Last week I got the opportunity to interview upcoming hip hop artist/producer, Austin Rapbaum. Based out of New Orleans, LA, Austin has just released his latest project, an instrumental tape entitled Film Cruise. We talked about what went into the creation of that tape along with who he is, his musical background, what he’s got in store for the future, and much much more! Check out my exclusive interview with Austin Rapbaum below and stream Film Cruise on Soundcloud now ! Also stay tuned for a fully mastered version of Film Cruise, which will be available for download on March 23rd through Austin’s bandcamp !
Bryan: So, why don’t we start by having you tell us who you are? Who is Austin Rapbaum?
Austin: Austin Rapbaum is a human being, mostly just making hip hop and R&B music in my studio in Uptown New Orleans. Originally from Philadelphia but been in New Orleans for four years (since 2012). I’m studying to get a degree in Music Industry Studies with a minor in Film at Loyola University.
Bryan: So moving from Philly to New Orleans? How was that?
Austin: Pretty awesome actually, New Orleans is easily my favorite city in America. In the first couple years after I got here I met all of the people who are part of my crew. My main partner in hip hop, Josh Gotoy, who I make a lot of music with, we run a studio in Uptown and that pays the bills while we work on our own stuff. I also met a lot of the people who help me with videos, booking, and logistics, namely my homies Huey, G, ET, and Tay. So pretty much everything fell into line when I moved here. New Orleans is insane and I know I wouldn’t have a lot of amazing opportunities if I hadn’t moved here, probably not even talking to you right now.
Bryan: So, what it sounds like to me is that you were involved with music even before you moved to New Orleans. How did you get started with music?
Austin: Yeah I have been into music since I could crawl. I started dancing when I was like 5 or 6 and by the time I was 10 I was really into b-boying and hip hop started taking over my life. When I was 16 I met my brother Alex who at the time was a foster kid from Philadelphia and he was into the Slam Poetry scene. I had been writing poetry on this blog for like a year and a half and so we started writing together and then we were performing around the city at slams and stuff. People liked us so we started to get some better opportunities to perform at really cool venues and events, and we even made a few videos for YouTube. Then we met this dude named Griffin, who’s now actually the lead singer of a band called Stoop Kids, and he was a producer, and he made us some beats. I recorded em on garage band basically at my crib with this shitty microphone I had and then after that I just knew that I was gonna make music. My senior year of high school I worked at a recording studio in Philadelphia called Baker Sound Studios. This dude Rick DiDonato who owned the place literally let me record my entire first EP there for free (Color Spectrum on soundcloud and bandcamp). I recorded that project myself, got accepted to the music program at Loyola, and the rest is kinda history, but also just kinda a blur of the last four years.
Bryan: Life definitely moves pretty fast doesn’t it? It’s hard to believe I’m almost halfway done with college myself. But at the same time, it’s exciting, and I’m sure you feel the same way. Why don’t you talk a little bit about your music from the past and the music you’re making now? What are some of the similarities and some of the differences?
Austin: Well the first two projects I ever dropped were nice lil short tapes. I was rapping on each song and I produced none of it at all. Since then I have released a single which is called “Memories” (on my soundcloud), which is produced by FKJ, and then this instrumental tape Film Cruise. I wanted to release the instrumental tape to show the world that I have been honing my production chops and also so that I can reach out to other artists who are looking to collaborate. I am currently working on my LP, which is going to be probably 12-15 tracks all produced by either myself, Josh Gotoy, or my other partner, Last Minute Louee. At this point I am recording and mixing for a lot of other New Orleans artists. My new project will be super hands on for me, and it’s gonna sound incredible. You can expect a single from it coming out late spring or early summer
Bryan: How has the transition from rapping to producing been? Was it frustrating at all to have to learn how to work programs in order to perfect your craft?
Austin: It really happened over time. I was recording first, then I learned to mix, then I learned about production, and I started to try it out myself. I was probably in the studio for more than 3 years before I ever made an instrumental myself. The more time I spent learning the programs, the easier it got to learn a new program. But each time you do something you learn, you know? Film Cruise was a HUGE learning experience for me. I have never mixed a project that big before, like 17 tracks is a lot to keep on your mind at once, which is kinda what you have to do when you’re mixing it all into one record. And the day I put out Film Cruise I said to myself, “Wow I could do another beat tape by next month and probably eclipse this entirely”, because that’s just how much I learned from the process of making it. ya digg?
