Witt Lowry, an up-and-coming rapper from Connecticut, started creating music because his friends pushed him to pursue writing. He is the quintessential artist of the modern age, growing his fan-base through thoughtful lyrics matched with aesthetically pleasing videos via YouTube. He has accrued a following of 78,000 YouTube subscribers, 28,700 Twitter followers and millions of views of his music videos through the Internet. With this, he created a platform from which he can make a career creating and touring.
I was able to interview Lowry regarding his latest, highly anticipated full-length record, “Dreaming With Our Eyes Open,” which was released Sept. 25 via iTunes. We talked about the changing music industry, what art means to him and what some of his inspirations are.
Brett Steinberg: Describe the creative process of your new EP, "Dreaming With Our Eyes Open.” What does the title say about the record as a whole? How does it feel to finally have this full-length record out?
Witt Lowry: The creative process is always the most fun but intense part of creating music in general. It's the base of everything, everything from the concept, to the production, or the lyrics, to the mixing and mastering have to be perfectly in sync and that normally takes some time. Sometimes you get lucky and everything just falls right into place exactly how it was meant to though. I spent many, many months in my bedroom and at a park near my house conjuring up lyrics and concepts, I got to watch the seasons change three times while working on the creative process of this project. The title is kind of ironic because “Dreaming With Our Eyes Open” is really just reality, it's that process of taking that thought, idea, dream, and turning it into your reality where it no longer is just a dream. This album touches on all the ups and downs of that process. It feels amazing to have it out and seeing how people have been reacting to all of our heard work so far.
What do you hope people get out of this record? What do you get out of sharing it with them? What does it mean to have an audience that is very visibly excited to hear songs that are so personal to you?
It's the most rewarding feeling in the world. Most people don't take the chance to pursue what they actually love, and I get it because there is a ton of risk involved most of the time. I've been blessed to have taken that chance, to be able to do what I love everyday, and have people love what I do. I get to share my story with the world and also get to hear/read the stories of so many other people. It really makes you see things in a different light when you see what everyone else is going through in the world and being able to relate to people from all different countries and different walks of life.
I hope everyone takes what they need to from this project, there are so many different concepts and stories on this project there should be something for everyone!
Who are some of the most influential rappers and musicians that have inspired you creatively? Is there a major influence of yours that would surprise most people?
Honestly I'm just inspired by music in general. I listen to everything, every genre. I think my biggest influence in my life is my mom though; she's a hard worker and has put me in the position to be able to pursue what I love. She is such a strong person and a true inspiration.
Have there been specific people in your life who have motivated you to pursue rapping as a career? How did you start rapping and how did it progress?
I have a really tight-knit group of friends who are constantly supporting and pushing me to move forward. They were the ones who originally pushed me to put my music out for the world to hear and to this day continually support and push me to keep out doing myself.
What inspires your music? Has living in Connecticut influenced the creative process in certain ways? If so, how?
I think that being from Connecticut has played a role in the music I make. The landscape and the climate change create an always-changing environment. I think that the creative process is influenced by environment a lot. For example, writing music in a busy city studio might be different then writing music while sitting in the woods. I also feel like being from Connecticut you have a lot more to prove because you are surrounded by such big name cities like Boston and New York City, so that keeps that fire burning to always keep pushing forward.
What has your experience been as a rising rapper in Connecticut? How difficult is it to find success in Connecticut? Have you found a strong music scene, specifically rap scene, here?
We actually created our project “Kindest Regards” in my producer Dan Haynes’ house up at UConn! I just put my music out there for whoever wants to listen. That's the incredible thing about the Internet, you can gain a following in multiple states and countries without even leaving your town. Whenever I get love from CT and people from CT it is always extra special to me though.
Have there been times when you questioned whether pursuing rap music is worth it? What, if any, have been trying times in terms of pushing forward in your career when the going got tough?
I don't let those thoughts enter my mind, I know this is what I want to do and this is what I am doing, every other thought of fear or doubt is a waste of time that I could be using to progress forward, time is the most valuable thing we all have.
What does the success you've found online mean to you? How do you plan on taking your online presence and transferring it into creating a career that sustains touring, merchandising, etc.?
The internet is just a platform, it is the same as me going out and doing shows and gaining new people to join #TEAMWITT that way, except I can do it every single day, it's not just a one night, one state thing. The internet makes my music accessible to whoever wants to listen anytime they want to listen, and I'm actually able to interact with people on a much deeper level, people are able to send me their stories and thoughts on things and I always do my best to respond. I can't wait to get on tour and meet everyone in person and give everyone a really next level experience of the music.
What is your take on technology's impact on the music industry? Do you have any predictions or observations in terms of where you see the industry heading?
You have to keep up with the times, there are artists now who are huge and started on MySpace, but trying that in today's age might not work as well. Technology is taking over in all aspects of our lives, not just music. People don't even want to go on their computers anymore to download music, they want to get it direct to their phones. That's a huge shift, four or five years ago everyone was getting it on their computers and transferring it to their iPods. It's funny how iPods feel almost ancient now. I think it's all about keeping up with the shifts in the industry. We can't predict what's next, but what we can do is adapt to the ever-changing environment.
What are the core principles/lessons you've followed since the beginning of your rap career? What are some of the major lessons you've learned along the way from pursuing rap?
Just to stay true to myself, make the music I want to make with the people I want to make it with and the rest will work itself out. I don't overthink it, I just do what I love and what I feel passionate about and let that guide the way.
What advice would you give to another musician and/or rapper trying to find the fan-base you've been able to culminate for yourself?
Just to be themselves and keep going, just never quit on something you are truly passionate about.
I see most of your videos have been directed by Mike Squires. How has this creative/collaborative relationship come about and how does it work between the two of you? Why do you think it has worked so well?
We linked up through the music, we are friends first and just do what we both love to do. That's how everyone I work with is and that's why everything feels so natural. We all know each other and have been working with each other for a while now so we've built that chemistry. We all 100% truly believe in what we are creating and I think that is what is most important.
A lot of your songs deal with heartbreak and longing. How is writing cathartic for you?
It's just my way of venting and organizing my thoughts, I'm able to be an open book, question things and really analyze things for what they really are.
If you could leave people with an impression after listening to your songs or coming to a show, what would you want to leave them with?
I want people to feel the passion, I want people to feel the creativity, I just want to create art that people can feel. Whether it makes them happy, or mad, or sad, I just want to make art that strikes a cord.