BLED Fest Artist Feature: Astronautalis
“Most American festivals are just homogeny run wild. Most American festival line ups are so bland, and repetitive, it is appalling how much money people get paid to be that unimaginative. I am really excited to be a part of an American festival that is not like most American festivals.”
Andy Bothwell is the creative mind that is Astronautalis, a rap artist who blends elements of alt rock into his work.
From his 2004 debut album You and Yer Good Ideas to his most current work, the 2016 album Cut the Body Loose every track is it’s own chapter of what feels like a never ending tale.
Bothwell recently wrapped up tour in Australia, and will be performing at BLED Fest this year as one of the most anticipated sets. This June he will be touring on select dates with Shredders (of Doomtree) in the U.S.
Editor-In-Chief Kailey Howell chatted with Bothwell about inspiration behind Cut the Body Loose, his travels, and this year’s BLED Fest.
Kailey Howell: What first inspired you to begin rapping? Was there one certain moment where you decided that was what you wanted to do?
Andy Bothwell: The album Return Of The Funky Man by Lord Finesse. I was 12 or 13, and it was unlike anything I had ever heard. There was nothing like that on the radio, it was so raw. I wanted to understand it, and I wanted to be a part of that. So, shortly there after, I started freestyling to myself, in secret, while I walked my dog.
KH: Your music seems to blend between rap and indie/rock. Where do you draw your biggest inspiration from?
AB: I think that urge to blend genres comes mostly from being a kid from the mixed tape era. I grew up in a community of skate kids and music fans, who really prided themselves on making great, and diverse tapes. We got a lot of our music from watching skate videos, which in the late 90s, were basically mixed tapes of indie music with skateboarding attached.
It was a cool time for music. The beginning of a time where you were not defined by the music you listened to, but the diversity of the music you listened to. I was the rap kid, wearing winter camo pants to see Modest Mouse in 1997, and I owe a lot of that to my friends, my community, and skate videos.
KH: Cut The Body Loose has a more raw emotional feel than your 2011 album This is Our Science. What were some of the biggest differences in writing between the two? Was there anything specific that drove the process behind Cut the Body Loose?
AB: The album itself is structured after a traditional New Orleans Jazz Funeral. Which is where the term “cutting the body loose” comes from. The album was written between 2010-2013, sort of in response to my frustrations with the world at large. But, I didn’t just want to make a record about how “shit’s fucked up, bro”. I wanted to document a process of dealing with the stress of living in this world. The anger followed by the listlessness, and make an album about the ritual of the grieving process. One that ultimately, ends with everyone dancing in the damn street, like a Jazz Funeral.
KH: The opening track “Kurt Cobain” is one of my favorites. Can you tell me a little more about the narrative of the song?
AB: It is at it’s core, about the two times I have had guns pointed at me, and how both cases, (once when a cop pulled me over for speeding and once when i was robbed by some kids in Atlanta), the person holding the gun was so scared. I thought about those things for years, as little petri dishes of power. They had the weapons, but they were scared of me…unarmed. (Spoiler alert: I am NOT a scary lookin’ dude).
It set my mind on a long journey, about how power is only powerful if it is given. The things that have power over us, only maintain that power for as long as we give it to them. I think maybe it is time to reassess a lot of those relationships, and ask ourselves if we still want to be giving that kind of power, to those people?
KH: You repeat in the song “rap is dead, punk is dead”, do you believe that?
AB: No. I follow up that line with “we’ve all seen the t-shirt”. The only thing that rings more hollow than a catch phrase on a t-shirt, is one on a bumper sticker.
KH: How was Australia? Out of all the places you’ve traveled, where is your favorite? Where is somewhere you’d like to go?
AB: Australia is/was amazing. It was my third visit, and I am only scratching the surface. I have been home two months, and I am already dying to go back. Favorite place is impossible to answer, my favorite place is generally the next new place I am going. With that being said, I want to go to Namibia, more than anywhere. I want to ride motorcycles over every single inch of that country.
KH: You’re playing BLED Fest this year in Howell, MI. The festival is promoted as being very inclusive and diverse. How do you feel about being a part of a festival breaking the trend of the lack of diversity?
AB: Most American festivals are just homogeny run wild. Most American festival line ups are so bland, and repetitive, it is appalling how much money people get paid to be that unimaginative. I am really excited to be a part of an American festival that is not like most American festivals.
KH: Are there any sets you’re looking forward to catching at BLED Fest?
AB: Foxing, Rozwell Kid, and Kississippi!!!
KH: What can we look forward to from you for 2018?
AB: A new album that I am SUPER proud of!