Arizona based musician Pertinence discusses his creative process, writing a song weekly, and maintaining authenticity as a young artist.
Stream: “Bobby Boucher (ADAM SANDLER)” – Pertinence
I always tell people that I love making music, but it’s more so that I don’t know what I would be doing if I wasn’t.
The musician’s journey can be a long one… and a wild one, at that. Though the path can look different for each person, everyone has to start somewhere. For Collin Stedman, better known as “Pertinence,”— it all began in a high school auditorium. What started as being an MC in high school formed the blueprint for where he is today. Though the young artist chose a career in music, it seems more likely that music ultimately chose him.
Pertinence provides wisdom to the likes of Lauryn Hill’s “Interlude No. 5,” discussing topics of the value of intentional repetition and what it means to protect your inner and outer man. It is easy to become high-strung on forming a social status or income as a small artist, but for Pertinence, it’s all about being grounded in his approach to music and what it means to be represented authentically.
In January, the artist began releasing a song a week, contributing to his growing music collection. Pertinence discusses how the challenge helped him understand what it means for an artist to connect with their audience.
“It comes through more genuine, more authentic. I feel like they know me more when there’s that much music and it’s that versatile coming out every week. It’s like you get every corner of me opposed to this image a couple times a year [that] I’d take time to present this ‘polish’ thing.”
Pertinence’s sense of wisdom isn’t the only impressive thing.
At 20 years old, he has released 66 songs, including 37 singles, 1 EP, and 2 albums over three years’ time. This is evidence of his constant dedication and development as an artist. His most recent release on July 31st, “Bobby Boucher (Adam Sandler),” further reveals his growth and reached over 100,000 streams in its first week.
With commentary on social media and its effect on the music industry, Pert explains what it’s like to stay genuine to himself and his audience as he gains more recognition. He provides a grounded perspective on what it means to make good music and uses repetition to his advantage as a creative.
As an interview that poses a formal introduction to Pertinence, Atwood provides the opportunity to learn more about this young artist and his budding music career over the past few years.
I’ve had a lot of success with TikTok. I hate that app, but it’s a necessary evil at this point.
A CONVERSATION WITH PERTINENCE
Atwood Magazine: What has the journey starting as a high school MC to becoming an uprising rapper looked like for you?
Pertinence: It’s a pretty natural transgression. I mean, just being loud and annoying and screaming at everybody on a microphone is pretty much the same thing. It was being entered in a situation where the crowd’s already against you, so nowadays going up in front of people I don’t know and doing my songs and whatnot… it’s definitely helped a lot getting the repetitions of having a microphone in your hand and being up there. Outside of that, I was already making music before student council. I’d say that’s the biggest way they’ve impacted each other.
What got you into music in the first place?
Pertinence: My dad would always play music as I was growing up when we cleaned the house or did whatever. From there, when I was in high school, everybody was making music. I had always been writing raps, but I never recorded anything. SoundCloud was the start of the DIY musician, so I got a MacBook for Christmas and then my first mic and stuff like that. I knew from the first time I did it that this was obviously something I could see myself doing. I always tell people that I love making music, but it’s more so that I don’t know what I would be doing if I wasn’t. So, I started putting stuff up on SoundCloud and learning what I was doing, and people started digging it.
I know you are doing a song a week; can we talk about that?
Pertinence: Through high school, I would put out a song every other week. I was doing that for a while, and it was really cool but didn’t really go anywhere. Until recently, when you put a song out and then four days later, you have to upload the new song and promote that as well…I feel like a week isn’t enough time for a song to stick right. I like putting out music consistently, and I know people are listening for it now. So, I think every two weeks might be the sweet spot. Maybe we will ramp it up to every week, but I think it was a little over-ambitious.
How has that doing a song a week challenged your creative process?
Pertinence: That’s a great question. I think it stresses me out because a song comes out, and you don’t have time to enjoy it because you got to upload a new one. At the same time, I have tons of songs on my computer already, so it’s not like I’m starting from scratch with a new song every week.
One of my biggest problems is that I take music too seriously sometimes and take the fun away from it. The stuff you put out there should be golden, and you should really believe in it, but it’s not like every single song you make you have to put out. Most of the time, you should just do it because you enjoy it, and it’s super fun. That’s what the song a week has forced me to do. In a weird, backhanded way, I feel like doing that makes the music more genuine and authentic because it’s just off the cuff.
I agree. If you think about it too much, it's like, “Okay, here's planning what I'm writing versus just saying what I am feeling or thinking.” I believe that some of the best songs can be written in just a few minutes or hours. How has this kind of writing helped you connect to your audience more?
Pertinence: I think all three of my top songs right now, I’ve probably written in an hour or maybe an hour and a half, then recorded it, and it was done just like that. It’s just pure fear being harnessed, just being put out, without any interference from my brain calculating it too much. Just this idea of putting into the song without thinking too much about it… they definitely appreciate that because it comes through more genuine, more authentic.
I feel like they know me more when there’s that much music and it’s that versatile coming out every week. It’s like you get every corner of me opposed to this image a couple times a year [that] I’d take time to present this ‘polish’ thing. When you put up a song a week, you have to put up X amount more videos a week, and everything has to follow along with that. It just gets deeper into the image.
I remember hearing about some of your music before, then recently, I checked up on what you released, and I just kept scrolling — noticing all of the work you've put in over the past year. Your top song, “Okay Okay,” is now at 336,000 streams which is pretty exciting. How has reaching more listeners helped you realize this is something more set in stone for you?
Pertinence: Like I was saying, I just don’t know what else I would be doing. This pretty much has always been set in stone. It’s the only thing that really makes me happy. Thank God I have really supportive parents and people who look out for me and believe in it. It’s been very gratifying for sure. It’s like saying, “I’m not insane. I told you I wasn’t insane. These songs are good. I just need people to listen to it.”
Now that people do, it’s cool having those “cult” followers who are tapping into every song based on “Okay Okay” or “Tapped In,” and now they also know these songs from years ago. Not that it happens every day or even once a month, but when you have somebody in public say that they love your music, it’s crazy.
How has this been a turning point for you?
Pertinence: In terms of it being a turning point, I just imagine this career is the biggest ask you can have to the universe. It’s this ask to be famous or whatever you want to call it. It’s so ambitious; it’s wild. If it didn’t take a lot of time, sacrifice, and whatnot, it almost wouldn’t be worth it. I almost view it as this huge boulder that has to get pushed over. “Okay Okay,” was the first real shove, but there’s still a lot of back work and pushing that has to get done for this boulder to get moving to where it’s rolling by itself. Especially in this world today, with social media and how many people are making music and how often they’re doing it… If you’re going to do anything and really pull weight within this insanely broad industry, you have to do it consistently.
I like what you're saying about how you try to take people along through each phase of your life so they can get to know you. It's cool to see that challenge in releasing songs week. How has it also been promoting yourself over different social media platforms?
Pertinence: I’ve had a lot of success with TikTok. I hate that app, but it’s a necessary evil at this point. In the game, it’s completely revolutionized how music is consumed. It’s the idea of swiping infinite times, and you’ll never be shown the same video again. Those same rules apply to swiping through songs and everything because there are so many people doing it. In reality, the fact that my music is doing what it is is crazy, and it’s something that I should be super grateful for, which I am. That’s definitely where most of the traction and most of the fan base is. The idea is that you can create this video in your house in 10 or 15 minutes, then put it up, and within a day and 100,000 people can now know who you are or have laid their eyes on you — those are crazy numbers.
Outside of that, I like Instagram reels because it’s basically the same idea. I don’t think it’s as efficient as TikTok, but people have had videos blow up there, so it’s not hurting anybody. I would say that Instagram and TikTok are the two that have helped me but also really consumed so much of my time.
I can tell you've thought a lot about this in trying to understand how one video can get more views than another. It lets artists ask, what ultimately is making the difference?
Pertinence: The messed-up thing, too, is that you can think about that all day, but there’s no figuring it out. There’s no program — nothing works 10 out of 10 times. It’s annoying, but that’s also what’s super sick about it. It’s not just in the hands of a big company with money to make big-budget videos like back in the day when people’s songs would get big because they had a great music video. Now, their song gets big because they have a great home video on their cell phone. So, it’s really shifted the whole industry.
Yeah, it's made it easier, but at the same time, you got to cross your fingers and hope you reach the right audience or tailor it to the right people. It seems like, overall, social media has been helping you to get your name out there. How has it also helped you connect with other artists and collaborate?
Pertinence: When you’re smaller, it’s harder to find really good artists, but as your reach starts extending, there are people all over the world that want to collaborate and work on these projects with you. It takes it from your backyard, or maybe your neighborhood, high school, or state, and just extends it. The song that’s coming out next week [Bobby Boucher] is produced by this guy in Australia. The song that came out two weeks before this [“selfdeprecation”] was produced by this guy in the UK.
Since you've collaborated with many people over the past few years: If you could collaborate with anybody dead or alive, who would it be?
Pertinence: Right now, this second, if I knew the song would be good enough…I think I’d shit my pants if I was in the same room trying to write next to him—but say today I cut the craziest song of all time, and the opportunity was there — it would definitely be Kendrick. Just because of what he means to me, society, and the culture as a whole. More on a brought-down level, I think JID would be really cool just because of the commercial success that the song would have. A lot of people compare my sound to his stuff a lot of the time. That’s what most people will hit me up with—like, “I can’t wait until you’d make a song with this guy” it’s usually him.
Those would be incredible opportunities for sure. What have you learned from collaborating with others in inspiring or developing your creative process?
Pertinence: Before, when people hit me up, and nobody really listened to my music, I would do whatever feature came my way. If somebody sent me a song, I would do it, because why not? At least one person’s going to listen to it. Now that it’s more on this elevated level, you must be more refined in what you put out of yourself. Obviously, I still like to put a lot out, but it’s not like I can take everything that comes my way. There are just not enough hours in the day. My creative approach is that if I’m working on something, it’s because I care about it. It’s something I really believe in. I want it to do good because it represents me and my brand and what I’m doing at this point. It’s made it…I don’t want to say more challenging, but probably more fun. It’s more work that I believe in and can really stand by.
Yeah, you can really put yourself into it, and that's awesome. I know you've also done a few live shows, but how has the Arizona music scene been connecting to venues or other local artists?
Pertinence: It’s hard because this local scene is so gatekept and hasn’t conformed to the TikTok society we are in right now. Nobody is popping on TikTok out of Arizona. There are musicians for sure, but in the hip-hop scene, nobody’s really taken it there yet. It’s interesting to have the dynamic between the two because I want to support this place I’m from. I love this state and this place as a whole and what it’s done for me, but it seems that everybody’s behind the times a little bit.
In terms of venues, I’ve done my fair share of reaching out, but I could definitely be going harder in terms of booking the shows. That’s something I intend on doing here in the next few months because I think that’s what separates somebody who makes music on Tik Tok and a real performer. I want to have shows that are really incredible as opposed to you just having people show up because they know a song or two. I mean, you’re going for the performance.
As long as you make music and get it out there, you're setting up a good foundation for those performances. It all lays the blueprint. I've enjoyed hearing how you approach your music and represent yourself, so thank you. Is there anything else you'd like your listeners to know about you or your music coming out?
Pertinence: For sure. I can say that by the time this comes out, “Adam Sandler” will be out. This next track will be super, super sick. And outside of that, man, I mean, come rock with it. Like I said, the interview itself will showcase a lot of it, but we do have a lot of cool tunes. I’m not a half-bad guy, so if you’re looking for new music, there’s plenty of it over here, so come check it out for sure.
Stream: “Bobby Boucher (ADAM SANDLER)” – Pertinence
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📸 © Isaiah Mirigian
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