We chatted with Montreal, Quebec based hip hop artist Atlas Emery about his most recent music and overall career. Atlas tells us about his music influences, creative process and genre bending. Check out our chat below.
When people listen to your music, what are you hoping they get out of it?
Atlas Emery (AE): Appreciation, mainly. I don’t really know what I want people to get out of it; music is so subjective and I wouldn’t want to limit what people can gain or understand from listening to mine. I suppose I make music that’s relatable. I have a hard time writing “happy music,” so if my darker themes can help anyone through rough times, I’m satisfied. But I’m also very okay with people just vibing out and not caring about what I’m saying. As long as they enjoy it, that’s all that matters to me.
How would you describe the sound of your music?
AE: I would say that my sound is a blend of underground UK boom-bap and 90s American boom-bap with some modern trap.
How important was it for you to listen all kinds of music growing up? Did this help your musicianship?
AE: I think that most musicians listen to a variety of music. It’s very important to stray from just one genre and pull inspiration all over the musical spectrum. Growing up, I was into everything from pop to metal, R&B to hip hop and beyond. As a teenager, though, I definitely became lost in the elitist mindset that “metal is the only good genre,” which I think held me back from flourishing as an artist for some time.
Thankfully, as I matured more into my adolescence and met more experienced and distinguished musicians, I was re-introduced to an array of great music spanning across many genres and it helped shape the musician I am today.
Who would you say are some of your musical influences?
AE: As far as hip hop goes, the underground UK collective, Cult of the Damned and legendary American hip hop artist Mac Milller (RIP). Mac Miller is the artist who really drove me to begin making hip hop music in the first place. His album, “Watching Movies With the Sound Off,” inspired me to take my rap project to the next level.
As far as other genres, Every Time I Die is and always will be my favorite group and influence. Their singer, Keith Buckley, is a lyrical genius and has been a major influence on the way I approach my writing. I really vibe with dark, gritty and unique word play elements in music, both in hip hop and hardcore so these bands/artists all check off all of those boxes.
What do you think about a lot of genre bending happening in music these days?
AE: I love it. It’s necessary for the development of music. I think that one of the more positive aspects of social media is that music elitism is slowly fading away. Listeners and artists alike are no longer shy to express their love for different genres. As someone who has had my foot in the door of both metal/hardcore and hip hop music, it’s amazing to see the growth and connection between both of us these styles.
I think that Odd Future (Tyler the Creator, especially) really ushered that connectivity into the limelight and it’s only advanced since then. For example, we have artists like Ghostemane, Lil Lotus, Code Orange, etc. bending genres in such original ways. I don’t think that would’ve been accepted 10+ years ago.
Did you always know that music was something you wanted to pursue?
AE: 100%. Music has always meant everything to me. I’ve always had this desire to create and perform it. From the moment I first stepped on that stage (back in March of 2008), I knew this is what I wanted to do and I haven’t stopped since. It’s 2022 now and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. It’s always been the driving force in my life – it just makes sense to me; I live for it.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
AE: Never stop even if it feels hopeless. This music game is not easy and it’ll throw a lot of punches before it feels like it might pay off. Even then, there’s never a guarantee. I’ve had amazing opportunities come and go throughout my career yet the desire remains and I’ve never given up. If you love what you do – keep doing it. Don’t stop because not enough people are listening or attending, first and foremost you’re doing this for you and not necessarily for anyone else. There’s no one true way to do it and it’s important you continue the pursuit, if it’s truly what you want.
What is your favorite song to perform live?
AE: I would say the song “Glass Stones” off of my 2nd album “3917” is my favorite song to perform live. It’s a vibe and it really captures the sound I was going for on that record.
Can you describe your creative process when you’re writing new music?
AE: My creative process is all over the place. I have a difficult time focusing in general so when I write lyrics or make a beat it’s usually pretty spontaneous. There’s very little planning that goes into my process. Some of my best work was created almost on the spot, combining ideas I’ve written quickly in notes on my phone or just from being in the studio with the homies cooking up. I have a hard time planning, sitting down and being creative. It’s usually something that comes to me at the right place and right time.
Luckily I’m surrounded by a lot of amazing creatives (shout out to my crew DESOLATEXISTENCE, Luc-Antonio and Renai$$ant), so it can be an almost weekly occurrence where I make something awesome without much of a plan.
What has been the best advice someone has given you about music?
AE: The best piece of advice, and I don’t even remember who gave it to me because it was so long ago was: Always perform as though you’re playing the biggest show of your career. Doesn’t matter if there’s 5 or 500 people, people came to see you and you gotta pull through for them. Those 5 people can tell 5 people and so on… never take yourself too seriously, if you put on a great show, people will remember that.
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