Sometimes we all seek to have a different identity, a lot of musicians are wearing extravagant clothes, fancy hair and make-up, and even masks. Athalia a South American vocalist from Melbourne, Australia has adopted this very method, by hiding her identity behind a mask. It’s the mysterious look that makes her so intriguing. Her soulful angelic voice will get you high, taking you to another universe. With a voice so effortless we had to get to know her a little more seeing as her debut EP "ThoughtCrime” is due to drop mid may, and will feature productions from Ta-Ku, 3LLL, Insightful and Kazzo & Melodiesinfonie. Athalia reveals the truth behind the mask, her new EP “Thought Crime” and how she really wished she was an MC.
Tell us the story of the girl behind the mask? It's almost MF Doom'esque, was that why you did it?
I think the mask means a lot more to me than people can understand, so I haven't spoken much about it yet. I wish I had a simple reason for it. The truth is I wasn't in a very good place before I started putting my energy into making music. If anything it’s a whole other persona, or maybe it’s the person I have always wanted to be. There are still so many things I am trying to understand. I don't have everything figured out, but one day I will. With all that set aside, I am a pretty big Doom fan. His music and flow and life story are all pretty inspirational, but the mask doesn't have much to do with him at all. I really like masks’ in general, warrior and gladiator masks. I’m really drawn to them and what they represent - strength and absence of the fear of death.
Tell us about the new EP you have dropping in May "Thought Crime"
I'm really excited about dropping the EP. I've had a great response to "BlackRainbows" so far, but it hasn't been easy. I’m not sure how many times I gave up and started again. There’s a bittersweet theme running through the whole EP which I didn't really plan on, but it just sort of happened. It's funny how much of my own feelings and struggles can come through in your work, without even noticing. Shown throughout the songs, the lyrics, the titles, even the melodies. It’s this bittersweet feeling containing sadness, pain and anger, yet this on-going happiness.
Overall it’s been a great experience working with so many great producers and artists. I really like how every track contains work from someone else. There’s a huge collaborative spirit in the EP. Everyone brought something unique and different to “Thoughtcrime”. It’s not just me, it’s a collection of people’s ideas, feelings and experiences. Everyone has a story behind their sound…. I’m just lucky I got to be a part of it.
What was your musical journey like? When did you decide to think outside of the box?
I’ve always grown up listening to a lot of different styles of music. I never tied myself down to one genre. Being South American I'm really drawn to Bossa Nova or Flamenco for example. But Hip Hop is probably what I've listened to the most over the years. A lot of jazz influenced Hip Hop mainly but a bit of everything.
My whole life I wished I was an MC. Purely because there is something about lyricism and conscious rap that has always impacted me and influenced my life, in so many different aspects not just musical. Unfortunately we all want what we can’t have. (Laughs) I sure do love it, but I can't rap a verse to save my life. Got to use what you got right? I stuck to singing and listening to vocalists that people either hate or love. People that have a unique sound, that won’t be enjoyed by everyone or even by the majority but will be adored by a specific group. Those artists inspire me the most because they are the ones I believe don't just make sounds, but they actually embrace the title of an "Artist" and create music/art. It’s easy to recreate, difficult to create.
In answer, I'm still not sure if what if do is outside the box. Maybe there is no box. Maybe I am the box. Just kidding.
You have a very unique sound, what's the response been like to your music?
The response has been really great so far. I’ve had a lot of love come my way from all over the globe. I was so surprised that so many people enjoyed it in such a short amount of time. I still feel so blessed and I don't take any fans for granted. It’s also been really exciting to see what sort of people like my music. Unlike most artists, I don't know where I belong in this whole musical universe. As I said, I still don't have everything figured out, but maybe that makes my music what it is.
How would you describe your sound?
That’s a really hard questions to answer because of how new I am to my own sound. (Laughs) I guess when I started my goal was to make music I would listen to. I don't care about show casing my voice, that’s not my priority, and well this isn't a competition either. I love my music library very much and I guess this is just my attempt of being a part of it. (Laughs) I like a lot of electronic future beat music. I think I’m trying to go in that direction.
What Stimulates Your Soul?
The goodness in people. Love & genuine souls.
If you could collaborate anyone, who would it be?
I think about this all the time, realistically maybe Polica. Or whoever plays bass for Polica. I don't think I've been so impressed by a band in the last say 10 years? Unrealistically, The Sugarhill Gang or A Tribe Called Quest.
Who influences you?
So many people influence me in so many different areas. The only way to describe it would be to break it up in categories. (Laughs) Vocally I think Ahu, Grimes, St vincent , Sade and the lead singer of Polica. Lyrically, all the hip hop greats, sych as Tribe, Lupe Fiasco ( before his latest album) Blackstar, Doom, Black moon, De la soul , Digable Planets, Little Brother , The Roots and The Pharcyde. Musically, Stan getz, Ta-ku , Thundercat, Flying Lotus , DJ Shadow, Earth Wind and Fire, Daniel Janin, Jao gilberto, Groovesmanspot, James blake, N.E.R.D, Bob James. List goes on forever and ever and ever. I could sit here and talk about how 100 different people have influenced me somehow. I just love opening my mind to everything. The world is beautiful and I feel blessed that I can see, feel and hear so much talent around me.
What's next for you?
I'm not sure what’s next. To tell you the truth, I’m just taking each day as it comes because I don't know what the future holds, if music will even be a part of it. Who knows? I’m just seeking happiness and I’ll go wherever life takes me.