Raury is a one-man revolution, or hopes to be. The 18-year-old only released his first single, ‘God’s Whisper’ in early 2014, but has since scored a place on the BBC’s competitive Sound of 2015 list and opened for OutKast’s homecoming festival. His multi-genre sound, clearly present in his first album Indigo Child, draws on everything from Bon Iver to KiD CuDi, weaving acoustic guitar within indie electronica and hip-hop. Indeed, a driving force behind his soaring popularity has been the Anti-Tour. Raury would play guerrilla gigs out the front of high profile concerts, stealing fans from more established artists. Here, it’s his confidence and determination which has him convinced of not only eventual success, but that his music will transform the industry completely. This may just be the year Raury steps into the spotlight.
When did you begin making music? What brought you into it?
I was three and at a very impressionable age, I would imitate everything that I saw. I imitated Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, and I even started singing my own little songs. I never really took it serious; it was just something I was doing. But I would consider that I was getting into my musicianship for real when I was around 11, and I finally got a guitar and haven’t put it down since. So I began writing my own songs when I was 14, and I’ve just been sharpening that craft ever since. I could say I’ve been a serious musician since I was 11.
You released Indigo Child last year. What were you trying to say with this record?
I was trying to say that my generation isn’t hopeless. I was trying to speak to my generation, and let them know that you are just like me and that you can accomplish something also. That’s why I included the arguments between my mum and I on the record, because that would probably happen to every kid today. I was trying to shed light on my generation in a very positive way because there’s enough negative material out here in the world. I’m not that kind of artist, I want to make stuff that makes people happy; I don’t want to make people sad and hate their life, I want to inspire people to become better versions of themselves. Not just ‘Indigo Children’, but anybody that hears the music. It’s a literal embodiment of my soul and who I am as a person. Not only did I tell my Mumma that I wanted to be a musician and not go to college when I was 15, but I also told her I wanted to be a revolutionary leader. Indigo Child was to spark the revolution that will continue.
What revolution is this?
The revolution of good music and amazing high frequency music, kind of at the top of the food chain, top of the industry. It literally needs to become what is the coolest, not like what’s cool, or what’s accepting, or what’s dope. It’s universally known that this type of music is the best music because it actually does something for your spirit, makes you feel good about yourself, rather than just being self-absorbed and self-glorifying music that is making people and kids like me hate ourselves whether we’re conscious of it or not. Like this stuff is planting the wrong seeds in our mind. That is the revolution, you know? It’s literally taking back good music and bringing it to the top. I definitely feel like that is happening. I’m just here to feed the fire.
Is this the reason why your music doesn’t feed any genre? It seems to try to encapsulate many.
That’s another aspect of the revolution. Due to all these other amazing artists, from ‘Ye to Cudi, from Michael Jackson to Bob Dylan; all these other amazing people demonstrated that artists like me can be accepted by the world. I don’t feel like I would have been able to come out in 2000 or the 90s, because the world wasn’t ready if they hadn’t heard these other amazing artists. So I feel like by me coming out, I’m going to open the door for millions more multi-genre artists to come out and be themselves and do what they want. They will stop worrying about what is profitable, or what is good business-wise, and just be themselves. That’s what’s going to keep this revolution going – music written for the soul, not music written for profit, not music written to play in the club for people to get drunk to because that’s what they think the best music is. It’s not this type of music that will be at the top, but more genuine music will be released just simply by me existing. That’s how I look at things.
Let’s get to touring. You created the Anti-Tour – will elements of these performances appear in your Sydney shows? What do you have planned?
The Anti-Tour is really tied to my brand, as far as being rebellious and revolutionary, and a part of it is what rock and roll is, you know? I’m not just a rapper or a hip-hop artist, but I’m also a rock star and all about rock and roll so this show will be a complete, absolutely flat-out rock show. It’s not just what you’re expecting to hear from the album, it’s also got aspects of the Anti-Tour. We’re definitely going to bring the rock and roll to the show. The whole thing about [the Anti-Tour] was we were doing that whole thing without permission; we had to run from the cops at the end of the thing so I don’t know if we can do that, but the fire will be brought.
You’ve been making music for a while. If you could go back in time and tell yourself something, what would it be?
Practice your guitar more. The more I expand and my own stuff grows, the better music I’ve started making. I would never have made ‘God’s Whisper’ or anything like that, had I not learnt to produce. I’ve been playing guitar for seven years, but I’m self-taught – there’s a million things I still don’t know. After touring and with a lot of the free time I’ve had, I’ve been practicing guitar a lot more and I’m a lot more familiar with my instrument and coming closer to terms of mastering it. Like, I should be at the level of Hendrix or like Slash, or even close. I can solo, I can shred off, but I’m not there yet. That’s the only thing I would tell myself, there’s not a thing I would regret.
Do you feel that your work can be misunderstood?
Definitely. Define confusion? Define anger? It’s the fact that I do so many different genres. There is power, so when you don’t know what something is, you tend to go against it just because it’s not familiar to you. Your knowledge or your power is not what you thought it was, and you just deny whatever it is. I feel a lot of people can’t just truly appreciate the music that I’m making. I feel like they want to make me one thing, but that will never happen.
Another thing, [there’s confusion] as far as how truly genuine and authentic our movement truly is. Our manager is just as young as me, he’s 22, and we did this on our own coming up here, so a lot of people may think that I’m some rich kid or something like that. Like they think I get people to write these songs for me, or that there’s no way an 18 year old boy could of written it, but I did. So there’s a lot of things people try to do to take away or discredit from what has happened. But I know that those are problems within them, and this never fazes me.
What do you have planned for the future?
We’re working on this next project and releasing one of the most classic albums, literally flipping not just hip-hop upside down, but how music is looked at. I’ll be taking the world by the horns and showing them what type of artist I am, and what I’m here to do. It’s going to be quite a ride this year.
Raury is performing at Laneway Festival across Australia, playing at 4:25pm on the Future Classic Stage in Sydney. He will also headline at the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney on Monday, February 2nd.