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Interview: Rudy Walker

Rudy Walker is a multifaceted artist from Baltimore, Maryland whose passion for music began at eight years old. After he began recording at thirteen, his musical talents earned him scholarships for professional vocal lessons where he trained under Laurie Vicaro of the Lyric Opera. The Maryland State Boy Choir alum was in the Baltimore School for The Arts' T.W.I.G.S. Program. He began releasing music in 2015 with his single titled Dance All Night and has been releasing music every year since 2019. With the release of his latest single "Actions", Rudy is determined to execute his plan of creating an uplifting sound within the Virginia R&B scene and beyond.

Jay: You produced your latest single "Actions", featured in Styles Weekly, and even had a podcast from it. Tell me some lessons you learned as you taught yourself how to produce music.

RW: I learned to not be afraid to deliver and let people hear what I was doing. I had a conversation with OG Illa months ago and another great friend and both made comments about how there are really no rules when it comes to creating. Being around producers also made me want to try producing, case in point, "Favorite Person".

It makes me think of Ryan Leslie and how he produces. The communication channel i.e., the instruments can be seen in different ways.

Jay: On The Actions Podcast, you launched an "R&B Ain't Dead" segment spotlighting R&B artists. What inspired the launch of that podcast segment?

RW: Social media was in an uproar about how Diddy said R&B is dead and yet we're in this R&B Renaissance right now. Anita Baker is making music, Babyface just dropped an album. People like Muni Long, Masego, Ella Mai, and more are dropping great music. So I just wanted to do that to cover the lesser-known artists.

No shade to mainstream R&B, which is the melodic rappy-singing, that's a more alternative R&B in my opinion. R&B like Jasmine Sullivan, the quintessential R&B, never died. Real R&B doesn't need any autotune. People sing it and sometimes, some singers can be overshadowed by more of the filtration and rap melodies that come with that alternative R&B trend.

Jay: Let's talk about your transition from Baltimore to Richmond. Describe how that affected your growth personally.

RW: It was a huge transition. Had to deal with two different dichotomies. I left Baltimore as a boy and came to Richmond as a man. I left Baltimore with a place that wasn't mine and came to Richmond with a home of my own. I left Baltimore in one tax bracket and came to Richmond in another tax bracket. I left Baltimore feeling overwhelmed and exhausted and came to Richmond feeling empowered.

When I came to Richmond, I stopped making music. I had a private tragic moment that occurred and it helped me appreciate life and work on myself. Finally, I started making music again. That transition to making music again wasn't difficult once I started networking in Richmond. The first few people I met in the Richmond music scene were Hannah and her now husband Louis who introduced me to a songwriter, AJ. I did some music with him and didn't like what we came up with and it died out.

Next, I met some guys from a production company and I recorded "Mad". It was the first song I recorded and released in Richmond. I met Tone and we did a lot of music together. He's influential in the music I make. Then I met Illa and so many great people.

It helped me grow alongside working professionally in the corporate training space. It really made an impact on multi-billion dollar companies and gave me the confidence I needed to believe in my business plan and the ability to lead and have a profound amount of emotional intelligence. It funded my projects and equipment.

I transitioned into another management position and I mentioned it because I don't want to hide any part of what I am. I make music, I do this podcast, and I'm a manager for this business.

Richmond, Virginia also taught me to not be afraid. It taught me to live out loud. I talk about my queerness and don't care what anybody thinks because it's a part of who I am. They say "Virginia Is For Lovers" and I learned to love myself more here.

Jay: Your last EP, The Last Six Months, was released in 2020. When should we expect another EP?

RW: It's funny because I've been going back and forth between doing an EP or an album. I'm working on something really special with a writer and we're doing plenty of acoustic writing and focusing on top lines and the actual notes associated with the top lines. We're working on some really cool stuff. Some music will release before that project and it has a direction to it. I'm open to working on the projects as well. This project is hyperfocused on experiences I went through as I lost my mom and I'm excited for that project to come out.

Jay: There is a certain hype around being "indie" and doing everything on your own as an indie artist. There is nothing better for people to say that they did it on their own, yet the truth is you can't really do it by yourself. It can take one platform that gives praise to a single to elevate an artist. In the social media era, it can take an influencer to hype up a song or an artist. How is it working with a management team as an indie artist?

RW: I like working with a management team because I'm held accountable for certain things and when I'm not producing content, I start to feel guilty like "uh, oh, they may say something." The management team handles the business side more but I like the accountability I receive from them.

The past few months have been shaky because I had moments of brain fog, sadness, and joy. Fortunately, the joy has taken over a lot more than the other moments in recent weeks. When you're in a groove and keep going and have to pump the brakes, it's a bit of a shock.

Before having a team, I always thought I have to keep moving regardless. Now having a management team and a creative direction team has been helpful in generating ideas. I studied architecture and environmental design in college. One thing I've learned is to constantly tweak and adjust.

The only downsides to that are more stress and more opinions but I like it.

Jay: What was the best no that you have ever received? And why?

RW: It was probably the universe saying no to me having success as a singer and songwriter in my early twenties. I didn't really know how to handle it then. I wouldn't have been able to manage my business and the relationships needed in the business. I wouldn't have the emotional capacity to deal with everything that comes along with success of it at an early age.

Other no's I had was probably related to that. For example, I sent songs to producers and radio stations and didn't hear anything back. It helped me understand the business better.

Jay: Who are some indie artists that you would like to shout out?

RW: I would have to say Muni Long. She's probably one of my favorites right now and she founded her own label after being in the game for a long time. She's written a lot of songs we jammed to in the 2010s actually and I loved how she put money into herself and writing for people helped her come up with a business strategy to launch her career. Russ did a similar thing.

Brent Faiyaz comes from Columbia, Maryland, he's another one that I want to shout out.

Follow Rudy Walker on all social media @itsrudywalker . Stream Rudy's music and podcast on all streaming platforms.

Written by: Jay Guevara. @justinhisprime on all social media.

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