108MICS staff writer Arctic links with Bray Costello to find out what’s pushing the up-and-coming melodic rapper to keep going further.
Bray Costello is among the best of the crop of underground rappers to come out of the midwestern United States in a matter of years, fusing his melodies and bars with ease and consistency. He has been especially prolific in 2020, dropping singles such as “i almost killed myself last night”, “VYVIAN”, and music videos a-plenty, including the new visual for his song “Hermoine”. Often working with producers XtheDolphin, Casual Affairs, and Skudda, Bray has crafted a niche of his own in the melodic trap wave taking over the underground and makes himself stand out from his peers with his endless versatility, vibrant personality, and creativity always notable within all of his output. I had the chance to interview Bray recently, and I was able to learn a lot about him as an artist and his creative process.
How are you doing?
“Hello, how you doooin’? My name is Bray Costello. I’ve been doing just fine, been spending time with my daughter. Feeling good, pretty motivated, got some people coming over to make some music with me. You know, just–it’s been a little crazy right now actually, just been dealing with a lot of bullshit, kinda. It’s been positive at the same time, getting to spend a lot of quality time with my kid and being around people that bring positive energy, I guess, in my life. Not to sound cliche.”
How would you describe your music?
“I would describe my music as– basically, it’s just me. Bray. If you know me, you know what’s going on. Like, you can tell though, if you listen to my discography, you can tell what kind of headspace I was in when I was doing everything. It’s fun–some of it’s fun–turnt up, some of it’s ignorant, some I haven’t released yet. Some of it’s kinda sad, some of it’s just looking at what’s going on, sometimes about women, females, you know? I don’t know, sometimes it’s a whole lot of gang type shit.”
Where are you from?
“I’m from Fox Valley. I was born in Menasha, but I don’t like telling people that shit. I grew up in Appleton. Lived here pretty much my entire upbringing.”
When did you begin making music, and with who?
“I started making music later in high school, I guess, as a joke. Literally. My first song ever was over that Caillou beat, like Lil B did. It was just kinda jokes, type shit. But at the time, I was like, a hot boy for real–I was like, sixteen–just kind of a little demon, I guess. It started translating to the music. It wasn’t good at first, not gonna lie. I had a couple little heaters, but it was nothing crazy. As it started getting better and as I got out of that like, high school phase of life.. I started meeting people like XTheDolphin and Malik High like I’d always known who they were but we started linking up and got real close, really started working on music. That’s when I really started to progress. Took it more serious once I got out of high school– at least, I was able to. I guess I should also say I also started meeting more people. I started meeting up with Kenny, that group of people, we all kind of linked up. I was 18, 19, I’d just gotten out of jail and I was on the bracelet. My music was doing something at the time, and basically, Kenny had asked me to join and that’s when I started progressing the most. Just like, being around that, you know? But like, listening to other people’s music and seeing them progress, shit like that.”
How was your upbringing?
“My upbringing was pretty chill, I had a stay-at-home mom and a dad who had a job. He did like computer, technology, kind of shit. I have a sister–little sister– she was a dancer, she did all sorts of like, different dances. I was like a skater, I guess. I liked sports too, but my main thing was skateboarding and doing shit like that. I wouldn’t say shit got messed up until probably, like, later, elementary school when I started not giving a fuck. Hanging out with the wrong crowd probably, but shit, we were lit. Started doing a bunch of dumb shit, basically. Young demon, I guess you could say. I care more about the social aspect than the school aspect, which is a lot of young kids, but now you know that shit doesn’t fuckin’ matter, bro. Shit got crazy, probably leaving out of middle school or high school. I got sent to this middle school–it was like seven kids in my class, tryna make me do better. I graduated that shit, but, I was just doing pretty poorly in elementary school and poorly at that school too, but I got out of there.
Then, I went to high school my freshman year, and that shit was terrible. It was just bad for me. Like, I was acting out, I was flunking out. I had to eat lunch with the principal every day. It was so terrible. So, I begged my parents, like, ‘Yo, let me go to school with the kids I grew up with.’ Did that shit, so I ended up going to high school at [West], that’s when shit got rowdy, I would say. Getting in way more trouble, turning into the hot boy I am. I think a lot of people hated me, I think a lot of people still do, but if you ask anybody, if you give me a chance you gon’ fuck with me but if you don’t, you’ll go off of what you heard. What people heard was I was robbing everybody and doing all sorts of hot shit, just being a dumbass, fighting and.. I dunno. Letting my nuts hang all the time for no reason. I don’t regret it, though. Definitely don’t regret that shit. Now I’m here, kinda grew up. Got into some pretty big trouble my senior year of high school, and I’ve been dealing with it since, really. But now you got Bray Costello.”
Who are your main influences?
“I’d say my main influences is definitely my kid, Violet. She’ll be three in February of this year. My friends, closest of friends. I’d say my biggest influence is just my life though, for sure. Shit I do, what I’m seeing. Shit like that. But music-wise, it’s hard right now. I can’t say influenced, but I fucked with a lot of people. Lucki Eck$, Earl, all of Odd Future. Chief Keef, all of the Chicago rappers. That shit was a big influence, that shit was the hardest in high school. I know you remember that.”
What turned you towards your more melodic style? Was there any backlash from fans?
“Bro, I don’t know. Like that shit’s just fun as fuck. When I first started doing it, I got this Auto-Tune plugin. I literally recorded on Audacity, by the way, up until like two years ago. I still don’t record on anything fancy, I just send it to my engineer. But I had an Auto-Tune plugin, and that shit kinda sounded cool, and I got kinda good at using Auto-Tune. I definitely can’t sing, but I got pretty decent at using it. I just kinda ran with it. You see, I mix it up and shit, but I think that’s the most fun, and I’m making music for myself at the end of the day. That’s what I like to listen to, that melodic stuff. Cool, catchy flows. Even on some shit that’s different and rides different, I don’t know, that shit fun as fuck. People listen to that shit. I’m trying to get my opera singing on, though, like ‘AAAAAAAAA’.
I’d like to say I stayed the same though, in my core, every artist grows, but I’m 22 right now and you definitely just grow up in general. I’m not trying to be out here making all of that SoundCloud sad music, that’s not the headspace I’m in anymore, but I definitely like to think I’ve stayed true to everything. No backlash, but you can tell that certain people fuck with certain things. If you don’t fuck with this one, you’ll fuck with the next one. The music I’m about to be dropping, you’ll be like, ‘What the fuck?’ You could damn near play it without the video and it’d just be like, you wouldn’t even know it’s me type shit. I haven’t seen any backlash, I think I just have people hitting me up all the time like, Oh, make something like this again. It’s just kinda whatever, if you fuck with it, fuck with it, if you don’t, suck a dick.”
Who are your main collaborators and producers?
“Definitely just like, the homies. XTheDolphin. Me and bro make music the most together. I got a couple homies out here I still make music with. My main producer is XTheDolphin, Casual Affairs, and Skudda. You know Skudda, man, he’s going crazy. You know, goddamn, Casual Affairs is out here fuckin’ shit up. Dolphin is out here fuckin’ shit up. He can do anything; we got a powerhouse, and I think we’re a pretty good, solid group. I think we can do a lot, got a lot to offer. Producing-wise, especially, I think their shit is better than the shit on the radio. Just hasn’t gotten to the masses yet. Soon, time will come.”
How’d you meet producers Casual Affairs & Skudda?
“Alright, so, I met Casual Affairs through Instragram and I think he’d just kinda heard about me. He was with someone at the time who showed him– he sent me the Life Savings and Wishing Well beat, I don’t know if you’ve heard that song on SoundCloud, that was the first song we ever made, and it’s super fire. Since then, we’ve just been locked in and created an actual friendship outside of music, and that’s my bro, for real. Then like, two years later, I met Risko and Skudda through him and me and Skudda hit it off, no bullshit. He’s a real cool dude, we get along really well, and he knows what he’s doing with the beats. He knows how to make that shit sound right.”
What drives you to make music?
“Definitely just, living life. I’ve been a little bit of a rut recently. I have so much fucking music bro, and I have so many videos I’ve shot and I’m putting out. I’m just trying to make some new shit, you know what I mean? I guess what drives me is needing something new to hear. I’m tired of listening to everything I have, and adding to that collection. I like to ride around and listen to music by myself–critique it, everything–so just when I need new shit or if I’m in a mood I’m like, ‘Fuck this shit,’ some days I wake up like, ‘Let’s open up the laptop, get something going.’ It all depends, I guess. I definitely will say if I’m in a really good mood, I’m gonna make a happy, turnt up song. If I’m super angry and shit, you can tell in a song. I guess it’s just how I’m feeling every day.”
How would you say you have evolved over time?
“I’ve evolved a lot, bro. Not to be braggadocious or anything, but like, first of all I got really good (compared to how I used to be)– I can make a song now, and I definitely would say I’ve gotten better at putting my words together. Flow has gotten better, overall the production of everything has gotten way better. Shoutout to Tommy Greco, he’s the homie that does all my videos. Shoots photos for me and everything, I’ve known him for a while. Like, everything is starting to really come together now, full circle which is super nice. Shit has become something, and people will tell you that. Motherfuckers have been jocking my shit, stealing my shit from way long ago, so they can’t even keep up with this sound.”
What are you working on (songs, videos, tapes)/any projects coming out?
“Right now, I’m working on an EP, yet to be published. I dropped something last year or whatever, and it was cool, but my music has gotten better even since then. That was fresh out of jail, type shit. My shit’s gotten a lot better, I got a lot of songs, but working on a little EP. Hella music videos coming, dropping every two weeks up until I can’t. Every two Saturdays, you’ll see something for me. Shout out to Hauntxr too, for showing love and fucking with me and posting my shit. That shit’s much appreciated– pulled through, definitely a clutch move for me. Just definitely keep looking out. I got most of my old shit out of the way, so everything you’re about to hear is new outside of like, two songs. A lot of stuff coming man.”
Bray Costello just recently released a video for his song ‘Hermoine’—produced by Gooce, and an absolute banger, with a unique flow and melancholy beat contrasted with his contagious energy that presents itself throughout his music and lyrics. A very versatile artist, he utilizes his voice and flow in his own way that makes him a true standout amongst his peers and an artist on an upward trajectory that you should keep your eye on through 2021. His fusion of melodic trap with his eclectic samples and beat selection has created a catalog worth time spent for exploration, and his artistic growth and output is absolutely something to watch as time goes on.
“S/O My princess Violet, my slime Xthedolphin, Risko, Casual Affairs, HG, Twin Cleo, Scruffpuppie, Kenny, Brady, Smigo & all my homies in the club for inspiring me and being the best people to be around. GANG!” – Bray Costello
– Arctic (@907arctic)