In Depth: Slug (Atmosphere)
Jess Daly speaks in depth with Slug of Atmosphere.
Way before Headshots and Rhymesayers is kinda cloudy for me as I suffered long term memory loss but legend has it, Spawn one of the original members asked me in around 1991 to be his DJ because I had records and turntables.
He never played any shows with me as his DJ at first, we just practised together. We were networking, going out to clubs meeting people and stuff. We started making music and then he asked me to rap on a song with him because he knew I was a rapper. He pushed me to write and after that we never looked back.
I guess I’ve always been a fan of metaphors, even when I was a kid and into reading. As a child I was a huge fan of Prince and I always felt like he did a good job at finding new and different ways to say things that have already been said before.
I was really drawn to artists like De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest and was a huge fan of that sorta movement. They would say things that were relatable but say them in ways where you’d have to search and listen to interpret, it probably made such an impact that I sorta did it as well.
I’ve kinda defaulted to the most simplified version of explaining that Lucy is me.
Lucy is the side or elements of me that I struggled with as I was attempting to make myself a healthy person. Anything that I found stood in the way of that progress was what Lucy personified.
In the earlier years, I guess my struggle with substance abuse as well as human abuse was a big part of it. The co-dependency of being young and being in toxic relationships with partners as well as friends, I used Lucy as a personification for that.
TRAILER PARK CHICKEN
There is a lot of misinterpreted tracks but the one that made the biggest impact on me, was a song called Primer. I never officially named it because it was a hidden track on our first album Overcast.
I wrote the song that was supposed to be a view of a women sarcastically talking about her partner or ex-partner being abusive. It’s written very exaggeratedly which I thought was obvious.
Now looking back at it I could have done a better job; I think the misinterpretation of it was my fault.
It’s about this guy who was a piece of shit arsehole and it was written from a first-person stance. It was really supposed to be from the point of view of imitating her partner.
When the song came out people fully embraced the darkness of it instead of taking in the sarcasm and I got really upset by that.
It was such a huge deal that I think I only performed it once and when I saw the way people reacted to it, I didn’t like how they embraced it so I left it alone. I never performed it again and I never ever wrote like that again!
If you’re gonna leave something open for interpretation, there are certain interpretations that I don’t want people to have so now, I’m weirdly more cautions to make sure that, I don’t allow you to mistake something in the world of negative and positive.
I don’t mind leaving it open to interpretation as long as you have your feet in the right front yard.
The track Primer Is only on CD because when we released vinyl, I didn’t allow it to be pressed. It’s only on the first edition of the CD too, I took it off after the first issue.
It’s a disgusting song ya know, the chorus is ‘I own the camaro and the mobile home where the fuck you gonna go’.
The internet decided to name it ‘Trailer Park Chicken’. I don’t know why they called it Trailer Park Chicken man. [Laughs] That’s what I’m saying, the whole thing was a mess.
I have a hard time with the album Seven’s Travels man, that albums kinda disgusts me for different reasons.
When we made that album, I was really kinda lost and with a lot of toxic behaviour.
I was touring so much that I would like come home for a week or so and then leave again. So when I hear that album, I hear a very disjointed piece of songs that don’t really go together.
It’s definitely more like a collection than an album in my world. I can understand how a listener wouldn’t see it that way though.
I hit the road to go tour God Loves Ugly and when we came back we said, well, we still have these songs that are kinda good so why don’t we piece them together and make Seven’s Travels.
So we worked on that then I’d hit the road again for months, come home for a week or two, make some more songs then I’d go tour again etc etc so it is a very disjointed collection of crap.
The songs on there that are really good, were supposed to be on God Loves Ugly. It’s just that God Loves Ugly has a couple of songs on there that were just a little bit too fun and optimistic so we left them off.
They are a little too yellow and I didn’t really want any yellow on God Loves Ugly, it’s more like a red and brown and purple.
Reflections was supposed to be on God Loves Ugly. It’s actually supposed to be connected to Modern Mans Hustle and so now when I perform those songs, I squish them together and make one medley out of the two of them.
I can’t remember what others, but Seven’s Travels is the one album I kinda look at and go, ergh let’s pretend like that one didn’t happen.
Sunshine was a throw away track from When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. We completed when Lemons and Strictly Leakage at the same time but they weren’t going to be ready for the tour I was about to do with Murs.
The guys I was working with, Bird & Saddiq were like ‘hey if you put out a small EP you’ll have new music to play these people and perform.’
And that gave Sunshine the opportunity to be released. Sunshine weirdly became the reason why we made Sad Clown Bad Summer 9, 11 & 12 because, if they hadn’t asked me to release music for the tour I don’t know if I would ever have made those EP’s. All of this became the reason for the like, roll out of music.
It was kinda cool because I spent the year making as much music as possible and actually releasing most of it, where as in the past I would make a ton of music and a lot of it never got released.
Me an Anthony have a lot of music that nobody’s ever heard, most of it is garbage ya know but still there is a lot of stuff that someday when were both dead, our kids will maybe let people hear that shit.
I’m not gonna let nobody hear it though. [Laughs] Over my dead body!
MI VIDA LOCAL
I can only speak on behalf of myself right now but I see most of our music as like snapshots into my life at that moment. That’s kinda what I write about, what I’m working on, what I’m doing, what I’m feeling.
I don’t mean to sound boring but this new album is what I was feeling in 2017, early 2018.
With that being said, it’s everything I’m surrounded by, my family, my local scene. I spent a lot more time at home during that period, more than I did a couple of years ago.
It was also my friend and family’s reaction to the Trump administration or maybe when the police killed a young man locally, it was like what shit set on fire for us.
I absorb a lot of what my immediate surroundings are and absorbed what they were at that time, as a supposed to tour life and jumping round seeing different parts of the world.
It’s certain elements in what was going on around me in that record that when I hear those songs, they will always resonate with me and be a big part of 2017. It’s like a photo of that whole year.
Mi Vida Local is a trilogy but I wish I hadn’t told anybody that because, a lot of people seem to have gotten concerned about why I would write a trilogy about death. When I started I didn’t know I was going to make a trilogy.
To me that is what the trilogy is about, but not death in the way that we think about ‘the end’ but more so what death really is. What it really means and why we’re afraid of it.
I wanted to do it from the place of a common voice, I didn’t make any songs specifically about death instead, I made sure that death was a theme that rode through them.
I knew Southsiders was going to be about the fear of death so when we started making more music I was like yo, I want to keep adding more death to this and Ant was like ‘yeah whatever man do your thing.’
Fishing Blues was about the peacefulness concept of death, when you can finally relax and shit with the light switched off. Fishing Blues sounding a bit like retirement.
With Mi Vida Local, that’s the one where it’s like from a very close to home version.
Death, I’m not scared of it. At first, it was about my fear and immorality then when you get to Mi Vida Local it’ like – you know what?
I’m not scared to die because I am worried like, oh no, It’s over - it’s gone. But more so, I worry about the people I leave behind, which is the real fear of death. It’s not about being scared to die, but it’s about feeling empathy for the people that are going to miss you.
Some people feel like they don’t have anybody that is going to miss them and there is stuff on this album that touches on that.
In the end of the day, it all comes down to the Easter egg and shit like that. I’m just kinda hoping, 10 years from now someone is looking back on these, that there is one person out there to care enough, understand and see the bigger picture.
I really can’t make a fourth one though, I have to break out now, you can only have so much fucking death. [Laughs]
My fourth son was born in 2017 and he was kind of part of that album too.
I want to stoke those embers and fires in my kids and ensure they have the room to express themselves and make any type of art but in the same breath, I hope better for them than to go down the heart-breaking road of trying to make music as a career.
I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone or wish it on anyone, if that’s what they choose to do then obviously I’ll support it but it’s very hard. I don’t know how to describe it but it’s hard on your body, hard on your brain, its nothing I would wish on anybody. [Laughs] I’ll support them in everything of course.
We’re doing 95 shows in total on this tour, so 15 remaining is pretty good haha! We’re working our way to the end here.
I’m on tour with deM atlaS, The Lioness and DJ Keezy, its been an amazing tour. This is hands down some of the most fun I’ve ever had.
It’s so hard to compare tours because they’re so different from each other so I don’t want to sound like – ‘this is the best one’ but this is amazing. I’ve definitely been on way worse tours if that makes sense.
I have another album almost finished but I don’t know when it will be out. I have to get it mixed then give it to the label to release. I make music and all that other shit they do.
This ones gonna be kinda cool but I should probably wait ‘til next time we talk to chat about it but, the reason this album exists is different to the other albums.
It gave me the freedom to write in a way that I haven’t been able to in a long time. I’m excited about the 7th album coming out.
Yes, I love brownies! I don’t give a fuck about strains. I don’t have a favourite beer or pizza topping, I just love pizza and I love weed - as long as it works! The older I get the less I use it recreationally, now I mostly use it medicinally or for work and my creative space yano. Sometimes if I make some music I’ll smoke and listen to find the errors and problems.
I’ve had that thing since I was like 5, I’ve shaved it off and then the next day it just came back so I’ve just embraced it, I always wanted to look like a drummer from a new metal band.
Whenever I shave it off my kids look at me weird like - what the fuck dad?
Mi Vida Local by Atmosphere is out now- https://rse.lnk.to/MiVidaLocal
Atmosphere are about to embark on their European tour of Mi Vida Local including a date at the Electric Ballroom in London on Tuesday 23rd April. Tickets are available HERE
MI VIDA LOCAL TOUR – EUROPE TOUR DATES
22.04 – Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
23.04 – London, UK @ Electric Ballroom
24.04 – Paris, FR @ La Bellevilloise
26.04 – Hamburg, DE @ Waagenbau
27.04 – Copenhagen, DK @ DR Studie 2
29.04 – Oslo, NO @ Parkteatret
30.04 – Stockholm, SE @ Debaser Strand
02.05 – Berlin, DE @ Festsaal Kreuzberg