Slug (Atmosphere) - conducted by Todd E. Jones  

Can’t You Imagine Atmosphere Having Fun?

November 2005

MVRemix: The song, ‘That Night’ is an emotional track about your response to the tragedy of a fan being raped and murdered at your show. What actually happened? Emotionally, how difficult was it for you to create this song?

Slug: Yeah, that actually happened. It was weird how that song came about. Ant made this beat for me. I said, ‘Dude! The beat is fresh, but it is a little fast. With that kind of speed, it sounds like it is supposed to be on this rah-rah party shit but it is too sad or brooding to do that.’ Ant was like, ‘You have to write a song about something you are not supposed to write a song about.’ I thought about what I was not supposed to write a song about. That was what I came up with. I guess that was an exercise for me. Maybe, Ant wanted to see if I could really push myself to go there. The people in my life saw how big an effect that incident had on me. That incident altered me and a lot of the things that I was doing in my life. It altered a lot of the things that I stood for, the way that I was treating myself, women, and fans. It altered my self-medicating patterns. In the end, I’m glad anybody likes the song. It’s a hard song for me. When I listen to the album, I skip that track and I doubt that I’ll ever perform that song live.

MVRemix: You are in a side-project with Murs called Felt. Grouch produced the entire first Felt EP (‘A Tribute To Christina Ricci’), but Ant produced Felt #2 (‘A Tribute To Lisa Bonet’). Why did this happen?

Slug: When Murs and I decided to do Felt, from the beginning, we decided to use different producers for each album. It was always going to me and him. It’s our project. Whoever we decide to put down with it, we will. It is what it is.

MVRemix: Will there be a Felt #3?

Slug: I would like to see one happen, but it will have to happen naturally. We didn’t plan Felt #1 or Felt #2. They both happened because both of us needed a vacation. We were like, ‘Can I hang out in your city for 2 weeks?’

MVRemix: Did you ever hear the band, Felt? There was another band named Felt. They were from Europe, signed to Cherry Red Records, and led by an artist named Lawrence.

Slug: Nah. Oh, really?

MVRemix: For your current live shows, you are performing with a live band. Was this a difficult adjustment? What are some major differences performing with a band as opposed to a DJ?

Slug: We have a band and a DJ. I’ve got Ant with me. It was real different, man. I spent 4 months with them in a practice space for pretty much 5 nights a week, just to learn it. I have played with bands before, but it was more of a novelty thing. They had to learn my beat. But, with these guys, we went and deconstructed the Atmosphere songs. We brought in the songs that Ant actually took the samples from. For example, we incorporated parts of ‘Woman With The Tattooed Hands’ that are not in the album version, but are in the original song. When you do a band thing, you have to be careful. Whenever I watch rappers with bands, it goes 2 ways. Either they try to be The Roots or they sound like a hippie jam band. I couldn’t fuck with either. I tried to go with something that was actually based on some straight up soul. I didn’t want some virtuoso noodling or ‘I’m so good at my guitar’ bullshit. So, I think we did it right. Most of the people who come, my real friends go, ‘Man, I was nervous at first and didn’t think you would pull it off but it is actually fresh!’ It’s very different. In the end, it could probably be a project that I can keep working on that may not even be a rap project. They are teaching me things, music things. They are teaching me how to use my voice in a way that I never got to fuck with in rap. It is still such a big, open thing to me. I don’t even know what to make of it. The human factor is ill. Having to depend on so many people to come through is the shit. I’m into it. Everyday, there are mistakes made that become part of it. I’m into that.

MVRemix: Do you think success and credibility are mutually exclusive?

Slug: Nah, I don’t think that is necessarily true because I see people who seem to be successful and credible in rap. I look at Outkast, Busta Rhymes, and Ludacris. I even look at Eminem now. He pretty much substantiated his credibility. The people who want to discredit Eminem are on some dumb shit. They are mad at the homophobia or misogyny. As far as actual artistry, he’s dope. There’s no way you can take it away from him. I may not listen to his record or that kind of shit.

MVRemix: Skill respects skill.

Slug: Skill respects skill, yeah. Redman is successful and credible. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive. I think the problem is that people get too hung up on one or the other. I have friends back home who are in these punk bands. They are bitter mad because they are now 33. They have been following this punk wave for so long. They never got successful because they were so worried about people taking away their credibility. I’m like, ‘You worry too much about that.’ There are other people who are so worried about success that they lost their credibility. I think that you just have to be yourself and not worry about either. If it comes to you, it comes to you. You can’t really control your credibility and you can’t really control your success. You can only control yourself and that’s it.

MVRemix: What LPs have you been listening to in the last 3 days? In one of the tracks, you rhyme about a girl who introduces you to new music. Who are some artists you have recently discovered?

Slug: I just rediscovered a band called Talk Talk. Ah! What’s the name of the record that I like? There’s a song on there called ‘Ascension Day’. If you can find that record, that whole record from front to back is amazing! It sounds like some Peter Gabriel meets Portishead meets fucking I don’t even know what. I’m super into it. I still listen to the Spoon record that came out a month ago. As far as rap goes, I listen to everybody once or twice just to study. I haven’t been to into bumping anything that was made after 1993.

>>> continued...

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"The people who want to discredit Eminem are on some dumb shit. They are mad at the homophobia or misogyny. As far as actual artistry, he’s dope. There’s no way you can take it away from him."