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news / opinion 12.12.2017 Words:Kofi Ansah
Artwork: Lukas Benson & Samantha Draper

XO Tour Life When You’re Not Lil Uzi Vert

When our favourite musicians hit the road, the images we concoct in our minds are usually pretty grand. Travelling state-to-state in huge, comfortable tour buses, or country-to-country in luxurious planes inhabited only by beautiful people and expensive alcohol with their names written on it.

We imagine them landing in their destination and gracing stages inside packed out venues with kids, teens and senior citizens uncontrollably screaming that artist’s name.

Rarely do we consider the stress and amount of work that our favourite artists may be shouldering to organise and carry out their tours – especially when they’re not our favourite artists. Especially when they’re newly emerging, young, underground, and frankly, broke, musicians.

When I die, my legacy won’t simply be “Kofi Owusu-Ansah – the brilliant and handsome writer of this article.” I also make music under the alias Genesis Owusu, and in October, I went on my very first Australian headline tour.

In addition to being a full-time artist, I am also a full-time university student and a full-time broke boy, but somehow I still managed to pull through a fairly successful tour. Here are a few tips for anyone looking to do the same.

Manage your time

This is the most important tip that is always spoken but rarely acted upon in just about every aspect of life; but good lord this will help. My tour took place in October, which also happened to be a very hectic university assessment period. A ridiculous time to plan a tour, I know, but look, my past is not for you to judge.

This meant that for the months of September when I was planning the tour, and October when I was on tour, my life was almost entirely scheduled into two sections: music and university. When I wasn’t doing one, I was doing the other.

The week of my Melbourne show was the most stressful. I had two assessments due that week that added up to 80% of my final grade for one class. On top of that I was going to a Migos show in Sydney, and then the very next day I thought I was flying to Melbourne. Turns out that flying my whole crew to Melbourne was way too expensive, and in case you’ve forgotten, I’m broke. So now after the Migos show, I’m going back to Canberra to pick up my friends, then I’m driving to Melbourne.

This was probably the most calculated week of my life – every minute was a damn chess game. Thankfully, I made it through this week because of this planning and got to spend 14 hours in the “tour van” listening to old-school Black Eyed Peas with my friends.

Know your priorities

I barely made it through that week. I very likely could’ve failed one of my tasks (be it uni or music) in order to make the other one work. If that were the case, I would need to know which one I hold higher, and which one has more importance in my life.

My answer is always music, but that definitely doesn’t mean I want to spend tens of thousands of dollars to fail university. But sacrifice is never easy, and if I have to fail university to reach my artistic goals, then so be it. Conviction is a necessity.

Don’t get beat up by your expectations, but always imagine stadiums

We made it to Melbourne. The big artists on a big artist tour, ready to play a huge show to a packed out venue. The reality was that I was a local Canberra artist who was about to play my very first solo show in Melbourne. The Internet and radio will only help promotion so much, but the fact is that they didn’t know who I was down there.

About five minutes before my set, the bar I was playing in was essentially empty. I’d played empty shows before, but if I were new to this, and I hustled and toiled to drive to Melbourne to play to no one, I would be pretty disappointed. In turn, I would probably let that affect the quality of my show.

By the end of my set, around twenty or thirty people had come in – and those twenty or thirty people got to experience the show of a lifetime. Whether playing to 2 people, 20 people or 200 people, perform like you’re playing to 200,000.

Canberra rapper Citizen Kay likes to tell the story of the fateful day he played to an empty venue. He was on tour and played to a crowd of just about no one, in a place where no one knew his name – but he played his heart out.

As it turns out, one of the people in the crowd of two was an organiser for the upcoming Ice Cube Australian tour, and because of this, Citizen Kay got to tour with and support an actual rap legend. You never know who is in the crowd.

The tour life is not easy, but it’s a necessary part of the life of the musician – know how to handle yourself and make your goals a reality.

Check out Genesis Owusu music in the links below

If you are interested in writing for the Stir Blog email us at Magazine@causeastir.com.au

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