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I AM Cricchi shared how he became a conduit of hope through his eclectically authentic discography in an exclusive interview with A&R Factory

Born in southern Maryland and now based in Texas, Tyler Cricchi, known as I AM Cricchi, presents a compelling narrative in the music world. His journey, transitioning from a typical suburban childhood to grappling with substance abuse in his teenage years, underscores the stark realities that shape his music.

With his vast, eclectic and always raw discography, Cricchi has independently charted multiple times, showcasing his ability to blend genres from hip-hop to country. His music is characterised by its authentic lyrics and versatile delivery, resonating with a wide audience.  In this interview with A&R Factory, we delve into the world of I AM Cricchi, exploring his journey from personal struggles to musical achievements.

I AM Cricchi, welcome to A&R Factory! We’d love to know a little more about your most recent release, Weighted To Breathe featuring Caskey. What’s the story behind the single?

“Weighted To Breathe was written at a time when I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing chasing my dream in music, most regular people usually call it or consider a dream as such, ‘crazy’. The purpose behind this record was to remind myself and anyone else in a similar spot that if we waited or chose to give up, we’d be right back where we were, at a place where most wouldn’t want to be. Some might say at rock bottom. It quickly became one of the biggest solo songs of my career and shortly after I was blessed with the opportunity of having Caskey feature on it. That really proved my point and made everything come full circle because an artist with a much bigger influence and resume thought it was as dope as I did! NEVER GIVE UP!!”

Your upcoming project, The Road Back, talks about overcoming addiction; can you tell us more about the project and the inspiration behind the release?

“Addiction is a topic I hold close to my heart. I personally have been through the depths of hell while abusing drugs and running through the streets. This was my first project with The Lotto Tribe, and I wanted to make sure it was very special because I recognized that they believed in me, similar to the way I believe in myself. I reached out to a hometown producer Tilli Mack and told him I needed something to spill my pain on and thus this record was birthed. The writing aspect of it for me was just a matter of putting myself in the mindset of not ever wanting to go back to my old life. That’s why I’m so inspired after breaking away from it because I never want to go back to that life I used to be, stuck, in. In other words, I wanted it to be the music I wished I had when I was broken and hopeless

More than anything I wanted to create something that could save someone’s life or make a change for someone in a dark time and for me that’s what all this is about. The road back is never easy, but I hope this record gives someone, anyone, hope. It releases on May 3rd, 2024, worldwide, on the first Friday of National Mental Health Awareness month and is supported by the organization, To Write Love On Her Arms which supports mental health.”

How do your most recent releases compare to your past projects like; No Time, Runnin A Lot, I Gotta Grow, and Say Less Do More?

“I definitely don’t fit in any box. I make a variety of genres and I’m always exploring new sounds. The music I write is always dependent on the moment I’m in. Sometimes I’m happy and sometimes I’m not but that’s life and that’s what I put in my music. I don’t over-exaggerate or attempt to portray anything, I’m just me. If there is one thing that ties every song to the next it’s the authenticity of my story. Every song and every word was lived, meant and felt by me. In the end though, all my music is for everyone and anyone. I just want to bring awareness to my story, and my life and give others hope.”

How did you get into music, and where has your creative journey taken you?

“I got into music before I can even remember. My father is what I would call a “beast” on the guitar and loves to play. My dad worked a 9 to 5 for more years than I had been alive, and I never saw the same happiness he had when he was holding that guitar. That put a spark in me. It made me feel that maybe music was where he belonged, but he never tried or never could take the chance to be truly one with.

The ability to write started with my love for poetry in 2nd grade and continued through middle school. It wasn’t until I was in a juvenile youth center that I started to experiment with trying to rap on beats or write with a specific sound in mind. After that, writing music kept me alive through years and years of addiction and depression, almost daily wondering if I should live. It wasn’t until 5 years ago when I got sober that I started to clearly see the vision. Since then, I have hit the iTunes Charts twice independently. I’ve accumulated over a quarter million streams in 2023. I’ve done songs with legends such as Blind Fury, Caskey, Merkules, and many other amazing artists. Most of all I’ve been finding myself along the way and that’s something special to my heart.”

What role has the indie label The Lotto Tribe played in your career?

“That’s a chapter of my life that is just getting started, but something I’m really looking forward to. So far, it’s been nothing but love and solid continuous guidance from them. They continue to bring me confidence and opportunity. They have helped me align contracts with many industry partners and continue to put my name in the right places for growth. I genuinely appreciate them for their work so far and again, I’m very excited to see what the future holds with The Lotto Tribe!”

Which artists inspire you the most, and is there anything else that inspires you to create?

“Artist-wise, I’d say Caskey, Jelly Roll and LaRussell give me the most inspiration currently. The hustle and the constant innovation are something I respect and appreciate from all of them.

I’m inspired by different people at different times, but I often pull my inspiration from my own life. Whatever I’m feeling or whatever I’m dealing with at that moment is what I write about. Music is a way to cope and a safe space for me, so emotions often drive it. I’ll often base the lyrics, beat cadence and melodies off of just how I feel in the moment. Music is something that makes me feel alive and through it, I’ll continue to try my best to be my best.”

Can you tell us a little about your global distribution deal with Memphis’ Select-O-Hits? and being attached to The Orchard?

“This is another chapter of my journey that’s just getting started! Johnny Phillips has been extremely helpful in getting me set up over there at Select-O-Hits and I genuinely look forward to our future years together. They’re very well known from the days of his father Tom and uncle, Sam who founded Sun Records. They’ve also been influential in distributing Memphis hip-hop legends Three 6 Mafia and Lil Wyte. Even Jellyroll had projects through them in his early career. I’m just happy to be here in the now and be a part of something with such a history!”

What else is in the pipeline for you?

“This year will be my greatest yet. My biggest news so far this year will be the full rollout release for the single project with The Lotto Tribe, “The Road Back”. It’s one of my most meaningful pieces to date and I can’t wait to share it with the world. We also have shows lined up across the country including a SXSW visit here in Austin, Texas. I plan on dropping multiple singles and a possible full album once the vibe and timing feels right! There will also be more collaborations, big features and visuals but you’ll just have to follow me and wait to see what things I have in store! This is just the start for me.”

Stream I AM Cricchi on Spotify and discover more about the artist here.

Interview by Amelia Vandergast

Drink the sonic Kool-Aid in Max Diaz’s twangy alt-punk Tour De Force, COWBOY CULT

The cowboy-hating Texan Max Diaz brought his seminal single, COWBOY CULT, to life via swathes of sardonic vitriol, potent enough to make every punky take on garage rock by Fidlar sound like a love letter to the universe.

While the instrumentals weave their way through bluesy entanglements, Diaz uses every lyrical line to roll with the punches in his heavyweight canter; even if you’ve never pulled on a pair of cowboy boots in your life, you will feel every drop of vindicating venom projected by the artist’s devil may care disdain towards his fellow Texans.

You’d think all of the controversy of his Machiavellian attacks on the people surrounding him who are hellbent on seeing the regression of social progress would leave him unpopular, but the streaming stats don’t lie. After racking up millions of streams on several of his tracks, he’s the pissed-off prince that wasn’t promised but rose through the ashes of redneck numbskullery regardless. We fucking adore him.

COWBOY CULT was released with the rest of the artist’s sophomore LP, METANOIA on October 13th; do yourselves a favour and stream the entire Tour De Force in full via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

I Need Something You Can’t Give: Cld doesn’t want to fight on Missing

After starting DJing in 6th grade from his previous life as a competitive dancer, Cld feels a piece of himself Missing and wonders deeply why two hearts can’t be together no matter how much it seems to make sense.

Cld aka Luke Potter is an 18-year-old indie hip-hop artist, DJ, drummer for Paracosm, Auburn University student and engineer who is from Allen, Texas.

Best known for his hyper pop/experimental rap tracks and taken from his upcoming 6-track EP called #HoldMyHeart, Cld has forged a thoughtfully mind-stimulating insight into dating in 2023. Worrying about the fights before they happen, we find out more about a romance that is flickering slowly with a dangerously close flame which might burn out forever.

