ASTN is a singer song-writer whose music styles combines elements of pop, R&B, and jazz. The themes of his songs often focus around love and emotions which compliment his style well. I had the opportunity to talk with ASTN over the phone and found out more about his music, life during the pandemic, and more.
Where are you originally from?
I was born in Alabama but I grew up in Bryan Arkansas, which is a little bit outside a little rock. People know where that is.
How was it growing up in Arkansas?Â
It was actually really great. I mean, you know, you want to talk about like, a pretty ideal childhood was like, you know, lived. Basically, all my friends were my neighbors and grew up and it was like the woods kind of so we were always cutting up outside, doing stupid shit outside, but which is so funny to look back on now. Like, I can’t imagine myself doing that now. But it was cool. But I also moved around a lot. Like I’m originally from there. But like the past seven or eight years, my family’s been living in Panama City Beach, Florida. Yeah, so that’s where I started my music career, basically was there for like the first two years and then got here about a year and a half ago.
Howâd you first get started with music?
So, my dad, my dad was a drummer. So he would always cover bands and stuff. I mean, he never took it too seriously. But he put me in music when I was like four or five years old. He put me on a drum set. You know, I did the whole middle school high school drum drumline thing. And, you know, around my sophomore year of high school, I picked up a music program called FL Studio just messing around with a buddy of mine, and, you know. Before I knew it, I was literally doing it every day, watching YouTube tutorials. It just, it was like one of my main interests. You know, instead of doing homework, I would come home and just do that, which my parents are probably not stoked to hear that but I mean, Iâm where I’m at now because of it. But so yeah, I was taking it pretty seriously. While in my senior year of high school, I didn’t get into the college I wanted to go to. I wanted to go to Florida State. I mean, to be fair, my grades weren’t that great. So I understood it, but I ended up going to community college. I was after a music degree, specifically in jazz. I did some awesome music theory courses. Did some stuff that has definitely helped me along the way. But you know, I did that. For the first year, I was rocking with it. And then I actually started around my first year of college singing and taking singing a little more seriously, you know when my parents would leave the house and stuff like that. And because I mean, I feel like every kid’s done this at one point, it’s like, whenever everyone’s gone around the house, you’re like, record yourself singing. And so yeah, I actually liked what I heard back. So for my graduation gift, before I went to college, my parents got me an interface and a mic. The first year, I was messing around like, I wasn’t taking it seriously. But then my third semester of college is when I was kind of like, really starting to lose it. I was like, you know if I wasn’t doing college, I didn’t know what I was going to do. And I was just, I was really bugging like, behind closed doors, no one knew I was bugging about it. But I was super stressed out about what I was going to do with my life. I started putting out music around the same exact time and had a song kind of blow up on YouTube through a Brazilian YouTube channel. And then I gained a decent following on Spotify. And I was like, yo Mom and Dad, I’m done with this college thing, like give me a semester to focus on this ASTN project. And, you know, if it doesn’t go the way I anticipate I’ll totally go back to college. But I mean, you know, did that and just kept rocking. And then here we are.
What do you usually look at to find inspiration for your music?
That’s always been a tricky thing for me. I mean, everyone wants to hear that my songs are all personal experience because there’s a story behind everything. When in reality, there’s not. I mean, in half of my music it’s personal experiences. The other half is me looking at what my friends go through, what random strangers go through, you know. Even like reality, TV is hilarious because I can take situations from stuff like that and just use it like it’s my own. And that’s kind of cool. I’m 22 years old. So there’s only so much I’ve been through my life that I can write about. It’s like, jeez, how much, how many times can I talk about the same relationship that I was in when I was like, 16? As a fan myself of plenty of artists, I would love to think that every song that they write is very meaningful and intentional and has a story behind it. When in reality, you just go into the studio and catch a vibe and just write about something relatable and just sounds cool. That’s kind of how a lot of it comes about, especially my music now. I mean, I’ve been trapped inside the house for however long. What am I supposed to write about? Iâm not about to make a quarantine song that’s for sure. So I just write about, you know, relatable things and just stuff I enjoy talking about.
