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AUNDREY GUILLAUME knows he can’t write the ending to his own story, but he’s willing to do all he can to be remembered as someone who gave it their all. Though right now, he isn’t too focused on legacy. The California rapper/producer briskly moves through life, barely allowing himself the chance to savor success. “We’ve got where we need to get to,” he sighs before amending his statement. “Still climbing though.” AUNDREY’s introspective and emotionally intense music comes straight from the heart. But these aren’t cautionary tales from a world-weary messenger—they’re reassurances that better days always lie ahead.
The youngest of nine children, AUNDREY’s family shuffled around California’s Inland Empire before settling in Beaumont when he was 8. They frequently went to church, “at least three times a week,” AUNDREY says, where all of his siblings either played instruments or sang. When he was 10, his father threw him on the drums and he fell in love with music. Those early years performing at church both steeled AUNDREY against criticism and turned him into a perfectionist. He admits that he had a “little bit” of a chip on his shoulder back then, since his older brothers and sisters were playing paid gigs while he was still playing in the church. His father would yell out for adjustments, “damn-near embarrassing” the young drummer in the process. He’d have to learn to put his feelings to the side, comparing his mistakes to athletes practicing plays.
“Being around all of that made me who I am today,” he says. “My dad pushed me, like screaming at me in church, having everyone looking like ‘goddamn.’ Even though [playing in church] was just a passion, it was still competitive. ”
Fresh out of high school in 2015, AUNDREY was balancing music and his day job working retail at Michael Kors while staying at his mom’s house. He and some friends formed a short-lived group called Knowname that mainly cut to beats they found on YouTube and SoundCloud. After inviting his friends to make music late at night and to crash over one too many times, AUNDREY’s mom kicked him out. He called up one of his older brothers who lived nearby who let him move in. That older brother was a mentor to AUNDREY throughout his life—he’d teach his little brother how to drive, how to tie his first tie, and even supported the shows AUNDREY and his friends would put on as No Name. AUNDREY would become his bag boy, which introduced him to the life of touring artists that he’d fall in love with: “I got to see shows, live shows and all that. I’m just sitting there like, I want to be that, I want to do that. Like I really want to do that.” A year later though, his brother fell ill with lupus and had to retire from touring—while he would recover some of his strength by the end of that year, his symptoms would come back in mid-2017 before passing away that October.
“I dedicated this whole moment to [my brother’s passing],” AUNDREY says with a heavy heart. “Crazy how God works, because I got a son now. When one person leaves and you get another blessing like that, that’s kind of like that person’s spirit.”
The first single “Refund” from his second EP Energy picks up where AUNDREY left off on Violet, the rapper’s debut EP where he crafted a style described as “innately mysterious and independently innovative” by Earmilk. While the tracks on Violet were darker and heavy-hitting, “Refund” is smooth and effortless, featuring distorted vocals over a serene instrumental that feels like it came from space. Speaking on the track, Guillame says, “Refund is a “ self awareness “ record. When making this record I wanted to talk about how as artists’ in the industry. We’re very influenced by the environment that we’re around. The record gives hope that one day as we continue to grow in life we’ll see those influences whether good or bad, and make our own decisions if we want to continue forward with them or not.”
2021 brought us AUNDREY’s debut EP Violet, where he vulnerably documents the long-winded journey that brought him where he is today and earned him attention from Pigeons and Planes. Now, we see the young rapper ripping off bandages from old wounds and laying it all out there.