Performing today at LOVE FROM HOME FEST, music artist 1STWORLD, is set to make their debut on NAKID but first we wanted to sit down with them for a short interview and feature on their new single ‘What A Track’! Check him out LIVE! today playing 5:00 – 5:30 PM EST / 2:00 – 2:30 PM PST!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your story. How did your background and culture shape you and what creative expression means to you and why?
My name’s Kris Alvarez, I’m a South FL artist/music producer that goes by the name of Firstworld. I’ve lived my whole life in the quaint little suburb of Kendall, which is where I’m currently sheltering-in-place.
I’ve been lucky enough to live a first-world life, complete with a first-world education, first-world desk job, and all the trivial first-world problems this life comes with. These experiences, and the people around them, are what have molded me not only as a person, but as an artist. Inevitably, these things are what inform my music and the things I write about, and as such, the name Firstworld was a perfect fit.
Artistic expression is beauty in humanity, a way of releasing one’s self from within – was music something that called to you over time more than other artistic avenues or did you just know at some point?
I think I’ve been involved with music my whole life, but I never really took it seriously or paid any real attention to it until it truly called me out and screamed at me. I was in choir as a child, and then my grandfather bought me a shitty little guitar from the flea market when I was ten. I didn’t really pay any attention to that guitar until three years later when I wanted to learn a bunch of Nirvana songs on my own. Eventually, I tried my hand at trying to write my own, and somehow I’ve ended up where I’m at now.
What was it like growing up in and around Miami for you? How has that shaped your found talent musically?
This place has been good to me by sometimes being bad to me. I’ll never know what it’s like growing up in other places. Here in Miami though, even in the middle-class suburbs like the one I grew up in, you’re sometimes forced to grow some tough skin and have a bit of an assertive/outgoing attitude with things. Otherwise, this place will eat you alive. That attitude has made me a stronger person, taught me how to take care of and defend myself, and it’s helped me carry myself professionally, but also assertively when handling Firstworld business in and outside of Miami.
At the same time, however, this city is alive, and part of its charm is that it’s teeming with an abundance of wonderful culture from so many different places. We’re a lively bunch of people, and I’ve let that energy find its way into my music. I’m Cuban, I’m loud, I’m expressive as hell, I love to have a good time, and I think that if I hadn’t grown up here, I wouldn’t be that way and my music wouldn’t have that quality to it either.
What are some of your heaviest influences in art, music, just creatively in general, your top three favorites?
So many things move me to make music. Sometimes I feel just about anything will do it these days, but if I were to narrow it down to just three for they would be my own life experiences and those of other people, philosophy/critical thinking, and visual aesthetics (this one is kind of vague, but I don’t really know how else to categorize it).
How has your music process and writing changed from when you started, and what things do you focus on most with respect to your brand or image and music that make up you as a music artist?
It used to be a real struggle to write music earlier on. I used to obsess about how it would be received and what people would think. I would always have this nagging tendency to completely discount something I’ve just made because people would probably hate it or it was too corny.
Eventually, I learned to just free the beast and create without inhibitions and without thinking about it. Ultimately, there will always be at least ONE person that will like what you’ve made, and if you can’t find that person, you have to be the first to see the good in what you’re creating. Music is always evolving and it’s always a work-in-progress, so it might suck today, but maybe that little bassline you got thumping in there can play nice with a different guitar part or maybe a synth instead of the guitar. Hours will pass by and next thing you know, you have a brand new song molded from the ashes of another.
It’s kind of like people: you have to give them a chance to grow and evolve a little bit more before they can shine their brightest, because we’re all a work-in-progress.
How has COVID-19 affected you & your family personally and your community during this period of lockdown?
Well, none of us are working at the moment because of the order from the county to stay-at-home, and for our own wellbeing. Time has kind of lost its use, so today could easily be Monday just as much as it is Thursday at this point. Thankfully though, we’re all healthy and safe in our home, we don’t go out if we don’t need to, so we’re trying to do our part over here.
I think we’re insanely lucky to have this roof over our heads and to be able to stay at home safe, because there are a lot of people that still have to go to work to make sure people like me are able to get supplies if we need them, and others have to put their own wellbeing at risk as nurses, doctors and first-responders to save as many lives as they can. Some people don’t even have homes or are stuck in jail/prison under terrible conditions, and it just blows my mind that these people have to basically rough it out.
I’m eternally grateful for all those people that are trying to make the world a safer, healthier place, and I hope those that don’t have the same privileges we do are not forgotten in the midst of this whole mess. I know I sound super preachy, but I have to give my people a shout-out because those of us that can perform are struggling in our own ways, but not at all like any of those mentioned above.
What have you been doing during the lockdown to stay sane?
It’s basically like summer vacation right now: wake up super late, work on music like a maniac, play video games with the boys, eat a bunch of crap I’m not supposed to eat, work on more music, go to sleep late as hell because you were working on music and weren’t paying attention to the now useless concept of time. The only difference between this and summer vacation is that I’m not going back to school, and I don’t know if I’ll be going back to work, what with the economic uncertainties we’ll have to face at the other end of this thing.
If you had to take one person alive or dead into quarantine lockdown with you for 30 days and you only got one object to take with you, what would it be and who would you pick?
For the object, I’ll take my acoustic guitar because for everything else, I’ll need to bring something else with me to make it work (i.e. synth needs speakers to hear the sound, Ableton’s no good without a keyboard controller in my opinion, PS4 needs a TV, etc).
As for the person, nobody because I’ll probably grow to despise them after being locked up with them for thirty days.
What’s the first thing you wanna do or go to when the lockdown ends, what do you miss most?
I want to see my friends. I want to eat sushi with them. I long for physical, human interactions, and no, not predominantly of the sexual variety. Really, I just want to crack open a cold one with the boys.
