Montreal’s Black Atlass is a voice you can’t forget, charting new territory somewhere in-between modern R&B, experimental electronic production, and classic singer/songwriter confessionals.
His debut single « Paris » was praised by music obsessives (« soulful, electronic-tinged tracks that tug at the heartstrings » – Stereogum), and high-end fashionistas alike, earning praise in Vogue and scoring Louis Vuitton ads while garnering the personal attention of everyone from Woodkid (who enlisted Black Atlass to open dates on his European tour) to Dior Homme (who invited BA to their Paris Fashion Week presentations and styled him for the front row).
Beyond these blog props and style bonafides, however, there’s substance in his music that sets Black Atlass apart from his contemporaries. It pulses all throughout the new Young Bloods EP, six tracks that more than live up to their title with knotty chords, unexpectedly muscular beats, and the ethereal vocals that tie it all together.
From “Blossom’s” handclap funk and the D’Angelo worthy boom bap of « Free Angel » to the primal howl of distorted closer « Jewels, » Young Bloods is the latest chapter in the story of a raw and electrifying new talent.
Thanks to Black Atlass
Photos Richmond Lam
With this EP I really wanted to shift the focus onto my vocals. When I started this project I knew I eventually wanted to be recognized as a vocalist first and foremost, so Young Bloods is me finding that in myself as a musician. I also wanted to evolve into a broader range of sounds and open up more of a connection with listeners through lyrical content, melodies, etc.
Could you define it in just three words ?
Love, youth, hip-hop.
When you approached the creation of the Young Bloods EP, which records/artists influenced you? Are these the same artists that influenced all of your work so far?
I was largely influenced by Frank Ocean, who’s record Channel Orange had just come out, MGMT, it was also around this time that I truly discovered Prince.
You’re happy about the result?
Of course, otherwise it would never have come out. I feel like Young Bloods is the perfect evolution into the artist I really want to be, and the perfect precursor to the full length record I’m working on right now.
On the tracks that you have released, there has been a great variety in moods and atmospheres. Do you pick and choose your styles from production to production, or is it just natural?
I do pick and choose styles, moods and atmospheres from production to production, but there definitely has to be a natural element to it too. Something cohesive that can tie all of those elements together. Whether that something is the writing or a part of the production, it’s always my goal to create a cohesive piece of music that can be listened to through and through. Track listings are never random. Often during the creative process I have an idea of what I want the project to sound like in the end, and from there I fill in the pieces.
Your music has been labelled Alternative-R&B. Don’t you mind being labelled?
I’ve never had a thing for labels, and I’m fortunate enough to be an artist in a generation that’s beginning to have more of a disregard for those sorts of things when it comes to music. On the other hand I do feel proud to be labelled as Alternative-R&B or Contemporary R&B because it shows that people have picked up on the genres that have influenced me, and that they can recognize that in my work.
What did you listen to before you got into Alternative-R&B?
I’ve always appreciated all kinds of music, which I believe to be a result of my upbringing. I’m not the kind of person who gets stuck on one genre for a period of time. The range of music I listen to is always very broad, and usually ranges from a hand full of artists though the 50’s to 90’s and a hand full of modern day artists.
When do you know your songs or the EP are/is finished?
There’s a moment when I’m in the process of writing and recording when I realize that with one more element the entire thing will be complete. Once I discover what that element is, whether it be a piece of writing, a beat, or an entire change of direction all together, I begin working towards finishing that idea as though I know the project is already finished before it really is. It’s that change in energy that let’s me know that I’m almost there.
You first single is « Paris » and last year you were in France to promote your songs live, so what is the first thing you remember about France now ? 🙂
I remember being very tired, and trying to ignore the fatigue so I could take everything in. It felt surreal. It was always a dream of mine to visit Paris, and I never thought it would come true this early on in my life, let alone because of my music.
You’ve supported french artist Woodkid in his Europe tour. What’s your impressions ?
Have you plan to work together ?
I was flattered to be asked to join him on his tour because he’s an artist that I’ve always looked up to. His work ethic and creativity is incredible, and being able to be around that energy was very inspiring. The tour was life changing too. Being able to learn from every show and every place we visited inspired something completely new in myself as person and an artist. As far as working together, we have already worked on something really amazing together, which I can’t wait to share with the world.
And lastly, what’s something about black atlass that nobody know?
I believe in Bigfoot.