Missing from Allen, Texas-based indie hip-hop artist Cld is a catchy single with so much to be intertwined with inside. This is a complicated story which sums up the modern day, with so many distractions confusing each decision. It’s rather real. Too real. It’s kinda scary too. It’s performed with heart and desire, laying the facts on the table like a set of cards. For us to take our own thoughts away and decide what’s best.

To go where and be with who? That is the question you see. Only we can answer it, if two souls can find a way to unite.

Hear this fine single on Spotify.

Find out more via IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

MASSIVESAD became the cinematically sad poster boy of melodic ennui with his latest art pop release, Balance

The cinematically sad poster boy of melodic ennui, MASSIVESAD, will mainline himself into your melancholic veins with his alt bedroom pop deep-cut, Balance. If you know all too well how it feels for your world to be knocked out of kilter as the scales perpetually turn against you, the catharsis you will find and the compassion you will feel will be visceral.

Emanating disorientating dissonance from his e-piano before the flourishing crescendo of a finish was the perfect way to ensure the instrumentals matched the bitter-sweet vocal lines and lyricality, which paints MASSIVESAD as an existentially amorous diehard romantic at heart. From LANY energy in the main body and the arcane touches of Bjork towards the outro, Balance will undoubtedly remain one of the most artful singles that have slipped into my ear canal in recent years.

Stream Balance from July 7th on SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

A Little Bit of Give: Houston alt-rocker Max Diaz pushes way beyond the boundaries on Dead Dog

After previously mesmerising us on the rather superb Nivana-laced-for-action release from August 2022 called lirium, Max Diaz looks deeper within for that extra self-control with his powerfully constructed new single to jump up and down with while healing from past pain, Dead Dog,

Max Diaz is a Houston, Texas-based indie alt-rock artist who is one of the most imaginative souls around who seems to evolve after each single and shall stomp all bad moods away.

All in all we’re just working for the figment.” ~ Max Diaz

Trying to let go and find himself again after so much disillusionment lately, Max Diaz shall flip all bad moods around with a stomp your-feet message to anyone who needs to get back to a happier sanctuary.

This is blockbuster stuff from a seriously talented and authentic artist who evolves after each track, appearing to push himself to greater heights like a rock climber who knows he can conquer any mountain which could however cause danger to his own life.

Dead Dog from Houston, Texas-based indie alt-rock artist Max Diaz is a rollicking wake-up call and might knock some speakers off the walls. It’s ear piercing in a good way and sizzles into our ears, as a way of inspiring us to open the door into self-enlightenment and away from those negative juices which can sour tastebuds.

If you love it reflective and loud, this day will only get better after a few listens.

You what to do. Click on the Spotify link to get the day started right.

Suss out the social movements on IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Drink Proverbial Cool Aid’s Latest Alternative Single, Sick & Pool Hall

While we expected some degree of ingenuity from an outfit with the moniker Proverbial Cool Aid, we immersed ourselves in more innovation than what we bargained for with their latest single, Sick & Pool Hall, featuring Vince B and J Q Music.

Waiting until the four-minute mark in the track that spans just over six minutes to bring in the vocals was a bold move, especially when the build to them consisted of little more than crunchily distorted vintage tones spilling from the guitars and staccato rhythms, but the progressive track stood as a testament to the good things come to those who wait adage.

After some Kyuss-esque interludes and a  funky bassline laid down by Jack Law, the rock meets rap vocals start slathering the single with a fire that will leave smoke pouring through your speakers long after the fadeout. Sick & Pool Hall may just be the most original entry into the nu-metal genre after the turn of the century. The Houston-based sludge up luminaries are clearly ones to watch.

Stream the latest single from Proverbial Cool Aid by heading over to YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Restless Nights: Evan Charles wants much more than a shadow on Low Road Runnin’

Trying to get higher and hoping for the music to never stop no matter what, Evan Charles sees the wild coyote glimpsing as he takes another look into the illuminating sky on Low Road Runnin‘.

Evan Charles is an Austin, Texas-based Mr Pink Records-signed country singer-songwriter who is best known for being in the local band, Altamesa.

