describe the feeling of performing live for the first time. What

was going through your head?

Andi: I remember performing the song “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam in front of about 200 people, and it was just me with the acoustic. At the end of the song there

is a “ooh” part that repeats itself. When I did that, my eyes were closed

and the yelling from the crowd literally felt like it was coming from

thousands of people. I got major chills.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Andi Margjeka show?

Andi: Energy, intimacy and message.

PEV: What is the best part about playing live? What kind of venue do you


Andi: The stage is the only place I feel like a person. I was born to be… I feel

naked and approved. I like venues that stress listening and putting the artist on a pedestal.

PEV: What artists would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Andi: Ron Sexsmith.

PEV: What helps shape your music? Do you find yourself leaning towards a

certain issue (love, life, loss, etc) more so than others?

Andi: Songs inevitably come out from experiencing all of the above.

PEV: Is there an artist or band on the scene right now that you think is

“on the rise” and that we should keep an eye out for?

Andi: Yes. This artist that goes by the name Mishka is a genuine songwriter with amazing


PEV: What/who are you currently listening to?

Andi: New Wilco’s “Sky Blue Sky.”

PEV: What’s one thing people would be surprised to hear about Andi


Andi: I watched 4 seasons of “Sex and the City about 14 times.

PEV: How has life on the road been for you? What are the best and worse


Andi: Life on the road is fantastic, hang-overs… not so great.

PEV: When you get to relax or have some down time, what can we find you


Andi: Watching a movie or playing ping-pong.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

Andi: They are scared of a possible big head out of me sometimes, but over all,

tremendous support.

PEV: In all your travels, which city has been your favorite to play and


Andi: Houston, Texas. These people had never heard of my music, and during the show,

if you didn’t hear me you heard flies with 50 people in the room, I went

back there a few times.

PEV: So, what is next for Andi Margjeka?

SCR: Love, loss, success, life, etc..

Check out Andi at


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