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Exclusive Interview with Independent LA Musician Astrum

Astrum is young, just eighteen years old, but has had the desire to write and record music from an early age.  This ambition solidified for her when she was fourteen and decided that she needed to produce her own music.  She grew up living in many different places because her father was a marine and the family traveled to whatever location he was working at the time.  When Astrum was in her teens her father was stationed at Camp Pendleton in California so Astrum took advantage of being close to LA and began to write music with a view to eventually writing and performing in LA while creating her image.

In fact, the artist has recently released a song which is available on Spotify at Promises. The song was co-written with Lilianna Wilde (see her exclusive TNWU interview here) and has a very haunting quality that is vaguely reminiscent of both Halsey and Stevie Nicks.

Astrum was kind enough to sit down with us this week to answer some questions about Promises and about her plans for the future.

 

Wow, you moved around quite a bit and had a plan for your career at a really early age!  At fourteen I was worried about my hair – lol. Would you say that music was something that you held onto as a constant during all the changes in life?

Yes, for sure – definitely.  Music is always changing, but it is still a constant thing to where if you’re anywhere in the world, music is such a big part of life.  You hear it everywhere, movies, TV, radio, people dancing or singing.  It’s just become such an important thing to me.  It’s always been with me, and I think that’s why now it’s become more of a puzzle – how do I do this?  How do I make myself into that? – Because it’s all I’ve ever really wanted and all I’ve ever really known.  It’s one of those things that can tell stories; it can build people up, make people happy; it’s just such a beautiful thing.  It is something that is with you throughout your life.  That is what I felt growing up and what I think a lot of people are feeling now.  Actually, it is really hard for me to picture life without music.

Tell me a little more about your move to Southern California and LA?

Well, we had been living in Cleveland, my brother was a then a junior in high school, and we had planned to stay there until he graduated with his class, but my dad got this opportunity to move out to Camp Pendleton.  I had always wanted to live in LA/Southern California.  There is such a great music scene here where so many things seem to happen.  I spoke to my parents, kind of like, ‘hey, Camp Pendleton sounds like a good option.’  So even though we had to pack up everything to move instead of staying, things just kind of worked out.

Once you got to California, how easy (or difficult) was it for you to find people of a like mind who would work with you?

It took some time for sure, because when I got out there, I was just fourteen and was going through school.  The first year I spent in California I was going through a lot of stuff – I was pretty depressed – I didn’t have any friends, but I told myself that this is where I had wanted to be and that it was worth it.  Then I started a program at a UCLA extension in music because…it’s kind of weird to say, but I was never this kind of person who was set on going to college.  I don’t recommend this to other people, but for me, it was like what’s the point of spending time and money knowing that I’m going to live the rest of my life in student loan debt for something that isn’t really worth it to me. 

Through the classes I was taking at the UCLA extension, I met a lot of other people like me trying to make it in music.  I met Liliana (Wilde), who connected us, six weeks into one of the classes we had together, and we formed a bond to the point where a week later we were writing music together.  It was very interesting, I’ve always been a songwriter but I’ve never co-written with other people, and I think that was just because I didn’t have anyone else to write with and I felt closed off to where I was thinking that I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to let people into certain things I was writing about.  Lilianna just ended up being such a great person to co-write with, she was so open and let me have creative freedom where we were able to bounce things off of each other.  It was a really great experience.

That sounds like a great partnership, and I have to believe that other songwriting teams function in a similar manner.  What instruments do you play?

I’ve played piano the longest, and I’ve picked up the guitar.  I got one for my 15th birthday and started to learn – I’m not like Slash or anything!  I also play the ukulele, not too much anymore, but when I was covering songs I would pick up the ukulele and think, ‘no one will ever copy this.’ I’ve been trying to learn drums, a lot of production is kind of just the electronic aspect, so I don’t call myself a drum player, but I dabble with electronic drums.

Your song, Promises, (co-written by Liliana Wilde) has a very seductive sound to it.  It is almost as though the song’s purpose is to wrap you up and take you away to another place.  What effect were you hoping listeners would have as you wrote this song?

I think my project for Astrum, she is one of the characters I write through, and I kind of have this darker vision for everything I do for her.  In my mind when I’m writing a song I really want it to be kind of from the perspective of someone who, maybe, hides their pain by inflicting it others.  Of course, Promises isn’t super hardcore like that, but I also think there is a power element to it – and Liliana said the same thing – where a lot of the time in relationships that are one and done, where you just hook up, it’s always the guy who is kind of like ‘OK, I don’t want anything more, this is all it is, ’ and I think when females have that intention that sometimes it comes out like they are slutty.  Girls seem to always get blamed for these type of situations where guys get praised. 

I think for Liliana, her first thought was, ‘I’m going to send this to all of my exes.’  It’s just kind of like, you can call me what you want, but this is what it was – this is what it is – and if you don’t like that, it’s OK.  It doesn’t matter to me because I know who I am.  I think there is power in taking the stance that ‘this is what it was’ and ‘sorry if you don’t like it.’   I think that Promises is a song that is empowering to females, at least I hope that’s what people will take away from the song.  I really wanted to explore the power element of the relationship; I think my other songs are less about relationships and more about discovering the power you have within yourself.

I think that you are right when you say that women/girls are held to a different standard than guys are when it comes to casual dating, or ‘hooking up’ which is unfortunate since I believe that this is part of why some men feel that it is all right to mistreat women or blame women for things that happen to them that are ultimately outside of their control.

I like this trend of female empowerment in music.  I wish that I had had these kind of songs with this kind of attitude and advice to listen to when I was going through high school! I needed to be told that it was OK to be who I was and that I didn’t have to fit into anyone else’s role.  The song just kind of drew me in.

I really appreciate you saying that because as a songwriter you do wonder, ‘will this appeal to other people, will it draw people in?’ I think that every song should have something that sticks with the listener.  I think that is so important; it is why music exists and why I want to be involved in making songs that make a difference. 

Are you working on any other original music?

I am currently working on an EP; I’m not sure when it will be released.  I have a lot of songs that I want to… I want there to be a concept or a storyline, and there are a lot of songs that I’m collecting and want to eventually record.  However, tomorrow, I have a session with an electronic producer who is pretty cool.  So, I’m excited to work on that, and there are a few other local artists that I’m kind of branching out with right now.  I definitely am focused on my own music so that by the end of the year there will be an EP out.

Are you doing any live shows right now? 

I’ve not really started booking a lot of shows – that is a side of the business where I am still learning the ropes.  Lilianna’s been great about teaching me the ins and outs.  I did perform in December – one of my finals was to perform at a local Chinese restaurant/music room, so I performed Promises and another song that I hope will be on my EP.  That was my first time ever performing live, and I was sooooo nervous.  But then the music got into me, and I was totally into it at the moment.

So we call ourselves Talk Nerdy With Us, so can you share with us what you nerd out about?

I’m nerdy about a lot of things.  I’m one of those people who love Marvel movies, and I’ll go into the deep web and read the stories about what’s coming next.  I also, and I cringe at this now, used to go to Twilight premieres at midnight and we would dress up and stuff.  I actually really enjoy watching videos about science and survival because I just like knowing different things.

 

You can listen to Promises on Spotify, and you can keep up with the latest news from Astrum at:

Twitter

YouTube

 

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