Interview With Atlas Castle
Note - Originally published April 1, 2020 - It somehow just ... disappeared from the page . . .
For those not in the know, Atlas Castle is one of at least 3(?) Monikers I know he goes by. We had the pleasure of meeting when everyone's favorite Travis, @agentJohnnyred, brought me into a Musicians Discord run (in majority) by Atlas. Atlas Castle is the kind of person that, at first, you think is probably full of it because he's so god damn nice and helpful. But, the more you get the chance to speak with him in between classes, getting his Master's, running the discords and shipping out on tour right after graduation, you start to realize it's not an act. This guy really is this helpful and kind. Clearly not American for those reasons. I wish nothing but the best to him in his seemingly endless endeavors but more specifically with the May 15 release of his monumental new EP, Titanomachy.
In four tracks recorded over less than a week, while locking himself from society, Atlas Castle ramps the themes from 0-60 consistently. From tackling things as extensive and heavy as foundations of Greek mythology, to how the artists’ perception of the generational re-telling of these myths unfolds, we see (hear) one man’s struggle to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders come to fruition as hastily as Zeus’ original punishment with the Mythological Atlas (wherein Atlas faced the same burden of earth-carrying weight be placed upon his own shoulders).
Triumphantly overcoming burdensome scenarios presents us this excellent opportunity to speak with our friend Atlas Castle regarding the EP, along with whatever other bullshit we may sling at one another. Without further adieu, I present you with the Internationally Acclaimed, Atlas Castle.
Thanks so much for taking this time to sit down with me today, Atlas. Also, for tolerating my exposition. But, here, we are - at the summit - Anything you’d care to say before I start firing away?
To start with, thanks to you for the consideration, Mate. Happy to spend some time with you today! Concerning my Monikers… I’ve stopped counting them on the internet, not always easy to keep up. Guillaume is the official one in case you didn't know ;) Happy to be here, sharing a genuine moment in your company, Chuck. Let’s get them cylinders firing!
I feel as though I should know this, so please pardon me, but this will be release number? for this nom de plume? What keeps you going in this role? Why not bail on it for something else?
This EP will be my eighth release. Since I launched Atlas Castle I've managed to release a couple of Singles, collaborations and remixes. This EP will be my biggest and most personal project to date.
I’ve been a musician for a great amount of years now, playing in bands and trying to be as active as I can be with my creativity. I honestly never felt the need to bail for something else, at least not for now. I started this little project 9 months ago because I felt the need to have my own “baby”. With this baby, I wanted to provide myself a nice, little playground where I could enjoy some space for my creativity to blossom without any kinds of compromise. (You know the drill, being your own judge, without having to compromise your art and creativity with any band members).
The new EP conjures loads of thoughts about who Atlas Castle is, but in your own words. I’d like to ask a rather obvious seeming one - Who is Atlas Castle?
Well… I could start by saying that I’m a 29 year old French Dude living abroad in Denmark. My friends and beloved tend to describe me as a quiet and self-reflective guy. I rather like the idea of this persona and try my best to live up to this idea, haha.
But, for real, I’m a hyperactive dude, constantly and psychically all over the place in order to put my heart and full effort into every direction I am pulled. I stretch my own personal limits so frequently, namely, for the sake of experiencing new and inspiring projects. I don’t talk much in real life (that’s maybe why people categorize me as quiet) but my brain is constantly running its own circus ...
I tend to be positive, but I have my dark spot as well. I find strength and inspiration in epic, melancholic and moving music. My heart belongs to heavy and punk rock babe!
Is the name you’ve derived from the mythological figure somewhat used in a tongue and cheek fashion? That’s always the best I could interpret it - Leave me be because I got some major shit going on and it. is . heavy. Not you, of course. Merely the name.
So, Atlas, mythical Atlas, was given the burden of holding up the World. Clearly not me, haha. But, I love the story and the message behind it. I clearly picked up the name in references to the Titan Atlas. I clearly don’t bear the burden of the world on my shoulder, but I need to be involved, to be dedicated and keep the activity going. I see myself taking care of plenty of projects at once, carrying them on my shoulders the best way I can because I need a reason to wake up tomorrow.
For those that don’t know, how old were you when you started tinkering with music and on what instrument?
I started tinkering with music very late. I was 12 years old, starting my musical venture trying to learn “Stay Together For The Kids” from Blink 182 on my first electric guitar (my parents must have been really patient back then, haha). I played guitar in several bands from there on (classical college revolution bands). Then, I decided to pick up the bass at 21, when I moved to Copenhagen. I’m currently active in some rock and hardcore/metal bands aside this project as well.
With that sort of background, whatever brought you in the way of the dance music / EDM community? Seems like quite a 180
I was really in awe of electronic music the first time I heard Oxygene 7-13, from Jean-Michel Jarre. The melodies hooked me big time and really talked to me back then. But I was still too young to really understand what it was all about. That is, until I attended my first electronic concert and discovered Vitalic & The Toxic Avengers. I felt that being able to function as a one man band, playing such melodic, dark and powerful music. It hit me so hard, in fact, I knew what would be my next move as a musician.
Onto Titanomachy - What struck me first was the delight of hearing someone actually play synths… with their freaking hands! As if it were an instrument or something which required you to think out what you were doing in advance. Is this ghastly-level-of-non-2020-behavior something you foresee being unique to this EP, or will you be exploring your electronic music in this somewhat more ‘manual’ fashion?
I’m not considering my approach to rendering electronic music as revolutionary. I’m just inspired by what I saw, experienced and my vision of being a live musician and producer. I kinda need to play and feel the instrument to be able to hear and understand the hook.
Being able to jam overs loops, samples, beats and build a track live makes it all worth it for me in this process. I need to be able to play and perform, not just push buttons in a specific order.
I don’t foresee my approach as being unique to this EP. Simply because I’ve always been exploring music in a more ‘manual’ fashion anyway; by grabbing a guitar or a bass, and jamming my way in and out.
I had the luxury of hearing some early, not entirely mixed renditions - In those, it sounds as if you have some really unique and vintage synths at your disposal. I say this because I could swear I heard timbres similar to wood being struck. Have I finally lost it, or am I at least in the ballpark? What equipment did you find yourself using most for this release?
I wish I could tell you that I was the happy owner of countless vintage synths and so on.. But it would be a very sweet lie haha. Well, let’s have a closer look together at my setup..
My setup is really minimal. I run with Ableton Live and plugins such as Serum & TyrellN6. As you can see, there’s an Akai APC40 MKII controller and an Oxygene25 keyboard MIDI controller. That’s pretty much it for now.
I always feel like upgrading to new programs, vst/plugins, buy new keyboards and instruments. But before I do that I need to feel that I pushed all the possibilities I have already with this setup to their maximum. There’s still a long way to go.
With such a cerebral concept intertwined with the pulse-racing action which typically lends itself towards this electronic style, which would you as the Creator prefer to see in regards to reception of this material? People dancing their asses off, or sitting to quietly contemplate on the weighty topics you present throughout Titanomachy?
That’s a really good question, Dude! If I reflect a little bit on my process back then.. I locked myself down and wrote this piece live in just a four day jam session. Looping, sampling, writing, and feeling this epic, yet grooving live potential. The way that that coalesced was really not planned - I just felt that I had things worth saying and throwing toward that direction, like a necessity.
This being said I’d say that you can enjoy this piece both ways. I envision people showing up during live sets and enjoying the complex beats shifting to the soothing and dark, yet hopeful melodies. I got reviewed once by TUNED UP, saying that - “You’ll listen and have the urge to stand in the dark and sway back and forth while you’re doing whatever it is you’re doing.” I’d like to believe that people can dance their asses off, or sitting, quietly contemplating on the weighty topics I present throughout this EP.
Is there any wild and crazy lead-up stuff occurring prior to May 15th that you’d care to clue people in about now? Perhaps hints to stoke that curiosity flame?
I’ll be holding my first artistic and musical event in Copenhagen on October 3rd. “Sonic Playground”! Our common friend and favourite german 59 Perlen is gonna join the line up. So if you have nowhere to be in the world when we reach the date, I’ll def recommend you to come over and dance your ass off to this party with us.
Why the decision for the backdrop of your self-proclaimed Opus to be Grecian? Obviously the power of this story is what swept you away and made up your mind because you were probably studying it at the time. Would you feel the same mythical gigantism would apply to maybe another ancient character which happens to be of a different culture (Sysphus? For example).
I’ve always enjoyed ‘Epic.’ Epic soundtrack, stories, adventures, art in general. The direction and story behind this EP just popped up in my mind while writing it. I was in a little stressed and nostalgic mood back then, and I really thought about Atlas’s story. I found that reflecting over his emotions, his side of the story was a healing way to write music for me as well.
So in a way I don’t think that I would feel like applying the same mythical gigantism to make a concept piece of music again. Here it was really spontaneous, I kinda felt connected to the concept because of my own demons at the moment.
Since you made the bold decision to take us on a trip this far back in time, when you have time to actually chill in the present what will we find you doing?
In the present you’ll find me thinking and reflecting a lot about my next musical move. Working and finishing a second album with my side project. Welcoming a little puppie home that we’re pretty much looking forward to having with my girl. Spending time with my favourite online community called Netvio. Cycling around Copenhagen listening to some of my favourite spotify playlists while going to work. And trying to keep up the best I can with everything I hold on to.
I don’t say this next bit to be cheeky at all, so please don’t take it the wrong way - But, Dude, how in the hell do you find the time in the day? I mean sticktuitiveness and will truly are the only things you need to reach success in this world, in my honest opinion. Some are lucky enough to be able to just conjure it from absolutely nowhere in a wholly innate manner. I noticed this same shine in Casey (Shelf Black). I can’t be the first person to ask you this, but seriously - How in fuck’s name do you find the time for all that you do?
Lack of sleep helps a lot… It gives me extra time to fulfill all the tasks I’ve set myself to do in a day haha. But yeah, other than that I just try to be organised, plan my actions, think and work ahead… To be honest, it’s not always easy but like you said it yourself - “sticktoitiveness and will truly are the only things you need to reach success in this world”, in my case I don’t see it as a way of success in this world, but just a way of living up to my ambitions.
Any additional Guillaume material headed down the road shortly under either an existing, or brand new Artist name we can mark off on our calendars to make sure real life crap can go away that day?
I’m planning an album due to be released in October with Atlas Castle. And you can for sure expect a couple of remixes and collaborations coming your way before this.
Like I mentioned in one of the previous question, I’m as well currently working on a second full length with my side project called Royal Mob. We’re still working on the pre-productions. All the songs are tracked on the computer, we’re mostly missing guitars here and there and the last lyrics. We already booked the studio for this summer, so all our deadlines are settled (there’s no way back hehe).
How do friends and family not consistently yell at you for being on your phone (what I’m forced to assume is) all the time. I know, for sure, I have a screen addiction. One hundred percent. Do you find yourself in the same, scenario or what sort of super magical, ancient Himalayan meditation tactic am I apparently missing out on?
I just do man haha. Because I try to be very effective and well-balanced (not that I always succeed either), I generally don’t get any complains.
I had one complaint from my band’s mates once, they tried to apply one rule called “no phones in the rehearsal room” just so we could only be focused on making music… But I then told them that if I feel like I’m wasting my time in a creative sphere, I need to spend it on something else. So don’t waste my time! That way I don’t need to answer my phone messages I guess? (Yeah I can be a bit of an asshole sometimes... ).
Where is the furthest you have toured with any of the acts that contain your name (in some capacity) - Or, to rephrase, how far in total from home have you headed that equated to being the farthest you’d ever been from home?
I’ve been lucky enough to play in different countries the last 8 years of my life. I’ve been playing gigs in almost all Europe. But the furthest place where music brought me is definitely Japan.
Japan was a very wonderful experience. The culture, people, food, night life.... We had a very good week out there celebrating music and meeting very genuine souls.
When can we anticipate a full length from Atlas Castle? If one is not in mind, how long would you like a theoretical version of this totally not-real album to be? How many tracks?
In 7 month this theoretical album should be a real thing. It’s all settled to be ready for October 3rd at the moment. About the number of tracks? It’s a good question! I need to see where my creativity leads me. But I like to think about 8 solid tracks, 1 intro and 1 outro. So at least 10 tracks?
Let’s see what happens until then! My Ep should have never been a thing, it wasn’t in my plans to pull off a project like this out of nowhere. It was so spontaneous. 4 days and boom! it was here … So a lot of things can happen until october haha ;).
Let’s imagine we’ve taken a little trip to what I call Pretend Land. In Pretend Land you were just as struck by the awe of electronic music live, but it wasn’t quite powerful enough to bring your whole personality in that direction. What style of music does Pretend Land Atlas Castle play and why?
I would still try to make electronic music that is related to my emotions, and create featurings with many hardcore and metal musicians. Add physical band members playing what I’ve instructed them. We would turned the amplifier up to 12 and just burn the stage with a big smile, energy and a lot of screams and sweat...
This is quite literally a question I’ve asked every interviewee who was a Musician since this site’s inception, so I’m afraid there’s no escape for you, my friend - GEAR RUNDOWN, CURRENT SET UP ONLY - NO THINKING - JUST GO, GO, GO!!!
Macbook Pro, Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, Bass Leo Fender limited edition from 1991, Akai mp32, Akai APC40 MKII, Oxygen25… I wish I could say that I was the happy owner of a triangle but you stole it from me...
A - If there is anything you’d wish to convey to anyone reading, you had tried before and I just stampeded over you I apologize and please take that opportunity now haha
Spend your time and strength on what makes you happy, the rest doesn’t matter. And yeah, I try to be better at it as well but my good friend Eytan (Only One Spoon) once told me: “Bro, take time to take a little step back, breathe, realise what you have, what you already achieved, take time to realise and appreciate it…”. It seems so obvious but seriously, it’s still very true.
B - Gun to your head, you need to pick another instrument to be your ‘main squeeze’ go-to instrument - What instrument would that be and why?
My BASS, without any doubts! It’s all about dat bass and the groove and rhythm section if you ask me. Death From Above 1979 made it very clear that only Bass & Drums were useful in a band haha ... ;)
. . . And just like that he was gone. My papers rustled about where they originally had laid. Toupee, somewhat askew. Subtly nauseous. I found it a tad rude to not say goodbye, but, ya know, half god/half people - What’re you going to do? Don’t be a dumbass and pre-save Titanomachy here (because who the fuck remembers specific dates anymore, right?).
I know I enjoyed this wild four track ride and recommend it highly. Be sure to keep an eye out for Atlas Castle because I think he made it pretty loud and clear that, no matter what may occur, he doesn’t have plans of exiting this persona any time soon.
Whether you’re fond of electronic music or not, I’m going to bet this will still be up your alley. Guillaume has a very unique and positive outlook on his and others’ music, life and artistry as a whole that I can’t wait to see the limits he pushes this, and all his other projects to. If there is one thing which is a guarantee with this guy, it will be that whatever your assumption was, it is wrong.