Austin Fillmore On Staying Resilient And Finding The Positive …
Written by Vocalo Radio on April 23, 2020
Austin Fillmore has been on Vocalo’s radar since 2018 when he released his album “Tlfm, Vol. 1”
Since then this buoyant young artist has consistently come with heat in the form of singles, the most recent of which “Think of You” dropped on 4/20 and perked our ears as another example of his phenomenal range.
Fillmore feels equally comfortable singing and rapping, his sound traversing genres effortlessly. His range is a perfect reflection of a generation raised on hyperlinks and playlists … the ability to pull together myriad influences into a singular vision.
Our midday host Bekoe got a chance to chat with Austin Fillmore about his faith, his sonic range, and how he’s finding the positive amidst a global pandemic.
Bekoe: How has this pandemic and staying at home impacted you creatively? What have you been doing?
Austin Fillmore: On the creative side, it’s actually been a blessing because it frees me up to free my time up outside of having to work another regular job. It’s freed my time to be more creative, to write more. to be within myself more and to figure out more content and more messages I’m trying to get across from my heart to the rest of the world.
And then I’ve been able to have in-home studio sessions because a lot of studios are quarantined. And it’s allowed me to definitely extend my brand social media wise. It’s been it’s been definitely a blessing in disguise.
Now you say you were working on a message to get out there what what message is that?
I’m a Christian. So with the new music that I’ve been making, I definitely have been talking about that more, and expressing it more, and showing my struggle, being a Christian and living in this world.
You mentioned your family, where’s your family from? Where are you from?
We’re from the West Side of Chicago. I was born on the West Side. So that’s where my family’s from. As far as my immediate family, my father was born in Guyana, which is in South America. So my grandpa moved him up here to the West Side.
On my mom’s side, my grandmother raised her her and her 10 kids on the West Side, and my grandpa, in the 1950s when they hired the first five black cops, he was one of them. So yeah, my family is a staple in the West Side community.
In 2018 you came out with Tlfm, Vol. 1? Break down that title, and tell us what your creative process looked like?
Well, for me, my creative process is honestly very random. I meet with a lot of producers and a lot of different people that are in different styles of music. So when I hear something I like, no matter what genre it is, I’m gonna run with it. And that kind of goes with my brand.
TLFM stands for think less, feel more. Everything I do is from the heart and for me, it’s, it’s a feeling and what I want to do is, I want to inspire and create those emotions and those feelings and let people know that it’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling at that moment. So my music I try to project that in my music.
TLFM from front to back for that project I just wanted something that that felt good. Every song is different. I have a church vibe song in Sound Of Love, and then I have my Michael Jackson-feeling song, and then obviously I got the most popular song Juke which is definitely a dance song. But then I’m also doing my heritage and my roots. A song right now has that calypso vibe that I grew up on, which is the style of music my grandpa would listen to.
I feel like a lot of people close themselves in a box. They want to sound like this and this is what they want to do, which is you know, for certain people that’s great. But for me that’s never what I wanted. I wanted to be diverse. I wanted to keep people on their toes and throw them off so they’ll never really be comfortable to my sound because it’s just so different but they still love it. I’m probably the most different musician in Chicago, and the most versatile.
That’s really what it’s really what it comes from. And even with the new music that I’m making now, it’s even crazier and even more diverse. I’m dabbling some rock stuff as well, too. So I just never I just never want to put myself in a box. And I’ve got a lot of people saying in order to make it you got to stick to your one slot and I’m just like, “Man, I have an eclectic group of friends I’m always around and my music portrays that as well too.” So I’ve always tried to be and rest my hat with the fact that I’m probably one of the most different artist in Chicago and the most versatile.
It’s a branding and consulting company for artists and their whole motto is “getting back to the music.” With a company like them, they pretty much break down the next steps for artists to do and to take in order for them to be successful, but also in order for them to stay focused on the music. Back in the day, you needed the manager and the publicist and all that stuff, but nowadays, you don’t need that. But also at the same time, a lot of these artists think they do. And the one thing that we’re very adamant on is, you can’t have a manager if you don’t know how to manage yourself.
The Coronavirus pandemic has slowed a lot of things down. I wanna know what you have learned about yourself from it?
I’d say the one thing that I was reminded about myself is I’m pretty resilient. Stuff like this doesn’t get me down. It just actually motivates me and keeps me moving a lot more. I definitely appreciate my alone time a lot more actually. Being an extrovert, I’m always out, always doing stuff. Staying at home was never an option. So now with being forced to be at home a little more, I’ve been able to be in my head a lot more, which to me is actually really good. And I’ve been able to just focus on on me and what I need to do and my family and all that stuff.
It’s crazy how within tragedy there’s a blessing when there’s a lesson to be learned and I feel like everything that’s happening right now is part of God’s plan. And I’m starting to notice how how His desires for my life to become more and more important to me.
I think another thing I’ve learned with this quarantine is who really has my back. Who really is in my corner. The people that you talked to before the quarantine, you know, Are they friends or are they party friends? I got people that that have hit me up to just check on me which is like, man, that’s real real love.
Once the economy starts to open back up, what are you planning on doing?
Definitely getting back into the festival circuit. Before all this happened I was scheduled to perform at SXSW, so definitely getting back into those festival markets. But I think what everyone should learn from this pandemic is, you know, anything can happen in life. I feel like even the people at the top and the people at the bottom, a lot of people are living check to check, and that’s one thing that I know for myself, I want to stop.
So definitely putting my money in allocating my funds towards things that are going to create generational wealth not only for me, but for my family. So I’m definitely looking to buy some land or buy some properties and just set myself up and my family for financial success so that if something else like this does happen, we ain’t got no worry.
There’s so many ways to look at this situation and you know for me, I was choosing to look at it in a positive light. But if there’s one thing I want to get across to people is never think that the people who hire us that we call our president, our governments, whoever’s running our country, don’t think there’s not an ulterior motive behind all this. You guys stay ready and stay prayed up and you got God on your side so you got nothing to worry about.
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Interview edited for length & clarity by Luis Mejía Ahrens
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