To the casual fan of r&b music, Avery Storm may seem like a relative newcomer in the industry. However, if you take a deeper look into his history, he’s actually been in the game for over a decade, originally signing with Timbaland before finding a home years later on Nelly’s Derrty Entertainment. His feature credits over the years read as a who’s who of hip hop artists including the likes of Nelly, Biggie, Juvenile, Jadakiss, Rick Ross, Pitbull, Wale and Cam’ron. What has so far prevented Avery from becoming a full blown household name is despite the release of mixtapes over the years, he has yet to put out his debut album; and you’ll read that’s partly due to his own plan. Because it’s been such a long time coming, to me “Shotgun Love” has to be one of the most anticipated albums in r&b right now and I’m excited to hear it’s coming soon. In this interview, we discuss the unusual circumstances that originally led to his linking up with Nelly, his unique voice and style, what “Shotgun Love” means to him, when we can expect the album, his writing process, being an Italian American in an industry dominated by African Americans, and much more.
YKIGS: I read in your bio that you were originally signed to Timbaland’s “Beat Club” label back in 2001. How did you originally meet him and what did you get a chance to work on while on that label?
Avery Storm: There was a little production group I was working with at the time and just shopping the situation really, and when Timbaland heard it, he was like “Yo, don’t take this anywhere else, I need this.” So we ended up doing a meeting that night and the rest is history from there.
YKIGS: Did you ever create any music with him while you were there?
AS: Yea I did a couple of songs with him, a couple of great ones actually. But you know they haven’t seen the light of day really. Naturally, we moved from that situation.
YKIGS: I was reading that after things didn’t work out at Beat Club, you basically took a job at a deli and used the money to make promo cds and handed them out in the streets. Tell me about that whole situation and what was kinda going through your head at the time. Did you ever think you’d make it?
AS: Yea of course. That’s really never been the question; it’s really been where is the best situation for me, and how to make that happen. I did a lot of things from working in a funeral home, to the deli, just a bunch of things to make sure I kept my head above water, but just to really regroup and get back to the grind, the bare minimum and just get back to making music. In that time I was handing out promo discs and all of that stuff literally in traffic in Manhatten asking people to play it, and within a few minutes I heard my music being played out of the traffic in the cars and I was like “There it Is!!” Within a couple of weeks those cds actually reached a couple of people’s hands in the offices up there. So that’s how Nelly had got one of my discs as well and it just made sense, it was the thing to do.
YKIGS: Yea I was actually going to ask about Nelly and how you originally met him. So tell me about after he heard your music, what was your first meeting with him like and what was he telling you?
AS: Actually I got a call from him and I was shocked! After we got into the conversation he had told me he had heard my stuff, and what had happened was a mutual friend of ours in Harlem actually gave him one of my discs. So what happened was he had given him the music and I’m not sure that he told him who I was and where I came from and all of that. So Nelly liked what he heard and the dude brought him some pictures and Nelly didn’t believe that the pictures were of me, he couldn’t believe it. So Nelly called me and asked me to come down to Atlanta that weekend so he could see for himself. So I went down to Atlanta and met with them, and when I met him, he asked me to sing, so when I sang he finally believed it was me. We ended up working right then and there, I did a song with Murphy Lee, I did a few other things, and the rest was history. I’ve also gotta say, coming from New York, it’s a lot of egos when you go into certain settings and certain family settings when you’ve got a crew in the studio. It’s not just New York, but you can definitely feel the egos in the room in a crew environment. But when I walked in the room with them it wasn’t like that and that kinda threw me a little bit. So that was part of the attraction as well, everybody was real people in there.
YKIGS: Now I want to take it back to your beginnings in music. What do you think originally drew you to r&b and to want to sing that genre of music?
AS: Just the fact that you could feel people’s voices. From Stevie to even somebody like a Phil Collins or even Journey, I’m not trying to take it back to only old stuff, but from Marvin to Stevie. I was exposed to a lot of different genres of music from country on down the line but with soul music and r&b you truly feel what’s being said, you can sometimes feel the voice before you even hear the voice, and I connected with that. I play instruments, I’ve been strumming all my life, but it’s just something to be able to create a song and sing it to where it actually moves you or captures somebody. So I think that’s just awesome, foreal.
YKIGS: In this industry it’s so tough to make it, and something I’ve always noticed about you is your voice is really unique, and you have a really unique style. Do you think that’s something that helped differentiate you from others?
AS: I think that in itself has kinda been like…it separates me, and then it tends to be confusing to other people who are trying to figure me out like “What is this?” So absolutely it separates me and I just do my own thing anyway, I kinda pride myself on not doing what the next man is doing. So the fact that my voice is unique and doesn’t sound like anybody else I think that just adds to what I do because I don’t do what they’re doing.
YKIGS: I want to talk to you about your debut album “Shotgun Love” which has been rumored to be releasing for awhile now. Tell me what the status is on that.
