Now in its 20th year, MoPOP’s Sound Off! is the premier 21-and-under music showcase in the Pacific Northwest. This year, we’re celebrating a milestone anniversary of the program, which has built upon an incredible legacy in the local music scene. Celebrate with us at 7 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 15 with a virtual music showcase featuring performances and interviews with eight artists from across our region.
Aurelio Valdez is a Mexican-American, Seattle-born hip hop artist with a potent style. With songs about a range of topics, spanning from politics and history to identity and his upbringing, Aurelio’s music focuses on what it means to truly embody hip hop culture by empowering himself and his people. Influenced heavily by those who pioneered the culture such as Nas, 2pac, and KRS One, his alluring lyrics provoke thought with every track.
Alongside producer, engineer, and childhood friend Melonic, we took some time to get to know Aurelio Valdez during filming at MoPOP ahead of Sound Off! 2021 on May 15.
How did you hear about Sound Off! 2021 and what encouraged you to apply?
Aurelio Valdez: I'm an alumni for the hip hop Residency here at MoPOP and I've been seeing Sound Off! here for years. So this is just a great opportunity to get my name out there and to get into the industry.
What did you learn from being in The Residency? How did it shape you as an artist?
Aurelio Valdez: It definitely took a lot of personal growth. Took the artistry more seriously and learned how to collaborate with others and being able to perform in front of a live audience.
For someone who has never heard your music before, how would you describe your sound?
Aurelio Valdez: Definitely urban, you know, Seattle sound for sure. Inspired by the greats: Blue Scholars, NAS, 2Pac, for sure. So definitely those influences.
What does it mean to see names from the Seattle hip-hop scene having gone through Sound Off!, and now you're part of that community as well?
Aurelio Valdez: Yeah, it just means passing on the torch, you know, that we're just one large community, one large creative community in the city of Seattle and be empowered because of it.
Why do you make music?
Aurelio Valdez: Music is just a creative expression-outlet. Being able to write out my thoughts and my personal feelings and do it for my community that I feel like is underrepresented. Messages of resilience, empowerment, and growth. The love of hip hop. Just to get my message across, get people invested in what I talk about, and hopefully commit an action because of it.
What's your favorite music memory?
Aurelio Valdez: Definitely kicking it with the homies 40LOW, definitely being able to collaborate with them and make music together has been a pleasure and a privilege.
What have you been doing to stay creative and engaged with music this past year?
Aurelio Valdez: Yeah, it's been definitely a challenge. I've been listening to a lot of new music and taking some time for myself to really develop what I want people to hear.
If you had to describe your music as an emoji, what emoji would it be and why?
Aurelio Valdez: The thinking emoji, where he's grabbing his head. I think my music is definitely thought provoking. It gets people thinking.
This program takes a village to build, and we are grateful to The Looking Out Foundation and Mackie for their generous support of Sound Off! 2021.
We’d like to thank our community partners in helping to amplify the work of these young artists and for their support of Sound Off! 2021: KEXP, London Bridge, and The Recording Academy Pacific Northwest Chapter.