Firstly, give us some background info as it relates to who you are?
The ATG: To start off, I’m currently 23 years old and I was born and raised in the Metro Detroit area. I first started dabbling with music composition and production approximately seven years ago. I actually have always wanted to be a director of a film before venturing into music production. However, I felt that film direction was intimidating since it seemed like it needed a lot of resources and a lot of talent to work with. As a young kid, this all seemed intimidating to me so I began to actually lose motivation in pursuing this dream of mine. If there is something you should know about me: it’s that I’m truly an overall creative. What I mean by this is that I have an active interest in nearly every creative field whether that is film, music production, graphic design, fashion, and even cooking. So, I’m really guiding the creative process of each project I’m involved with to the best of my ability. Anyways, to return to my original point, I eventually found out that Kanye West, one of my favorite artists, actually utilized samples to create music. I had become a devout fan of music around eighth grade, so I figured I could maybe try my hand at music if film seemed out of reach. I eventually grew tired of using samples as I wanted to have more creative control over my compositions.
So, using the internet I taught myself some basic music theory. So while I’m flattered to hear that a lot of people think I use samples, I actually compose everything myself. I later realized that music is incredibly powerful as I noticed how it could change one’s mood, demeanor, and even persona upon a single listen. That’s when I realized that music and film were incredibly similar in many regards and I plunged into music even deeper. When it comes to all my creative endeavors, I would like to say that I am hyper-attentive to detail and quality. Well, this is not only true for my creative endeavors but also for my regular life, which actually can make life harder than it needs to be. Like many creatives, I’m a reserved individual who basically lives like a recluse only coming out when I need to. I also have passions outside of the creative field. I am an avid reader who loves reading about biology, history, and politics. In fact, as a kid, I wanted to be a paleontologist. I even uncovered a Triceratops shoulder bone back in fourth grade in the hell creek formation in Montana. So, fittingly I actually have a bachelor of sciences in biological sciences as I felt that music production doesn’t need a degree but a career in the sciences does. Above all, I would say that my biggest interest in life is learning new things and concepts.
What is the significance of your stage name/persona?
The ATG: Quite simply, The ATG really stands for my initials. Referring to myself as “The ATG” as opposed to “ATG” creates a more enigmatic aura which is rather fitting for the type of music I would like to create. The ATG is also a stage name that can be utilized in multiple genres of music, and this is important as I do indeed plan on exploring genres outside of hip hop.
What style of music do you focus on?
The ATG: I primarily focus on hip hop and film score. More specifically, I’m focusing on developing a well-integrated fusion of the two genres of music. I also draw inspiration from ambient and classical music, which does overlap with film score to some capacity. This is not to say that I don’t dabble with other genres such as pop or even house music. I’m actually working on producing some pop songs, which you will just have to wait to hear.
How would you describe the signature sound of your production company?
The ATG: The signature sound of my production is generally inspired by film score and classical music coupled with hip hop percussion. Given how influenced I am by the film, I would characterize my production as being both dramatic and opulent. The production for much of my work tends to be tonally dark and usually conveys a somber mood. For that reason, I think a good umbrella term to describe my production style would be gothic. I have also crafted a nightmarish sound that is both dreamlike and unsettling making use of atonality to great effect and coupling that with hip hop style percussion. Another sound of mine is definitely inspired by 1980’s synth pop, although I must state that I have yet to release these songs.
Overall, I would say that my signature sound revolves around experimentation with multiple genres while having hip hop style percussion be the anchoring force for my productions. When it comes to boom bap and west coast style drums, I am incredibly particular about the quality and groove of my drums. Despite the fact that I diverged from the original question, I think I would quite simply describe my signature sound as opulent. It is opulent in the sense that I do my best to ensure that each instrument is working towards the betterment of the composition of the song, and in fact, I often take instruments out if I feel that I feel like they don’t fit in. I also do my best to ensure that the mix is as clear as possible to further the idea of opulence. So, the reason my signature sound is opulent really comes down to the attention to detail and the level of care I put into my production.
Who or what are your influences?
The ATG: Musically, I have a large gamut of influences. For instance, some of my influences include Dr. Dre, Kanye West, Philip Glass, Eminem, The Weeknd, György Ligeti, Metro Boomin, Boi-1da, Hans Zimmer, Philip Glass, Travis Scott, Brian Eno, Daft Punk, Portishead, and John Williams. Perhaps more interestingly, I am also heavily inspired by forms of pop culture such as film, comic books, video games, and mythology. For example, I am inspired by the eerie stillness present in many Stanley Kubrick films, and more contemporary works such as The Lighthouse directed by Robert Eggers. Ultimately, I see music as a storytelling medium, so I’m trying to create a sonic landscape that can help transport the listener to a different world. I’m also influenced by my personal life in terms of my ideology and some of the difficulties I have faced. Now, I can’t reveal too much about my personal life just yet, that’s just something that will be unveiled at the proper time.
What project or projects are you working on?
