I had the pleasure to interview SwaVay from Atlanta, Georgia at a nearby studio a couple months back. From humble beginnings to getting signed by global music figure known as Metro Boomin, SwaVay knows exactly what he wants to achieve. We chopped it up about various topics such as his upbringing, early music, and what the future holds. Be sure to follow SwaVay and check out our conversation below.
Where is SwaVay originally from? Everyone has a childhood, what was yours like?
I’m from Cobb, fifteen minutes outside the city. But yeah, growing up my mom was very-very religious and shit. So it wasn’t like a situation where music was always being played in the house. It was really was me finding music as I got older. When I would get home, I’d hop on those Music Choice channels and listen to music all day. From there I just fell in love with music.
So being from Atlanta. How has that shaped you into who you are today generally speaking and musically?
For me, it made me grind harder because I really didn’t know anyone. In Atlanta or certain parts of Atlanta, everyone kind of knows this one dude who’s on or this this dude who’s on. So it’s like “Ok I can start rapping cause I know this DJ from Hoodrich or I know Sonny, so I can start getting beats”. For me, I didn’t know anyone. I was making beats and recording myself, it’s like I had something to prove. Be the person who did it on his own, with no resources, just made it work somehow. At the same time, I feel like it made people respect me a lot more. See me do everything from the ground up. That’s what it really was for me as far as music goes. Growing up in Cobb, it shaped me as a person. It’s a place where there’s so many types of people, a mixing pot of culture. I grew up well-cultured, but still got into what the fuck I like.
What are some early on influences that has helped you create your own sound?
Early early on, my mom is religious like I said so Gospel was like the only thing being played around me. As far as what I got really into, studying hip-hop and stuff like that. I definitely gravitated towards Nas, The Far Side, Tupac, shit like that. I got Pac tatted on me. I’m only 21, so I grew up on the people running the rap game now like J. Cole, Kendrick, Big Sean, all that shit.
When did the time come for SwaVay to start taking music serious? Where you were like “yes, I can do this.”
To be honest bro, I kind of always knew I was going to be making music. I played basketball too, but then I just stopped in like the 9th grade. When I got to high-school I was like I got to go full-fledge with this music. I still played basketball because I couldn’t run from it. Definitely in middle school too, me and my best friend Sahad used to meet up on the weekends and make like fifteen songs for a mixtape. Every month we would burn a bunch of CDs with the songs and pass them out in school for the whole month. People were fucking with us, doing talent shows and shit. They wanted me to be on Disney Channel when I was in 8th grade. They had some show on Disney XD coming out and it was a kid showing celebrities how to cook and shit. They ended up giving it to some girl. I never watched the show but I know it’s a real show.
So the first time I came across your music due to a mutual friend putting me on was the song “QuickTrip”. That song is a hit, what is the meaning behind the record?
I’m bout to tell you something nobody knows. I had kind of came up under this group called Two-9. I had made the beat for the group Fat Kid Brothers. I sent to him, and I was like bruh they gon’ hear this shit and love this shit, right up their alley, very neptune-sy, snub nose Frankenstein shit. But yeah, I sent to em and I don’t think they ever heard it. I used to be with this n***** everyday, like Lightskin Mac 11 was my favorite rapper so I didn’t even know how to approach him about the shit. So maybe a month went by and then I was like alright maybe I’ll record a reference track or some shit. Then I literally just rapped, QuickTrip. Like “beat a n**** ass at the QuickTrip” really doesn’t mean a god damn thing, Ima come clean *everyone laughs*. I write for people too, so that was really one of the first reference tracks I made. But back then, I was making reference tracks and I was like oh shit this fye, I’m not going to give this out. Crazy thing is, I made “QuickTrip” and then I played it for David (Morse). David was like “I don’t know bruh, I don’t know if this the one”. I was like nah this the one n****, this shit haaaard.
Backtracking a little, you’ve been making music for a while now. Do you feel like you’ve changed personally/musically from the first time you dropped a song to now?
I don’t know, at this point I feel like I’m a very diverse artist. I wasn’t as diverse back then as I am now. I got more diverse from meeting people like James and Metro as well. I’ve always had the same goal, which is a rapper that is saying something. Have meaning and depth to him, not just a flat dough. You know what I’m saying? I always wanted to be a top dog too, well-respected for that type of artist.
So you’ve made some stellar projects along the way such as You Think You Know Me, Take Me Serious, I’m Not Playing, Before Eye Die, and Traplanta 2. What was the process like for you making these tapes?
With albums like Before Eye Die, that was just something that took me so long to make. I usually drop like one big project every year and three EPs, like You Think You Know Me. I drop all these projects leading up to one big project. But, Before Eye Die took me like a year in half, two almost. The EPs come from really me sitting in the house, making a shit ton of music. That’s why I always credit Curtis Williams, I’ve never seen someone make three or four songs in a day and do the same thing the next and the next day and the next day. I’ve seen that and I was like bro I could do that too. From there, I applied that to build my work ethic. Even with Metro, I’ve never seen someone work harder. With albums, I want to take my time and make sure I get across everything I want to say.
You’ve toured with Metro Boomin and Bryson Tiller, performed with countless names, and now have a full-fledge project with James Blake coming very soon if I could take a guess. What has all this meant to you and how do you continue to make huge leaps in your career?
That people actually give a fuck about my music. It also means that I’m doing something right. Before I got signed and shit, I was like damn I could be one of those rappers who rap for so long and was so talented, but at the end of the day he never made it. That scared me, cause I always wanted people to hear my music and appreciate it. So for me I feel like all the shit that has happening now, I have to be on the right track. That’s what it means to me and back to what I said earlier, I want to be that rapper, well-respected, arguably one of the greatest.