Youâve put out more content besides songs on your Youtube channel what was the idea behind that?Â
You know, it’s funny because I actually in high school was a huge Minecraft nerd. So was my buddy and we would always watch these people play video games and shit on YouTube. And we were just like, we really wanted to do that. So I feel like YouTube’s always been, as a thing in the back of my mind, where I’m like, I really want to do this and take this seriously. Even now, I mean, I have a decent following on YouTube that I don’t really, you know, I don’t really do anything with which sucks. I talked about it every year where I’m like, you know, this is the year I’m actually gonna, take YouTube seriously and actually put a bunch of content out on that platform. It’s always been in the back of my mind where I’m like I don’t want to be a YouTuber, but I was like, you know, there’s something special about just making a video that you’re proud of, and just uploading it to YouTube. It just feels legit.Â
You have a music video coming out for âLA DONâT LOOK GOOD ON Uâ. Whyâd you decide to make a video for this song?Â
Yeah, so this is actually the first music video that I’ve done where we had a budget, which was cool. I did one at the very beginning of 2018 for “Love No More”. And man. That one was, talk about zero budget like that was actually a $0 budget video super DIY. Me and a close friend of mine from back home. We just went in, you know, just, I just was lip-syncing the song like five times in like five different spots around town. And that was a music video. But this one’s really really dope. We spent a lot of time thinking about it and I’m super stoked about it. I mean, it has some of my humor in it, which is great and something that I really wanted. I don’t take myself too seriously and I feel like that comes off in the music video. And I’m super excited for people to see it because it’s like something I’ve always wanted to do was you know, get across my personality and my art. I know in my songs it doesn’t come across because it is difficult to do. But at least I can make the music video you know, kind of goofy. But it’s still definitely one of the things I’m more excited for this year.
Have you had more time to work on putting out content because of the pandemic?Â Â
Yeah, actually, that’s been like a huge thing for me, because, you know, around these times, we’d be touring and doing shows and stuff like that. But instead, all the time we’d be spending on practicing and doing shows and stuff, we’re going 10 times harder on every social media. It’s a tough thing to get used to, but it’s kind of just the reality of it is like, you know, fans don’t get that showtime interaction with you. So you kind of have to make up for it through social media.
Are you missing not being able to tour?
I mean it actually just recently hit me where I was like, you know, Iâm kind of ready to do shows now. I went on tour with Christian French and opened up for him back in the fall of 2019. And, you know, it was like a van tour. So it was like really small venues. It was fun though. I mean, being in those intimate venues with people that like your music is super cool. They’re not just a bunch of faces you can’t see. I think the highest amount of people we had was like 200 people, but that was the most we would get and you can still see every single person there which was cool. I got off that tour and was like, yeah, I don’t think I want to do this for another year or so because I hadn’t figured it out. I was literally out there by myself. I didn’t bring anybody with me. And it was tricky, because, you know, I grew up playing drums. I’m not used to being on stage by myself. So I got off the tour and I was like, yeah, I’m not ready to do this for a while, because I wanted to really work on my vocals and really work on my performance and my delivery and stuff. It just really hit me where I’m like, I’m actually ready to do it. I feel like I made a lot of progress over the past year. So yeah. But there’s no telling when we’ll be able to do it which sucks.Â
Was that your first time performing?Â
First time I ever performed live by myself. I mean, I’ve done plenty of shows back home. Because I was in a jazz band. But it was the first time I ever actually performed any of my own songs up there by myself. It was actually on my 21st birthday. We did a show to open the tour in Ann Arbor, Michigan which was crazy. I wasn’t drinking back then. And everyone was just like, yo, can I buy you a shot? I was like, nah, unfortunately not, I’m sorry. But I look back on it as aÂ great experience, In the moment, I was like, really stressed out about it and stuff. But I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like if I was on tour with a bunch of people I didn’t know. I and Christian were already kind of close at the time. And his photographer, his drummer, and his guitar player, I knew all of them. Everybody on the tour was super, super close and it was awesome. And I feel like that really saved me a lot of time from just wanting to rip my hair out. And like even in one show, we forgot my entire setup back in Chicago. And when we went, I think we were going to Indy. Yeah, we went to Indianapolis to do a show. And we got there and realized I didn’t have my rig. And Cristian was obviously nice enough to just be like, yo, you can just borrow mine, we had like, pretty much the same thing. Which you know from the beginning of the tour we should have just been using one rig, it would have made way more sense. But yeah, just like little things like that was what really kept me going