The ATG: My first entry into the music industry was my production on the single “Strong Enough” by Swifty McVay of D12 fame for the Devil’s Night soundtrack. I have produced three songs so far that will land on the Trap City soundtrack. In fact, the music video for the lead single “Paranoid” for the upcoming film Trap City was released recently. It is also very much a possibility that I may work with a rap titan to create three more tracks for the Trap City soundtrack, so hopefully, it comes to fruition. Circling back to Devil’s Night, I am currently working on creating new songs in addition to a remix of “Strong Enough” for a deluxe edition of the soundtrack. I am also in charge of creating a remix of the theme song of an upcoming film called 18 ½ which largely features a bossa nova inspired soundtrack. I am also not only a producer but also a vocalist on the song “You’re Not Alone” which will be featured on the soundtrack of the film AM Radio. Lastly, I’m always continuously developing prototypes of songs that I could envision on various different conceptual albums
How can an artist get in contact with you?
The ATG: For now, the best way would be to simply send me an email at email@example.com. Another way of getting in touch with me is by contacting me through social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
What type of software/ hardware do you use?
The ATG: I use Fl Studio 20 as my base digital audio workstation with the addition of a multitude of third-party plugins from companies such as Native Instruments, Fabfilter, Spitfire Audio, Arturia, Soundtoys, iZotope, and Brainworx. My audio interface as of now is the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre USB and attached to the audio interface are the Adam A7X studio monitors. I make use of the Nektar Impact LX49 midi keyboard to assist in the music composition process. The most important hardware I have would probably be my brain as software and hardware will be useless without the guidance of the human mind.
What artists are you working with?
The ATG: I have worked with Omar Gooding, Sa-Roc, Swifty McVay, Leslee Lewis, and G.V. Prakash. I’m currently in the process of getting in touch with A-lister artists, so be on the lookout.
Do you have a publishing deal or are you self-published?
The ATG: Currently, KYYBA has a publishing deal with Sony’s Orchard division. This is not to say I’m opposed to getting a publishing deal with a major label down the road.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be and why?
The ATG: The music industry is too focused on finding pre-packaged artists as the prior question states. The problem with this is it minimizes the incentive for an artist to take artistic risks as it is difficult to sell something to the audience which they never knew they needed to hear in their life. So, I feel like a lot of artists are a bit generic because of this pressure to come in pre-packaged. It’s simpler to create an appealing package when following the pathway of already successful artists. Labels are really only hurting themselves by not wanting to invest in artists because a still developing artist may have untapped potential that could result in something truly legendary. In the end, many of the artists we all remember are the ones who were willing to experiment. Since many artists are really unable to truly express themselves due to this need to conform, it’s difficult for music to continuously advance. I would also like to state that a lot of artists do not have the financial ability to establish themselves despite whatever talent they may have, so it really is disheartening that labels expect artists to come prepackaged.
What direction do you see rap music taking in the future?
The ATG: I believe that there is going to be a resurgence of 90’s inspired hip hop in the near future, given the current wave of “retro revival”. I also have noted that the average bpm/tempo of rap music has been steadily increasing, so I suspect that there is going to be a shift away from the slower more “wavy” trap beats that have been dominating the airways. Rap and pop music have also intertwined at an increasing rate, so I would not be surprised if rappers start utilizing disco-inspired production. More realistically, I see rap music incorporating 80’s style production since that seems to be the prevalent sound at the moment. Eventually, I think melodic rap music will fully converge with pop music, and grittier rap music will become more prominent as a result.
What are your goals?
The ATG: Well, I have multiple goals with regards to the music industry. The first goal would be to have my production style be both well-known and well regarded by both the industry and the general public. So, I’m considering releasing a project with artists I respect in order to really establish myself in the industry. I would then hope that artists will begin contacting me in order for me to provide production for their projects. I definitely intend on supervising an artist’s entire album from a production standpoint, really helping to guide the project by either directly contributing or making important decisions in service of the overall purpose/theme of the project on hand. This is to say that I intend on helping craft a characteristic sound for an artist’s albums that best present their message(s).
More importantly, I plan on being a recording artist who is able to both rap and sing. I feel this way because I believe that I have unique projects in mind that I don’t see any other artists making. I have already begun the development of some conceptual albums each one with a central theme and fantastical setting. I’ve been planning to create a truly epic album of fantastical proportions centering around a character based on the fallen angel and dark lord archetypes with fitting production. I would say think of Paradise Lost by John Milton, Dante’s Inferno, Lord of the Rings combined with hip hop and you’ll have a rough idea of what I’m trying to accomplish. So, it’s sort of like method acting combined with rap music in many ways. I’m truly excited to bring this dream to life one day.
Which artists or producers you would like to collaborate with in the future?
The ATG: I would love to work with Dr. Dre, Dua Lipa, Travis Scott, The Weeknd, Drake, Brian Eno, Eminem, Future, Metro Boomin, Portishead, Hans Zimmer, Illangelo, just to name a few.
Any shout outs?
The ATG: I would like to give a shout-out to my mom for always encouraging me to be creative and more importantly myself. I would also like to give a shout out to my dad for giving me the confidence to take a shot at the music industry. It might be strange to say this but I want to also give a shout out to anyone who may have doubted me in the past as I’ve found this to actually be incredibly motivational in a strange way.
Paranoid Music Video | Trap City | Omar Gooding | GV Prakash | Sa-Roc | The ATG
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