Avion Blackstone is an Austin-based singer, songwriter, poet, and pianist that lays big pop sound in between layers of meaningful lyrics. Obsessed with symbolism, Avion writes music as metaphors for life, gender, sex, and urgent world events.
Her sound has been compared to Lady Gaga, and her songs are refreshing and deep with meaning while the quality of her music is equivalent to that of top tier stars. She credits her perfectionism–her fans, called #Aviants, credit her raw talent.
Bio excerpted in part from Rockbandom.
Table of Contents
4:28 – If you had to describe yourself as a band, song, or genre, what would it be?
6:39 – How did you get started in the music business?
9:11 – Looking back at your career, what stands out to you as your proudest moment?
15:54 – What’s been one of your biggest failures, and what lessons did you learn from that moving forward?
21:55 – A few things artists should be doing today to grow their fan-base and move their careers forward
If you had to describe yourself as a band, song, or genre, what would it be?
I actually sat down with my best friend and talked about this question, and I said “I have no idea what my answer should be.” And she said, “whatever has a lot of glitter in it, that’s probably what you are.”
It’s gonna sound kinda comical, but I think I would be the song, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” I know right, I’ll bet you’ve had no one say that one! I started thinking about it, and that is really all that I am. I love things that are bright, and shiny, and mysterious. Both in the physical world, and in the mental and emotional world.
I want to be that little, twinkling star. I don’t see myself as the sunshine. I don’t see myself as the overnight sensation that is going to be everywhere today and gone tomorrow. I see myself as the star, that everyone is going to look up at see that little twinkling thing for the next 90, 100, or 200 years. I want to inspire people to look up and to wonder. And it’s a simple song, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes, we don’t have to take ourselves so seriously.
How did you get started in the music business?
The business is a necessary evil in a lot of ways. I’ve heard a lot of artists say that they don’t like the business, and I actually do like the business. I like figuring it out, I like the puzzle. So I did I get started?
I’ve always had an ear for music. And I was one of those kids that started writing songs at a very young age, I think I was three or four years old performing in church. I started writing songs simply because no one told me that I couldn’t do that. No one ever informed me that hey, that’s a professionals job.
Looking back at your career, what stands out to you as your proudest moment?
On a purely cool level, I got verified by Facebook. It was my first little blue check mark, and I was so excited! That was a really cool moment. But I think my proudest personal moment would be…well, I reached this moment in June where I felt like I just had to get over myself. I was so afraid of being rejected, and I was so afraid of being criticized, it was like I couldn’t open up to people. I couldn’t share with people.
And there was a bit of ego going on there too. I was kind of like, “well, if people want to be involved in my music, they should follow me and talk to me, because I’m awesome.” And I had to step back and admit that all of that was simply fear. All of that was an attempt to make it someone elses responsibility to tell me that I was valuable.
It was a traumatic experience, to look in the mirror and say, “you know what, you are a twit.” It can take a lot of skin off your soul. But when I was able to do that, that is when I was really able to start connecting with people.
What’s been one of your biggest failures, and what lessons did you learn from that moving forward?
Where on Earth do I start? I have made so many mistakes. My biggest fail moment in music so far has been assuming that I could jump up and perform live just because I was able to do the behind the stage and behind the scenes piece of music. There is a very separate art to connecting with people face to face from a stage versus connecting with them one on one at a coffee shop, or over Twitter. There is a very separate art to being able to sing and perform live then there is to being able to nail it in a studio.
Growing up, I never saw concerts. I tell people all the time that the first concert I went to I was actually performing in. It was a little music festival in Minnesota. So I had no examples. And I have this strange phobia of crowds. Crowds and cheering freak me out a lot. And so I didn’t want to watch or go to concerts because it was kind of scary. But I got to the point where I said that I’m going to have to step back. I did this show in Austin, Texas. It was an open mic and it was just so awful. It was terrible. You could just tell that everyone that was there just felt sorry for me.
And I thought, you know, I can’t do this to the people who believe in me. I can’t just get up here and do this half-baked. I’ve got to go back and get some education on this. So I actually started watching concerts by some of the people that are considering the great performers, like James Brown, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Madonna. I broke it down and watched what these people were doing. Before, and I used to get teased for this, but my family was really religious and the only people that I ever saw perform were preachers. And people would tease me and say that I sang like a Baptist preacher. It’s not quite the right format for pop music. Now I’ve been told that I perform like James Brown, which is also not quite the right vibe for pop music, but I’m getting there!
So I think my lesson to people about that would be: You’re gonna have a weak spot. Somewhere in music, you’re going to have a weak spot. And it is better to just acknowledge it, find it, and start working on it then to try and fake. Because you’re not going make it. There is just this place in music that you cannot fake it, and you have to take step back and learn.
A few things artists should be doing today to grow their fan-base and move their careers forward:
Right now, the world is so digitally driven. Most of us live inside of our smart phones. And that’s just my generation. The generation in their early twenties is even more so. So it is so important to be the artist who can be right there in the palm of their hand. You need to be on a fans Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You need to be in their streaming services that they are using on their phone.
I would say, if you want to build a marketing plan for yourself, all of your reaching out should be on easy-to-access, mobile platforms. For me, that’s Twitter. I personally like Twitter because it’s really friendly. They want you to connect with lots of people, and they want you to say hi to lots of people. And they don’t have funky algorithms that prevent you from finding people. My technique with Twitter was to simply be friendly.
I am categorically in favor of streaming services for music. I think streaming is wonderful. I love Spotify, I love Deezer, I love iTunes. Some of the others, I’m just not quite as big of a fan of, just because they are not as easily accessible for my fans. It goes back to that attitude that what we do as musicians should be an up-service to mankind. Artists need to pull their music off of sites like ReverbNation, SoundCloud…theres a few others. Pull your stuff off of those platforms and put it on Spotify and iTunes and whatever it is that your fan base is actually using. Because you have to be in their phones.
You are going to find in the music industry a lot of people who want to take advantage of you. This is the most scam-ladden industry in the world. You are going to find people that are going to make you outrageous promises like, “give me $600 a month and I’ll get you a record deal.” I actually had somebody not too long ago said, “well, for about $20,000, this guy can write you a song and he can send it to all these competing record labels.” And when you know a little bit about the business, you know that there is no way that this guy is working for all of the major record labels. They don’t let you do that.
You are going to run into people like that who are going to take advantage of you because you are hopeful and young. For us girls, you are going to run into people who want to promise you something in music and take advantage of you sexually. You just need to be prepared, those people are out there. Some of them are very, very good at telling you exactly what you want to hear. And you need to step around it.
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