In his first interview since the Astroworld music festival tragedy, which left 10 people dead and hundreds injured on Nov. 5, Travis Scott says the media is unjustly placing the blame on him for the lives lost.
In the one-hour conversation with Charlamagne tha God, posted to YouTube on Thursday, Scott explained that he didn't even realize there were casualties until after the show and just prior to a press conference.
“I didn’t know the exact details until minutes before the press conference [after my set],” he said. “And even at that moment you’re like, ‘Wait, what?’ People pass out, things happen at concerts, but something like that…”
Despite there being an ambulance in the crowd and people audibly calling for help and asking him to stop the show (as was made clear in fan videos posted to social media post-festival), Scott said he didn't notice anyone experiencing distress in the audience.
“It’s so crazy because I’m that artist, too — anytime you can hear something like that, you want to stop the show,” he said. “You want to make sure fans get the proper attention they need. Anytime I could see anything like that, I did. I stopped it a couple times to just make sure everybody was okay. And I really just go off the fans’ energy as a collective—call and response. I just didn’t hear that.”
Scott did say it's tougher for an artist who is performing to notice what seems obvious, because of the music, lights and pyro effects surrounding him, adding, “You can only help what you can see and whatever you’re told, whenever they tell you to stop, you stop."
Here's the tough part: Scott is known for inciting chaos at his shows, or "raging," meaning encouraging mosh pits, crowd-surfing and stage-diving. Prior to the festival tragedy, he was arrested and accused twice of inciting riots at his concerts, ultimately pleading guilty. In one ongoing civil case, via the New York Times, a fan said he was left partially paralyzed in 2017 after Scott encouraged concertgoers to jump from a balcony and hoist him onstage.
Charlamagne asked about his love of raging, to which Scott replied, “That’s something I’ve been working on for a while, is creating these experiences and trying to show these experiences are happening in a safe environment. Us as artists, we trust professionals for when things happen that people can leave safely. And this night was just like a regular show, it felt like to me, as far as the energy. It didn’t feel like, you know…people didn’t show up there just to be harmful. People just showed up to have a good time and then something unfortunate happened and I think we really just got to figure out what that was."
He added, “‘Raging’…there’s not a textbook definition. But in concerts we’ve grown it to be just the experience of fun. It’s not about just…harm. It’s not about that. It’s about letting go and having fun, help others and love each other.”
Over 140 lawsuits have been filed since the tragedy occurred, and Scott has denied all legal liability, while several families declined his offer to pay for funeral costs. This led to Charlamagne asking, “Who does Travis Scott ultimately, I guess, think is responsible for this tragedy?”
"I'm the face of the festival, I’m a[n] artist," he said. "So yeah, the media is… They wanna put it on me." But, he added, he just “want[s] to figure out what happened,” and does feel a responsibility to make sure something like this never happens again.