ATTLAS On Letting Yourself Go During the Creative Process

ATTLAS recently released his debut album, Lavender God, on deadmau5’s well-known label Mau5trap. We spoke to the Canadian producer about the making of Lavender God, and the intentionality that surrounds his creative process.

Hey there! Your new album, Lavender God, is beautiful. Where did the title come from?

The title and concept of the work came to me mostly all at once during meditation.  I’m still working on articulating exactly what Lavender God is or means, but it’s in that halfway point between imagination, the knowable, and the forever unknowable.  The concepts propel me forward firstly as a man and secondly as a creator.

What were some of the challenges of writing an album, as opposed to writing an EP? Is there anything you’d do differently the next time?

I thoroughly enjoyed the process, but you really have to let yourself go.  I had to write it for myself.  Most of those tracks wouldn’t work as singles—they aren’t gonna chart or be played out by DJs this festival season, but if I was aiming for that I’d write different records.  It was about allowing myself to feel strong and weak at the same time to access the right stories and emotions that I felt I owed to my experience to be told properly.  Next time, I’ll write it with fewer technical limitations—my computer was crashing three times a day during the production of it, and finally was unable to turn on just a couple weeks after I finished the edits on the last masters.  I feel I really gave myself over to the creative process, and then got a bit anxious as we got closer to release (which was like eight months or something after I had the masters) because you’re just sitting with the work for so damn long.  You think, if I had known I would have all this extra time, would I have written differently? Produced differently?  I made my peace with it just being a work that represented a time in my life. 

What’s the strangest thing that’s inspired you to write a song?

A pencil drawing by artist Vija Celmins.  In fact, I have a whole series of demos that was inspired by her exhibition at the AGO here in Toronto last year.  Really remarkable artist and I commend the curation by the AGO—I haven’t been as fond of some of their decisions in recent years but that was a phenomenal show that I saw so many times before its run was over.  Stunning, contemplative works.  

As a musician, how do you balance being creative as a full-time career? What difficulties are there, if any, and how do you work past them?

I get lonely and some of the social isolation isn’t good for me, despite it being the best thing ever when I have an idea I’m very passionate about.  Staying mentally healthy is as crucial as staying physically healthy.  To deal with the job part of it all as well as some things in my personal life, I fell in love with long distance running.  I ran my first ultramarathon last year, one of the most taxing and uplifting experiences of my entire life.  During the writing of the album, I knew I had such a small window during which I would really understand what I was supposed to write, and why.  I had a strict routine that was a period of fasting, meditation first thing in the morning, and cold showers.  It was as much therapy as it was a tool to get the most out of my mind.  I ran at the same time every day, I wrote with purpose and vision and the fasting, cold showers, and meditation were integral in extracting the truth from that creative part of my being.  

What advice would you give to other producers trying to make themselves heard in an increasingly competitive creative landscape?

It’s really hard.  Every year so far has been a challenge for me, but I ain’t no quitter.  Know why you love it, because loving it has to be a prerequisite.  There is a part inside you that will write music no matter how many people hear it , right?  That part of you needs to be taken care of.  You’re not going to control anything outside your own mind.  Do it with integrity and don’t be afraid of the weather.  I have a hard time with the self-promotion, but I know it is a strategy that can be effective for a lot of individuals/teams.  I would say don’t be the next whatever, be the first you.  It’s more important for your perspective to be unique than it is to be able to be booked right alongside someone similar than you.  “Oh sick this sounds like Eric Prydz did you make this?”  What’s the point in that, the world already has Eric Prydz.  If it matters to you, it’s gotta be you. 

Follow ATTLAS on Spotify.

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