Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A-Tola Inteview

Where are you from and what’s the Hip-Hop scene/industry like there?
I’m from East Dulwich in South London, not much of a scene there cause it’s kind of small, but being in between Brixton and Peckham you don’t miss much.

How long have you been rapping and what or who influenced you to pick up the microphone and start writing?
Been rhyming since about 1999, there were rappers I was feeling but no one really made me think yeah if he can do it so can I, it really all started when I tried to form my own group, I only wanted to do behind the scenes work, but I couldn’t keep them together so I thought if I’m gonna do this I need to do it myself.

When did you get your first break and was there anyone who helped along with your music career?
I was lucky in the sense that Street Dreams heard me straight away and liked my stuff, so I’ve always had the Street Dreams support and of course support of close friends.

What have you released so far and what has the response been like?
Soundbwoy has come out on Channel U and radio stations nationwide to a great response, to the point people actually tell me there going to steal the beat if I don’t get them on the remix, along with that there have been the Street Dreams mixtapes and the free mixtapes I release on myspace which have also received a lot of love from the listening public.

What would say is the most popular track that you have released to date?
Oh by far Soundbwoy when I wrote the track I didn’t now it would be so popular, I thought due to the sample a lot of people wouldn’t be ready for it, but luckily for me I was wrong!!

What producers do you work with?
I try to work wit producers that are going to challenge me, so the better the beat the better my lyrics have to be, at the moment I’m working with Street Dreams’ own J.Real, he’s a new producer but knows what he’s doing and we think alike which helps. I’ve also got stuff from a guy in Birmingham called Urban Monk, another producer called Snips, and another producer called Master Linx.

What studio do you record in?

Again luckily for me Street Dreams have their own recording studio so I’m in there almost everyday. I have worked in other studios but that’s home

What artists have you collaborated with and what’s the most memorable collaboration that you have recorded?

I’ve worked with a few, Big Brovas, Mike GLC, Legend, Pariz 1, V.Dub, J2K, Black Twang, Choong Fam, Logan, Serocee and loads of singers. But as strange as it sounds the most memorable was working with the singer Teish O’Day, I worked with her when I was really new to the scene and was still writing like I was on the block, but she made me step my game up because the things I was writing about she didn’t want to be on a song represented like that, so rather than get the hump I saw it as a challenge and since then, I’ve thought more about my writing process, I’ve always known how to write a song and the structure but it was being more conscious of the things like ‘would radio play this with me saying that?’

What’s your label situation? Who you signed to and do they have distribution?
I’m signed to Street Dreams Entertainment, we’ve been around for a while but we had to get our house in order, and now the house is in order we can get the furniture in!! Basically we’re working on different ideas but online distribution is there already, it’s the physical distribution we’re working on at the major retailers, but I’m sure with the music we’re making It won’t be long before they snap it up!!

What are your views on the mixtape game? Is it saturating the marketplace with bootlegs or are they creative masterpieces to help rappers blow?
The mixtape game is getting a bit over saturated, everyone and there mother has a mixtape, but its like a catch 22, as an artist you want to get heard so you have to take your music to the streets, then your disc becomes a ‘mixtape’, but with the community police trying to stop you selling on the streets without a licence its getting harder. As long as guys are doing something positive and the music is good then I’m like do your thing.

With so many rappers in the game how are you planning to make noise and get noticed?
There are a lot of rappers and MC’s around right now but what you will find is most of them don’t have a plan or the setup around them I do, also my music is totally different to what I’m hearing, I’m almost wondering if it will go over peoples heads but I thought that with Soundbwoy so…. I try to push boundaries with my music and not go for the normal ‘I’m the toughest’ I’ve got a song called ‘Hanging Around’ that you will either love or hate, and then I have a song called ‘Little Girls Eyes’ which I’m sure most people on road will say don’t sound like a hip hop song but I make music first and foremost, I mean Soundbwoy bought in a new style, I dug in the crates and pulled out a track that everyone loves and it reggae, I know people have done that style before but there was always an element of lets keep it up to date and throw a bit of hip hop on the beat, but I was unforgiving in the sense I wanted the raw Soundbwoy essence, that’s what makes me different, if your going right, I’m going left.

Have you featured or hosted any mixtapes?
I’ve featured on a few mixtapes and to be honest some mixtapes I don’t even know I’m on!!!! But that’s cool if you feel like you need me on there that means I’m doing something right, I try and be choosy in what I do, that’s just my way of saying when I speak I have something to say so you will take notice

Are you working on new material?
I’m always working on new material, right now I’m working towards my album called ‘Da Mona Lisa’ I’ve called it that as I feel like I’m bringing the artistry back. On there you will hear Soundbwoy and the next single called ‘Stuck in the Hood’, I’m around 45 songs deep and I’m trying to cut it to 15 but its hard, I’m stuck on about 19 songs right now. I’m also working on more myspace mixtapes, that’s just a thank you to the people for their support of me.

Have you done many live shows or tours? Tell us more about your live show.
I’ve done shows all over the country its been good I love performing, I’ve done large park events to live intimate clubs. I try and give energy when performing, and leave people thinking ok he was real good, I grew up in an era where Michael Jackson was hot and he was a performer, your seeing it now with the ushers and the timberlakes I’m a rapper but I try and incorporate many things into my music, and performing is a vital part of what I do, I speak to the crowd, interact with the DJ especially on Soundbwoy so he can start mixing it like a real house party, sometimes I enjoy too much and start losing my voice but that’s because I always give 110%

What’s been the most memorable gig and why?
My 1st probably for obvious reasons, it was funny because management at the time thought I wasn’t going to show, and I had no tracks just stuff from my demo tape, it was good though I remember coming off and a guy coming up to me saying ‘your heavy you’ll get far’ and for me to get that kind of response from my 1st show gave me a lot of satisfaction

Any tips for someone just coming into the game?
Don’t’ bother I got it sewed up!!!!! Nah seriously just have a plan and don’t give up, it’s took me years to get here and I’m still not where I want to be in terms of level of career so patience is a must. Also make sure your team is strong and loyal, it’s easy to be swayed in this industry.

Any major plans for 2007? Anything big in the pipeline?
The album of the year ‘Da Mona Lisa’ will be dropping this summer, its like the music equivalent of Spiderman 3!!! Obviously with that comes touring and PA’s so I’m gonna have a busy year!

What radio stations in your area are supporting your music?
Well I’ve been getting a lot of love from radio stations all across the country actually, so Choice FM have been real good so has 1Xtra, but then the pirate radio stations and Kiss and Radio 1 have also been playing me.

‘Big name’ collaborations seem to be the way for ‘underground artists’ to get more exposure. Do you plan to do this?
I would like to, but egos can get in the way, there are a few artists I would like to work with like Sway, Kano would love to do a track with someone like Lemar and Jamoroquai but hey we’ll keep doing what we doing.

Have you done any music videos to promote your latest release? If so what TV Stations have played it and who made the video?
Well we released the Soundbwoy video on Channel U, and it was taking up by MTV Base, Homechoice, Trouble TV, basically all the music TV outlets on cable

How are you finding the My Space.Com revolution? Love it or hate it? What are your views?
LOVE IT!!!! Its opened the market up and its so easy to contact people know, as with everything you get people taking advantage and actually trying to start businesses on myspace and falling on their face!! But I feel its made everyone more accessible and is a great tool if used in the correct way, if not people will just be added women for sex or trying to get their profile numbers up, its also a great way for the artists to make the fans feel like they know you and shows them they are a very important piece of the music you make and how successful you can be.

What other rappers are you feeling at the moment?
I like Pariz 1, V.Dub, Kano, Sway, Big Cakes, N Dubz, there are more but can’t think of them now, there are also guys I don’t think there great rappers but I like their movement and the business behind what their doing.

What other producers are you feeling at the moment?
J Real, Urban Monk, J.D, Davinche, Snips, Masterlinx.

Would you ever sign to a major label?
Only if the deal was perfect for me and Street Dreams, and even then I would want some written guarantees. Street Dreams have spent a lot of money and given me a break out here so I want them to be rich! And majors don’t know what to do with black artists, or how to market them so that would be a huge decision, if they wanted to come in for a percentage and put a machine behind me while I was still signed to Street Dreams that would be ideal.

Why should people buy your music?
Cause it will be the best money you’ve spent in ages, and what you going to spend it on drink or smoke, no good for you so spend it on me and I swear its going to be up there with one of the albums of the year and I don’t mean UK Hip Hop Albums I mean any hip hop album across the globe, you’ve heard the garbage that is coming out at the moment, trust me I’m restoring the publics faith in good music

Any shout-outs or anything you wanna add?
The UK is a small country so we need to stick together, downloading music is not helping anyone but I know why people do it, now I’m trying to make an album so undeniably good that when you spend the money its not a waste, also we need to start buying to create our industry or we will never have our own Jay-Z’s and 50 Cent’s, everyone probably knows someone doing something with music, think how can they live their dream if they are not making any money.

Also lets stop the violence, 13/14 yr old kids with guns and knives isn’t the way to live, you think going to prison makes you a G but nah G’s handle their business sensible, come on people stop the senseless killing and fighting over nonsense, artists please think what your putting out there when making songs because like it or not you are now a role model and people will look up to and are listening to what you say.

Do you have a My Space page or a website?
Yeah my myspace is myspace.com/atolasdm

interview by Tricksta

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