Belgium is home to some of the biggest artists, renowned festivals and filthiest tracks. At the age of 14, Antwerp’s very own ATMOS was hooked on drum & bass, even before attending a rave. Now at 23, he dives head first into a ‘new era’ of music with Don’t Tell, his debut EP that is being released on Georgie’ Riot’s label Riot Records. As a new year kicks off, ATMOS sat down with UKF to talk about his return to making music after a two-year hiatus, switching up his styles in this new chapter, and his goals for 2023.
So firstly, how is everything going in the ATMOS camp? You’ve been rolling out the releases from your EP Don’t Tell, so how have we been during this time?
I’m doing well, thank you! I was very excited for the release of my first single on Riot Records as it was kicking off a new era for me. A while back I was not in a good place mentally, and I had quit making music for about two years. But last year I had the courage to start over again, and now I am in a good place. I am still alive and kicking, and hope to keep this momentum going into 2023.
Well I’m sure there’s many people out there glad to hear you’re back making music! So let’s get into it, how did you first get into drum & bass?
When I was 14 my older brother went to a lot of drum & bass raves. I was always watching the after movies and live sets, but I was too young to go to the parties myself. When I grew up I was hyped to go to my first rave! From the first time I heard the drums, the melodies and the bass, I was instantly sold. The hype around it was amazing, the flow and the energy.
And being Belgian, living in Antwerp, this definitely must have played a strong part?
Definitely. Especially for jump up, it’s a really good place to be. For the drum & bass I am making now, the scene isn’t as strong but I definitely think it will grow in a few years. For the moment though I can’t complain, I love Antwerp and the scene here.
Which artists were you listening to when you first got into D&B?
Starting out it was all jump up – of course Dominator, Hedex too. Then when I started moving away from jump up and got into producing, I was taking a lot of inspiration from Imanu and Buunshin. They have their skill mastered on a level that I aspire to reach one day.
Then from being an avid listener of drum & bass, what led to you deciding to start producing?
So I started producing when I was around 16 or 17. I was DJing on a small single controller in my house. I tried to mix tunes into each other, using the loop button to change tracks and create blends. I used to stay up looping tracks, making different versions and thinking ‘woah, this is sick!’. After a while I wanted to have more control over the tracks, and the drums. That’s what pushed me to get into producing. Now I am 23, so I have been doing it for about 6 or 7 years.
You started out making jump up, but as you said this is a new era for you as you’ve switched your style up? Can we hear more about that?
Yes, I made jump up for a very long time, and about three years ago I was getting much better at producing it. But at the same time I was getting very disheartened, as a lot of people around me were getting bookings and I wasn’t. I didn’t know why exactly, I was getting a lot of responses on Soundcloud and people enjoying my music, but that was it. It really knocked me back and put me in a bad place mentally, and that’s when I decided to quit.
I stopped for about two years and carried on with life. But then I went to Rampage one year, and saw Imanu B2B Buunshin. I was like ‘what is this sound?’. That set gave me the motivation to start creating music again, with more quality than I was used to in jump up. I wanted to make something that every artist, and even the ravers will be left thinking ‘this guy is insane!’. I wanted to shock people, and give them vibes at the same time.
Well it’s good to see that you have come back to making music, even if it took two years. And now you’re kicking off this new era with Don’t Tell EP?
Yes, a new era of new styles and trying new things. It is scary as it is totally out of my comfort zone, not what I am used to at all.It is an EP that reflects all of my emotions from last year. It may not be the best one I ever do, as I will try to improve myself with every track, but the vibe is very special to me. Every track has a name which reflects the emotion I was feeling when producing it. I think the EP as a whole tells people a lot about me and how I feel.
And so far there have been two releases from the EP – recently you put out ‘I’m Feeling Okay’, but you kicked things off with the title track ‘Don’t Tell’. After all the work you put into the EP, how did it feel putting that first track out into the world?
Yes, it is one of my favourite tracks that I have made yet. Probably not my strongest production-wise, but just the vibe around it – every time I listen to it I feel the emotions that I felt when I was making it. It has a very special place in my heart, and it felt great putting it out into the world and sharing it with people. I hope that people can understand the vision and emotions in my track.
And this is not just a new era for you, but also for Riot Records! How does it feel that your EP is the debut release on the label?
I’m honoured to be releasing on Riot Records and working with Georgie Riot. She is a great person, I can talk to her about everything, whether it’s music-related or just about general life. She has a great vibe, so I sent her some music. She was instantly sold and said she wanted to do an EP. I am very happy that my debut EP is being released on Riot Records. It’s a very good label with a great team, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of the process.
And alongside the EP, what else can fans expect from ATMOS?
At the moment I have a lot of projects that are ready to be released. I have other tracks coming out on other labels, but I can’t say what they are yet so stay tuned! Like any DJ or producer I want to be playing more shows, so that is what I am aiming for. Right now though it’s all about making music and having fun, and pushing myself to new levels that people have not seen from me yet.