Bryan: Absolutely man, that’s really cool. What was some of your inspiration for Film Cruise? Take me through the process of recording a track for that project.
Austin: Okay so as far as the inspiration for the project I gotta primarily say it’s Dilla and Knxwledge out of Philly. Obviously you can understand why I would name J Dilla. Knxwledge because he has released an insane amount of instrumental projects and pretty much every track is a great listen. It made me realize how many good instrumentals I had that didn’t need an emcee that I would not write to myself. So I decided to put a bunch of them together and release it as a project. I feel like the world has yet to hear the best shit I have on my hard drive. As far as the tracks, I went through about 120 different beats and loops and narrowed it down, eventually to 17 that made the tape. Some of the tracks (“LaRge Fry” and “La Di Da”) were actually selected by the emcees that grace them with flows. Jayoayo is a really good friend of mine and an incredible emcee from NOLA, and Josh is my partner so I knew he’d be on it. Besides those two joints I pretty much chose every other beat. Once I picked it I would get it tracked out and throw it in ProTools for the mix. It took me about 7 weeks to mix this whole project.
Bryan: Do you feel it’s important to be musically diverse like this in the music industry today?
Austin: I think if you wanna be successful you either have to be extremely lucky, or able to do more than one thing. Too many people are just rapping these days. I see so many artists who have no idea what goes into a record. If you don’t think beyond the words are you really an artist at all? I think you need to be conceptualizing how the song will sound as well. If you don’t bring more to the table you will get pushed to the side. The market is way too over saturated for these lunchtime rhymers. No shade to all my emcees out there, it takes a lot for a person to bust a rhyme, but respect it takes an ocean more to make a record.
Bryan: I can respect that, and for the most part, I agree. So let’s talk a little simpler for a second. What do you like to do when you’re not making music, which judging from this conversation isn’t a lot of the time haha. But when you aren’t what are some of your hobbies?
Austin: I really make music a lot of my time. But I also really like exploring. I like to go around NOLA and out to the swamps if I have time. The beach is always the best place to go. I’ll also take a plane just about anywhere I can to check out new places, when graced with the opportunity that is. Besides exploring I really like other forms of performing. I used to be really into circus performing, like unicycle riding and flying trapeze and stuff. All of that is pretty fun.
Bryan: No way. Are you telling me you know how to ride a unicycle and fly trapeze?
Austin: Haaaa yeah, I used to work at a circus camp for like 5 summers. It was seriously awesome and I got to learn from a lot of insanely talented performers. I’ve seen this one dude do a double back flip with a full twist on the trapeze. Those fools are my family and if you ever make it out to a show I think you will understand where our energy comes from.
Bryan: That’s very unique. I actually love that. When’s the last time you got to fool around with some circus fun?
Austin: Well I own my own unicycle so I still pop on that every once in awhile, but I actually got to go to the trapeze a couple times last summer so not too long ago. Recently it’s been 95% music, 15% school though so I have just about enough time to do a handstand hahaha.
Bryan: Still way more then I could ever dream of doing haha. Very cool though man. Moving on though, I know you just talked about an LP.. anything else we should be expecting from you in the future?
Austin: Yeah absolutely!!! I’m so excited about all this new stuff! First of all I am working on several videos right now for the instrumental tape, which are all gonna help tie the concept together. The first video is coming out on the 16th which is gonna be for the song “Sunset”. Then I’m working on another video for the track titled “Music” and a few others but I can’t release all the names yet. I am also trying to produce a project for my brother Alex (goes by Santi) from Philadelphia and I’m working on another instrumental tape already. It will probably be another 15-20 tracks. The LP is really my main goal though and I hope to release it later this year.
Bryan: It all sounds very exciting and we here at New Sick Music can’t wait for it all. It’s been really fun talking with you Austin. I learned a lot more about who you are and what you’re trying to do. I sincerely wish you the best of luck on all of your future projects and rest assured, we’ll be waiting for them. Take it easy boss!
Austin: Thank you to you, Justin Shapiro, and everyone at New Sick Music for taking an interest in me and putting me on your site. I really appreciate your time and effort and truly look forward to a continued relationship. Thank you!