When it comes to Madison, Wisconsin, there really aren’t any success stories when it comes to the music industry. Insert Trust’N, who’s here to put his city on the map. When it comes to his music, the artist, entrepreneur, and business owner injects real-life experiences and scenarios inspired directly by heartbreak, relationships, and everything in between.
He states, “I find it really easy to write about heartbreak because of how it has affected me. It cuts deep, so my lyrics come straight from the heart. It’s been cool to see my audience reaction to that type of music. Originally I was scared to put myself out there, but I’m glad I did.”
Exploding onto the scene with his debut EP titled Lapse, which charted in the top 15 on iTunes, Trust’N followed it up with his single “Lucy” featuring Lil Myro, which went viral on TikTok. Since then, he’s been locked in the lab working on new music, while pushing his own company Lost Boy Entertainment. Due to issues with his former distributor, he started the full-service branding agency to build capital for his own career, while helping thousands of others build their personal brand.
And still, Trust’N embodies the definition of someone who’s doing everything on his own, giving hope to all aspiring artists that they too can tackle the independent grind. Most recently, he released his demo for “You N Me” on SoundCloud, which left fans in a frenzy.
Flaunt caught up with Trust’N via FaceTime, who reveals he’s feeling lucky to be in the position he is in now. Read below as we discuss his roots in Madison, biggest influences, the turning point in music, the inspo behind his name, his new demo “You N’ Me,” the premise of Lost Boy Entertainment, studio essentials, goals, and more!
How was it growing up in Madison, Wisconsin?
Honestly growing up in Madison, Wisconsin was pretty weird as a hip-hop artist because we have a pretty big indie rock scene. There’s not really a lot of rappers where I come from, definitely more rappers from Milwaukee which is a bigger city 2 hours away. I went to a little high school in the suburbs of Madison, that was a pretty crazy thing. I played sports when I was younger too because that was a really big thing. Basketball, football, everybody played sports. Growing up there isn’t ideal at all. It’s not a good place for hip-hop artists, especially because there’s a lot of falsely perceived racial tensions and association with violence when it comes to hip-hop. It’s really hard to book venues.
Biggest influences coming up?
When I was a kid, I was pretty big into my faith. My parents raised me as a Christian. I first began as a Christian hip-hop artist so influences like Lecrae, Andy Mineo, people like that were super duper big. As I grew up I started listening to… I like Kid Cudi. I like Lil Skies. I definitely liked Logic for the longest time, then Jon Bellion. Jon Bellion’s by far my favorite artist because it’s crazy how he can write, produce, make a whole album from start to finish from scratch. That’s something I really admire because there’s a lot of different people involved in the track nowadays, but if you look, it’s literally him.
At what point did you realize that you could do music for a living?
Honestly, I was into music. I was mainly a sports player but the summer of my freshman year in college, I released an EP called Lapse. It took off in my area and charted on iTunes. We made quite a bit of money from it, we flipped compared to what we invested and what we made. It made me realize like “yo I can do this, I’m built for this.” I started to take it way more seriously. At that time, I was going through a really tough break up with an ex so I had to put my mind onto something to distract myself. I put all my time and energy onto music. That’s when I realized that first off I really liked doing it, and second that I could do it.
Talk about heartbreak being at the center of your music.
For me honestly, there’s no worst pain I‘ve ever felt than that type of stuff. I’ve definitely been through a lot in my life. I’ve lost friends, stuff we all go through, but the biggest moments in my life, the biggest points of change and pivoting moments were definitely those breakups. Especially when I write my music, because I’m so deeply affected by those. My lyrics open up a different channel of me, compared to if I write about other subjects. That’s why I love to write about that type of stuff. Music has always been super therapeutic for me, especially when I’m on the run and on the go. I don’t always have time to actually sit with myself and think about “how am I doing today? Am I happy today? Am I good today?” I’m trying to get this bread, trying to make moves. Always on the run, always on the move. Music now is now one of the only ways I can really tap into my feelings, how I feel. Stay grounded personally in such a busy lifestyle.
How’d you get your name, Trust’N?
Growing up, a big thing for me was trust, especially because as a kid I was bullied when I was younger. There were a lot of trust issues I had with people. They’d say one thing, but their actions would be different. The word ‘trust’ has always been this anchor for me, it’s always been this very big word. When someone tells me “I trust you,” it means more to me than it might to the average person because of what I’ve been through and what I’ve seen. I was playing with the word ‘trusting’ like trusting someone, came up with the little ‘n’. I knew nothing about SEO and Google stuff, how the panels and all that works. I got really lucky when I was a kid and it all seemed to work out, it was original enough.
