There might not be much excitement generated by declaring Richard Andrew is coming to rock the mic at Valparaiso University next weekend, but insert Andrew’s more famous stage name – Outasight – and the “buzz level” soars one hundred fold.
The Yonkers, New York native with the “don’t worry, let’s party” message in his music has become one of the hottest names of the dance and hip-hop scene thanks to his best-selling debut album, “Nights Like These,” which has earned the artist platinum sales with three hit singles – “Nights Like These,” “Now or Never” and “I’ll Drink To That!”
The timing of the latter tune was perfect. With its “raise the mugs high” message and the powerful Celtic punk/dance groove, “I’ll Drink to That!” was the perfect soundtrack to St. Patrick’s Day partying. “That was the last song I wrote for the album. I’m not Irish, I’m of Italian descent, but I have a lot of Irish friends. I’m from a real blue collar area, where we’ve raised our glasses many times, so I wrote from those experiences,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to Valparaiso, because it’s one of the first college shows of the year for me. I usually do college shows in April and May, then again in September and October. I love performing on campuses because there is such a great energy level,” said Outasight, who after years of struggling has virtually owned the dance charts since Warner Brothers released his CD last November.
Although he’s riding high with this first album, Outasight did not brandish any of the typical chest-pounding, hip-hop bravado so common of rising stars in his musical genre. Rather than displaying cockiness, there was a refreshing humility and appreciation when he spoke of his success.
“This is just the start,” he said. “I’ve had a great year and I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported me, but I need to keep moving forward. I only want to get better as a person, artist, performer and writer. Now is the time to work, work, work and focus, focus, focus.”
Perhaps his appreciation for the good fortune comes from almost having the brass ring pulled right out of his hand and his having faced the very real fear that his dream would end before it ever started.
“I really need to thank the people at Warner Brothers for standing by me,” said Outasight, who after being wooed by the label and offered a record deal, discovered he could not accept it because of being locked into a contract with a small indie label which had released his earlier mix-tapes. “I thought it was all going to just go away,” he said of the Warner deal. “But they waited for about 10 months until everything worked out.”
Also on his “thank you” list are his parents who turned him on to music as a young child through always playing records in the house. Outasight recalled how his father played guitar and while he did not share his dad’s passion for the instrument, he did share a deep passion for music.
“I grew up listening to everything,” he said. “When I was young it was Led Zeppelin, The Who and Hendrix. Then I got into punk rock, then hip-hop and rap. I think it all contributed to the music I’m doing now.” Along the way, the aspiring artist came to appreciate the soul sounds and classic R&B crooners, which is evident on his track “Under Lock & Key,” which is a personal favorite of his from the album and one he would like to see released as a single.
Andrew said his love of late '60s and early '70s music and pop culture growing up played a key role in choosing his hip-hop stage name during his high school years as a mix-tape master. “Saying ‘Outasight’ was such a huge part of the pop culture language back then,” he said. “It just felt right to be Outasight.”
Once his college tour wraps up in April, Outasight has to take the month of May off contractually because he will be out all summer running across America as a key performer on the Vans Warped Tour. “I remember going to Warped when I was young and it’s so cool that this year I’m on it,” he said. During May’s down time from the road, Outasight will not be an idle idol. “I’m gonna be living in the studio and working on stuff for the next album,” he promised. “I’ve got lots of ideas in my head for songs.”
The artist posts daily blog entries, photos and video clips to his web site -- www.iamoutasight.com – while on the road to keep his loyal fans up on all he is doing and experiencing. Outasight explained how being so active online is the best way he can share his dream with the people who make it possible for him to have it and live it.