Charles was selected as one of six Austin-based songwriters to participate in the international touring and documentary film organization Project ATX6, reigniting his passion to put storytelling back to the forefront.” ~ Evan Charles

Truly an inspiration to so many who just want to be happy, Evan Charles is on fire with a special song made from the heart. Showing his progression from band life, this is a quality single made by an experienced great who will only get better.

Low Road Runnin’ from Texas-based country singer-songwriter Evan Charles is a truly enticing soundtrack to play rather loud when those lonely nights start to catch up. Teaching us about those wild memories which can change everything if the mindset flips, this is a truly excellent song.

Turn this up on loud and forget all worries.

Listen up more on Spotify.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Don’t Pay My Bills: Ryan Hamilton pens a letter to music industry executives on Bad Breaks

A sucker for whatever it takes mentality, Ryan Hamilton has grown so tired of nasty news and drops the frustration-filled soundtrack to a band who are tired of those empty wallets on Bad Breaks.

Ryan Hamilton is an award-winning Texas-based indie singer-songwriter who performs from the heart and is on a mission to control his own destiny.

I’ve been on the verge of tipping the proverbial scales for several years now. I’ve had some incredible people supporting
and championing me. Now that all the pandemic-related roadblocks are out of the way, it’s time.” ~ Ryan Hamilton

Fed up with being let down on his latest album by a massive mistake with the audio which pushed the release back, Ryan Hamilton sings for the millions of paycheck-to-paycheck musicians who have been let down by big business. This is honest to the core and real in the face, to teach the world how it all really works.

Bad Breaks from Texas-based indie singer-songwriter Ryan Hamilton is a rather revealing track which opens the curtain at the end of the gig. This is rather raw. Brave. Strong. To the point. This is a subject that has been brewing for many years and has just flamed up again, to show that artists deserve so much more than is being offered.

Soothe all ears with this single on YouTube.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Last Night: The Big Gun Show flows through Mexico on the way to Chicago

With the money thin and much to ponder, The Big Gun Show wonders when the healing will come from losing a love which is so treasured beyond anything else with the superb single Chicago.

The Big Gun Show is an Austin, Texas-based indie rock band who love to play that golden era type of music which is fused between 1970-1973.

Imagine a song swap in the basement of Villa Nellcôte among outlaws Haggard & Waylon, sided by modern-day honky tonker Charlie Robison. Also in the circle are members of Jet, Lucero and Blackberry Smoke. Graham Parsons demonstrates country stylings to Keith as Ray Wylie Hubbard makes Jagger and Freddie King laugh while they wail in unison like old, drunken friends.” ~ The Big Gun Show

Stoned again and giving us a really fine single to love for its authenticity, The Big Gun Show reminds us what true reflection sounds like in 2023. This is pure artistry at its best with a riveting sound to turn up on full volume only.

Chicago from Austin, Texas-based indie rock band The Big Gun Show is an old-school song with a vibe many just can’t ever forget. Inside this real song with purpose, we are taught to never give up no matter where the roads shall wander in this odd world.

Listen up on Spotify for more.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Fine Wine: Darius Marquis sees that good life on Angels by the Ocean

Wondering when their next stimulating meeting shall be, Darius Marquis glances deep within the hearts of so many with the find-the-purpose soundtrack to put on by a warm fire called Angels by the Ocean.

Darius Marquis is a Houston, Texas-born indie RnB/soul artist who is an established multi-instrumentalist that fuses various elements of gospel, rock, pop and hip-hop.

At the age of 7, he played drums for his uncle’s church. A keyboard was given to him at the age of 8 and he taught himself how to play the piano by ear. After finishing Middle School band, he continued to refine his skills by studying music theory.” ~ Darius Marquis

He seems ready for it all. Darius Marquis showcases his supreme skill with an extraordinary song to soothe all tired hearts with a dynamic soundtrack for the ages. Gosh, this is a quality experience which might tickle ears and ease worries into the sky.

Angels by the Ocean by the soulfully charged creative rising great Darius Marquis is a rather wonderfully electric track which has been made to mesmerize even the weariest humans. Soaring with a heightened intellect and featuring some of the best solos imaginable, this is a must-listen if there ever was one.

With raw elements that can be refined, this is surely the kind of song which should give many goosebumps packed with intrigue.

See this new music video on YouTube.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen