The Evolution of Awful Records and Father's Plan to Take Over the World

Striking a creative partnership with RCA Records, Father is ready to pull off his most ambitious plans yet.

father awful press1 rosaline shahnavaz
Photo by Rosaline Shahnavaz / Styling by Nazanin Shahnavaz
father awful press1 rosaline shahnavaz

"I'm on my deck right now in Cali, just looking at the mountains," Father says, comparing his current situation to the "scumbaggy" lifestyle of his past. "I'm in fuckin' silk boxers. I'm chillin' bro. It's beautiful."

It's a transitional time for the head of Awful Records. After years declining offers from major labels and staying independent, Father finally came across an opportunity he couldn't pass up: a creative partnership with RCA Records. Structured differently than a standard label deal, his notoriously DIY crew maintain their creative freedoms, while gaining the financial backing they need to pull off projects beyond the scope of their small team in Atlanta. 

"They're investing in us to continue doing what we've been doing," Father says. "It's just now we have the funding to do exactly what we want to do." His ambitious plans for the future include major motion pictures—or at least a Hulu Original—and he points out that the music coming from Awful Records has always "sounded big." In RCA, he sees a chance to get that music in front of bigger audiences that haven't yet been exposed to their sound.

The first release under the partnership will be Father's fourth album. He says it's his most focused effort yet, but makes a point to reassure fans it hasn't been ruined by too much maturity. "I'm still on the same bullshit," he admits.

Watch Father's self-directed video for "We Had A Deal" below and continue for our full interview with the Awful Records head.

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You and the whole Awful Records crew have always had a really independent DIY spirit. Why did you decide to partner with RCA?

Honestly man, when I first started out I was doing very well financially on my own so I didn't really care about signing that much, unless the deal made sense. When I first came out, I was interested in a deal. I wasn't opposed. It was just that the deals people were offering were fuckin' trash. Then this one came around after I dropped "Hearthrob" and it was just real sweet. So I was like, "Fuck it, I might as well do it now. I ain't doing shit else."

I saw the deal being called a "creative partnership." What does that mean?

It just generally means they're investing in us to continue doing what we've been doing. We're not falling into how everything is set up with a typical label deal. We're still pretty much releasing and promoting things ourselves. It's just now we have the funding to do exactly what we want to do.

So the main difference now is the additional financial backing?

Yeah, the label deal brings financial backing as well as additional scope. We have their scope now. The places they can hit that we couldn't hit before, we have that now. The music has always sounded big. It's an easier way to get in front of those bigger audiences. Before, our team was very small. There were only like three people helping with administration. But now there's a massive team that can really propel things forward a lot faster and a lot bigger. The music that we've been making deserves that, anyway.

I think sometimes people romanticize the idea of being independent and labels get vilified. Have you ever had that mentality yourself?

Honestly, the way I look at it is they will hoe you as much as you let them. So if you don't have that situation from the jump, you'll be fine. I mean, it's a business partnership. All things progress in business through working with other people. Not a lot of things get very big off just one person alone. You have to incorporate.


Did you notice any fans questioning the decision when the announcement was made?

I thought that might happen, but surprisingly nobody said a fuckin' thing. Everybody was like, "Yo, congrats. Finally!" I think with what they've been doing lately—especially RCA—it's not seen as a negative thing anymore. RCA has represented SZA and shit like that. Her shit didn't change up, it just got better. Everything got better under their umbrella. So I think people saw that and they were like, "Alright, that's fire. That's a perfect fit."

We’ve been talking about the positives of the partnership, but what do you think will be the biggest challenge to make this work?

I'll say this, the only change that could possibly happen is my own releases slow down. Like, I'll slow down how often I come out with shit, but I've been doing that naturally. I kind of fit into the system now because I'm not trying to be as frequent. I don't really care about that "sudden drop" shit anymore. Even with this partnership, though, we still get to release music separate from them under different things. So it will never actually stop or slow our rollouts. Honestly, I have yet to run into any negatives and any of the ones that I had dreamed up, haven't been a problem.

content-wise, I'm still on the same bullshit.

The first release under the partnership is your next solo album. What kind of headspace were you in when you were making that?

With a lot of the old projects, I was living real scumbaggy. There were hella people living in the house and a lot of noise—a real toxic environment. But I'm on my deck right now in Cali, just looking at the mountains. I'm about to grill. I'm in fuckin' silk boxers. I'm chillin' bro. It's beautiful. So the music reflects that. It's not the clutter that I had before. There was so much shit going on—so much drama and all that. Now it's drama free, lit ass music.

When you look at the music itself, how is this album different from your first three?

It's more focused, but honestly I don't feel like it's that much different otherwise. People might hear it and be like, "Oh, this sounds more polished now." But content-wise, I'm still on the same bullshit. I don't know if you could call it growth or not, but the shit is just better. I can't really explain it. I don't get too complicated with things like that. 

What sort of things you were into when you were making this album? What were your non-musical influences?

I was watching a lot of Black Dynamite, fuckin' Quentin Tarantino movies, and shit like that. The usuals. And I watch a lot of horror movies—you can hear some of that in the way things sound. I play a load of video games, too, so there are a lot of references to shit like that. I'm an RPG kind of guy so I play a lot of Fallout, Skyrim, Bioshock, and shit like that. 

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You just released the video for "Lotto." What was that day on set like?

It was a long ass day. We started early because we actually had to shoot both videos ["Lotto" and "We Had A Deal"] on the same day. The influence was actually that old Cam'ron video for "What Means The World To You." I was taking influence from that, but yeah, it was a very lit day. 

What is your approach to videos like now? Has it changed with more resources?

I guess before, I put a lot of emphasis on how the image looks. We didn't have a lot of resources and we were shooting in the house most of the time, but I still had a status quo for how I wanted things to appear—creatively, with color, and just with the image itself. That's still true today. But you're right, there are more resources, so I want things to look a little more cinematic. But it's really just the same casual, fun shit. I don't really like making super over-the-top movie-esque videos that don't reflect the music, like some people do. What it sounds like is what it looks like. I don't like that "up to interpretation" metaphorical-ass bullshit that people do sometimes.

I'm trying to be in cinema. Shit, at least Netflix. Damn, I'll take a Hulu original right now.

I’m curious about some of the things you do behind the scenes. Someone on Twitter asked a similar question recently and you answered: "A&R shit, yes and no’ing, hand shakin, baby kissing." What did you mean by that?

I mean, aside from me just kicking it and shit... We are expanding right now, so it's not just the old team anymore, where everybody just drops randomly whenever they want and there's no quality control. Things have to pass through me now. When I'm not working on my own shit, I spend time listening to new content, finding new artists that we could possibly fuck with, and giving words of encouragement to our artists. So really there's a lot of A&R shit and administrative stuff. Shaking hands and kissing babies. Making sure the brand has a good face.

What are some of your bigger plans for Awful in the next year or so?

I want our frequency of releases to go back up, of course. I also want to get further into film. If you look at all the videos I'm about to release, they're all directed by me, and I'm back on my own wave. So I want to get deeper into that—not just directing videos and shit, but maybe working on a TV show or a comic book.

Over the last six months, you guys have been posting an interview series with Zack Fox called Bruh on your YouTube channel. Where'd the idea for that come from?

That just came out of us just kicking it and shit, then Red Bull came to us. That's something we've always wanted to do—just small content like that. We have a lot of friends in music that we could just call up and have conversations with. So that's just expanding off of something that we naturally do anyway, just hanging out with our homies and shit. 


What are your biggest dreams for Awful Records?

Just big corporate movies and shit like that. I'm trying to be in cinema. Shit, at least Netflix. Damn, I'll take a Hulu Original right now, you know what I'm saying?

Have you ever thought about telling Awful's story in a documentary or a book?

Yeah. There's a great story there, but that's going to take a little bit more time. I want to hit that when we're all like in our 30s and 40s and shit like that, when nobody cares anymore about getting caught up—you know, a lot of bullshit has happened in our past. People don't quite like to talk about it just yet. But that's something I've been interested in for awhile, especially a book. Then a book to turn into a movie. But that's going to take a little more time.

I want somebody to sit down with all of us and truly listen to our story. Like just get drunk and rant for hours, then combine all that shit into one book. We need somebody that's very on their shit and wouldn't just do something quick, sitting down with us for a month or something. You've gotta talk with us for a smooth year to write a book about everything that has gone on.

When you think back on those early years with Awful and then look at where you’re at now, what have been the biggest changes? And what are you most proud of?

Some of the biggest changes are that we're not all up under each other anymore, and honestly that's an accomplishment in itself. Before, we were all up under each other and we were holding each other up, but now we're all independent people within a larger organization. Everybody's traveling on their own and doing what the fuck they want to do. It's beautiful. 

What is the biggest misconception about Awful Records?

That we're a sex cult. We don't do that anymore.

What’s the biggest misconception about Father?

I don't think there are any misconceptions. Everything seems to be pretty on the nose.[Laughs]. Any assumption I've heard, I've been like, "Yeah, that's pretty true." 

What should fans expect from you in the near future?

The album's coming out and shit. It's gonna be a good ass year.

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