​raury is the indigo child of the internet age

Born and raised in the lush green of Georgia, Pharrell’s 19-year-old guitar-wielding, hat-wearing, genre-blind prodigy speaks up as he joins the singer and G-Star’s Raw for the Oceans.

by Francesca Dunn and i-D Staff
29 July 2015, 12:40pm

When Pharrell Williams calls you, explains that he's saving the oceans and asks you to get involved, you don't hang up. This unlikely turn of events happened to our new friend Raury, and now he too has joined G-Star's RAW for the Oceans movement, an initiative creating collections designed by Pharrell and made with Bionic Yarn containing recycled ocean plastic. We spoke with the 19-year-old musician the morning after he blew the minds of a sold-out crowd at East London's Village Underground with a performance that somehow simultaneously echoed both Prince and Kanye. The latter actually called him in for a breakfast meeting, while alt-pop princess Lorde scored him a spot on the Hunger Games soundtrack. Put simply, Raury is making things happen for himself. And he wants you to make things happen too.

Could you explain what it means to be an Indigo Child?
Indigo children are my generation. It's kids like me who just automatically, regardless of who they are or where they're from, feel like something isn't right with the normal system of life that we live in. We're also highly inclined to be more advanced and geared toward our dreams because we have the internet. We were born with it. I literally don't remember a world without it. And it's thanks to the internet that I'm here, being an artist. It seems that everybody is considered either ahead of their time, or to have grown up too fast. Whether that's good or bad, I feel that there is an extreme generational gap between us and older people. The young kids are a lot more advanced and will probably do a lot more for the future of the world. I feel like it's a beautiful thing but also bad because you can stumble across all the wrong things earlier on. I named my EP Indigo Child to remind people that my generation isn't hopeless.

And why was getting involved in G-Star's RAW for the Oceans important to you?
I'm just an environmentalist and a humanitarian, you know? I really care about the world. I grew up in Stone Mountain, Georgia, on the Eastern outskirts of Atlanta. It's just this giant mass of stone surrounded by forest and lakes and stuff. I went through some very extreme camping experiences, spending weeks hiking in the woods and gaining an appreciation for nature; just this love and understanding that everything is connected. I feel like people who don't feel that way are really missing out. So when I heard what G-Star was doing and Pharrell came to me with this opportunity, of course I said yes.

You seem to have a lot of hope that the world can change for the better?
I suppose it all depends on where and how you grew up, and what reality you're experiencing. So people who grow up in the hustle and bustle of big cities have bad news thrown in their face 24/7, so it seems like the world is ending and it's all going to shit. But you know, for someone who lives autonomously, everything seems alright. It's all about trying to affect the minds of the masses for the better, to be more geared towards positive things. We've been taught to be very selfish. I go to New York, LA, London and it's so different from the towns I saw growing up. Everybody is out to get something and chase their dream, everybody's out to get money. It's pretty farfetched but just imagine if everybody lived autonomously, it would be much better. There wouldn't be that tension or that negative energy. I feel like money has justified a lot of horrible things in the world.

And what advice would you like to give to young people?
Start now. It's that simple! Whatever it is you wanna do, just start now! Because right now you're thinking 'ah man, I'm this age… I shoulda started doing it when I was younger' but if you don't start now, in ten years time you'll be saying the same thing about the age you are now. So start now. Chase it. Go look at Shia Labeouf's DO IT video.

But why do you think that so many people don't use their platform?
Not to blame it on the educational system, but in school you're just told to do things, which doesn't exactly nurture the innovative mind. And not only that but we're constantly shown things that are supposedly so much better than us, so much more beautiful that us, and so much richer than us… and that develops a complex in everybody. Trust me, everybody is the same. I don't care who you are - everybody is a human, everybody bleeds, and we need to realize that. But the media instils insecurity in the youth to the point where they don't believe in themselves enough to do anything.

Your new song, Fly, gives a very honest account of how you feel about society; especially surrounding recent shootings… not many people tackle subjects like that in their music, what made you feel like you had to do it?
In America in particular, a lot of people of my race have been killed and people are getting away with it. It's always happened, it's just now starting to be in the news. And thank god! People are awake now. I feel like as I have this gift and this platform, it's my obligation to say something about how I feel. And I think that what artists do - not just musical but designers, etc. - is a screenshot of humanity right now. G-Star is doing RAW for the Oceans because we're not caring for the environment. I made Fly because the police are killing my people for no reason. It's just reality. I'm just a person that writes about real things that happen to the world around me.

You brought Little Simz up on stage at Village Underground. Are you a big fan?
Yeah, man! I think she's the best female lyricist of my generation. The first time I came here I went to one of her shows and the next time she opened up for me and it went off. She's another artist that I've grown to be friends with.

Tell me about your new single, Devil's Whisper…
It's about everything that I am and that I represent. It's about how money has allowed everything to become corrupt and how it almost corrupted me. You're either here for profit or you're here for the people. And sometimes when you're here for the people, you don't make much profit, but that's okay. Devil's Whisper is about having the devil on your shoulder tempting you. And about me nearly losing myself in the industry and becoming someone different, but staying true to myself in the end.

Finally, what's the best advice that you've ever received?
It was from Andre 3000, he was literally like, 'fuck what everyone wants from you, just do you!' 

francesca dunn
music interviews
raw for the oceans