What new music do you have on the horizon?
I have so much shit backlogged for release that it’s hard to talk about it. Let’s just say that I have an album on the way, and that I’ve dubbed 2020 the year of the collab, and we’ll leave it at that.
What’s your spirit animal?
Bernie Sanders when I’m lawful good, Larry David when I’m chaotic evil.
What’s your favorite thing about making music and playing music live?
Besides the personal rewards of being gifted with the ability to express yourself and tell your story musically and visually, the next most rewarding thing for me would be connecting with people over my music. As an artist, especially a solo artist, you spend a lot of time isolated when you work on this music, and for me, I spend a lot of time taking care to make sure I’m expressing myself correctly and telling my story as honestly as possible. It can be a strongly emotional activity if you really put your heart into it because every time you hear, you know what it’s about and you sometimes make it in a way that it’ll move you every time you hear it. So you can only imagine how surprised and humbled one could get when someone else that has heard your song comes up to you at a show or messages you to tell you that it resonated with them and moved them in a certain way. I’ve been lucky to have experienced that more than a couple of times, and it’s so rewarding because it reminds you how, in spite of all our differences, we are all similar on some levels. It’s such a small gesture, but it just leaves me shook and humbled beyond words.
The human experience is one hell of a drug.
What’s one thing that was a challenge you had to overcome choosing this music path and how did it affect you and your writing?
The grind. The Miami music scene is not for the faint of heart. We’re not as organized as New York or LA, and we don’t have as many venues or even a strong local music culture where the audience comes out for the music, not just for the party. There are many things that play a role in creating the material conditions for local music down here, and how they interact (or don’t interact), can sometimes really create a burden on some of us as artists.
The good thing about this is that it forces us to use a little more ingenuity and creativity to make the conditions work for us. My shows are full of energy. I dance and move around like a nutjob on stage, I’ll jump into the pit and sing with people in there, I’ll call people out for not moving. I do all those things because that’s how I’ve learned to catch the audience’s attention down here, due to the culture and the state of things here. So many of us just show up to a venue, take three selfies, down two beers, then hop on over somewhere else. I’ve learned that I have to go out of my way to keep your ass in the pit and to keep it shaking.
What’s the hardest thing about being a musician?
Honestly, this is the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It comes naturally and it rarely feels like work. However, if I had to pick one thing, I’d say it’s the stigma and lack of respect we get sometimes, be it by the average person for settling down into a normal job like them, or by industry people or other artists looking down on some of us because we may not be on their level.It’s not something that happens too often for me anymore because I wear this on my sleeve and I don’t let anyone demean it, but it’s happened and it keeps happening to a lot of creatives. At the end of the day, you just gotta do you and give the finger to everyone that isn’t on board for the ride. I’m sure there are some rocks somewhere they can go kick!
How do you think the DYI movement through social media and internet in general has changed the industry and changed the way musical artists like yourself get discovered and reach new fans? What’s that kind of personal ability to directly connect to your fans meant to you as an artist and during this time? How do you think this event in history will change the internet and how we interact socially whether it be music or art or just in general?
It took me years to polish my process and my grind in this business. I started out with just me at 16, trying to hustle for the rest of the band and get opportunities and getting screwed pretty much a lot of the time from there and all throughout my twenties. Now I have a better grasp of things and I have a team I’ve built to help me manage some of the more difficult aspects of this line of work. Ultimately, none of that would have been possible without social media and the internet. I’ve had the opportunity to build my following by myself thanks to the internet and social media. It’s been such a pleasure and privilege to be able to connect with fans, my peers, and even artists I look up to through social media.
Once this whole ordeal with COVID-19 is over, I think we’re going to see even more connectivity than we have right now. I think live streaming will be a valuable new tool for a lot of artists and I think we’re going to really take advantage of that, be it for for performances or just to connect with people in general. It won’t be seen as this weird, awkward experience with people because we’re already becoming so accustomed to communicating and consuming music this way, given the circumstances. I know I’ll be finding a way to incorporate it into my social media experience more once this is all over.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists and those out there having a hard time during this time?
I had originally written an entire essay just on this question, but I’ll just boil it down to bullet points.
For my new bloods out there:
- Work on your instrument of choice. Do a ton of drills and exercises for your instrument to really strengthen those chops. YouTube is free y’all.
- Work on your songwriting skills. Start analyzing songs from your favorite bands and singers, write down their structures, maybe learn some chord progressions. Try to figure stuff out by ear too! It’s an important skill to have in your repertoire and it will save your ass more times than not.
- Aspiring producers: start listening to your favorite songs and figure out how to recreate some of those sounds. Familiarize yourself a bit more with the tools of the mixing process. I know you don’t actually know how to use that compressor for anything other than sidechaining the kick to everything. Don’t lie to me, bruh. Learn to identify tones and textures, differentiate between different soundwaves, filters, FX, etc.
For my more seasoned players:
- Hang in there, y’all. We’re gonna be back out there and back at it in no time.This is a great opportunity for you to start planning out your release schedule.
- Perhaps look into collaborating with other fellow artists? Now’s the time to make those connections.
- Work on that live set, that DJ set, whatever’s preferred vehicle of performance.Pay attention to what other artists have been doing in their own shows, before this virus shit and the livestream stuff. There’s so much that we can learn from each other.
- And if nothing else, write like a maniac. Write like you’re writing to yourself. Write with the utmost sincerity and honesty, and don’t hold back. Break that wall of insecurity, bear it all out for all to see. Tell your story with pride. Sincere music is the best music and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Thank you to 1STWORLD for sitting down with us and performing at DAY 2 of LOVE FROM HOME FEST – Check him out LIVE! today playing 5:00 – 5:30 PM EST / 2:00 – 2:30 PM PST!