Among the plethora of talent that can be found throughout the halls of Venice High, only a few get the pleasure of brushing against stardom. Senior Nikolas Rosenberg, who also goes by the producer tag Aztro Beats, is one of the chosen few. His endeavors have led him to working with acts like Jacquavius Dennard Smith, who is professionally known as Glokknine, and Javorius Tykies Scott aka JayDaYoungan. Specializing in hard-hitting trap beats, Aztro is bringing the energy in every beat he puts out. On the constant up-and-up, I caught Aztro on his journey into the stars to gain insight on his journey.
TO: What inspired you to become a producer?
Aztro: Um, probably because I like rap. Like when I was in middle school, I was surrounded by it there and people that I play with on Playstation would also play it. They’d always talk about making or freestyling on beats, we’d have like freestyle competitions, and I never liked that part, but there’s always another part to music. So I started looking at making beats, and it wasn’t really that big to me until my friend Gerardo, who also is a producer now, got me into FL Studio. Then I just started messing around, but I never took it seriously until around 11th grade, when I started focusing on it while playing football as well. I started grinding, and in March, I got more connections outside of my comfort zone. I changed up my style, and from there on out, I just knew that I knew what I wanted to do.
Do you have any personal inspirations in terms of producers?
Yeah, so my first big influence, especially if you look at my old beats, is Zaytoven; he was a big one, even though I don’t play keys as well as he does. He inspired me to make those types of beats, but now, a lot of my inspiration comes from smaller producers that make it out of nowhere that most people don’t really know because you don’t hear their name. They’re from like, Europe or whatever, I don’t know, but they can do it, so I see that I can do it, and I mean that. Yeah, I also take inspiration from a lot of people I work with.
So how do you juggle school and being a producer?
It’s hard, especially now, since it’s all online when I’m in my room and I just don’t want to do school necessarily, but it’s not too difficult. If I get my work done, I can always produce whenever I want, or I’ll take breaks, or I’ll do it at the same time. You know, take 30 minutes, then 30 minutes, but it’s not as hard as you think, at least not yet. You know, I’m not in college yet, but we’ll see how that goes.
So who do you look up to?
I look up to a lot of people, like other smaller producers, as well as those big guys that have their own, you know, Boss status. So, I mean, once I’m in college, once I get out in the world, I’ll look up to a lot of people that I’ll meet. I haven’t met that many people yet, but a lot of those guys that know what they’re doing.
It’s hard to tell. I mean, I don’t want to be like another random producer, so I can’t look up to anyone in particular. I gotta find my own way. I take stuff from each person and put it together.
How do you feel about the kind of neo-soul melody transition that we’re seeing in the mainstream? Like are you clicking with the sound?
Yeah, so you’re talking about Rod Wave and stuff like that, where he’s like singing on those guitars. I personally, I hear way too much of it. I don’t make beats like that. Unless they’re like, way different. I respect it; I respect people that can go and that put the work in and get to those places. But I like the upbeat stuff. So I do a lot of stuff from JayDaYoungan and NBA Youngboy—the hard stuff, that pretty gangster stuff. I work with Glokknine. So I just like the upbeat stuff that I like to listen to when I’m trying to get hyped up. I don’t listen to music when I’m, you know, in a downstate, but I feel like it’s gonna change soon again. Every six months to a year, the sound changes. Last year was (and still is) a lot of guitars, but now, Gunna beats took over and is very influential for producers. With his rise, you see everybody making Gunna beats.
Alright, so, where do you feel like you have room to grow? And what do you feel like you still need to learn as a producer?
I need to learn a lot of networking. I’ve been starting to network more, but I didn’t learn how to do it efficiently. I know that’s the marketing as well. You know, you could have kind of average beats and have the best marketing and networking and you’d be getting places like crazy just because you have that persona.
I feel like once I get out the house or start going out places once COVID-19 is over. I just need to push myself to go places and actually, like, take on the opportunities because I’m getting a lot of them. But sometimes, I’m held back by school or other things, and it just kind of sucks. But I think eventually I’ll get to what I want to be like growth-wise.
Outside of COVID, what are your biggest obstacles on a personal level?
I won’t say too many. Okay, maybe just laziness, sometimes. I know people that make 20 beats a day. I could not do that.
I don’t know. My obstacles now would just be being young, because a lot of producers can’t do much until you’re 18. Legally in the music industry, you can’t do much. Not only that, but your parents are still the ones influencing you. I don’t have any obstacles with my parents necessarily, other than COVID-19, but I think just the underage stuff.
Where did the name Aztro come from?
My dad works for a food service company where he gets food and redistributes it. It’s called Astro Food Service, but it’s A-S-T-R-O. And when we got our PlayStation eight years ago, his account name was Aztroboy, and I would just use that account because that was what we had the Playstation Plus on. So eventually, as I got older, I was playing with people, and they would always call me Aztro, and we changed it to a Z because the original spelling name was taken or whatever. When I went to make beats, I was like “What’s a good name? Oh, everybody already calls me Aztro.” So why change it? I felt like it was pretty cheesy. But now that I’m getting places, people know me as Aztro. They call me Aztro on the street. Now, when I meet someone, they’re not gonna call me Nick, so I think it’s kind of cool.
