We had the good fortune of connecting with Austin Willé (better known as AyyWillé ) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Austin, what do you attribute your success to?
The most important factor to my success thus far would be strategic branding. Non of my accomplishments would even matter had I not made the decision to brand myself as an artist, rather than just another Nashville musician. I had the opportunity to participate in a World Tour with a Powerhouse of an Artist in Adia Victoria. She taught me a lot about what it’s like in the driver seat of artistry and helped me understand that my ideas and perspective were valuable. I came back to the states after that last run in Europe with a new mind, refusing to just be a generic saxophonist on records or gigs. I needed people to know my name, as an artist who is a saxophonist. And thanks to my artistic friends that supported my vision, I was able to be a featured act for alot of the action here in Nashville. I also say strategic branding because although I’m a jazz player, I knew my calling was in Hip-Hop/Rap. I’ve been working the scene with Rappers and Poets for a minute and I think my pure dedication to the culture added tremendously to my value.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a Saxophonist/Recording Artist, with a deep connection to Hip-Hop. You would think ,with a jazz background, that would be my thing, but i guess growing up on Young Jeezy and The Hot Boys really rubbed off on me. The energy and expression in rap gives me crazy fuel when performing, so much so that I even started writing and freestyling in college. I really started to build my name with my band, The Street Band Clan. We used to set up on 2nd and Commerce in Downtown Nashville. We were the only ones playing Rap tunes on instruments, on the street corner taking jazz solos over Big Krit, Rick Ross , Jay-Z, Ect. It was Dope! That led to gigs, and bigger gigs, backing poets and rap artists, then bigger artist of different genres. After touring though, I realized i was different, cut from a different cloth, and really started diving deep into the scene. The biggest challenge really was fighting against the idea of ” Oh you play sax, play some kenny g”. Once I accepted that HipHop and Rap fed my soul as a musician, i was good spiritually. If there’s anything I want people to know, it’s that what is for you, is for you and no one else. Your purpose is divine, so if it feels divine, then thats it, and if not then ,well, its not what you were created for. Currently I’m evolving this concept as I work on my upcoming project , The Kintsugi EP dropping later this year.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
For food in The Ville, I’d have to go with Slim and Huskys, Boltons, Helens. For nightlife, id say Minerva for the turn up, But if you really love that real deal jazz then Rudy’s Jazz Club is the spot. One very interesting thing about our scene is the dope events are tied to dope people not the places. So the first person to get to know is my brother from another, Justin Causey. He does so many amazing things but for sure He’s the person to point you in the right direction for sure.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many. First to God for saving my life through Music. My Granny for buying my first sax. My momma for being my biggest supporter and allowing me creative freedom in the crib, early sax playing is hard on the ears ,lol. Jonah Rabinowitz, Lynn Adelman and every Volunteer Teacher at W.O.Smith Music School for helping develop my talents, specifically Mr. Gunn, a Vanderbilt Medical student and Saxophone player who showed me that Hip-Hop could be charted and performed at the age of 12. Richard Griffin for putting me on that real jazz. TSU Marching Band and Jazz Band. Adia Victoria for showing me the world and teaching me the ropes as an artist. All my Brothers and Sisters in the scene who have allowed me to go crazy along side them and build my name in connection with Fire Artist, Brands, and Events. And Last but not least to my Fiancé. We Met at W.O. Smith Music School, so she has been there every step on the way on my Musical/Life Journey. Don’t know where i’d honestly be without her loving me Unconditionally.
Dpgdigital for all show photos