TC: I'm loving Natural Disasters, Au'che! What inspired it?
Au' che King: I was inspired by the chaos in the world, and this was obviously before but relevant to COVID-19. The song is talking about or asking a question, "What is actually good about being and living in the world?" and realizing that it's actually a mess. It's also about our mistakes and regrets that, if left unchecked, can destroy our self-esteem and confidence. Honestly, COVID-19 is a very good example of a natural disaster. When I wrote the song I was thinking about these things. I've made plenty of mistakes but I was thinking about the different ones I've made and seen others make as well. These struggles, things that we sometimes choose not to think about because they're too painful are natural disasters.
TC: Is there a personal experience you had in mind when you thought about the title to the song?
Au' che King: One specific mistake I feel I made was putting my music on hold. I actually stopped singing for 6 years. Basically, I was disappointed by not making the final round to the Voice. I got discouraged after that, and told myself that I wasn't going to go back through that kind of frustration or hurt anymore. If I could go back in time I would have kept going with my music, but unfortunately we can only move forward. But that's a "natural" mistake that I made, and I feel like my song can help people recognize that the world can be disappointing and hurtful but things have a way of turning around later.
TC: How would you describe the pain or loss--that feeling of disappointment--in a way that has encouraged you to not give up on pursuing your dreams and that might help others as well?
Au'che King: The pain is unforgettable. I think just hearing the sting of the word "No!" and feeling its harsh reality is difficult for a lot of people. At least it was for me. I was 16 at the time. The experience of the competition was incredible and I was honored to make it to the call back. I think the key thing is to never stop because of hearing "No!" from people who have the power to give you what you want and what you feel you've worked so hard to get--that opportunity of a lifetime, for example. And, honestly, for a lot of people before you get a "Yes!" you're gonna get a lot of "Nos!" but they can make you stronger and better. So never give up on yourself and your talent. That's what I would say.
TC: Let's transition to the vocals of the song. Your voice is so smooth, calming in fact!
Au' che King: My vocals are what I consider a calming thing, you're right! I've never really had a high range or register. I'm more of a baritone. So I've learned how to work with what has been given to me, and I've learned to strengthen the things I can do. I know I have more untapped vocals inside of me to deliver but I I haven't gotten there yet but I will eventually. Absolutely.
TC: So, how do you actually start writing a song? Like, what's your process?
Au' che King: I have other songs I've written, and more music will be coming out once our quarantine situation is up and I can get back into the studio with my production team Mixtape Seoul and Thomas McDonnell and start recording. I can't wait! Before I write, I like to listen to music that has the same kind of sound that I'm going for. I love so many great artists--from DIY to those who have the machine of the industry behind them to increase their marketing, sales, and audience base--that I won't name them now. I listen to a lot of music, Soul, Gospel, R&B, Neo-Soul, Hip Hop, Pop, Indie, Rock...you name it! After I vibe to a beat or sound that feels right, I search for music to write to. My writing is everywhere, though, honestly! There are days where I write like 1 song and other days where I write 2 or 3 songs. It's really about the mood I'm in at the time. I will say this, the upcoming tracks aren't what might be expected by someone whose judging or thinking of my music strictly in terms of Natural Disasters,
TC: Has COVID-19 really reshaped your understanding or feelings about pain and loss?
Au' che King: COVID-19 has helped me understand that the world isn't good but we are responsible for making the best out of every situation and challenge that life throws our way. Natural Disasters fits perfectly with the pandemic. It is a reminder that mistakes happen that are natural disasters, so to speak, and for the most part are things outside our control. However, what is in our control doesn't have to end up as "natural" disasters. The overall soft, low-tone, love ballad vibe of the song is a commentary on our society, basically saying we should all have love for each other but that's not the way the world works!
TC: When you say, "The world isn't good," do you have anything more concrete in mind?
Au' che King: Well, right now we're faced with issues of gun violence and whether or not there should be greater or less measures taken to control it, like limiting the kinds of fire arms or assault weapons you can purchase or holding gun manufacturers accountable for who actually can purchase or get these weapons. There's race discrimination and violence, jealousy and hatred as well as drug abuse. Many of these social and environmental issues are just waiting for the perfect time to spin out of control. For some, these things have already gotten out of hand and become things that we talk about as preventative measures.
TC: I know when I first listened to the song, I thought of natural phenomena outside our control such as devastation caused by tornadoes, tsunamis, and hurricanes, like Hurricane Katrina, though some would say that even these things could have been avoided due to things like climate change and environmental factors. How are you wanting your listeners, fans, and supporters to think about other kinds of natural disasters that could actually be caused or perpetuated by humans?
Au' che King: Well, something very important to me, something that I actually feel like I could be a brand ambassador for, is the issue of bullying. I hope that my song can actually connect with and change our culture of bullying. I used to be bullied in elementary school because of my stuttering. I would love to sit down with people, especially young people who think that they're cool or better than others by putting others down and making them feel bad about themselves. I actually see myself opening up a school one day to help our kids, anyone really, work through and find inspiration and hope in their speech impediment.