Interview: Autumn in June
Interview by Carl Pietrusinksi
Illustrations by Peter Hopkins
I recently had the privilege of conversing with Andy Aceman. Aceman is an indie pop artist who goes by the stage name of Autumn in June. In our thirty minute phone conversation, we spoke about his childhood, $2 dollar french fry bags, 90’s gangster rap and who I should be listening to on Soundcloud.
Young Andy spent most of his childhood consuming whatever music he could and learning how to navigate the turbulent streets of south central, Los Angeles. His early love of music was mostly fueled by hip-hop, just as any kid growing up in his neck of the woods. If he wasn’t out free-styling with the older kids around the neighborhood, he was bugging his sister to replay Tupac’s All Eyez on Me.
Aceman’s music taste eventually evolved, gaining more of a pop ambiance. Currently, he produces his own music under the name Autumn in June. A paradox of sorts, the name is a solid descriptor of Aceman as he produces –what he dubs as—experimental pop in an area both famous and infamous for it’s gangster rap scene.
While Autumn in June’s music is far different from the rappers of his hometown, Schoolboy Q, Vince Staples, and YG (if i'm going to name drop a few), the streets still find a way into his music.
Aceman acknowledged that instrumentally, he aims for his music to have a positive vibe that “will make people feel happier after listening”. However, the music simply masks slightly gloomier lyrics that are inspired by Aceman’s surroundings.
He transcribes his daily visions to music in his own, self-made backyard studio.
The newest release from Autumn in June, Hours, a product of his own backyard, has a high replay value to say the least. Aceman’s voice glides along, complimenting the suave instrumental. The beat definitely has an 80’s synthesizer vibe going on, along with a hip-hop sounding drumbeat, and a variety of other sounds.
Give Hours and the rest of Autumn in June’s music a listen to on his Soundcloud.
But first, check out our interview with him below.
POND: How long have you been making music and how did you start?
AUTUMN: I’ve been making music since I was like 7. I started playing on a little toy, plastic keyboard. But I connected a tape recorder to it, and I did my best to make music with what I had. It was pretty funny. But I got more serious and started releasing stuff of my own only about a year ago. Prior to that I have always been producing and writing songs. I’ve been trying to do everything that I can do with music to just grow as an all around artist.
POND: What was your first CD as a kid?
AUTUMN: It was Tupac’s All Eyez on Me. My sister had the cassette and she listened to it all the time. So anytime that I was hanging out with her I was listening to it. But then she moved out and I wanted to hear it so bad. I needed it and just had to have it. So I went out and bought the cd.
POND: What was it like growing up in South Central LA?
AUTUMN: It was a challenge. That’s honestly the best word to describe it. When you’re little, you don’t think about the situation. When you get older and go other places outside of the neighborhood, you start to understand it’s not the same everywhere. South Central has a lot of gangs and violence obviously. It’s what it’s always been kinda known for. I did everything that I could to stay away from all that. I remember when I was like 6, my mom told me to go the store and get some water. On my way, there were 3 older kids probably around 17-18 and they asked me for my bike. I didn’t want to give it to them and I remember just being so confused. Anyways, they beat me up for it. I didn’t even realize that I was being robbed. When I got home, my neighbor, who was a Crip, sort of took me under his wing after that. He was a lot older and respected by most of the neighborhood. He was a good dude and he even bought me another bike and taught me a about how to act in the neighborhood. A lot of the older people protected me sort of and showed me the ropes. I hung out with the older kids a lot. I’m the only boy in my family, so I was always playing alone until I met some of the older kids. It was definitely a learning experience on how to just generally be cool and figure it all out.
POND: Does your childhood and those experiences influence the music that you make today?
AUTUMN: It does a lot actually. When I started making music, it was rap and hip-hop because all of my boys that I grew up with were really into rap. So at first I wanted to get in on that music. I just started rolling with them while they were imitating everything that Dr. Dre and 50 cent were trying to do. We’d rap back and forth to each other all the time. As I got older, I started experimenting with every type of music I could. But it was a challenge to go from one thing like gangster rap and all of a sudden I’m doing pop. So I felt like I couldn’t really talk about the same things. It was a rough transition at first. But I started to figure out how to still talk about those things and get them off of my chest, making it catchy at the same time. The overall goal is to make something that people enjoy listening to. It just comes out in a different type of vibe now. It’s not as aggressive; you wouldn’t even realize what I’m talking about until you really listen to the lyrics closely. I want to keep it fun and more on the pop side to balance that out.
POND: If you had to best describe the genre of music you make, what would you call it?
AUTUMN: Honestly indie pop is something that people identify me with, which is awesome. So I kinda roll with that. But I find it kind of hard to explain it to people sometimes. I get a lot of influence out of punk, funk, and everything in between. Indie dance is great and so is hip-hop. I’ll produce a rock song or something hip-hop. I learned it all before I started producing myself. I try to give everything like a nice, happy vibe. If I had to label it, I’d say experimental pop. Let’s go with that.
POND: What or who inspires the music that you make the most?
AUTUMN: I get inspiration from everything. But mostly I’m a very visual person. I’m more of a viewer than a talker. I like to make and listen to music that goes with what I’m seeing. That could be people, events, art, anything.
POND: If you could work with one artist in the game, who would it be and why?
AUTUMN: I like Jamie xx. He’s super cool. I like the melodies that he uses. It’s minimal but super catchy and just overall amazing music. There’s a lot of emotion to his music and you just can’t get bored of it. Visually I would like to work with flying lotus. His visuals are amazing and they always compliment his music nicely. Working with either of those dudes would be a dream.
POND: Who are you listening to nowadays?
AUTUMN: I listen to a lot of upcoming artists on Soundcloud. That’s my main source of music because I like how there are a lot of people trying to make a buzz for themselves. Specifically, PCVVX is my buddy, and he’s been doing some good stuff. Broods is also someone that I’m starting to get into. I highly recommend checking out his stuff. Anything under my Soundcloud likes is pretty much what I’m listening to.
POND: What do you have in mind for your next release?
AUTUMN: I had something in mind regarding an EP. But at the moment I’m just kind of releasing singles and I want to see how the people pick it up. I plan is to build up a buzz with a bunch of singles. My whole team is focused on visuals and singles. I already have the next single lined up too. Hopefully in like a month I can release it. It all depends on the buzz that were building. It’s hard to tell what the next step is, were just kind of rolling with each single.
POND: What’s your recording process like?
AUTUMN: It’s different for each song. But for Hours, my latest single, the process was simpler. I built my own studio in the back yard a while back. It’s nothing luxurious, but it does the job for me. I just recorded it in like 30 minutes. But it took a few days to clean everything up a little bit and make it sound crisp. I started with the bass line. I had this new synthesizer and just repeated the bass line over and over. Then I started free styling a little bit over it for like 10 minutes and next thing you know, I have all of the lyrics. I don’t like writing my own songs down. When I used to mess around with hip-hop artists, we only free styled. It gives me more freedom to express myself as I’m thinking about it. It sounds way better to just let it come from the top. It sounds more genuine to me. It’s almost like I’m talking to someone and having a conversation as we are now. That’s honestly my favorite way to do it right now. It keeps me on point. Then I just finish the song around what I have right there.
POND: What’s your favorite food spot around LA?
AUTUMN: There’s this place that’s super hood, but I’ve loved it forever. It’s called Tam’s Burgers. It’s on 51st and Central. They have a 2-dollar bag of fries. It’s kind of funny because they sell them to you in a 40 bag. So there’s a lot of fries in there. You get so full for like no money. It kinda got me trough high school.