Rap Direct Exclusive Interview With Astray: New Project, Signing With Shady Publishing & More
Rap Direct talks with Astray about his start in music, his new project, signing with Shady Music Publishing and more.
Astray is an up and coming artist out of Michigan. He raps, sings, producers and writes songs so he can go in an do a whole song himself from the production, spit some bars and hit melodies. Last year he released his “Daydreaming At A Green Light” album which I really enjoy and recently signed to Eminem‘s Shady Publishing as a Singer-Songwriter/Producer. I had the chance to interview him. In my interview with him, Astray talks about his start into music back in the late 90s, his latest project, upcoming project, signing with Shady Publishing and much more.
Read our full interview below.
Your debut album was released back in 1999 so you’ve been making music for a while now, can you explain how you started and what made you take music seriously as a career?
To answer that I have to go further back than ’99. I grew up being great at two things, music and drawing. As a teen, music started outweighing the drawing because it was way more cool and exciting to do so I started focusing on that more. In 97-98 I joined a local hip hop label called Ghetto Records. They had way too many acts and couldn’t focus on my group like we felt we deserved so I split. My long time friend Nic Spaulding asked if I wanted to start a label with him with him being the business side and me being the talent and that was official in ’99. We’ve been going hard since. I really only took music so seriously because I noticed rhythmically and melodically I was very good at it. I just felt like I was able to stay on beat and mimic other artists exceptionally well even at a young age. Then I started writing my own stuff and it just kind of came natural.
Just last year you released your fifth and latest album “Daydreaming At A Green Light“, can you talk a little about that project?
That project means a lot to me for a bunch of different reasons. Since my first album in 99, I was always just a rapper. It was always the same song patterns and same formulas for creating albums for the most part. I was growing as a rapper but my music overall wasn’t growing. I started doing my own production in 2006 that added another dynamic to me and then in 2009-2010 I started added melody because even though I took writing my rap verses very seriously as far as word play, flipping syllables and having good content, Everything was always so monotone. I felt like adding melody in my hooks made my music bigger in a lot of ways. So I had a huge growth spurt as an artist working on that album. Now I add all those things to my music and its 100x more entertaining just to me to create music. Another reason that album means a lot to me is because ‘its the album that got me discovered by Shady Records, and it was because of all of those things I mentioned combined. If it was just another rap album it might have been over looked. Those are a few reasons that album is dear to me. Another reason was because it was kind of a business card to let other music folks know that this is what I’m capable of and if you want to work with me these are the things I have to offer. So after that album came out, I wasn’t only getting hit up for features for verses but also to sing hooks on other people’s stuff and do production.
When I recently heard the album for the first time, it was cool to see you were rapping, producing and doing your own melodies which you don’t really see. You had the lyrical rap songs like “One For My City” then you had the “Ballad of Bobby Bouche” song where you are doing melodies over Luis Resto playing the piano. How did that song with Luis come about?
Luis Resto is such a great guy. I had just started interning at Eminem‘s studio at the time in 2006-07. The studio is “54 Sound” and Luis had this back room full of any piece of production equipment you could imagine. I might be able to find a pic for you (photo below). Anyway, I was in my beginning stages of being a producer and Luis was at the studio almost everyday with his brother jamming out with 50 minute freestyle piano sessions that they would record. His brother is an amazing drummer and he would do the rhythm and Luis would play the piano. He gave me a lot of those sessions to sample and I still have them. One day I was working on this beat with a cool chord progression and I asked Luis if he could spice it up a bit. Man, this guy took my basic ass chord progression and played it in his own way for like 20 minutes giving me way more than I needed. A few years later I came back to it and wrote a full melodic song “Ballad Of Bobby Boucher” to it and ‘ how that song came about. What he did with the piano made me not even want to add drums or any other instrument to it. His playing was so intricate that I felt all it needed was vocals.
Checkout the photo and listen to “Ballad Of Bobby Boucher” below before you keep reading.
It was announced you signed to Eminem and Paul Rosenberg‘s Shady Music Publishing (not to be confused with Shady Records) earlier this year, can you say anything about what you will be doing with them?
I was signed as a Singer-Songwriter/Producer. They give me assignments to write or produce for artists with huge names and followings. I work a lot out of my own studio here in Detroit and they also fly me out a lot to different cities to work with these artists and other producers. I was also told by Shady to work on my own project either for them to use or for them secure me an artist deal with a different label. There are a lot of great things in the works.
Pleased to welcome our new writer @ASTRAY_or_SHAWN to Shady Music Publishing with UMP. Keep an eye out for him!
— Paul Rosenberg (@rosenberg) April 23, 2015
That’s amazing, congratulations. Do you have a specific project you’re working on right now?
Yes, I’m working on the album that Shady asked me to work on (Regardless I’d be working on it anyway lol). With them asking for it though makes a world of difference.
What are your goals in music?
I have so many goals in music. A lot of them have to do with myself. Some of them have to do with music itself. Some of them have to do with trying to change the world or make history. That is such a broad question.
My goals as an artist is to really just entertain myself and keep this shit fun and intriguing to do. I have to push the envelope so I don’t get bored. That’s why I’m glad I started producing and experimenting with vocal melody. Obviously I want to make this a life long career so staying on point and meeting deadlines is a goal I try to meet everyday. Plus I want to just make history. Or even better influence or change the world in a positive way. Not everything I speak on is positive but I want to contribute something that’s that big. I will. Eventually.
Who are some artists that inspire you and who are a couple of artists you would like to work with in the future?
Inspirations, here’s a long list. Elzhi, Nas, B.I.G, Jay-Z, Big Pun, Big L, AZ, Eminem, Crooked I, Twista, Andre 3000, Royce [Da] 5’9″, Big Sean, Drake. Too many to name. Same people that inspire me are the same that I love to work with, the ones that are still with us that is. Would have loved to work with Sean Price. That was a very sad day when he passed. I really respect how Drake took all of his talents as a rapper and vocalist and made the majority of the world embrace it. I don’t want to sound or be like Drake at all. Let Drake do his thing. But, respectively, me rapping, singing, and doing production instead of just having one lane. I hope to be embraced and accepted for all of my contributions the way he is.
Thank you again for taking the time to do this interview, I really appreciate it and congrats again for everything. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.
Hey, thank you man! I really appreciate you reaching out to me today.
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