a-wall music

How A-Wall Overcame The Pressures Of Viral Fame To Make His Realest Album To Date

"In the end, I decided to do what makes me happy."

While the viral success of Loverboy did shake his confidence, A-Wall learned that staying true to himself is what’s important.

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Music was always in the cards for Aaron Paredes, who more commonly goes by his stage name A-Wall. Growing up in Texas, he first wanted to become a DJ before wanting to become a musician in general. The Dallas native would even rent out a studio just so that he could work on his tracks. What came about of this was his 2018 debut LP Verano which introduced the world to his unique take on pop.

Yet it would take three years for A-Wall to jump from the indie scene into the mainstream when his track, Loverboy, became everyone’s favorite song to use on TikTok for a time as it became associated with the “who got you smiling like that” trend. The virality of the catchy track, which originally came out in 2019, led to nearly 200 million streams on Spotify alone.

No doubt the mainstream success was welcomed. But when it came time to work on his latest project, his fourth studio album Autopilot, A-Wall had a dilemma on how to follow up the success of Loverboy. It was an album that A-Wall admits wasn’t easy to make but ultimately came together when he realized that the album was about him, not about chasing trends and pigeonholing himself. The result is an addicting anti-pop LP that deep-dives into A-Wall’s personal experiences with self-doubt, addiction, and anxiety. And this is all wrapped in airy electronic beats, swirling vocals, and unreserved lyrics.

NYLON Manila had the chance to catch up with the noted Tyler, the Creator fan as he shared the process behind the project, mainstream success, and more. Read on below for the full interview.

How did music enter your life?

I actually wanted to be a DJ at first. When I was very young, my aunts took me to a dance music festival which was basically my first time seeing a concert. When I saw the stage, the lights, and the huge crowd, I thought it was amazing. After that my parents got me a beginner DJ controller for Christmas and I slowly taught myself how to record, mix, produce, and write over the years.

How would you describe yourself as a musician?

That’s a tough question. I’ve never really been able to answer that myself. The way I look at it is I’m just making whatever I like. My sound comes from my inspirations, and really, the music I enjoy listening to. I’ve always been super inspired by Tyler, The Creator, Mac Miller, Kid Cudi, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Joji– I could keep going but yeah. They’ve been huge influences for me.

How different is Aaron Paredes as compared to A-Wall?

I’d say we’re the same. Making music as A-Wall gives me an outlet to express myself. And since I’m not very good at talking about how I feel, making these songs help me grow as a person.

Autopilot touches upon some deep and personal issues. What was it like to tap into those feelings and emotions when working on the album?

It’s tough. This project really took a toll on me mentally and even physically. I stayed up for nights until the sun would come up working on some of these songs. And mentally, I had to put myself back into the headspace that I was in before there was any sort of success. There was definitely a lot of stress involved. But in the end I think it turned out beautiful.

Is there a song on the album that is extra special to you?

They’re all special to me. I spent a lot of time making sure I really loved every song before I was done with them. They’re all very personal so they mean a lot to me.

When you were working on Autopilot, did you ever feel a pressure to live up to the hype following Loverboy’s success?

Yeah. I talk about it in the song Touchdown. I already felt an immense amount of pressure just from choosing to do music as a career so adding that new weight from Loverboy was very overwhelming.

You’ve released Autopilot during a time when you went from being in the indie scene to experiencing mainstream success. Did that change the way you approached making the LP as compared to your past releases?

It didn’t really change how I approached making the project, though it almost did, and it definitely delayed it. There were times where I was doubting myself and wondering if people would want to listen to the new stuff. I was going back and forth on whether I should just scrap the whole thing and go back to making stuff that sounds like Loverboy. In the end, I decided to do what makes me happy.

 What differentiates Autopilot from your past albums?

Everything. Autopilot is a complete revamp for the A-Wall brand. The sound is new for me. The lyrics are much deeper. Visually it’s a lot more striking. Autopilot is the first step in a new direction and I’m extremely excited for it.

What do you hope listeners take away from Autopilot?

Mostly, I just hope that the story inspires anybody who’s ever felt lost in life. I also hope that listeners can sort of start to see and understand the new direction I’m taking. This project is like me laying the groundwork for all the stuff I want to do in the future.

What do you have to say to those people who only see you as “that guy who went viral on TikTok?”

It’s funny you say that because that’s not really the case for me. I think it’s more like “That *song that went viral on TikTok.” A lot of people that have listened to it don’t even know that I wrote it. Which could partly be my own fault. But recently, I’ve done these videos where I’ll travel to universities and go around asking students to play a game where if they can name the song/artist, I’ll give them $10.

Every time, there’s so many people that have heard it and even some that have the song saved, but they’ll have no idea that I’m standing right infront of them. It’s pretty hilarious, but to answer your question. I don’t really care. I’m at the point where I’m going to just keep making music the way I want to.

If Autopilot will be the first time people will listen to A-Wall, which song/s should they listen to first?

Listen to the whole thing in order. In my opinion, that’s the best way to digest any project for the first time.

What advice would you give on young musicians out there hoping to follow their dreams?

It won’t be easy, but trust your path. Make every release theatrical. Put that same amount of effort you did while making the music into promoting it. Believe in yourself. Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there.

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