We had the opportunity to sit down with Black Atlass to discuss some of his inspirations, touring Europe with Woodkid, being a part of Fool’s Gold Records and much more.
Young singer and producer Black Atlass, real name Alex Fleming, just dropped his second EP Young Bloods on Fool’s Gold Records. With sensual vocals over lush R&B and subtle yet powerful electronic tunes, he creates a sound that’s zeitgeisty but distinctive, designating him as one to watch – and not just because he’s easy on the eyes. The Montreal-based talent just returned from a European tour supporting Woodkid, who wasn’t the only one whose attention Atlass was able to catch. The 19-year-old has also been endorsed by the fashion world and not only licensed his song “Paris” for a Louis Vuitton ad, but he was also dressed and front-row seated at Dior Homme’s Spring/Summer 2014 show.
Listen to Black Atlass’ EP Young Bloods below and check out our interview with the rising musician below.
How did you get into music?
I’ve been interested in music for as long as I can remember. It’s always been a part of me. I don’t think music is really something you “get into.” Music is universal, it’s a natural part of everyone’s lives. The only difference within those who choose to be musicians and those who don’t, is that we acknowledge the passion within ourselves to want to create, and reflect upon music that has influenced our experiences, our thoughts, our emotions. That connection is something that’s always felt right to me and I chose to follow it.
Let’s talk about your new EP Young Bloods. Is there a concept to it?
Young Bloods is a love story inspired by my years in high school. London, Ontario, where I’m originally from, has always been a such a special place for me. Growing up there was the perfect backdrop for the music I wanted to create. I wanted to paint a dreamlike picture of what I was experiencing in finding love for the first time, and also for the ambitions my friends and I shared.
To me it sounded like it had a lot more hip-hop influences than your first, self-titled EP. Was that inspired by anything you were listening to?
Personally, I think it has just as many. Maybe the influences are more obvious at first listen, but hip-hop has always been one of the most inspiring genres to me. At the time I was working on Young Bloods, I had also started to find influences in soul and R&B, as well as mainstream pop songs. Just as with The Black Atlass EP, I wanted to blend all of those influences together and use that as the soundtrack to the story I wanted to tell.
How would you describe the overall differences from your first EP to Young Bloods?
When I began working on the Young Bloods EP I knew I wanted to truly establish myself as a singer. I wanted to use my voice to tell a story, rather than just as another instrument within the song. I also wanted to create something less experimental, more of a focused reflection of my influences, and the music that spoke to me at the time. The writing on the EP is also mostly centered around love and my first real relationship, which was something I hadn’t yet experienced before I began working on this EP. More than anything, it’s a progression of myself as a human being.
What would you name as your main source of inspiration when it comes to songwriting?
Emotion and more specifically love. Whether it’s within a relationship or the unconditional love I have for my friends and family, love feels like the most powerful inspiration for me right now. I’m still really young and things are constantly changing very quickly, so with each project, I’d like to capture whatever it is I’m experiencing at the time and create something like a sonic photo album for me to look back on later in life.
Tell us about the Woodkid tour. How was that experience?
The Woodkid tour was life-changing. It was my first time performing in Europe and truly getting to experience the music scene there. Being able to learn how to play in front of large audiences like that has opened up a new door for me as a musician. Now when I create, I can imagine what the song will be like to perform, and I have a better understanding of how the crowd will react to certain things. Woodkid’s band and crew were a great group of people, and it was amazing to spend time with an artist that has been such an inspiration to me.
How is being a member of the Fool’s Gold family?
Fool’s Gold will always be the ones who gave me a shot early on and I will always be grateful to them for that. As an artist, it’s important for your music to have a home, especially in the early years of your career. Fool’s Gold has been that home for me and the opportunities that have come from that have been incredible.
You have been embraced by the fashion world quite quickly. What was a special fashion experience so far?
A special experience would have to be attending the Dior Spring/Summer 2014 show last summer for Men’s Fashion Week in Paris. That was my first real experience within the fashion world, and it was very inspiring for me. Ever since then, I’ve had an urge to attend more shows and be a part of that kind of experience again. The Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs ad has also been another landmark in my career. That happened very early on, while I was still in high school, and wasn’t something I had expected at that age. I love being involved in such a powerful world, one outside of music. Whether it’s as a spectator or a collaborator, I wish to keep this as a part of my life forever.
Do you have an up-and-coming designer you would recommend?
Nafsika Skourti. From what I’ve heard, she recently graduated from Central Saint Martins. It’s hard to find much information about her online, but her Spring/Summer 2013 lookbook has some really great designs in it.
Interview by Osia Katsidou for Highsnobiety.com
- Photography: Richmond Lam & Vincent Tsang