August Rigo
August Rigo
Courtesy of August Rigo, used with permission.

The Juno Awards are industry-driven awards that honor the artistic and technical achievements of Canadian artists. Administered by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (CARAS), the awards are comparable to the US Grammy Awards, which are administered by the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS). In other words, just being nominated means an artist has made an appreciable impact on the recording industry.

Next month, August Rigo’s phenomenal album entitled The Fall Out (Summerchild Records) will be competing against Dru’s Déjà Vu, Alessia Cara’s Four Pink Walls, Patrick Lehman’s Butchy’s Son, and The Weeknd’s Beauty Behind the Madness for “R&B/Soul Recording of the Year.” The album is a collaboration between August and Ricky Tillo (Lady Gaga), a production duo that is formally known as The EGOs. On Sunday, April 3, the awards gala will be broadcast live from Calgary on CTV.

“I was definitely surprised. But it was something I set out to do with this album,” August replied when AXS asked about his reaction to the nomination. “When I was creating, I told my crew that I’m going to put this album out this year and the goal was to be nominated. After that, I didn’t really think about it. I went on to finish the album, did the submission, and boom it happened. I’m actually so proud because it was a team effort. We went out to do something, and succeeded. As an independent this is huge for us.”

Besides his own music, fans can hear Rigo’s songwriting on records by artists such as Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, and One Direction. This spring, The Fall Out will be released in the US, and just last Friday, RnBASS premiered the video to “Just Drive,” the lead single from August’s album.

“Just Drive” is a gently grooving, soulful ballad with a refreshing focus on melody and a firm grasp on what makes pop music epic. August’s elegantly crafted hit possesses a chill vibe that is infused with the thrill of discovering that she’s really into you! The artist graciously agreed to answer a few questions about the song, the video, and songwriting, in general.

AXS: “Just Drive” is a powerful expression of that moment when you realize the two of you are both feeling the same way. Was this song pulled from an actual experience?

August Rigo: I like storytelling. It’s an aspect of songwriting I feel is lacking as of late. There’s a moment when you meet someone special, that point when you realize you need more of them. More time, more energy, more everything. That’s the “Just Drive” moment. The song is a story I kind of made up, but it was pulled from different points of my own reality.

AXS: How important is it to remain genuine in your music?

AR: I think remaining true is the most important thing. I’m not sure about what everyone else thinks, but for myself, I don’t know any other way to be. I create my best music when I draw from personal experience and what I know. I always want the most real representation of myself out there. I’m going to be judged either way, so I’ll take that judgement on my own merit as opposed to being something I am not.

AXS: What surprised you the most about the making of this video?

AR: It was extremely quick. I was out in LA working and I only had a day to shoot. My good friend Jimmy Cash came through, he shot and directed it for me. A lot of the shots were GOPro footage that I took while driving around. I mounted it on top of my rental. Jimmy was actually one of my first friends in LA so it was great to collab with him.

AXS: You’ve had songs placed with some of the biggest names in music. Do you approach writing a song for yourself differently than you approach writing for another artist?

AR: I used to really try to put myself in the artist’s shoes and try to become them for that moment. What I’m finding now is I just try to write the best song possible. I keep the artist in mind, but I try to also leave a piece of myself with the song. I find I do my best work like that. If I love the song enough to keep it, that means it’s special. I’d like to feel like that about every song I put out there.

AXS: Who is your favorite artist to write for/with?

AR: To be honest, myself would be the real answer, lol. When I write for myself, there’s no box and I have the utmost freedom with sonics and lyrics. I am most comfortable on my own.

I enjoy writing for Justin Bieber because vocally I feel we are similar in approach. I love writing with Ginette Claudette as well because again there is a lot of freedom there with the process.

AXS: There is a quiet confidence in your performance that hints you are a pretty down-to-earth guy. Is that how you would describe yourself?

AR: I am pretty down-to-earth, I guess. I’ve been around and seen a whole lot in the last few years. There have definitely been different versions of myself that have come and gone with my growth, but the constant is that I’m hard working and I’m extremely passionate. I’m a realist, but that doesn’t stop me from dreaming.

AXS: Is there anything at all you’d like to express in closing?

AR: I just want to say I’m grateful for everyday I get to create music. It’s a chance for me to share a piece of myself every time somebody listens to my songs. I’m thankful for that.

Also thanks to you guys at AXS for taking the time with me. This was a great interview.

Watch August’s lead single, “Just Drive,” just below this article. His JUNO Award nominated album, The Fall Out, will be available in the US this spring. And, if you have access to CTV on Sunday, April 3, make sure you are cheering this remarkably talented artist onward to victory!

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