Just two weeks after The Weeknd dropped After Hours, the XO-signee Black Atlass released Dream Awake, one his most complete projects to date. With this album, Atlass has approached the highest tier of music and is competing with other R&B greats, including his mentor, The Weeknd. Atlass spoke with Sidedoor ahead of his release, letting us in on his creative process, and sharing his favourite songs from the project.
When asked about his growth in production quality, Atlass credits long-nights in the studio with legendary record producer DannyBoyStyles, as well as the rest of their team for helping develop his sound. When asked if he had interest in producing for himself again, he was quick to shoot it down, stating that he felt his best work came from collaboration- a clear sign of respect for the people who helped him reach new heights.
When asked about the vision for Dream Awake, Atlass admitted that it was a lengthy decision process. He shared with us that he let his subconscious spark the idea, before eventually beginning to sculpt a wholistic vision for the “world” that he wanted to create with this album. Atlass’ 2018 release Pain & Pleasure was inspired by his relationship with the city of Los Angeles. As such, the music reflected the brightness of the city, just as well as its darkness. With Dream Awake, Atlass took similar sentiments but focused them onto the relationship of two lovers. In Atlass’ words, “Dream Awake is a metaphor to describe the feeling of lust. The album is a journey about the joy and chaos two people experience in the process of coming to know one another and ultimately falling in love.”
Dream Awake is different than a lot of the R&B projects out right now. Atlass offers a perspective that ultimately feels more refreshing than sad or depressing. When asked about his positive outlook on love, he admits that this is naturally who he is, and that he wanted this story to reflect that.
In a tweet, Atlass stated that, “the album takes you from sunset to 3:00am”. He delved deeper during our interview, telling us that he went into the album imagining
“what would one day or night with one person at the height of lust, in the beginning of a relationship feel like?”.
Throughout the album Atlass did a great job evoking the feelings that the hypnotized “Dream Awake” character would feel. Atlass described wanting to create an “intoxicating effect” for the listener, which would include moments that felt “up in the clouds” as well as stuff that “came back down to earth”. The production followed suit. High quality electronic synths and heavy-hitting drums were used effectively to create the world that Black Atlass wanted to create.
When asked which songs on the album he liked best, he stated that the intro and outro ballads, “Never Enough” and “Close Your Eyes”, were some of his favourites. He also mentioned the bangers “Night After Night” and “Sin City”, before ultimately admitting that he loved every song.
Check out the album below and let us know your favourite tracks. We’re confident that by the end of it you’ll be singing the melodies to yourself. Be sure to support Black Atlass and check him out on The Weeknd’s upcoming tour!