Richard Andrew, better known as Outasight, might seem to have come out of nowhere, but the pop rap-singer has been on the grind for years. Andrew hustled mix tapes, signed an indie deal that went sour, kept his career afloat through viral videos, and finally couch surfed his way to a deal with Warner Bros. Then Pepsi used his now-Platinum debut single, “Tonight’s the Night,” and things really took off. In this interview, the self-described musical chameleon talks about his slow-and-steady come up, from punk rock to soul to hip-hop.
IJ: What’s your musical background like? Are you self-taught or schooled? Did you grow up in a musical family or with a lot of music in your home?
RA: I’m definitely self-taught. My mom was a huge music collector. She had thousands of records and CDs. My dad played guitar. From a young age, having so much music around me all the time, I thought it was completely normal to be obsessed with music and pop culture and always having music on. Great music got me daydreaming, slowly, like, I want to do … this.
IJ: How did you get into music?
RA: First I was into creative writing. I started out writing stories as a kid, and then writing songs and poems and raps and as I got a little older I started playing in bands and I rapped. I grew up 30 minutes outside of the city, so it was nothin’ to get on a train and go down to the city and do open mics and concerts and showcases go to studios and do recordings … it just continued to grow and grow and grow and it’s all I ever wanted, but it took some time.
IJ: You call yourself a musical chameleon. What do you mean by that?
RA: I sing. I rap. Since I’m so influenced by so many different styles I tend to fit into any kind of genre. I played in rock bands and sang in soul bands and rapped over drum and bass and boom bap hip-hop and pop dance tracks.
IJ: Talk more about the deal you made with the indie label. There seems to be a myth out there that indies look out for artists and majors are out to get you.
RA: Each situation is different. I did it as a money grab. I was young and really broke and the money was in my face. I thought it was going to be easy breezy from there, until I realized there is no way anything is going to happen on this label.
IJ: Now that you’re on a major label, do you still have creative control?
RA: Creatively, I have a lot of freedom. The one issue I had was trying to get them to put my record out. It took a couple of years, but now that it’s out, they help where they can but they never intrude.
IJ: How has your lifestyle changed since signing to a major?
RA: I’m trying to be more health conscious. After being on the road for so long I started drinking too much. I’ve learned that you don’t have to go hard every night. Just because the bottles of Jack are in the rider doesn’t mean you have to drink them all.
IJ: What’s up next for you?
RA: I got this tour, then some college shows and radio shows, then get back into the studio before Warped, then I’m doing the entire Warped Tour. I was so excited when I saw Eminem at Warped. He played to a small stage of a couple hundred kids who were staring at him like, “Who is this guy?” A decade later the lineup is so diverse. Today’s music culture is diversity. The days where people just listen to punk rock or hip-hop are done. But there’s a lot of crap out there and it’s difficult for good art to cut though.