Q&A: Slug of Atmosphere, Part 2 (FILTER Exclusive)
By Andrew Courtien, Photos by Rodji Muñoz on April 12, 2011
To catch up, check out Part 1 of the interview with Slug of Atmosphere.
Slug and Ant, the duo better known as Atmosphere, have united a body of devoted fans that religiously subscribe to the idea that creativity, as a microcosm for life in general, is a give and take, counterbalanced and anchored by appreciation for one's friends, family and audience. This philosophy is what their latest release, The Family Sign, embodies. It's the key to the tremendous legacy that Atmosphere continues to establish.
Last time you checked in with us, Slug talked to us about his ideas on concept records, growing up and his latest collaboration with photographer Dan Monick for their book, Seven: Seven Years with Atmosphere and Rhymesayers. In the second (and final) part of the interview, Slug talks about reconnencting with his fans, goals for touring and the Minneapolis hip-hop scene. Inspirational words coming from Slug...
The Minneapolis hip-hop scene was not considered much of a force on a national scale for a while. What was it like growing up and starting out there?
I came from a scene of a lot of groups and rappers. It’s just that there was no mentor system. In larger cities, there are a few names who have broken out, so the artists are able to look at those guys and see what they did to get out. Whereas we had a big scene, but none of us had broken out. It was just like a circle we were all kind of running in, around and around, just doing the things we thought we should do and what pop culture taught us we should be doing. It was a big scene, and now there are so many rappers and bands. I don’t know, I feel pretty lucky 'cause I feel Minneapolis has a healthy scene. It just took us a long time to put it in a van and drive it to the next town.
Now, you’re kind of doing the opposite with Soundset Festival by bringing the national hip-hop scene to Minneapolis.
That was kind of our intent with it. Artists like myself, Ali, I Self Devine, and POS, we’ve had the opportunity to travel the world and meet so many people and other artists, that we wanted to bring those artists back to Minneapolis to introduce them to our people. It’s been really good so far. It seems that the community really appreciates the festival, and it feels like that the artists that come to Soundset tend to be blown away with how many people attend to the festival. I think that those outside of Minneapolis never took this city as a serious market, and I think Soundset is one of those things that is making people wake up and say, "Wow, there is a huge a scene in Minneapolis."
Going back to what you said before, about getting in the van, you’ve been known for being somewhat of a touring machine—you have a tour coming up soon. What’s in store for that?
We take off mid-April to support the next record, but it’s also because we took a year off to make babies and to make a record. So, we all feel like we haven’t toured heavily lately. It’s the same feeling when you’re used to wearing a watch and you leave the house without it—something feels like it's missing. It’s the same idea, and where we are all at. We haven’t been playing shows recently. There’s a void there that we need to fulfill.
As far what it’s all about, it’s the same as ever. We just want to connect with people and see if they're interested in hearing what we have to communicate. There’s a validation that goes along with that. As artists, we are supposed to say we just love playing music, but really it’s more than that. We could sit in our basement and play music, but to see people appreciating your music and to hold conversations with them afterwards, to see what they like and don’t like—that’s the void I need to fill. I need to go back out and see if I deserve to live. Validate me, let me know if I should still be doing this or if I should go and be a janitor.
Not only will you be validating yourself to your audience, but you’re also making a pit stop at Bonnaroo this summer. What are you excited about for the festival?
We’ve played lots of festivals; I like them. It gives you a chance to play in front of people you don’t know. It’s like you're playing in front of someone who came there to see The Cure. I appreciate festivals for the challenge, and I just like being outside. I’m from Minnesota, so I take advantage of nice weather whenever I can. I’m also just really looking forward to going to Tennessee because we haven’t been there in a while. I’m looking forward to playing a show to people I haven’t played to in a while.
Are you excited to see anyone this year?
Lil Wayne and Eminem have been icons in hip-hop culture for a long time, and I’ve never had the opportunity to see them perform. I don’t necessarily follow their careers that much, but I do want to see what they do to touch their audiences. Anyone can have opinions about their music, but at the end of the day their music is communicating to lots and lots of people. I want to experience that. I’m looking forward to getting in the crowd and seeing that. I’m hoping that I’ll get to see at least one of them play.
The Family Sign is out now on Rhymesayers Entertainment.