It takes a brave soul to walk away from a full-time, well-paying career and dive into an industry that is known for devouring dreams. A certain Philadelphia native decided to take that courageous plunge and along his journey Shawn Kristopher Savage departed from his successful career in the automotive industry and emerged as the musical visionary and emcee, Realysm.
The music of Realysm inspires and engages people of all ages. In fact, he has a gang of elderly back-up dancers that can attest to that…seriously.
With a brand new album and many years of chaotic life experience under his belt, Realysm is slowly but surely on the rise. We couldn’t resist meeting up with him to discuss his new music, his outrageous stage performances and what makes him more real than the rest.
Two.one.five. magazine: First things first – tell us about your elderly back-up dancers…
Realysm: People like old people that dance [laughs]. These guys come out with wigs, big coats and hats and they’re engaging the crowd. They go up to people and break them down and all of that.
My mom actually thought of the idea. We were sitting there one night and she was like, “You should do something different. You should get old people! I’m talking wheel-chair-on-oxygen old people [laughs]”. I haven’t found anybody quite like that yet, but if anyone knows someone who’s rocking an oxygen tank that wants to come boogie with us, hit me up.
215: Awesome back up dancers aside, what makes your show worth experiencing?
R: I think it’s the entertainment factor. I really went out and studied what worked and what didn’t before I got into this. One show that I went to that kind of inspired me was the Odyssey show. I went to see his show at Silk City and the band was so good. You could tell that they really rehearsed and had everything tight. It brought an element to that specific genre of music and I was blown away. I left there in awe.
I focus on my shows being that same experience. I look at Prince’s old shows and James Brown and Bilal, and I want to bring that element of entertainment to hip-hop. I think that’s what I’ve done and that’s what I do and that’s what I’ll continue to do. I definitely keep it interesting and luckily we’ve been able to do that each time so far and we’re going to keep that momentum going.
215: Does the name “Realysm” represent the fact that you are truthful in your lyrics?
R: My name stems from the idea that anything real to somebody is always something that’s extra good. Think about it like this: when someone asks you if you want to go to McDonalds, most people will respond by saying “No, I want real food”. If someone asks you if you like the commercial music that’s on the radio, most people would respond by saying, “No, I like real music.”
That’s how the name came about. I tried to categorize myself as that element that is better than everything else.
215: If you had to convert someone into a Realysm fan with just one song, which would it be and why?
R: Right now I would say a song called “Not What I Was Expecting”, produced by Flying Lotus.
One thing I’m horrible at, despite what I do, is socializing. I’m very introverted. I don’t like to talk to people. I can make things entertaining a lot of times without projecting a lot of myself.
In this song I decided to take a personal experience and completely put it out there. That’s something very rare for me. That song has factors about it that are undeniable. I could put that in front of anybody, and I don’t think anyone could listen to that and just say, ”Eh, it was alright”. There is so much truth and honesty in it; you can even tell with the tone of voice. It was well put together. So, I think that it could definitely win anybody over.
215: What can you tell us about your new album Written in Red? What can listeners expect to hear and feel?
R: I can answer that question by asking you a question. When you think of red, what do you think of?
215: Hmm, either anger or love.
R: That’s the idea: hate, anger, love, passion (think red lipstick, red pumps, lingerie), partying, painting the town red. I tried to fuse all of those elements into one project in story telling form.
You have some love songs, you have some “I hate you, I want to kill you” type of songs, you have straight party songs like “Really Real” which is one of my singles, and then you have passionate songs. I think that’s what you can expect when listening to it – just a little bit of everything.
215: What’s the overall message that people can gather from listening to your music?
R: “Chasing smiles” is my motto. With anything that I do, I try to encourage that. If you think about it there are not a lot of things that you are sure of in life. One thing that I’ve always been sure of is that I love to be happy. No if’s, and’s or but’s. Who doesn’t love to be happy and smile and feel good? I guess that’s the aspect that I try to communicate in music: be happy, chase smiles.
215: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten?
R: When I was talking to people about making transitions and leaving the car business, I doubted myself. My coworkers said to me, “A year ago this place was non-existent. You opened it, named it and now you have a staff, and we’re selling more than one hundred cars a month. You did this. So take whatever that is, and make yourself the product, and run with it.”
That was the best piece of advice that I got. I was encouraged to believe in myself and to believe in what I’m doing. You have to look at what you’ve already accomplished and use that as fuel to explore your desired avenue.
Realysm will be hosting an album release party at Vango’s Rooftop Lounge on Thursday, May 30th, in honor of his newest album Written in Red. The event will also be hosted by celebrity comedian Buckwild and will additionally involve several specially invited celebrity guests.
RSVP for free to attend or donate $10 for your own wearable usb-wristband, which is loaded with music files from the album. The event begins at 10 pm. Be there.
Check out the visuals for Realysm’s single “Destination” below: