For RAURY, recognition isn’t everything. In the past eight months, the 18-year-old Georgia native has been classified as a troubadour and a reincarnation of André 3000, and while they are fair designations, it’s unjust to not see him for what he really is: a new and incomparable voice. His Indigo Child project is one of the few in recent memory to question the limitations society places on not-so-material things, and while it’s a record that’s given him looks from BBC and MTV, the uproar of fame isn’t a priority or a concern. It’s just a by-product. As Raury explained to us during a recent trip to Austin, Texas, he’s intent on creating music that’s cathartic for others, even if it means missing out on his senior prom.
American novelist Herman Melville once said, “It is better to fail in originality, than to succeed in imitation”. Do you agree?
Completely. It’s better to fail in originality because it’s deeper than the external things you gain. If I tell you a lie and you don’t know it’s a lie, a part of me is always going to beat myself up about it.
Is there anything about Atlanta that inspires you?
Stone Mountain is the most accurate way to describe where I’m from – you know, Gambino and Danger Mouse are from there. It’s a lot more forest-y with lakes and woods nearby and not so urban. It’s a very natural setting and as far as my flares of folk music and all things I’ve been through, it inspired me to want to play guitar. Also, a lot of people perceive Atlanta to be a trap scene and what not which really fuels my fire to literally represent that other side. It inspires me to bring back the “creative genius” side of Atlanta – the Cee-Lo Greens, the Outkasts, and shoot even the Ushers. I mean I’m not making R&B but they are creative geniuses from Atlanta that people may have forgotten about.
So is it nice to be separated from all the pressures of a big city?
Well, it wasn’t easy to be separated from it – I mean, a goldfish is in a bowl all his life and that’s all he knows. So if was listening to everybody, everywhere telling me to make the next club hit, that’s just what a lot of people will do because that’s all they know and that’s their environment. But I was alone a lot growing up as far as just me being me. My name is Raury and that has set a great precedent for how different I am in my life. I don’t know why people picked at me for my name; I mean, some girls wouldn’t talk to me because they didn’t like my name. When you’re in that early stage of people being immature, stuff like that drives people away from you, but it inspired my music to be different.
You strike me as positive, uplifting person. How does it make you feel to see artists disrespecting other artists, especially on a public platforms?
Well, I feel bad for the people that are posting about it and spreading that kind of energy out into the world. I don’t know if you guys saw that Dame Dash interview, but that whole gossip thing, it’s not true to anyone’s character. I feel even worse for the artist who is saying negative things because it only reflects their insecurity and the only reason they’re doing that is because they’re threatened or feel as if they need to prove themselves. I honestly don’t look at anyone as competition. I’m just a person here doing what I do and I get what I get because of that.
Does it make you think less of their work?
Well, people make bad decisions, but that doesn’t make them bad people. It doesn’t mean that’s who they are at the core but you really wish they hadn’t said anything, you know?
How do you personally deal with bad vibes?
I just don’t interact with them – or if I’m already there, I leave (laughs). Sometimes it’s abrupt and you don’t expect it… like if we were having bad vibes, I’d probably get up and leave because like, what else do you do? People forget how in control they are.
Is the wealth of knowledge and tools we have available to us in 2015 helping or hurting the music industry? Can anyone be an artist?
It is doing both. It’s allowing artists like me, Lorde, Chance, A$AP and all the other multi-genre artists to come up and sound like everything because they grew up listening to everything. We all went down the right avenues and listened to the right stuff, and now we have this unique sound. It’s bringing fresh, brand new music to the industry. But it’s also allowing people to blow up off of poisonous material that just doesn’t really help the culture but is just used to make money. It’s a double-edged sword and just like everything else… too much of anything can be bad.
How has the Internet helped your career?
I’d say it’s been helpful to me, but it was a plethora of things that fed into me becoming who I was. Not just the Internet, but being alone a lot. I didn’t go to no sports practice, I was just on my own with my guitar and I’d use a computer to look up music. Like Kid Cudi’s Man On The Moon literally changed my life. It’s thanks to all those things that I have so much inspiration and honesty in my music.
You’re continually gaining recognition pretty quickly and at such a young age. Do you ever feel you’ve missed out on essential parts of adolescence as a result?
I think we put too much value on this adolescence thing. Just because every kid in America goes to prom… like someone my age in some random country in Asia or Africa or South America – they don’t go to prom. They don’t do all those things. Adolescence is just a phase in my life – what I know is how I’m supposed to act. Like most young artists would be out here wilin’ and “snortin all the coke you want”, “sleepin with all the girls you want”, but I’m growing out of love. It all depends on what your perception of adolescence is. We are habitual thinkers and it’s a problem. I had my childhood.
Do you have any fear of burning out?
Not at all because I don’t even identify as a music artist. I’m just living on this world trying to bring bliss to whatever I touch. As long as I’m living life, I’ll always have something to write about because everything I’ve written about comes from something that really happened to me.
You’ve already worked with the likes of SBTRKT and been recognized by Outkast and Kanye; what other goals have you set for yourself?
Aside from music, I want to get known for painting. But I honestly even wouldn’t look at it as goals – based on what has been put out to the media, the world can agree on one thing but that has nothing to do with what I think. Everything is an agreement you know? Everyone agreed that SXSW is the dope festival going on in America so a bunch of people are here. If I agree that I need to live up to what the world thinks of me then I would have something to fight, but nah, I don’t agree to anything like that. I agree to what I believe in and I just believe that I’m Raury.