Raised in west Texas, WIRL has spent the better part of the decade grinding his way from small shows on the US border to headlining music festivals across the country. Inspired to create music by the loss of his musician father as a child, WIRL has been set on making a name for himself through passionate and powerful songs. Passion, Pain, Hope, and Heartache can all be felt through his music leaving just one lingering question in listener's minds... Who Is Raphael Leraux?
1.) What made you want to get into the music business in the first place? Did anyone influence you to do music? If so, who? Influences? Role Models?
My parents both rapped back in the day and my father was actually a rising star before he was murdered in '93. I remember finding his old rhyme books in the closet as a kid and falling in love with Hip hop at that exact moment. He's been my driving force ever since that day.
2.) Unfortunately the music industry is full of talented individuals who just don't get any recognition for their talent and/or work. What do you plan to do to make sure you stand out and get noticed?
I've thought about this question a lot over the years but I always come back to the same answer... WORK! There's almost 8billion people on earth, so statistically speaking, even a wack artist has at least 100k fans somewhere out there. Its my job as an artist to hustle until I find them. People sleep on the value of hard work these days.
3.) Would you rather be on a major label or would you rather stay independent? Why or why not?
Man, both have their appeal. But the way the industry has been moving lately, there really isn't much value in being major other than that initial head start. Being independent just has too many perks for me to look at a major label anymore. I'd rather keep all my royalties, publishing, and income in house so I can properly take care of my family and team.
4.) Do you think that the traditional music industry model as we know it is dead? Why or why not?
It may not be dead yet, but without some serious evolution it will be soon. There is way too much availability on the internet to be stuck in archaic thinking, when it comes to the industry. Artists are blowing up independently and living comfortably on their own.
5.) How do you think the internet and social media affected the music industry and how musicians are able to market themselves?
You have to really go out of your way to NOT be able to market yourself today. There are so many websites, blogs, channels, stations, and outlets specifically dedicated to pushing indie artists right now. It's really the best time to be an artist. It's virtually eliminated the need for major label backing because you can reach just as many people from your home computer, given enough time.
6.) What is the most difficult thing you've had to endure in life and has that had any effect on your path to becoming a musician?
The most difficult thing I've had to battle in my life and career has got to be depression. From living without my father, having my old team turn on my and try to derail my career because it was growing faster than theirs, having somebody I called fam stab my in the face at a show, being in and eventually leaving a failed marriage, and being a single father. It just all piles up on you. I took 2 years off of music to deal with it and I still have my moments. I just have to remind myself that it's ok to feel the negativity. It's healthy to face it head on. I just have to channel it into something productive. That's how my #AlmostAngels series came to be.
7.) Artists who try to make music for the general public and make more money are usually seen as "sell-outs." Do you see it that way and if so, what do you plan to do to make sure you make music that is true to your brand and make a good living at the same time without having to "sell out"?
Every artist has their own goals and ambitions. If their goal is simply to make as much money as possible and then cash out, more power to them. Personally, I'm making music because it's what flows through my veins. As long as my mother and daughter are taken care of, I'm happy. There is too much variety in Hip hop right now to worry about who may or may not be a sellout. I just focus on making music that I like to hear and then let everything else fall into place.
8.) When you do music, what would you like your listeners to get out of your music?
I just want my message to be heard. Whatever that message is for the particular song, I just want it to be heard. To be felt. I use a lot of mime imagery in my visuals because that's the way that I view myself, my fans, and my music. We're all entertainers to some degree, but sometimes we simply feel voiceless. That's where my music comes into play. My music is meant to act out those thoughts and feelings. It's meant to be a reflection of those deeper meanings. I just want people to not only listen to my music... But REALLY hear it.