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Infidel Interview #123: Atum

First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?

I am from Houston, and depending on where you know me from, and how long you have known me you may call me by a different name. I am 24, and I go by Atum (Atemm)

How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant music community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?

I’m from Houston, and it is not known for music at all. There is a large scene of artist, but it is not the best town for artist. The neighboring city of Austin is much better, and more accepting I would say of artist than Houston is. Houston accepts a lot of our artist who are already known most famously Beyonce and Travis Scott, but support for the local artist in not a big thing here. I have to say the local scene here does not influence my creativity at all. The space theme does, but sonically Houston has no influence on my sound, but I do think there is a new sound brewing here for electronic, rock, and pop music.

What would you say are your biggest influences when it comes to art and music? Are there any bands that you would say struck you with the chord that inspired you to peruse your current path of musical aspirations?

My biggest influences are Nine Inch Nails, Prince, Tricky, Bjork, David Bowie, Outkast, Gackt, Portishead, Pink Floyd, Lenny Kravitz and Jimi Hendrix. I have other influences, but those are the ones that I can always recall immediately. Specifially I was really inspired to go from making rock music to doing what I do now by Prince, Trent Reznor, and Gackt. These guys inspired me because they played everything, and when they lived in the middle of nowhere and had nothing they made something.

What does Atum mean to you guys in 2017? And how does that compare to what the project meant to you guys when it was formed?

I am one member, and I happen to just play all of the instrument haha. The last year for me was a lot of progress sonically, and skill wise. My vision came full circle last year due to my feeling of comfort I have with synth and guitar now. I am working on vocals as well. To me it is coming back to my vision of being able to sing and perform how I would like, and I think the future of what I make and do will shock and surprise.

What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?

I see electronics being a part of it, but I see in time combing electronics with the natural instruments to create a new style. I have no words for this style, but I know I want to take the sounds of who I consider my predecessors to the next level in the modern world.

What would you say are your favorite themes and topics that inspire you to compose? What draws you to those themes?

The future, dystopian themes, the people, the state of the world, and outer space inspire me. I feel like these themes tie in, and I don’t know why I am drawn to them as they are. I have always been drawn to space, darkness, people, and the future. It might be because they are very cerebral, and psychedelic.

What do you feel separates your music from the rest of the music in the Electronica/Downtempo music scene?

My music I feel is different because of the style and quality. I feel I do not sit easily in any one genre, and I am a combination of many things. A lot of new electronic to me sounds as if they want to recreate or continue the rich history of what we have had in the past, but I want to combine our history with my other influences of rock, hip-hop, and jazz. I want to bring this to the future into a genre I currently have no name or words for.

Are you musically self taught? Or have you had mentors along the way to help you develop?

I learned the guitar by taking lessons, and have been playing for a decade now. I am self taught for the most part on syntheses and have been playing it now for 6 years.

When you write music there is a lot of trial and error. Would you consider yourself a person who goes into production with a defined sound in mind, and you work at it until you achieve the closest to the results in your head? Or would you consider yourself more of a person who feels and grooves music, letting songs progressively evolve and define themselves throughout the creation?

I usually come up with a theme or concept. I try to make songs in my head, and I can do this, but I tend to forget them because I don’t always think of them when I am in the studio. When I do think of a song I have to remember however I do make sure to write it down or record it.

Musical composition nowadays can be aided by so many different tools and devices. Do you favor a complex approach of using lots of different instruments, or are you in the keep it simple until you have to boat of refining certain elements to their maximum potential? Or would you say your philosophy lays in between?

I used to use a lot of instruments, and I would stack many plug ins up, but I have abandoned this way. I found there was too much noise in the music, and too much dependence on a preset, or a certain plug in. I was not going deeply into anyone device, but now I use a few synths, and combine those with effects. I like to try and use a device in a way where people will not be able to tell what I used. I also like to use synths that I both enjoy, and no one else is using or knows about. Everyone these days has massive, serum, nexus, omnisphere, and many other plug ins. In a world where everything is at your finger tips I find the best way to be creative is to have less, but know how to use it.

Do you ever find it difficult to balance the creative and technical aspects of musical creation? How do you strike the balance for the need to craft and tweak your effects and sounds, in contrast to actually just getting the song itself created with structure and melody? What sort of element of creation do you prefer, the sonic shaping or the song creation?

I never find it difficult to be technical and creative. I come from being trained in many instruments so being technical does not diminish the creativity for me. It actually enhances it. I enjoy making songs more, but I find if I have not created my sounds and I have to dig through presets I find the song writing process gets tedious. I actually have to be technical before I am creative, and create my sounds. If I am not creating sounds in this way then my creativity is diminished quite a bit. I have a love hate relationship with creating sounds because I often create full personal libraries on my synths and this can become a lot of work, but it is necessary.

Do you find that when you are working on projects where you ended up learning new techniques during the process?

Often times I do learn new techniques, but the final work is usually the product of my practice which I do a lot of.

Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically?

Pursuing music has changed my life dramatically. I could be in an office doing boring day to day things, and communicating with people I don’t want to communicate with. The choice to pursue music has set me into the wild, and if I had not I would feel like a wolf in a dogs cage. My creativity has evolved a lot of the way I see things because I am a trained musician, and this has given me the ability to think of things with feeling, and with the math that is music.

Would you consider yourself to be an overall political or spiritual individual? If so, if how what would you say are your strongest/most important views and/or causes?

I would consider myself spiritual and political. I often use clips of music against a video of political figures to bring light on what those figures are doing for better or worse. I would say I am spiritual in that my name Atum comes from the ancient Egyptian aspect of amun-ra. It means “hidden one”, and I feel like a lot of the things Atum does parallels to the responsibility I have to myself and the community that I deliver the art to. I believe strongest view that is an amalgamation of liberating the minds of people. Sometimes I want to use that in the form of a dance or fun song, and other times in a more direct and brash way.

Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?

My recent EP is my favorite so far. I have had clicks, and plays on songs before, but I enjoy the quality and body of work I made this time, and I have gotten a lot of positive feedback on it. Its inspiring to me to know what I am musically capable of doing, and figuring out how to bring that to live without it being boring.

Playing live shows, recording new tracks, attempting to go live the life that gives you the experiences that inspires it all... it can be difficult to balance the time. Do you have any particular methods that you use to keep yourself focused or balanced in your direction?

I am probably the worst person at balance because I use my time for art just about 100%. I take breaks very rarely, but I am always making music, making a design, or doing sound design for synths.

For fans who have not seen you yet, when it comes to your live show, how would you describe yourself thematically and visually? Are you an energy and audience driven band in the live atmosphere? Or would you consider yourself to be more thematic or presentation oriented?

I have not performed any live shows, but I am in talks to get one started up in Houston, and I am more aimed at theatrics and visuals. I intend to have dancers and more thematic shows in the future. I am all about exiting the people, and I am currently working on music I want to perform live that I want to “hypnotize” the people. I am planning on taking the mind of the people to another land.

Do you have any other musical projects that you are involved with, or do you have any other musicians or artists that you collaborate with in some capacity? If you could collaborate with any musician or artist, dead or alive, who would it be? And what in particular draws you to want to collaborate with them?

I collaborate often with a hip hop artist I know named “Abdul”, and I also help out in making music for a friend’s YouTube channel named “Interstellar Five”. I help make some of the music for the channel. There are many artists that I’d like to collaborate with, but I’d have to say Prince would be that artist. I enjoy his variety in sound, and I am also a fan of his singing and guitar playing. He has been a huge inspiration to me in my music, and style.

What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?

Some of the biggest challenges are building a community I would like to build that would be a cross for electronic, rock, and hip hop. I feel like the current environment of music is changing, and genre blending is at an all time high. I feel that blogs and YouTube channels are focusing on one style that they have been stuck in for years. There are a lot of edm, trap, vaporwave, and other kinds of music channels and this is all well and good, but I feel like a new wave is coming soon. My challenge is helping to take this new wave and spreading it where it needs to be.

Promotion can be one of the most difficult things in the music industry. Do you have an agent that helps book shows and manage your online presence, or have you decided to trek it out without and mantle the reigns of the social media apparatus yourself? Is it difficult engaging the online world consistently and originally, or do you find it easy?

I have no representative for social media although I’d like to have one. I run my social media myself, and predominantly use Instagram and occasionally Twitter. It can be tedious for artist like me whom may be minimal, surreal, or dark in sound because the grand vision is more colorful or artistic than normal. The originality is easy, but the constancy can be difficult.

In an industry that is driven by sales, and consumerism, what are your thoughts on digital downloads (legal and illegal)? Do you feel that streaming and digital download stores aid the accessibility of music? How about music piracy? It obviously hurts sales in some regards, but it also boosts the access and distribution of the release which could lead to potential fans who do come to shows, buy physical copies of music, and get merchandise? Do you feel there would be enough turn around in that sort of system or are you firmly against file sharing?

I myself am not against music piracy, but I do not pirate music because of the hypocrisy of it. As a musician I would rather stream than pirate or support in other ways that would give the artist some revenue stream. I understand a lot about pirates and know a few. If someone could not afford an album I would not mind if they stole it via piracy as long as they do come to shows and show some kind of support. File sharing is here to stay even if we like it or not.

When it comes to non-musical media, what do you find yourself most inspired by, and what about it draws you to it as a source of inspiration? Do you participate in the gaming world? Avid reader perhaps? Maybe cinema fan? Combination of some lol?

Most of what inspires me is usually other art forms. I am inspired by a lot of Japanese animation, surreal art, horror video games, and even the news. Anything that is moving and changing, and I feel the world is at a big point of change.

Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?

Stay positive, and look towards the sun. Thanks for having me!

Follow Atum's latest activities on his official Facebook:

or on his Twitter:

Download Atum's music on his official Bandcamp page:

You can stream his music on the following sources:

You can find his latest photo stream on Instagram:

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