Raury just graduated from high school, but when he speaks, he sounds like he possesses the wisdom of someone with much more life experience. Three months ago he dropped his debut single, “God’s Whisper.” Even for the internet, the initial buzz was incredible. More than just another well-planned debut single roll-out, it felt like the introduction to an artist with much bigger plans. Turns out that first impression wasn’t far off.
The debut album is on the way, and Raury will be joining Kid Cudi and Childish Gambino for Outkast’s homecoming show in Atlanta. Not bad for a teenager who just dropped his first song a few months ago.
Have you always been into music?
I wrote my first song when I was three. When I was little, I didn’t know if I wanted to do music or sports. But I did know that I wanted to be great like Michael Jordan or Michael Jackson. That has been instilled in me ever since I was little, and I never let go of that feeling.
Did you like school?
I was always a smart kid actually. I didn’t have no problems coming home and doing homework. But as I grew up and started to form my own beliefs about shit, and I realized school was kinda fucking stupid in my opinion. I felt like it wasn’t for me. It wasn’t the right environment for everybody in society to be the best they can be. You can’t train a fish how to climb up a tree. There are so many people out there that just feel like they’re not going to be shit in life and they feel like they’re horrible people because they can’t get an A in math. So around high school I started cutting class because I hated that shit. I made up my mind that I wanted to do music for the rest of my life. I’m dedicating everything into this, this is me. That’s all I wanted to do and a lot of this stuff was really wasting my time.
You can’t train a fish how to climb up a tree.
When you started making music, did it take you a while to find the sound that you have now or was this the kind of stuff that you started writing right away?
It took me a while. Even now, I just create from my experiences. That’s why it never sounds the same. That’s why it sounds so tireless and so different because I don’t necessarily think that my sound is set in stone yet. Finding your sound, I don’t even think that I’m there yet. I still don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. I’ve been producing for like a year and some change, so I’m still on the path. I guess it’s going to take a long time.
Do you think people are gonna be surprised when they hear the album? I know a lot of people right now just know you for the few songs on your SoundCloud. Is there anything on there that’s totally different?
Oh yeah. “God’s Whisper” and “Boom” and “Sunshine” are just really the tip of the iceberg. Some artists release music with the complete belief that everyone’s gonna love it and they’re 100% confident like, “Yeah, y’all gonna love this shit!” I don’t do things for that, I post things with a more humble mind state. I hope people love this shit, but I really don’t care if they hate it or love it. It’s just my art and I’m putting this shit out there. That’s how I thought about it when I dropped “God’s Whisper” and that’s how I thought about it when I dropped “Sunshine,” but they’re some songs that I feel are fucking great. I feel like some of these songs are hits to the world and they’re gonna be something. They won’t know what to call it, and that’ll be a good thing because music these days is kind of predictable.
I’m sure someone’s going to come up with some new genre to define you. Do you call your music anything?
Do you have a release date for the album yet?
I would say late summer, probably August.
I saw the picture of you with James Blake. Are you guys working together?
That was just backstage at Coachella. I’m a big fan of James Blake. I feel like he’s one of the greatest artists of this time. We just had a really good conversation. We clicked. Some people just have non-genuine conversations like, “Yeah so this is who I am, I make music and blah blah blah,” but we really hit it off. I’m pretty sure next time I meet him, he’ll know who I am and we can pick back up. Only reason we had to stop talking is because Outkast went on and I was like, “Ahhh I gotta go see this! Yo, I gotta go.”
I’m all about bringing up my generation of artists and bringing us to the forefront because I feel like a lot of this old shit needs to roll over.
Are you planning to collaborate with other artists? Is there anyone else on your album?
On this album, not so much. I’m very picky about the people I collaborate with. I don’t do too much of it. I’m all about bringing up my generation of artists and bringing us to the forefront because I feel like a lot of this old shit needs to roll over. I feel like this new wave needs to start taking the wheel. Artists like Lorde, King Krule, Chance, I’d love to work with them… Travis Scott, Vancouver Sleep Clinic. The young ones out there, just like me. They have different, eclectic, dare I say genre-less sounds. I want to magnify that. Those are the people I’m most eager to work with. And not even my heroes like André 3000—of course I’d like to make a song with him—but I’m more eager to work with new people and to make history together.
Indigo Child seems like more than just an album title. It feels like part of a bigger vision. Are you planning on doing more than releasing your music? Have you ever thought about making a label or doing anything beyond that?
Oh yeah, I’m way more than just an artist. I’m very business oriented. I want to grow into things beyond just being an artist. I want to spread my message and give back to the world. I want to develop an organization or some type of charity movement that kind of does everything, and also have a label.
But I don’t know if it’s smart for artists to have labels because then they have all these artists under them it’s like, “Oh this is Raury’s artist.” It kinda leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I wouldn’t want to be anyone else’s artist. If another artist was to offer me a deal, I’d be really reluctant to take it. I’d hate to have some things I think are really great and have them live in my shadow. So if I were to do a label or something, I’d probably make it more about the label than about me. People wouldn’t even know I was the CEO or whatever.
Talk a little bit about the Anti Tour. What’s the idea behind that?
The main idea behind that is raising hell in Atlanta and having fun. It’s really about having fun and getting practice in front of people. It’s been the fucking bomb. One thing I’m gonna do with my whole career is have fun with things. The Anti Tour is just the first phase of that.
We show up with a 10-foot truck, have a full band inside of the truck, and I jump up on top of the thing outside of some well established artist’s show, someone who probably has eclectic fans that would understand my music. After their show, some of their fans will probably be drunk or just happy to hear my music, so I just go nuts until the cops shut me down. I want people to actually be a part of my process. I want them to be there to witness it. I want to give people time to discover me and get to know me before I’m bigger than Michael Jackson or some shit like that. I don’t wanna just come out the jump and be like, “Raury at Madison Square Garden!” and you’ve never heard this guy before. So I understand the sense of doing things real grass roots and taking a guerrilla approach. I think it just goes fairly well with who I am. I’m a regular ass kid and I like to fuck shit up.
I have big ass ideas. Crazy shit. My live shows will probably be one of the best things about me.
Do you like performing? Is that something that’s natural for you?
Oh yeah. I used to be nervous or shy about things. But I remember my first band practice that I had—I realized that I loved that shit. And then the way my music is, I have so many ideas as far as things to make the show twice as interesting. I have big ass ideas. Crazy shit. My live shows will probably be one of the best things about me. That’s what really matters more than anything, giving your fans that experience.
I know you said you worked on this album for years, is it gonna be a long time for something after this?
Honestly, I’m already working on the second one. The first one is finished and the second is in the works right now. It’s always a good thing to have music ready. I can’t promise that it’ll be releasing next year first quarter or whatever quarter. But it’s definitely coming.