Thursday, May 19, 2011

Interview: Slug of Atmosphere // The Family Sign LP // Interview

Slug of Atmosphere Interview - excerpts (The Family Sign) by the-Rapohnelizenz

Homie G.Netzer did a phone-Interview with Slug of Atmosphere approximately a week ago, they spoke about the latest LP "The Family Sign", the Rhymesayers Label and some Hip Hop business rubbish. We have a short audio excerpt and the full interview in text format. Thx 2 Gerrit & Slug! (Complete Interview after the jump)


Tut tut tut

Slug: Hey

RoL: Hey, this is G. from Rapohnelizenz

Slug: How are you doin?

RoL: thanks fine, how are you?

Slug: Ye, thanks i'm good … I'm Slug nice to met you Sir.

RoL: Yep. I know... first of all I'd like to talk about the new Atmosphere album. It was kinda interesting that you didn't use samples at all and invited musicians to play most of the parts. Why did you decide to decline using samples?

Slug: Oh you know, we've been experimenting over the last few years of going with no samples and we wanted to see what would happen if we're making a record that wasn't confined. Cause you know, when you sample, there's not a lot of room for you to take.. like: 'I just wanna take the guitar and put it over to the left and turn it down..., but i want the bassline to be full in the middle...' you know we wanted to see what would happen if we started writing songs from an organic level. Just to give it a different feel but still the drum-programming - it still includes the boom-bap that we love about hip-hop. And... when we started doin' it back in 2006, just experimenting with it and then you know.. we finally reached the point where we were just tryin' and releasing music that had that kind of approach. The guys that play, Eric and Nate they've been playing with us since 2004. They're on '7th travels' and they're on all the records since 2004.. but .. this was, you know... just for the last couple of years we started writing with them with no samples at all.

RoL: I see , ..öhm.. I was wondering .. after the success of 'when life gives you lemons...'.Was the decision of playing with musicians an attempt to change the image of Atmosphere to be considered by public as a serious group of musicians?

Slug: I mean, i wouldn't say that you know. I mean I think it was more like out of respect for the two guys who were playing with us for so long. I wanted them to have the validation of being acknowledged as being a part of this, cause for a long time people thought Atmosphere meant Slug and Ant...

RoL: .. that''s what I thought...

Slug: So i've had this two guys playing with me for 7 years.. I didn't want them to feel so left out at that point...
..Ii did want to start showing their pictures and having them there.... and been seen as part of the group.. But at the end of the day: I'm a rapper. And when you hear me rap you know it's rap-music so we're not trying to change that. ...Aaand..I'm a rapper which means.. you know.. I really don't give fuck what anybody thinks of us.... But i did wanna be respectful to my friends by making sure they felt.. that they were included you know?

RoL: Ye ok thats a good point.. I see.. so its a friendship-thing. But did you ever have problems with clearing samples before? Was this a reason to work like that as well?

Slug: Oh yeayeayea... I've been sued. A lot! Being sued was the reason I started having these guys play way back in the days even when it was like: 'Oh yea, somebody is going to sue us for that, so just replay it or let's just create a new guitar- line .. ' or who-knows-what. You know? ..Oh yea, i've been sued... I spent more money on law sues then I carry with me.

RoL: Oha. Ok. Ääähm.. well, Yes.. . Talking about your album once more. You had this forthcoming double EP called 'to all my friends blood makes the blade holy'. A lot of People really appreciated it .. maybe even more then your actual album... Why didn't you make those EPs the official album?

Slug: Ah.. cause they were made for fun. They were made.... One of them were made to go with a book. A book of photography that came out... one of the EP's was for that ...and the other EP was just totally for fun. And so, you know, i guess.... you know, an official record to me just means you put a bunch of money behind the marketing. And I didn't want to put a bunch of money behind marketing a record that i just did for laugh you know?

RoL: Is it actually your own money you put behind it?

Slug: Ye.. Ye you know I call on the record-label.

RoL: sure. But what is actually your part in Rhymesayers, are you the almighty boss showing up in the office each day slaping employees ?

Slug: Ah.. I don't show up in the office.. I usually don't wear a title. You know, but If I have to wear one I tend to consider myself as part of the artist development angle. Like... I'm one of the guys that works close with the artists. If I'm helping to develope their live-shows or helping them develop their direction they're trying to go with their project or ..äh.... you know as an artist myself I know how to speak the language. I know how to speak the language of how to make an other artist.. you know... click.

RoL: So you're not finding the final decisions about what the label is actually doing alone..?

Slug: No, when it comes to the real important decisions it's five of us.

RoL: Could you guys imagine to sign an artist on Rhymesayers which is established and more popular than Atmosphere?

Slug: I mean.. Sure, we would do that but at the end of the day on the bottom line it always is people who are good people – people who we consider friends. With that in mind we don't just want a popular artist that we don't know as a person. We will still base ourselves being on a family runned label. We treat all in our roster like family. But... It would be really nice for instance like Greaves got more popular then Atmosphere or it would be really nice if Brother Ali became more popular then Atmosphere... cause that would mean that we would gather even more resources which allows us to put out even more music... you know..

RoL: But ist more or less about keeping it in the family again....

Slug: Ohh, yeah.

RoL: How does it work inside the band. Is Ant influencing you in writing and are you actually discussing the content of your lyrics with him?

Slug: Ah, I'm discussing lyrics with him and he's discussing music with me... but we still have enough respect for each other, that if i want something get done he would let me do it.. always. But jeah, there's a lot of cooperation.

RoL: Why is he steadily in the background and doesn't appear in interviews or media?

Slug: Naa.. he's not so much in the background he just isn't interested in doing interviews or.. he's more interested in the music and less in the .. i guess the fame or the recognizability or whatever...

RoL: Are you an audio-geek or an equipment-nerd?

Slug: I'm not an equipment-geek, I don't get into equipment like that, but I am a sound-geek in a sense that I am interested how to manipulate things to get them to sound that way. I believe sound is like color and sometimes it's like the blue is a little to dark and i like to know how to manipulate the blue to be lighter....

RoL: Is this a reason why you to feature quiet seldom, would other vocalists distract the whole picture?

Slug: Well, I did sometimes. Brother Ali has showed up in a few songs, than I have a friend called I Selfe Devine who i featured... but really - featuring for me is all about friendship. You know, i never gonna buy a feature from somebody who is popular. Thats not my thing, I'm more interested in having features from people who are my friends and then, who I think it can reinforce the feeling of the track! So, for instance I might hear a beat and hear like who might sound good on that beat? ..This guy! And that's how I would see a feature. I would never go to somebody I didn't know for a feature.

RoL: Your Vocals are recorded quiet dry always, and you hardly use adlibs, why so minimalistic? .. Are you a One-Take-Rapper?

Slug: I'm not focused on trying it one-take, if I can – beautiful. But I'm more focused on making it sound how it's in my head, you know...
The reason I don't do doubles or adlibs .. I still do them but I didn't do many of them on that new record and the reason for that is: I feel like it takes away from how personal a song should sound. I feel like if its just one voice it gives it a much more personal feeling. And a lot of songs on that record are very personal songs! I didn't want to over-produce it vocally. But.. other records that I've done I have might used multiple tracks for vocals cause it was fit the theme. Back in the days I used to put stacks and adlibs and all the wordy thing because I thought that is what rappers are supposed to do.. but now, you know.. I'm gettin' more confident in my vision and what I see.. I just care less about what we're supposed to do and I'm more interested in what I want.

RoL: Are you tending to call yourself a Lyricist or Musician?

Slug: I don't really call myself a musician. I'm a rapper.. but with an open mind. I respect all kind of different rappers, I respect all kind of musicians, but I don't think it would be fair to call me a musician, I don't know how to play anything but the Turntable...

RoL: You've been the DJ of Atmosphere back in the days, right?

Slug: Ja..

RoL: Do you have some scratch skills?

Slug: Ja...

RoL: Why do we hardly hear any scratches on Atmosphere albums?

Slug: It's Anthony, you know, he goes through phases.... he scratches a lot on the 'You can Imagine...' record. And on the last two records not so much, but you never know: maybe there will be more on the next one. You know, I'm not gonna be like.. : „Hey! you have to scratch on here!“ If he is feeling it – cool - if not and rather focuses on the drum-programing or orchestrating … that his evolution that's his growth and so I have to be respectful and mindful cause that was the key of my own evolution and my growth...

RoL: Ok.. actually... I ran out of questions already.. is there something you wanna tell us volunteery?

Slug: Yeah, sure! Especially considering that you've been from Germany .. I'd like to say this to the German people: Thank you – for understanding that Hip-Hop is music born from struggle and about struggle and made for anybody who understands struggle... You know, in a lot of parts in the world they don't -... especially in America, they draw (?) lines around us!
They (in Germany - anm. RoL) don't put me in the same box as.. Freeway.. they don't put Freeway in the same box as Aesop Rock.. they don't put Aesop Rock.... and so on and so on. For me I like when I come to Germany and see how people just have a healthy respect for the culture in general – not even just for rappers but for Dj's, for Graffiti-Writers, the Breakdancers.. I guess... I wish that everybody, everywhere would have the same healthy attitude towards the culture that you guys have over there.

RoL: All right. Thank you so much for having us..
Slug: Have a good afternoon, brother. Thanks for your time.

RoL: thank you, good night.

Purchase Rhymesayers music: HHV or Fifth Element !!


  1. Ja, cool! Habe heute morgen auf dem Weg zur Arbeit gerade wieder einmal "Seven's Travels" gehört. Zufälle gibt's ... ;)

  2. ich liebe "seven's travels"....gruss