When you go back on tour do you plan on opening up again for someone or headlining your own?Â
That’s a tricky thing. And I feel like something I want to talk about is how difficult it is to get fans to convert over from, you know, virtual fans to in-person kind of fans. It’s one thing for someone to stream your music on a streaming service like Spotify or Apple because that’s free to them. I mean, sure, they’re paying a monthly subscription, but they’re not paying that just for your music. And then to get them to buy like a $10 to $20 ticket, that’s a difficult thing to get people to convert to that. We saw it firsthand. We wanted to do a show in December 2019 and we got hit with the harsh reality of you know, it’s difficult to sell tickets because we really wanted to sell it out and we couldn’t get a sell-out so we’re gonna cancel this. And that kind of hit us hard. We were like, yo, we gotta work to kind of get some more super fans I guess is what you would call them. Those are people that will buy merch, buy tickets, you know, those are the people that are sharing your stuff on their story. Those are just different types of fans and right now I feel like we’re still at the point where I think, I think it’s going to be an open up kind of situation where we open up somebody because I mean, my first headlining tour I have this vision for it, and I just don’t want that vision to be crushed.
None of the songs you have released include features. Was that intentional and do you plan on working with any artists in the future?Â
Yeah, I totally do. And I feel like that’s the tricky thing for me is, I’m such a do it by myself type of guy. Not that I intentionally close people off being on my songs, but I’ll finish the song by myself and the song will be three minutes long, and I’m like, okay, but where am I gonna put a feature on it? Like, if I do put a feature on this, where am I gonna put it? The songâs gonna be four minutes at that point. And it’s like, I don’t think a lot of people are gonna want to listen to a four-minute song. But, you know, I definitely want to go into this year with more intentions working with people, whether that comes out to being a feature, or whether that comes out to being, you know, this dude co-produced on my song or this dude co-wrote with me, you know. Living in LA is one of those things where I need to take advantage of what I have here, and I feel like the past year and a half. I haven’t, I haven’t really been doing that. Obviously, it’s tough with the whole, you know, pandemic, it’s, it’s a little hard to do that. Just even little things like you if you like if you up to somebody like how I would look up to somebody like Jeremy Zucker or someone like. That’s a reachable goal for me to be like, yeah, one day, I want to be like him, you know? Which is much more reasonable than me being like, one day I want to be like Bruno Mars. With somebody like Jeremy Zucker, to just go on their Instagram every day and actually interact with them and just comment on their photos. It’s little things like that, where artists will see the little things like that and that could eventually lead to a connection where, you know, you end up in the studio together, something like that. I’m trying to do better about that.
Do you have any goals or things you want to accomplish in 2021?
Yeah at the beginning of the year, I made a list of things that I really wanted to do. First of all, I want to put up more music. Last year was an anomaly. It was a much-needed thing. Last year I only put out one single, and that was late last year. But this year, I don’t want to hold on to music anymore. I’ve been hearing this music, the same music for the past year, and I’m ready to give it to other people. And that’s my big thing this year is you know, don’t hesitate to release music. Just get it out there. Also, we’re planning to release the music video. Yeah, just kind of also stepping out of my comfort zone. Obviously, like I said, I’m a homebody. And, you know, I don’t have a lot of things here at home, that inspired me to write music. So I need to, whether or not, it’s just going outside and taking a walk or something like that. Because obviously, the whole pandemic thing, but yeah, I tried to be safe with that. But, you know, even going outside to take a walk is something that will inspire me more than being in the house. So, yeah, things like that.
Post and photos by Spencer Bernard
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The post Interview: ASTN Talks About Starting Music, His New Music Video, and More appeared first on Concert Crap.