Talk about releasing your “You N’ Me” demo and all the feedback you’ve been getting.
It’s the first song I’ve released in a really, really long time. The last single I released did super, duper well, “Lucy” went #8 on the iTunes chart. It blew up because we did a little TikTok campaign with some influencers and more and more people picked up. A thousand-something videos were made, it got around. My friends told me it’s still on the For You page now, which is pretty cool. “You N’ Me” is the follow-up to that single that did so hot because I’ve been working really, really hard and I haven’t even had a ton of time to work on my music. My sound’s definitely been changing. I’ve been working hard on my voice.
I wanted to release a demo because I didn’t want to put a lot of bread into this. I didn’t really feel I was at a point where I wanted to release something big time or put a lot of bread behind it. I released that so people can listen to what I’ve been working on, what I sound like now. It caught a lot of people off-guard and by surprise. It’s a completely different style than what I normally do, especially the piano. The grand piano in there is the sample and the bass of the beat. The hook and the melodies, the way I sang it and some of my cadences is very unique to some of the things I’ve made before. I got to show them a little bit of versatility too, really being able to sing. I showed them a lot of improvement in my voice. A lot of people were impressed, they liked it. It was nice because I didn’t even tell people I released it at first, I dropped it and my Soundcloud followers initially saw it and reposted it. It’s cool because I don’t really release on there ever. It’s interesting for them to still be there and active, looking for that.
How is music a coping mechanism for you?
Honestly, music lets me slow down my day. Music lets me really tap into how I’m feeling. For me, it’s how I get into that deeper layer of my heart. I listen to music all the time, it’s really what keeps me grounded and keeps me set among all different moving parts and pieces in my life. It’s honestly a coping method because it’s one of the only ways I know how to unplug from everything, really be with myself which can be so important for a person. We need to be okay with ourselves, be okay being alone with our own thoughts before we can really go out and show people what we’re made of. We have to have that confidence come from within us before we do anything else, just staying grounded.
What’s the meaning behind Lost Boy Entertainment?
Lost Boy’s interesting because when I first started making music, people used to tell me I was lost. “Oh, he’s lost.” I was a point guard on the basketball team. I didn’t feel like playing basketball anymore, I quit which surprised everybody. I started making music, a lot of people thought I was dumb at first so they called me lost. Growing up, I was always obsessed with Disney’s Peter Pan. That’s my little childhood hero. I thought I’d bring it forward in my life because it was so meaningful back then, connect it to different things and put some meaning and branding behind it. I launched it into a full company, a full media agency. A little PR firm too. On a smaller scale, we take on a couple of clients a month and help them grow their audience. Get the press publications they need and try to grow their fanbase, get their name out there as best we can.
How do you apply it to your own career and artistry?
It’s funny because when we’re doing promos, I don’t really have to outsource a lot of stuff. I can do with what I have and the tools I have, so that helps a lot. That cuts costs down a lot. Being in the industry where there’s so many people that can’t always be trusted, a lot of people get scammed. A lot of people get thrown in the dirt. Trying to be a light to them and show them that not everybody’s like that, there are good people out there doing good business.
What’s the reality of the independent grind?
The hardest thing about it is the resources, the access to tools. Also the capital because one of the important parts of an artist’s career is having capital, having money, having someone behind you. That’s the whole point of a record deal, right? Being able to have funding is challenging sometimes, it all has to come from my personal pocket or my manager’s pocket. That can definitely be a little frustrating for sure, especially if you don’t always get a return on your investment.
3 things you need in the studio?
I need weed, I need water, and I need my notepad. I can make anything happen with that recipe.
Talk about your love for fashion.
It’s weird because I’m an artist from Wisconsin, so no one here has fashion. I’m super excited about LA styles. I like the brand BoohooMAN, they’re dope. We have a little partnership going with them, we do some work with them. I am heavily inspired by Justin Bieber’s style as well. I like the hoodie and shorts look. I usually like to “comfortably dripping”.
Do you have any goals for yourself?
Artist-wise this year, I want to try to hit 5 million streams on Spotify. Because the last couple years I’ve been around 2 or 3, so this year I want really, really to separate myself with those numbers. As an entrepreneur, I want to keep making money and investing into real estate, flipping it however I can. Become financially independent, as wealthy as possible from an early age.
What can we expect music-wise?
I’m making some new stuff. Definitely early this year, you’ll see a full release. Just getting everything set!