Black Pumas The strategy of combining bluesy swagger, lead-back soles and modern productions may pull that doesn’t invite the “retro” tag, but the original story of the two is pure throwback. Singer-songwriter Eric Burton came to Basking-first in Southern California, then on the streets, and over time on the streets of his current home in Austin, Texas. In Austin, he met Grammy-winning guitarist and producer Adrian Quissad (Phantom Group, Brown) And discovered a powerful chemistry that could pull him to the studio, where Black Pumas was born.
But that’s only half of it: Rumors about the project spread through the words of the honest-to-god thanks to the Rip-Roar 2018 Residency at Sea-Boys in Austin. As word spreads about Burton’s onstage passion, Pumas not only gained a representative as the next big thing on the rock but also signed a record deal with those who expressed their admiration. Self-titled debut In June. The rise of Pumas proves that there is no way to make it in this industry, so we thought we would pick Burton’s brain about its unusual roots.
Spotify for Artists: How did you find your way to Basin? Nowadays it is not the normal launchpad of a carrier.
Eric Burton: I turned around a bit after my elementary school days, and used music and performances to fit into different schools. I always found a house with all the kids in the theater class that was a little to the left of the center. As soon as I got the chance at age 18, I was like, “I’m auditioning for American Idol. I’m going to play on the street and on the train …” I met a couple at the Santa Monica Pier who showed me how to get my bus permit, and So I’ll take my cart with my PA, microphone stand and guitar, and just plug in and play. I’ve always wanted to create and perform, and I actually found it more profitable than working in some random local location.
How did you get to Austin?
In the generosity of the people around me. After about six months [on the Santa Monica Pier], I met another couple and we decided to go on the street. We traveled for a few weeks, from the west coast to Seattle, then back through the national parks. We saved about 1000 1,000, but wherever we went we were given gigs or accommodations because people appreciated the music. We were wounded on the streets of New Mexico, we had nothing in our pockets, there was a gas tank in the “E”, but I had friends and family there, so we did a big show and made enough to go to Austin, where there was a boys I was basing and I started couch-surfing and quickly got into the fine arts and music scene. When the boys were ready to move on, I was like, “Man, I’m not going anywhere.”
What happened to performing on the street when you took the stage for your C-Boy residence?
I’ve learned through living on the streets that the only way I can touch people is to be myself and be completely free. Because people aren’t there for you – they’re on the way to doing what they have to do – so if you don’t do it for yourself, you’re probably really upset about the lack of attention ‘getting it again. It really put me in a place where every time I shook, my performance reflected how I sang in the shower, or danced in the garage while playing the guitar at night. It actually caught people’s attention, and now that they’re here for me and expecting something, I have something to give because I’m completely honest.
In his early days as Eric Baskar, portraits of Fabian Luikovicz
Has your living experience helped you make big career decisions? I would imagine it would nurture a strong sense of self-reliance.
That’s right. After I was founded in Austin, I rented a house and worked in a home studio. Producers or musicians would reach out to me to sing or play on the album, but I would turn them off because I was more interested in figuring out my own words before getting on the train of someone else’s taste. It took me a week or two to get back to Adrian, but he was steadfast. He said that when he watched the videos of me performing, he saw the soul of a person who was not trying to fit into a certain mold. I think what he is seeing is a reflection of his honesty and that is important. Now we all work with that energy. We are not thinking of quick money because music is more valuable than little change.
I guess it will also give you a thicker skin, which is important in this business.
Oh well. There is a fear of not accepting what you are succeeding in over time when you are shaking, because while acting in front of others, you are trying to learn something new every time: “Then what can I do when it’s time to accept?” The big challenge is to know, “I’m not just an actor. I’m a man and I deserve love – first of all from myself.” If you do this you can relieve some of the stress because it doesn’t matter what others think of you. Sometimes I get silly: we’re going to Europe, or selling shows on the coast, and it seems like people are really starting to pay attention and the pressure is coming. But then I remember that they were paying attention because of the strength of how I got started in the beginning: enjoying the sunshine of California, playing in complete freedom, and embracing myself.
What advice would you give to a young artist considering street performance?
Wearing a clown mask just to get attention or to make other people feel good is not very satisfying. You can’t focus on what other people want, or if they’re going to pay. You need to be in a position where you can be honest with yourself about what you want to achieve as an artist, then jump into that feeling so that you set boundaries ahead and don’t feel like you’re throwing your energy aimlessly. I haven’t seen a career in basketball, and I can count how many covers I know with one hand. I saw it as an opportunity to write great music and learn to perform while learning about myself. This is where I’ve always imagined myself: on a big stage, performing in front of a ton of people, having really great costumes and being very expressive.
– Chris Martins