You’re in Atlanta right now, how is it going as an artist in an area that has so much musical presence?
Yeah. I am 40 minutes from where my friend is staying in downtown Atlanta. I’ve been on the scene and been around all the rappers from Atlanta who are really from the city like Wiley from Atlanta, Kenny Mason, Daniel Novello. There are a lot of super talented guys here. But, I’m not really there. I just stay in my little bubble and I exist. I don’t bother anyone until I’m there, unless I have a show. I’m not really super social, honestly. I just stay with my small group of people and then I make music.
We are no longer in high school. I just try to make good music. I try to make music that lasts for years and years and become a household name for life. I want to be in music history. I can make friends in music if you’re a dope person in real life and it’s not just like, “Hey, I have a character and I’m that guy.” I don’t care about that. If you’re dope as a person, that’s it.
Do you feel different from the typical Atlanta sounds as an advantage or a disadvantage?
I definitely use it to my advantage. A lot of people don’t necessarily make the type of music that I make. If you make niche songs, it’s easier for people to support you. My position suits me. It works because I’m from Atlanta, but I’m not really that typical Atlanta guy.
Are you excited for Atlanta [TV Show] Season 3?
This shit is about to get sick. This shit about to be sick as shit. Gambino is an amazing writer. He’s an incredible actor. It’s an incredible comedy. He’s an incredible singer. He is everything.
If you could ask any artist or director to create a music video for you, who would it be?
I’ll give it to Tyler. Visually, it is completely insane. Lil NAS X is up there because he’s amazing with his videos. I’ll give it to Ronnie Radke too. Really, that’s the order. Yeah. I’m going to Tyler first.
You talk about having this dark and light duality in your art and your music. How did it start for you and how was the reception?
I like to mix the very dark with very beautiful images. I get called so much a Satan worshipper! It does not mean anything. It’s just the type of art I’m into. And you have children who on the Internet hear a lot about symbolism. And they think if it has a cross, or if it has horns, or if it’s black, that’s scary shit. Shut up.”
The development of an artist takes time. We’re in this era of super microwaves, where it’s like artists are supposed to come out and be on fire.
You’ve been independent for years, do you have any advice for artists who are trying to do it on their own?
In my opinion, it comes down to whether you can play the long game. It seems like everyone is blowing up every week and you’re still not going anywhere. You need to be able to weather this storm and build a solid discography before you start playing with the labels. Have a vision and care about every aspect.
Before I started reading books about it, I listened to a lot of Russ and a lot of his interviews explaining things about the music industry that you might not know. People don’t know that just because you’ve signed to a label doesn’t mean they’ll be able to put you on a playlist. You must have direct relationships with the folks at Spotify. A lot of labels these days are like “Hey, the way we do marketing is TikTok.” All you do is put money into TikTok to hopefully have an explosive time? And this is your marketing strategy?
Artists can market themselves. There are people who publish for 20 or 100 dollars. Save money and make calculated decisions. That’s really it. And then find your style. It took me a while. I feel like I’m in my pocket now more than I’ve ever been in my entire career. And I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years, really actively trying to be an artist. So weather the storm and truly understand and educate yourself.
The development of an artist takes time. We’re in this era of super microwaves, where it’s like artists are supposed to come out and be on fire. There are so many things to learn. Even like getting a stage presence. What are you going to do? Will you be building sets? Are you going to be a dancer? How are you going to entertain a crowd?
People just need to take their time and enjoy what they’re doing rather than wanting to explode. It feels good to know that my parents can’t talk shit to me, people in the neighborhood can’t really talk shit to me, because there’s proof [of the work I put in].
There are things that instantly come exploding. I had an offer when I was really young, around 2020, 2019, and it was for five or six albums or projects. And it’s like “Damn bro, I would have always been with you right now.” I got robbed for the first time in LA and LA is like all shiny and pretty to me because I’m from the countryside. They paid for everything. Didn’t have to spend a penny on food, we went to fancy restaurants. They buttered me up and then gave me this contract and I could see a lot of people falling for it.
When did you know that music was the path you wanted to take?
I’ve been writing for almost a decade now. I think I’m pretty seasoned as a writer in this area. I really understood it when I was 16. And then I made this promise to myself. I was at the back of my class, not really paying attention. I was like, “Yo, if I died trying to chase this music, I think it would be okay.”
Worst case scenario, I’m homeless on the side of the street, playing guitar and doing anything to make money. And I think I would be okay with that. I was a Christian and I was an athletic kid growing up. So I was very straight edge. Many of my friends are older and fresh out of college. I always feel like I don’t really know what I’m going to do. I just got lucky. My thirst for music was just crazy.
I’m in this game for longevity. I just want to make music, and I don’t have to go get a side job when I’m 30 or 40 or 50 because I washed up and had a hit. No, I want to be around this for a long time, doing what I want to do.