Nicole Bissey

How AY Young is Bringing Renewable Energy to the Forefront

It’s been four weeks since “2030” dropped and AY Young began further shaping the musical corner of the climate movement.

AY Young, eccentric as he is, is sleek and smooth. He is noted for his rhyming skills as much as he is known for utilizing renewable energy at his concerts. If you can believe it – and we hope you do – the hip-hop artist has performed over 800 concerts using renewable sources, some with 100% renewable energy. So, yes, while he is a performer and producer, he is an activist worth highlighting… even the UN did!

The tactful, revolutionary Young was appointed by the United Nations as one of just 17 World Youth Leaders in 2020 and he is in the midst of serving two terms. These ideas of his may just spark a change in live events, concerts that take action. His single “2030,” out now, comes from his upcoming music project called GOALS. And goals are something that he certainly has a lot of. 

We talked to AY Young about saving energy, honing his craft, and how Britney Spears said “Yes.”

So, what does the AY stand for? 

My name is AY, but it represents much more than just me. AY is a symbol of hope and inspiration, showing that you can pursue your passions and dreams with dedication and perseverance. I am passionate about music and making a positive impact in the world. Love is at the core of everything I do and I believe that by connecting with others, we can create meaningful change. Together, we are all outlets for change, and by coming together, we can power a better world.

When and where did you acquire your talent for singing and rapping? 

I have invested much time and effort into my art knowing that mastery does not come overnight. I hold true to the belief that it takes 1,000 hours to become an expert at something. Therefore, I am dedicated to putting in 10,000 hours to hone my skills in singing, songwriting, rapping, and live performance. I take it one step at a time, working consistently every day. Even though it has been 12 years, I am still striving to perfect my craft by sharpening my abilities, broadening my horizons, and practicing regularly.

You were featured on the X Factor. What was that experience like?  

I had an amazing experience! The celebrity judges for my audition were Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, LA Reid, and Simon Cowell. They all gave me a “Yes!” and it truly sparked my journey to becoming the musician I am today. It was particularly rewarding that my audition wasn’t fully aired on TV, despite the positive feedback. This only fueled my determination to continue pursuing my passion for music. Looking back, I realize that I’ve always had to fight for every opportunity in the industry, and this audition was no exception.

How did you get involved with the UN and when did you start to take notice that renewable energy is the way to go when performing and putting together concerts? 

Right from the start I realized that renewable energy was the way to go. When I finished my stint on the X factor in 2012, I immediately looked towards renewable energy to power my concerts and continue doing what I loved. The fact that it didn’t make loud noises, emit bad smells, or was extremely expensive made it all the more sensible! To be honest, I was never really heavily involved with the UN. I didn’t quite understand it or know much about it. My focus was on getting the world plugged in. Concert after concert, I worked towards providing access to one billion people, powering the mission.

Is it difficult to put a show together on renewable energy?  

No! It is not difficult to power a show using renewable energy. Every day, more and more individuals and organizations are realizing that this is achievable. The crucial factor is energy storage.

Tell me more about the new album, GOALS. Are there any themes behind it? 

The main focus of GOALS is to shed light on the 17 UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) that have not been fully acknowledged. During my encounter with the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, he asked for my guidance on the matter. I recognized that the lack of awareness surrounding the SDGs was the root cause of their unfulfillment. To ensure the success of Project17, my next project, I realized that more time was needed to collaborate with partners, talent, and NGOSs. This is the opportunity to do so.

What was it like opening alongside Wiz Khalifa, Wyclef, and The Roots? 

I’ve had the honor of sharing the stage with legendary artists such as Wiz, Wyclef, The Roots, Aaron Carter, Flo Ria, among others. These experiences have taught me valuable lessons and prepared me for my next step – launching my new album, Project17, and using my music to make a positive impact globally. All of the feedback and comments I’ve received along the way have helped me grow and become the artist I am today.

What’s next on your agenda? What else do you want to conquer?

I aspire to become the largest sustainable artist in the world. My next venture involves performing at the first-ever clean energy concert in Times Square in New York City [on September 21], coinciding with Climate Week and the UN General Assembly.  

I acknowledge that a billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. My aim is to utilize music to create a positive impact and provide electricity to all those in need. My goal is to not only entertain the world but also make a significant difference. This is the challenge that I am ready to take on.