Singer Avery Wilson may be young, but he's no novice to a hard life lesson incurred.
Luckily for fans, transparency and honesty is the recipe to which Avery’s catalog is built from, so listening and learning is somewhat of a 2-for-1 deal when tuning in to his music.
Recently the singer was the latest artist to stop by BET's Imagine Room. While there, the former season three contest of The Voice performed a few tracks off his latest EP, 834. Following the intimate performance, Avery sat down and spoke with BET Digital about the inspiration behind his newest project, as well as what's next in his career.
Check out the full interview below!
BET: How are you enjoying being an indie-artist this time around?
Avery: Ownership is the best thing I gained as a person. Just not being tied to anyone, being able to own what I do, and being able to say and feel what I want [is freeing]. I was in a little situation prior where I had a couple hands in the pot, and it's different when everybody is stirring in different directions.
But to be able to write my own songs, and to say how I feel, and to really connect with people the way that I want from my mouth, from my thoughts, and from my heart is much different than having somebody tell you, "Stand like this. Talk like this. Walk like this. Don't talk to these people, or don't talk to that person." And as an artist, I never really wanted to distance myself from anyone. I feel what I have is a gift for everyone to experience for themselves.
BET: Agreed. It's like with knowledge. Knowledge is not meant to be kept, it's meant to be shared. I guess the same can be said about creative expression. So I think it's amazing that you pride yourself on having a certain level of transparency with fans.
Avery: When I first got signed, that's when I quickly realized that, in this industry of people that are so talented, and so accomplished and so "well-off" [so to speak], they also tend to hold on to so many things. And not just the good things, but the bad things too. No one shares much of anything.
I feel like there are so many talented and amazing artists online and offline, underground and mainstream, that are just like looking for people and "real" artists to look at and follow, and I just try to be in that mix of artists that are true and transparent.
So for me, I was like, "I can't be that person," because in my heart, I'm not built that way. Now granted I can't give you every step, but it's not even about me not wanting to share, but rather more so, if you give everything away, you'll have nothing left.
BET: I'm sure fans appreciate newer artists and public figures humanizing themselves, because it's needed.
Avery: You may look at it as "humanizing yourself" but that's what an artist is. Human. For you as a consumer, or as a fan or as a supporter, if you look at an artist like me, or another artist, that's what you are looking for. You're not looking for just my music, you're looking for a person. Someone to relate to.
I just think that's what we're supposed to do as artists; we're supposed to bear our emotions. Not necessarily ourselves, but our emotions [to fans].
BET: So we know your passion is singing, but what do you feel is your overall purpose with your career and life?
Avery: Ever since day one, I never looked at this gift [of singing] that I have as my "ticket in." I always just looked to inspire somebody else. So to have the visibility that comes with growing success is great, but that's not really my focus.
My focus is to make whoever sees me doing me feel motivated enough to go out there and do more for themselves too. Sometimes a lot of people that are artists what you to be them. I don't want you to be me, because that's not possible. I want you to be you.
So yeah, visibility is great. It's cool to have attention (laughs), but it comes with a price too, like people being in your business and wanting to know what's going on, or not having any real peace because you're busy reading comments on social media, etc. I mean, I'm strong enough to deal with all kinds of crazy things, but sometimes it's an invasion of privacy.
BET: Speaking of peace, how do you ensure and maintain yours, being in such a public position as a public figure?
Avery: Honestly, I don't really understand how I do it- it's crazy. As vague as it sounds, I just mind my business, do my work and keep the heart of what I do in the forefront, more than the accolades. I always make sure to keep my heart in it.
I started singing in McDonald’s a long time ago when I was 16 years old and just getting my start, and I haven't forgotten what's really shaped me to become this person that I am today. So I don't care how "big" I get with time, I'm never going to veer off to a point where I forgot all that hard work. I'm still getting "no's" and I'm still grinding. The grind hasn't stopped.
BET: You recently came out with a new EP, 834, and I wanted to know what was your favorite part about making that project?
Avery: I don't have a favorite song. It's kind of like - I don't have children, but I have nieces and nephews- and it's hard to pick a kid that's your favorite. Granted some of them might act up, some of them might have an easier temperament, but you love them all.
But I think the biggest part that is most important to me, about making anything musically, is being honest. Everything that I put out, including my last two EP's, have been all about honesty, and not being worried about what he thinks, or she thinks, or what the label thinks or what people want me to say. It's literally just what I feel. So it let's me know from the jump that if you like it, you rock with me. If you don't, then it's cool, and [maybe] you'll come around the next project. But you'll still respect it, because you feel [the realness].
BET: Speaking of feeling it, on your last project, you said you had a part in producing the tracks. So on this project, did you dibble and dabble in production at all?
Avery: I did not. But being in the studio and writing these records - because I wrote them all - and finding tracks, that's producing in a sense to me. Though I didn't make the beats, I was still involved in tying it in together, and finding the producers, because they didn't just drop out the sky. Most of them I didn't have relationships with before I even did these projects.
BET: With FYI, you said you were coming from a perspective of being emotional, but not necessarily weak. Do you feel like 834 evolves from that, and comes from a place of growth and healing? What do you want your fans to gain from your newest project?
Avery: Yeah, FYI was definitely about that, while 834 was really about me learning about myself. I wanted people to realize that with the things we go through in life, and all the signals and warning signs we get in the process - don't ignore them. I've been in relationships that worked... and didn't work in the same grasp of time. Just, don't ignore the signals. When something is going wrong, or when something is blinking over here, don't just be like, "Oh no, I can get that engine light fixed later."
No, there is something wrong with it. Attend to it. Learn from it and write it down. Life is like a cycle circle, so when you come back around to a similar situation, you ain't going to bump your head anymore.
Like with "Reckless," I'm letting you know from the start I don't have time. It's like, these [songs] are all lessons, because I've learned these lessons the hard way, whether it's once, or twice or three times. So it's there for people to recognize. Stop ignoring the signs that you feel, because they're real. Both the good and the bad.
BET: So I noticed you were in the studio recently with Q from 112. What's that about? Are you two working on some new music?
Avery: He's actually doing a project called 'The Bridge Project,' which is basically taking your favorite male R&B artists, and gospel artists, and putting them on duets throughout the whole album. His purpose of this was to basically bridge the gap between musical genres, and show that we can all co-exist. It's not really anything different about us, except for that we have a different message, but it's not really that different. If you listen to old Bebe and Cece Winans, that sounds like gospel to me. And the Clark Sisters. The genres already co-exist already.
So the songs on this project are more inspirational than they are just gospel, or just R&B. I have a song with [Christian artist] Deitrick Haddon. The song is fire, I ain't gonna lie!
BET: Are you reading any books right now? If so, what book would you recommend for fans to check out asap?
Avery: The Subtle Art Of Not Giving a F**k. Everybody needs to read that. It's simple and it's an easy read, about eight to nine chapters. They talk about some cycles that we all deal with on a daily. Sometimes we go through some things, and you feel like you know yourself best because you've been living in this body for so long, but then you look in the mirror, metaphorically speaking, and you realize you don't know certain things about yourself like you think you do.
So, I feel this book will help you. It'll help you do some internal searching.
Any plans to explore any other parts of your career, outside of music?
Of course! Movies and acting - I've got to get into that. I'm ready to branch out into everything, honestly. I'm not scared of anything!
Check out Avery on the latest episode of BET's Imagine Room, below: