On Nov. 5, the first day of Travis Scott’s Astroworld Festival in Houston, multiple attendees were killed in what’s widely been referred to as a crowd-crush incident. All told, eight people died on the evening of Scott’s set, while two others died following hospitalization. In the weeks since, a slew of lawsuits have been filed and a number of other artists have made headlines for pausing their own shows to check on fans’ safety.
In a new interview with Charlamagne tha God, shared Thursday and marking the “Escape Plan” artist’s first public discussion on the tragedy, those factors and more were discussed at length. Mentioned frequently in the 51-minute interview is Scott’s goal of identifying the core issues that contributed to the mass casualty event so there isn’t a repeat of this disaster at future shows, whether his or those of another artist.
Below, we’ve highlighted a selection of key takeaways from the discussion, which you can watch in full up top.
Time stamps: 2:43, 3:33, 4:00
Asked around the 2:43 mark how he’s been coping in the days since the tragedy, Scott explained that he’s spent a lot of time “in a room” with his thoughts. He’s also been working to figure out a way forward with regards to increased safety measures.
“I’ve been just in a room for a while, a lot of thoughts, and luckily you have people around that you can kinda bounce ideas [with],” he explained. “I’ve been doing this for such a long time and nothing like this [has] ever happened. … At the end of the day, these fans are your family so you just feel like you’ve lost something. You do these shows honestly for people to have the best experience.”
For Scott, it’s now about becoming “a voice for these people” as efforts continue.
“Even just for the first couple weeks, it was just me sitting down but I had to really channel these emotions to just remember, you know, no one is going to be a voice for these people,” he said around the 3:33 mark. “I gotta step up and be a voice to just figure out [how] this doesn’t happen in the future at shows, period, or figure out the bottom solution of what’s going on and ensure people’s safety.”
As previously reported, the Grammy-nominated artist was spotted in late November with Michael Jordan and Mark Wahlberg, among others, marking his first public outing since the Astroworld deaths. Addressing the ensuing photos, Scott said he was just taking some “personal time” surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday.
“It was just Thanksgiving. … And, you know, that was more, like, a personal time,” he said around the 4:00 mark. “I think a fan came and asked for a photo.”
Time stamps: 4:28, 5:02, 5:22, 35:48
“It wasn’t really until, like, minutes until the press conference until I figured out exactly what happened,” Scott said around the 4:28 mark. “Even after the show, you’re just kinda hearing things but I didn’t know the exact details until minutes before the press conference. And even at that moment, you’re just like, wait, what?” Asked if he knew people had died, Scott said he did not, at least not until “minutes before” an initial press conference from local authorities.
Scott added that people passing out or experiencing similar temporary issues at shows of this size isn’t uncommon, getting specific around the 5:22 mark about whether an artist is able to hear if someone is screaming for help between songs. The necessary use of in-ear monitors, he explained, means he (and any artist in this situation) isn’t able to make out exactly what’s happening in a crowd.
“It’s so crazy because I’m that artist too, anytime you can hear something like that, you wanna stop the show,” he said. “You wanna make sure fans get the proper attention they need. And anytime I could see anything like that, I did. I stopped it, like, a couple times to just make sure everybody’s okay. And I really go off the fans’ energy as a collective, call and response. I just didn’t hear that. You know, I got music, I got my in-ears.”
Addressing footage from the night in question showing him pausing his performance, the Cactus Jack founder explained that he was able to do so due to the proximity of someone who was in distress.
“I mean, he was right there, you know?” he said around the 35:48 mark. “You had people just [spread] out. So I just called down and, you know, the medics just came in and responded, got him out. … That’s the only one I saw. And then when I seen the lights in the back, I just double checked, made sure everyone was okay [and] I got a response [that] everyone was okay.”
Time stamps: 7:23, 7:35, 8:13, 28:06
At around the 7:23 mark in the new interview, Charlamagne asked Scott if the “raging” energy his shows are known for contributed to what happened at this year’s Astroworld Festival. Scott believes it did not, and he also explained how the very concept of being a rager has been misconstrued.
“Us, as artists, we trust professionals to make sure that things happen and people leave safely,” La Flame said around the 7:35 mark. “And this night was just like a regular show, it felt like, to me, as far as the energy. People didn’t show up there to just be harmful. People, I think, just showed up to have a good time and then something unfortunate happened and I think we really just gotta figure out what that was.”
Speaking further on how he defines “raging” within the live show context, including around the 8:13 and 28:06 marks, Scott said it’s not about “being violent and hurting each other.” Instead, it’s more rooted in a sense of togetherness.
“Raging is just—it doesn’t have a textbook definition—but, you know, in concerts we’ve grown it to be this experience of having fun,” he said. “It’s not about just, ‘Oh, harm.’ It’s not about that. It’s about just letting go and having fun, you know, help others [and] love each other. It’s not about harm. That’s not what it’s all about. The show isn’t just rambunctious for an hour. That’s not what it is.”
Time stamp: 10:45
Asked if he regrets his initial statements on the tragedy, including clips shared to his Instagram, Scott said that he does.
“I mean, yeah, because you just don’t know what’s going on,” he said at the 10:45 mark. “But at the end of the day, I just wanted to get something out. … I can only go off what I know, but my true intentions of it was really just trying to get a message across.”
Time stamps: 11:40, 12:28, 13:23
Not long after the scope of the tragedy was made clear, Houston police chief Troy Finner said he had paid Scott a visit in his trailer prior to the show. That meeting was posited as Scott having received a warning from Finner, but Scott characterized it differently.
“He came to my trailer and congratulated me on the event and having something like this in Houston,” Scott said around the 11:40 mark. “He let me know that there was a mishap at the merch booth earlier. You know, they shut it down but they opened it back up. They seemed to get it under control.”
As Scott explained later, around the 12:28 mark and at multiple points in the Charlamagne conversation, artists place their trust in professionals to make sure everything is in place for a show that’s as safe as possible for everyone involved.
“I just control what I can on the stage and you have the professionals control what they can in the crowd,” he said. “It’s just hard because, as an artist, you know, you wanna have the best shows and you wanna have the best experiences, and you link with professionals to handle that side of it. You wanna know what’s going on and I think that’s what we’ve gotta figure out. Figure out what happened there, how it happened.”
Again addressing the visit with the police chief around the 13:23 mark, Scott claimed their discussion was focused on keeping communication open should his team need to change anything on the itinerary. “It didn’t even get to that point,” he added.
Time stamps: 14:15, 15:11, 16:45, 48:02
Expectedly, coverage of the Astroworld Fest tragedy has focused largely on the issue of responsibility, particularly with regards to safety. While Scott said he doesn’t want to “speak too soon” regarding the specifics of who should be held liable, he’s hoping the lessons learned from this can be applied to future live experiences.
“I have a responsibly to figure out what happened here,” Scott said around the 14:15 mark. “I have a responsibility to figure out the solution. … Hopefully this takes a first step into, you know, us as artists having more insight of what’s going on, you know what I’m saying? And, you know, the professionals to kind of surround and figure out more of an intel, whether it’s tech, whether it’s more of a response, whether it’s whatever the problem is, to figure out that and in the future moving forward in concert safety, make sure it just never happens again.”
As for the responsibility of Live Nation and promoters, Travis said they “do their job” of setting up these types of events. These entities, however, can be helpful in zeroing in on what happened at Astroworld Festival. “At the end of the day, I think, collectively, everyone needs to just figure out the bottom line solution but, you know, especially in concert safety,” he said around the 15:11 mark. In response to reports that Live Nation had agreed to end the show early after authorities declared it a mass casualty event, Scott said he was never told to “stop now” while performing.
“They just told me, ‘Right after the guests get offstage, we’re going to end the show,’” he said around the 16:45 mark. “And that’s what we did. Other than that, there was no other communication. … It wasn’t communication on why, it was just, you know, that’s what came through my [in-ear monitors].”
The issue of responsibility was broached again near the end of the interview, with Scott asked to name who he felt is responsible for what happened.
“It’s crazy because something tragic happened here, and what I’ve just been trying to get to the bottom of is just what happened here and how it happened here,” said Travis around 48 minutes in. “I think the families are owed that, I feel like the community is owed that, I feel like we’re owed that, to just know what happened here. I don’t want to just speak too soon. I just want to figure out what happened. Like I said, as artists, we just leave this up to professionals to make sure that fans are having a good time and people are protected.”
Time stamps: 19:20, 21:35
“I’ll say to them that I’m always here and that, you know, I’m in this with you guys and I love you and I’ll always be there to help you guys heal through this,” Scott said around the 19:20 mark when asked what he wants to tell victims’ families. “I understand that they’re going through, you know, the grieving right now and finding understanding right now. It’s not just, like, a right-now thing, it’s a forever thing. These people that came to the show, they are my family and I’ve always had that connection to the people that listen to the music or come to my shows.”
Grieving families, Scott added, should know he’s “going to fix this” and “find a solultion” so that this tragedy isn’t repeated. And speaking from the perspective of a parent in terms of what he would want to see happen if it were his children involved in such a tragedy, Scott again stressed the importance of finding a solution.
“I [would] want to see people put their heads together,” he said around the 21:35 mark. “I want to see people really figure this out, not take this lightly, and really act on it.”
Time stamps: 25:03, 25:17, 41:00, 42:13
Around 25 minutes in, Scott said he “was able” to have some personal conversations with affected families, noting that he wanted to respect the privacy of those conversations. As for reports of several families deciding to turn down his offers of covering funeral expenses, Scott shared his opinion that “all things are understandable” given the circumstances.
“All things are understandable and, you know, at a time they’re grieving and they’re trying to find understanding and they want answers, it’s not about that,” he said. “I’m always gonna be here, to want to help.”
Closer to the end of his discussion with Charlamagne, Scott reflected on how he would feel if some families were never able to forgive him. “That’s tough,” he said around 41 minutes in. “Because I want them to really know that my intentions wasn’t, you know, to harm their family at all. It was for them to come to have a good experience. I’ve always felt like I have a connection with my fans through the music.”
Time stamps: 26:10, 29:24, 30:21
Disgustingly, a number of ignorance-fueled conspiracy theories were spread in the wake of the Astroworld Fest tragedy focused on so-called Satanic rituals. No such thing occurred, of course, and Scott believes these types of theories are spread by people who don’t understand art.
“No, I mean: one, I’m a man of God so that’s the first thing first,” he said around the 26:10 mark. “Yeah, that’s that. And your music is just, like, self-expression. At these shows, I feel like people kind of look at things and if you’ve been to Travis shows, there’s been different layers of shows. I think people are just [having] misconceptions and taking things they’re seeing and all type of things. I’ve took pride in trying to grow from where I was when I first recorded music to now where I’m going in music.”
Later, around the 29:24 mark, Scott was asked again about such theories.
“I think it’s just things people collect and they look at things and they look at visuals and, you know, you have all these theorists and people just thinking they’re looking at visuals and don’t understand, you know, just the idea of what art may be or what you’re trying to do,” he said. “They’re just making up their own message.”
For the final word on this topic, coming in around the 30:21 mark, Scott said the goal of his work is to be “a part of joy” and not the opposite. “Evil is not what we’re a part of,” he said.
Time stamp: 26:26
Folded into the ignorance-fueled conspiracy theories is the idea that the nature of the Rodeo-creator’s music itself is to blame, which is an idea Scott rejects entirely.
“What happened here wasn’t off Travis Scott music. … I’ve made all different types of music, in the first place,” he said around the 26:26 mark. “I never was just, like, one lane or one genre or anything, in the first place. So I just think it’s all about experiences and I feel like, you know, it could be music to come out of it. Lyricism, just emotion. You know, music is emotion. Music is healing. And you know, you can just find healing and find emotion in that and just more progressive. Everything I’m trying to do is just more progressive.”
Time stamps: 31:57, 34:37
On the topic of performing again in the future, be it at a festival or elsewhere, Scott shared his hopes that these events could provide a space for a “healing” experience for fans.
“I think, once we take major steps into moving in that direction [of addressing safety issues], you know, I feel like it could be cool for people to practice that healing again and understand that I don’t think people should run away from it and shy away from it,” he said around the 31:57 mark. “I think it’s a form of healing.”
As for any measures he will personally take at future shows regarding safety, Scott—around the 34:37 mark—said he will “double down” on making sure that everyone is aware and on top of their respective roles.
Time stamp: 40:28
A side topic of discussion that’s emerged amid Astroworld Festival coverage has been Scott’s status as a go-to collaborator for major brands and other corporate voices. Speaking with Charlamagne, the Utopia artist was asked if he would care if anyone were to back away from him “on a corporate level” due to the tragedy.
“No,” Travis said. “But I’ve never jumped into things with people that didn’t know me, so everyone I surround myself with, it’s always been, you know, a backbone and supportive to anything I want to do to help fix anything that could be a good cause.”
Time stamp: 42:18
Charlamagne, around the 42:18 mark, pointed to the ensuing media attention on Scott in the wake of the festival deaths. Specifically, the Breakfast Club co-host asked Travis if he felt he was being villainized for what happened, which is something that Scott understands.
“I feel like it comes with being in a seat and I feel like they’re pointing the finger at me because it’s my festival. … Like I said before, I feel like I can kind of take that, in a sense, because my whole career I feel like people have been trying to do that,” Scott said. “And I feel I’ve shown through actions that that’s not my character. That’s not what I am. I’m shining through positive and I feel like with understanding, people understand that my heart wasn’t there to be the villain. I was there to be the hometown hero.”