Black Atlass is all the stir, and has been for a while now. Alex Fleming, who was originally born in Montreal and grew up in London, Ontario recently moved back to Montreal to position himself smack-dab in the middle of it all. "Paris" (off of The Black Atlass EP) was released on Fool's Gold last August and was recognized by the likes of some astonishingly important people in both the music and fashion biz. Fleming was featured as Vogue USA's "Artist of the Week" and the music video for "Paris" (directed by Paul Labonté), was styled by the high-end Montreal-based boutique, SSENSE.
The pivotal moment for Black Atlass' major league recognition was back in April 2012 where "Paris (Interlude)" was featured in Louis Vuitton's short film celebrating their fashion exhibit at the Musée Des Arts Décoratifs. If that doesn't speak volumes about his raw talent and star potential, I don't know what could. With only nineteen years behind him, Fleming has ambitious expectations as to where his vocals and genre-less, distortion-filled production will take him. All I can say is that I'm behind him 100% of the way.
Earmilk: The Black Atlass EP kind of erupted. What is it about your music that sticks?
Black Atlass: I think just the fact that it is genre-less to a point… people can’t seem to pinpoint what exactly they're listening to. I think it’s something so new and different. It’s tasteful, it’s genuine and it is able to reach the R+B scene on a whole different level than what people are used to. My audience really ranges as well, there is no black and white.
EM: You landed Vogue's "Artist of the Week" not too long ago with an emphasis on "Paris". A humbling experience at the least?
BA: It was just so nice to have recognition from an extremely iconic company, especially this early on in my career. It really is such an honour. Like with everything, I never would have thought that my music would allow me to attend the Christian Dior fashion show in Paris or have my song used in a Louis Vuitton ad. It’s amazing to have people like that as fans. Like you said, it’s so humbling.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-KQUMs-xjY
EM: You seem to favour distortion and reverb contrasted with the simplicity of pure piano notes. Why do you gravitate to that?
BA: I’ve always loved a mixture of genres, that notion of clashing. I’ve always loved how hip-hop is able to mix in a bunch of pop culture elements. Distortion on a clean back-drop isn’t something I necessarily thought to do every time, it’s just something that is natural. With The Black Atlass EP I did the production a little differently and made all of the beats first and then wrote to them and did the vocals afterwards. The distortion and that contrast was more so to match the style of the production and to be used as a way to integrate my vocals. That being said, with all of the newer stuff I’ve been working on, I really want emphasize my lead vocals and really plan to excel in that field.
EM: For anyone able to see you live (like at the Drake Underground this Thursday in Toronto), what should we expect? You're kind of like a one man band.
BA: I really worked hard on making the stage as aesthetically pleasing as possible. It’s just a DJ and I, so it’s a really simplistic set-up and that’s why I wanted to do something that would add another element to the performance. As for the music side of things, I want to appear as a vocalist… I want people to notice that and to leave being surprised almost. The way that The Black Atlass EP came across I feel like my vocals didn’t excel and my growth as a singer wasn’t reflected, so I want to show people that growth. Expect to hear some new stuff as well.
EM: Who do you find yourself listening to these days? Who are some constant inspirations?
BA: I’m inspired by a lot of established artists that have reached that level of stardom that I strive towards. I’m always listening to hip-hop, so artists like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake, Frank Ocean, Magna Carta and Party Next Door always hit home for me. And I can’t forget vocalists like Beyonce or Adele! I’m always super inspired by pop artists that are genuine and that sound new and different. Artists like those push the boundaries, which is what clicks with me. It’s always refreshing. Day-to-day I’m always inspired by occurrences in my life like the people I meet, new experiences and films I see.
EM: What can we expect from you in the near future? We're all itching for some new tunes.
BA: I’m really eager to get new stuff released too, believe me. A small body of work has been done for a few months now, so we’re just in the process of figuring out the last lingering details. You can expect something very soon.
If you're lucky enough to be in Toronto this Thursday, July 18 2013, don't hesitate to check Black Atlass out at the Drake Underground. Doors are at 8pm and tickets are a steal at $10 advance, $12 at the door.