What do you hate about being an artist and a producer? What grinds your gears?
The people that don’t think that you take it seriously! Or that people will tease me about it. Like in school, it’d be like, oh, “DJ Nick,” or like, you know, “What is this, is it like a hobby? Like, are you a DJ or like, are you a SoundCloud rapper?”
It’s just like, people don’t have to say these things like that if see what’s happening. Like, without looking at what I do, they’ll just say something, then they think,
“Oh, he’s just wasting his time. Or that’s not a real job.”
They don’t know the industry that I know or what I actually do on a day to day basis.
In that same sense, when did this go from a hobby to a passion?
Yeah, so I feel like when 2020 was starting during winter break, I was making beats and I was seeing that I could get good at this. I was decent then, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be, so I improved myself until March when Cobi came around. I was like, “Dude, if I go hard these next couple months when we’re not in school and not really doing much, I can make something happen.” Then, Supah Mario, the producer actually reached out to me. You probably know him. He’s worked with Lil Uzi and a bunch of other artists, but he kind of put me into the industry first — that was the first person I talked to, so from then I was like, “Okay, I could actually start making some money selling beats.” I’d sold maybe twice before, but when I got to the BeatStars account where I could sell my beats, then I started charging people for other stuff. I feel like that’s when I was in grind mode and got the motivation.
So what do you love about being an artist and a producer?
I feel like it’s cool. You know, people listen to music all the time, but they don’t know the details behind it. When you listen to a song, you don’t know who produced it; you know, you don’t really look into that. I wouldn’t want to be an artist, though, because I wouldn’t want to be super famous to the point people know my face, okay? I want to be able to walk around in a grocery store or whatever., but I like the fact that you can still make mad money and have a great life and just be low-key about it while doing what you love. I don’t want to have that normal job or have to come home, be tired, sleep, then go to work. It’s pretty flexible. As a producer, you can take a break, and it’s not really gonna hurt you necessarily. I took a break last week for a couple of days, and the next day, I got word that someone’s dropping an album with four of my songs. Like I said, it’s flexible. It’s fun.
Do you feel like you found your style yet?
I do everything from you know, trap stuff to R&B; basically anything. If I like the sound, then I’ll do it. But I want to get my own sound eventually, but my plan right now is to use pre-recycled sounds that everybody has, but in my own way. I mix my own way, but in a couple years, I want to basically pay for my own drum sounds so there’s a couple hundred drum sounds that only I will have. It specifically sounds like me. But that’s gonna take time and effort, and I just gotta wait on it. Just go with it.
So when was it confirmed for you that you had talent, and this is something that you could genuinely pursue?
Definitely going back to March is when I figured out that I could sound different from everybody else and that I actually could get better and improve my sound. That’s when I knew that I, you know, had that. Whenever you’re doing something, you’re always in that one moment where you think, “Oh, I’m just doing the same thing,” and “I’m not great.” But once I had that realization, that, “Oh, I could actually do this,” I just went in and proved myself; it’s just effective motivation. The more you do it, the better you get. So I say around, you know, March or April.
So who held you down? Who supported you?
A lot of people, but especially Hudson, one of my closest friends. He would always tell me, “Oh, yeah, you could do this, you could do this.” And I was like, “Ah, you know, I might, whatever.” But once I had that realization, I feel like all my friends were like, “Okay, he really wants to do this, and we’ll help him with this. We’ll share his stuff.” Well, that’s the big thing. People don’t realize how much help sharing someone’s stuff is. They’ll share with another person that knows someone, and then that another person that knows someone will tell someone else, and he’ll hit you up. So there’s also that a bunch of the smaller artists that work with me will share my stuff as well, and I feel like networking is a lot of just sharing it with people that you know.
So how supportive are your parents of you with this entire endeavor?
Very supportive, in fact. They know I want to do this; they want me to go through college…go through high school and all that, but they realize that there’s opportunities that I could take, and especially nowadays, I’m getting more offers and opportunities. Like I said, they’re realizing that “Oh, this could be something big.” But now with COVID-19, it’s hard. They don’t want me going places with new people. That’s how it is. But I feel like once this is over, then they’ll definitely support me until the end, till I make it.
So for your other producers, your other artists and peers, what would you want to tell them as an artist up and coming?
Showing their face and putting their personality behind the brand. Just doing what they want to do necessarily, instead of listening to everybody saying, “Oh, don’t do this,” which might not do anything for you because other things could arise. Traveling when you can is also a very big thing, especially if you go to events like Rolling Loud. Going to those events and just meeting people, DMing people, all that social media stuff, will help you get there really quick along with working with other people. Just be open-minded. There’s a lot of producers that are just super closed off; they’ll have a song out and they just don’t want to work with anybody else because they’re like, too cool for that, but the more people you work with and make relationships with, the better, the more you get out of it.