Austin Fillmore prides himself in making pure, honest music, something the music industry needs these days. Born and raised in Chicago, the recording artist refers to himself as a Hip-Pop artist, dibbling and dabbling into the genres of hip-hop, rock, and pop and blending them into his own unique style and sound.
Describing himself as “a pretty eclectic guy” and “down-to-earth dude,” Austin is here to have fun, make his music, and try to inspire people. His name itself pays homage to the cross-streets of his first apartment in Chicago apartment.
In addition to gracing some of the biggest stages in the Midwest, such as North Coast Music Festival, it’s Austin’s performance on Chi-Town’s #1 morning show The Jam that makes him a rising star beyond his hometown.
Now, he returns to unleash his newest single titled “U Lie I Cry,” in collaboration with Miami producer Remy Prosper. The record was written right after a relationship went south, as he pours himself a glass of tequila and freestyles over the beat — turning his grief into a song.
AllHipHop: What was the household like growing up in Chicago?
Austin Fillmore: I grew up in a church home, my dad was a pastor so we were strict in a lot of areas. Growing up in Chicago, I was lucky to have good parents. Everything else going on outside of the home, they kept us pretty grounded and protected outside of that. Obviously there’s a lot of trouble going on in Chicago, I tried to stay away from all that. Kudos to my parents for that. Chicago’s my home, it’s my favorite city. I love meeting the amount of people I get to meet in Chicago. I don’t have anything bad to say about it.
AllHipHop: Biggest influences coming up?
Austin Fillmore: I listened to a lot. My parents being in the church, we listened to a lot of church music so Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond. I started experiencing some of the outside music. They’d play a lot of Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Nat King Cole. I was really hip to that. I started getting older and started really diving into the rap and hip-hop world. I was a big fan of Common and Kanye West, who are from Chicago. My first hip hop CD was Word of Mouf from Ludacris. He was a really big influence on me as well. Nowadays, I’m a really big fan of Drake, Wiz Khalifa, and definitely Travis Scott.
AllHipHop: At what point did you realize you could do music for a living?
Austin Fillmore: There’s some things I went through, I wound up getting locked up for selling drugs at the time. It was a crazy part of my life. In 7th grade back in the day, we’d always be freestyling and rapping in the lunchroom. I remember when I was in jail, I was rapping for a lot of the inmates. One of my homies said “yo, you should think about doing this when you get out.” I said “oh, we’ll see.” When I got out, I tried it because I didn’t want to get a regular job. Things started s##########. I remember I did a show, one of my first big shows was at the Cubby Bear in Wrigleyville, Chicago. I sold that place out, that’s when I realized “okay, this is forreal forreal. We’re really doing this s###.”
AllHipHop: How’d it feel to sell the place out?
Austin Fillmore: Man, it’s definitely a wild feeling to know you have so many people that support you. To sell out any place is dope. When I sold out the House of Blues, that’s when I damn near s### my pants. [laughs]
AllHipHop: Were you nervous?
Austin Fillmore: As hell! I get nervous before every show. Any artist that says they don’t get nervous, that’s some crap. Even when I did the North Coast Festival, I was nervous as hell. But it’s a good feeling, it’s a feeling I appreciate because I know that I’m ready. Once you get that first word out your mouth, you’re good.
AllHipHop: Talk about the name Austin Fillmore being dedicated to streets in Chicago.
Austin Fillmore: I got Austin from the streets when I had my first apartment on my own. My family’s from the Austin community in Chicago. Chicago’s broken down into different communities, the Austin community is on the West Side. That means a lot to me because my grandmother raised a lot of people in that community, she’s called the mother of Austin. That’s my neighborhood.
AllHipHop: What inspired your new single, “U Lie, I Cry”?
Austin Fillmore: S###, a breakup. I recorded during quarantine. I remember trying to write to the beat, but it wasn’t really coming out. I grabbed some tequila and said “man, just press record.” It came out that way.” It’s wild because the beat that I recorded it on, I wind up not being able to use that beat. The dude was trippin’, he’s from a different country. He said “oh, I want you to pay me $1000 for each beat.” I’m not gonna pay that. I took my vocals and sent them to my buddy who’s in LA, he built a beat around it. It worked out perfectly.
AllHipHop: How does music help you cope?
Austin Fillmore: Music is my therapy. Even when I first started making music or at least started rapping, I’d sit down and write. A lot of times, I‘d write out of anger. I’d be mad at a situation, that was my outlet to let it out. As I got older, I started realizing how beneficial writing was when I got mad. I started using it for other emotions. I didn’t want to just write when I was mad so let me try to write when I’m happy or when I’m sad, or these other feelings. It became an outlet for me.
AllHipHop: How was it working with Remy Prosper?
Austin Fillmore: It was dope, he’s a cool ass cat. He knew my manager, we haven’t met in person because of this Covid stuff. When we’re trying to make those beats around the vocals, my manager said “check this dude out!” Me and him had a couple conversations, he’s hella cool. Ever since then, we talk damn near everyday. He’s turned into bro.
AllHipHop: Best memory from the video shoot?
Austin Fillmore: That weekend was hella crazy. We shot 3 videos that weekend, that’s the last video we shot. My video team had come into town, they’re out in Iowa. They crashed at my crib. I remember we’re super worn out from the 2 videos before. “U Lie, I Cry” was the last one we really had to push through. I remember how dedicated everybody was when it came to getting this project out the way. I started feeling it myself like “man f### it, we’re not gonna keep doing these little ass tapes. Let’s end it.” Seeing how everyone else came out and was dedicated, my friend Danielle who took time out of her day to be a part of the video. Her dedication to it was really awesome. The whole vibe, the whole moment was a blessing. Really humbling.
AllHipHop: Talk about making pure, honest music.
Austin Fillmore: Hell yeah, that’s what this whole movement is about. A lot of people because of fear, never want to fully express themselves. This goes for men and women but there’s a thing where men aren’t really supposed to allow themselves to feel things, especially in the black community. To me, that’s a sign of fear. If you don’t fully express yourself, it’s because you’re scared of some type of backlash. Knowing when I should be doing to grow as a person, I try to take that concept and put that towards my music. I’m very honest in my music. Whether it’s honesty that people want to hear at a certain time, at least I put it out there. At least that emotion I was going through, I was able to express. That honesty is what makes good music and what makes long-lasting fans.
AllHipHop: What is it that you want fans to get from your story?
Austin Fillmore: I was that kid very unsure of myself growing up. I had an idea of what I wanted to do like every other kid, you want to be in the NBA. At the same time as I started getting older, I became really unsure of myself and what I wanted to do. Instead of tackling that at the moment in time, you start doing things you think are cool or doing things you think will bring some satisfaction. At the end of the day, that wasn’t it. I really want people to not be scared and fearful of the future, but really tackle the things in front of your face to prepare yourself for a better future. If there’s one thing I want my fans to know, I’m just like y’all. The same problems, emotions, fears you have, I’ve been through that. I had that, currently have that, still going through it. I’m no different than you guys. Yeah I make music, people listen to it, I may be popular, but that’s all a product of hard work. At the end of the day, anybody can do what I do. It takes work and time.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
Austin Fillmore: Damn, nobody’s ever asked me that question. Outside of music and technology, I need a little glass of something. I need to sip a little something, not always but sometimes. My homies usually have weed too, which is fine. I need my laptop for sure. I like writing a lot of music on my laptop. I need to have my shoes off. When I’m in the studio, I feel more comfortable with my shoes off. I feel more at home.
AllHipHop: What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
Austin Fillmore: I’d be an anchorman. I’ve always wanted to be on TV so at one point, maybe I’ll be a journalist because I always like talking about sports and talking s###. I always thought I could be a pretty good anchorman.
AllHipHop: How important is social media for your career?
Austin Fillmore: Social media is important for anybody’s career. Social media is like the dentist: you never want to talk about it until you go to the dentist and have cavities. It can be a little tiring and a little taxing, but I know it’s something I need to be doing. I know it’s important. Do I necessarily wanna do it all the time? Hell naw. I know Tik Tok is the new thing. I f### with it but man, it’s alot of energy. I be moving around all the time. I’m hustling, I’m in the studio. It’s important, but I wish it didn’t have to be as important.
AllHipHop: Any goals for yourself at this point?
Austin Fillmore: I was actually gon’ scratch off one of my goals in 2020 until Covid screwed everything up. I was gonna perform at SXSW, definitely still a goal of mine. I’d got booked for it. Hopefully when the world opens back up, I can scratch that off. This year, our goal is to get a million streams on one song of mine. We had a goal for 2020 to break 100K streams on one of my solo songs. We’re about to break that now, we’re at 95K. By the end of the year, I want to break 200k subscribers on YouTube. That and getting the music into more hands, more exposure. Generating more funds.
AllHipHop: Something fans may not know about you?
Austin Fillmore: I’m an open book, but I’m a sucker for documentaries. I love, love watching documentaries. I just got done watching Night Stalker, that joint freaked me out. I’m the type of dude where it doesn’t take too much to make me happy. Some sushi and a good documentary, we’re good to go.
AllHipHop: What can we expect next music-wise?
Austin Fillmore: Oh man, this year’s about to be a lot. I have 3 projects coming out with one producer in the next 4 months. I have a project coming out with a guy from Nashville this year. You can expect a lot of music. I’m dropping at least 6 more projects by the end of the year, at least 120 new singles and about 20 more videos. A lot of content.