Hip Hop Artist-Turned-Singer/Songwriter Audley Drops New Album Next Month

Johnny Glover, aka Audley, rapped his way onto the Cincinnati music scene in 2011. On September 4, he shows off his singer/songwriter chops with his sophomore album, ROY. We talked to the artist about his musical journey, his sound and increased productivity during the pandemic.

Photograph by Annie Noelker

How did you get into the Cincinnati music scene?

When I was a senior in high school my friends and I made six mixtapes together. We were always in [my friend] Vasilios Zois’s basement making music. Vas and I ended up heading to the University of Cincinnati in 2011 and we roomed together in Calhoun. Room 1027. Vasilios and I slid our “Bearcat Bound” tape under each door in Calhoun. We are talking hundreds of CDs. We put our room number and our Soundcloud on the back. People were following us, leaving notes on our door, asking to come say hello. It was a really fun way to kick off the dorm experience. We got a message from a room on the first floor one day, and Vas and I headed down to meet a man named Jacob Fortner. At the time, he went by MC Forty. Forty gave me my first show, which was on my birthday that year. I fell in love with the stage.

What kind of music did you grow up listening to?

My mother was always playing Earth Wind & Fire, Michael Jackson, ABBA, Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and Bee Gees. My mom loves to dance. She loves to be filled with joy and sing with the volume up to 11. My dad was always playing Bad Company, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, The Cars, Aerosmith, and KISS. He always had it on while he was working around the house. Both experiences from Mom and Dad were big for me when I was little. I was listening to rap music all through grade school. My sister gave me a copy of College Dropout when I was in sixth grade. She also gave me a mixed CD of old Jay Z and early Kid Cudi. I was obsessed. Those two records really shaped my craft as a songwriter.

How has the local music scene changed since 2011?

Photograph by Alexa Gallo

The scene feels way more inclusive. There have always been a million shows to go to, but seeing Triiibe and POC crush it at MOTR, Bla’sze slaying the CEAs, and producers like Devin Burgess getting local shine, hip-hop is being taken more seriously. I’m proud of the direction Cincinnati is heading. The EDM scene in Cincinnati is thriving and deserves so much more love. Brwn Bear, Vusive, Chuck Diesel, VAANCE, Gardella … so much talent. Seeing their careers flourish has been super fun to watch. A lot of bands have been around for a few years at least at this point, so they all are getting polished, stronger, and their music is becoming more dynamic. Cincinnati’s scene is always getting bigger and brighter.

What was the impetus behind your new project?

Poetry. I decided to start free flow writing poetry and was finishing at least one piece a day for two months. I wrote over 100 poems and all of them were rich with color imagery. The most powerful messages were communicated through color. That became the foundation for ROY.

How is ROY different from previous releases?

This is the most honest body of work I have ever created. I have always been telling my story through my music, but this record feels way more personal because it is hyper focused on where I’ve been the last few years of my life. This album is different strictly because it is all of me. I have nothing to hide with ROY. If you listen to the album you will know exactly who I am.

Where did the name come from?

ROY stands for Red Orange Yellow. ROY is the beginning of the spectrum of color, symbolic to the revelation that we are experiencing more than one color at once. ROY is a testament to the growth from PINK [his first album]. PINK was a vibe, but it was not all of me. Learning that all of the colors around me and inside me create the symphony that is John Audley Glover Junior, is ROY.

How has the pandemic affected your creative output?

It’s amplified my output exponentially. From March 20 to May 30, I posted 52 verses on Instagram over the course of 71 days. Being stuck in the house forced me to express myself. I was already in a good creative flow from writing poetry and finishing the album, but I wanted to add a moment of creative joy among the heaviness of the timeline.

What do you want listeners to get from this new project?

I want listeners to be inspired by my journey. I want them to feel the light inside and listen to the voice that is screaming their destiny. We all know, deep down, what our next move in life should be. We all feel in our gut what it would take to feel free and happy. Environments and outside expectations can cripple our growth. I want people to hear how I’ve reclaimed my path and find the strength to do the same. I also want people to dance around and bump this record in their cars and spin the bops at parties—this album is still a good time. Both can exist in one record.

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