AS: Actually right now I am of the mindset that I’m going to be continuously working on it until the day that I have to lock the door and can’t do anything else. This is something like you said that I’ve been working on so I’m not just going to throw it out there. It’s gotta be done right in order for me to feel comfortable enough to put it out. So that’s really what I’m working on right now and finishing it up and mixing and mastering and things like that. It’s done, but up until the last minute I’m always going to be changing and swapping out. But it’s coming later this year. I’m super excited for it, I think it’s what the game is missing right now, I think like you said I sound how I sound, I sound like me, and I’m doing me. So with “Shotgun Love”, you can really get it now, you’ll see where a song like “Supermodel” comes from, you’ll see where a song like “Don’t Do It” comes from, I see where all that comes from and you’ll get it now. So I’m excited for that, I’m excited for “Shotgun Love” and I think that it’s going to be received well. I think that the stuff I’ve been doing it’s been received positively in a great way. So I think “Shotgun Love” is going to be that much better.
YKIGS: Yea I look forward to that as well, I’ve been anticipating this album so I hope it comes soon.
AS: Thanks man, definitely.
YKIGS: What does the title “Shotgun Love” mean to you?
AS: In my opinion we as people have to deal with the brutal honesty of reality which is the gritty truth which is represented by the shotgun. Then we all aspire to greater things, we want to be better, we want to know everything is cool, we want to have that comfort and security in life, and that’s represented by the love. So we have to find that common ground between them and walk that tightrope between the two polarities. So really “Shotgun Love” is finding that middle ground between those two polarities which we as humans struggle with in life and walking that line. So that’s what that is.
YKIGS: So you’ve been in this industry since the early 2000’s, and you’ve had mixtapes but you have yet to release a debut album. Has that been frustrating for you and has there ever been a point where you wanted to give up?
AS: I think there are ups and downs with everything. I think that with this industry, it’s not for the weak, I don’t want to say the weak, but I guess for the lack of a better word weak skinned; it can be tough. So I think anything worth having in life it’s going to have its ups and downs, and it if it comes too easy, easy come easy go. There’s always a discouraging factor in everything you do and it’s about overcoming that. There’s a lot of people with great talent you’ve heard great stories about that were super dope, but they gave up because the obstacles became too much and they just decided to stop. But this is what I do, it’s a blessing. I’ve held my own projects back myself because like I said I didn’t come this far for it not to be done right. So it’s a lot of factors. So to answer your question, yes and no. There are times of course because it’s always an uphill battle from the shopping the project to the open mic, whatever it is there’s going to be discouraging points and times throughout the process. But overall in general, no.
YKIGS: I follow you on Twitter and have been reading the updates about the tour you’ve been on with Nelly. Tell me how that’s been.
AS: That’s been awesome. The crowds have been crazy, we’ve been doing arenas and coliseums and all types of different venues. We just got back from Canada and we were supposed to be in Japan right now, but of course due to the circumstances over there that isn’t possible. So that actually gave me a couple of days to come back to New York and tie up some loose ends before I leave for Australia. The tour has been awesome, the response has been great, the people are receiving my music and they’re responding to it, so it’s been a fantastic journey so far.
YKIGS: You’ve had a lot of collaborations over the years. Aside from Nelly who you’ve collaborated with frequently, has there been one that has been the most fun or memorable?
AS: I liked working with Ross of course. I actually enjoyed working with Wale on the song I did with him called “The Power”. I like to be with the artist in the studio because what happens organically is usually the winner. Of course the one that will always stand out to me is the Biggie record on the “Biggie Duets” album “Nasty Girl” because that was like a dream of some sort. Especially being from this area and being a Biggie fan all of my life, having that opportunity was something that immeasurable, clearly.
YKIGS: As someone who writes all of their songs, take me through your writing process from start to finish.
AS: You wanna know how I do it? Depending on what producer I’m working with, if it’s a producer that understands me and we have that relationship, it’s easy. So I tell them just load it up, I’ll go in the booth, and even though I’ve never heard it before, they just start recording and I just starting singing. That’s how the songs come about.
YKIGS: So you don’t write anything down in advance?
AS: No. I used to do that, but now like I said, it all goes back to the organic factor when I just feel it and it just comes out, and whatever comes out is 9.9 out of 10 times then what I sit there and think about to write. It just happens and it just naturally happens with that music so it’s kind of a marriage. That’s really the best way to describe it because I don’t write anything, I don’t give it any thought before, I just go in there and do it.
YKIGS: As an Italian American, have you ever found any difficulties succeeding in a genre dominated by African Americans?
AS: No, I think if anything it’s been like a wow factor, because when people hear my music, they don’t think I look the way I look. Then when people meet me, their reaction is “Wow, really?” Then when they find out I’m Italian, they’re like “What the hell is this?” So I think it’s a good thing, it kinda throws people a little bit.
YKIGS: Anything you’d like to add?
AS: I really appreciate you taking the time, I really appreciate your support and I know you’ve been supporting me, I feel that, I see that, I appreciate that very much. Thanks for taking out the time to interview me. This whole thing, I really appreciate it foreal.