It’s been a huge year for Sydney boys, Atlas Bound. Their first track, Lock, uploaded six months ago, has now had more than 350,000 plays on Soundcloud with their subsequent tracks, Soul and Talk garnering over 100,000.
21 year-old’s Will Taylor and Adrian Kalcic have had immense success in the last six months, simply from the comfort of their Northern beaches homes. Their biggest break came in November when they won the Bose Creative Development Grant, scoring a $20,000 cheque for their musical development. They beat 10 other finalists from around Australia for the grant which puts them in good stead for 2015.
We spoke to Will and Adrian about what they’re planning to use the money for, their polar-opposite music tastes and the state of Australian electronic music right now.
Have you always been making music?
Adrian: I used to be a club DJ back in the day. I actually went over to Bali and played a gig with Flume and Porter Robinson, which was sweet. I also used to DJ at Ivy heaps.
W: Adrian showed me a photo of when he was in Bali and there were all these posters up on signposts. And it had his face next to Flume’s and Porter Robinson’s.
A: There was like a security guard at my door and I was like, “dude, you don’t need to be here.”
How did you guys meet? Have you been friends for a while?
A: Yeah, we went to school together. In year 11 and 12 I was at a different school and we hadn’t seen each other for 5 years or something. Then we were out in Manly and I asked him what he was doing and all of a sudden we started jamming and that was six months ago.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”250″]https://soundcloud.com/atlas-bound/talk-atlas-bound[/soundcloud]
Was that it? Just six months ago?
A: It’s crazy. I guess it’s come so quickly.
Yeah, that’s how it happens these days. You only need like one or two good songs out there and then suddenly people start picking it up.
W: I can’t believe how far we’ve come. The first song we released, we were just sitting there, the day after and we were like, “what’s going on?” Our Soundcloud views were going up by about 10K a day.
How did that happen? Did you just drop it on Soundcloud?
A: Yeah, so we popped it on Soundcloud and then a label called Cosmonostro based in Lille, France, picked it up and were like, “we want to release it”. So we were like, “yeah, sure”. And that turned out quite well.
So you’re appealing to all the French listeners?
A: Yeah, apparently they like to listen to music that they can’t understand the lyrics to.That’s really what he said!
That’s a crazy story. And then you won the Bose competition?
A: Yeah it’s incredible. I don’t even know how that happened. I saw the Bose competition somewhere and I ended up hashtagging our song with ‘#listenforyourself’ and then a month or so later, it got tweeted on Twitter that we were in the top 10. And we were like, “this is crazy!” They sent us headphones and it was the best. It was the first sign of something earnt from making music. We were stoked. And then we ended up winning the $20,000. We couldn’t believe it.
That’s a great pay cheque for a day! How are you guys going to spend it?
W: Well, it’s funny because we were asked for a budget. So we sat down and tried to think of it. As people our age and our level of the music industry, how do you even spend that?
A: Also, because the opportunities are arising every week, you don’t really know. You can make a plan. We want to put the majority of the money behind PR and advertising, just growing us, but each couple of weeks there’s a new opportunity arising. Like, maybe we could release it on a certain label, things like that. It’s just that, being this size, it’s hard to predict where it’s going to go in the next year. Roughly, we want to put it behind press and try to build as much awareness around us as much as possible.
W: It’s all boring business stuff where we want to spend it, though. I wish I could give you some amazing answer, like a one-way trip to LA or something!
So what’s next for you guys?
A: We’ve got a song coming out through a US label called Next Wave. It’s a fairly new label but the guy who owns it has been doing press for quite some time. He’s done it for bigger labels and is trying to branch off.
W: He’s a nice guy. A legend. He’s like, “please let me release this song”. He’s so passionate about the song. So that’s who we want to give it to; people who are passionate about our music.
Is that really weird for you guys? Just being in Curl Curl, being able to put a song online and then suddenly it spreads?
W: Yeah. The other day, we supported Tora at Newtown. It was really cool, it was one of the bigger crowds that we’ve played to. Just a room full of people just chilling and drinking with a few rogue dancers out the front. God knows how they found a way to dance to our music, but they did. I introduced a song and I heard one of them saying, “this is my favourite one of theirs!” and I was like, “What?” These are people that I don’t know and they’re like, “this is my favourite”.
A: I was in the car the other day and FBI started playing our music and it was so sick. Having that support.
When you guys started, did you think it could be a long term thing? Or was it just for fun?
W: I dunno, we were dreaming.
A: And now it’s happening.
W: Yeah. I guess, since school, it’s always been a priority for me
A: I’ve always DJd. I’ve never really made music. I backpacked last year for eight months through Europe and I was like, what the hell am I going to do next year? I don’t really enjoy uni that much, I need something to do. So when I got back home I started learning how to use Ableton and now I make music.
Did you know Ableton, Will?
W: No I still don’t know Ableton. Since school, I’ve been doing music in all different ways and in different bands.
A: He’s got a more musically trained background
I think you need both sides, though.
W: Yeah, definitely. I guess what I wasn’t good at, Adrian was good at and vice versa. We just clicked. Especially with us both being in all these musical projects, we found a bond. Once you click with someone, you’ve just got to stick with that.
A: How long did it take us to write Soul?
W: Like 10 minutes?
A: Some tracks just come along really quickly.
And then others you just have to work at?
A: Yeah, and the ones you have to work at, you know aren’t going to be that good. For us, at least.
W: Lock, literally came about the moment we plugged everything in and played together at the same time. Obviously the track developed as time went on but, yeah, it’s crazy.
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”250″]https://soundcloud.com/cosmonostro/atlas-bound-lock[/soundcloud]
So what do each of you play and who sings?
A: I can’t play an instrument. I can only play our songs on the piano, which is weird. Will can play a range of stuff.
W: Yeah, I just like to play around and figure out new stuff. I can’t play anything really well.
A: That’s bull! You know how to play piano and guitar.
W: Yeah, but like there’s people on Triple J Unearthed etcetera that have studied music at the conservatorium for four years to play classical piano. We’re nowhere near like that.
A: I think that’s why we can write stuff so quickly. We don’t look at things too technically, we just like to get the idea out.
Do you guys have similar music tastes?
Not at all?
A: Well, we both like our chilled music. I guess that’s why we work well together. But I listen to people like Cosmo’s Midnight, Wave Racer, that sort of stuff. As well as people like James Vincent McMorrow, more chilled out music.
W: Chilled out is probably the only common denominator. My iPod’s like Nat King Cole, Etta James…
A: Old stuff..
W: …Al Green.
A: We like to incorporate that stuff as well.
W: Yeah, because our philosophy is, what you hear now has already been done so you’ve gotta try and do something different. And I think electronic soul, or ‘soultronica’ as it was put once, I think that’s what we’re aiming for. Safe to say we have very different iPods, though. When we get in the car it’s always like, “okay, whose turn?”
What do you study at uni?
W: Vet science.
A: I study commerce.
A: Yes, very different to music.
W: I think it’s like a plan B.
It’s a cool time to be making electronic music in Australia.
A: Definitely in Australia, You can put something out and if it’s half decent, and if you’re from Australia, people from overseas easily recognise it. They’re like, “oh yeah, another person from Australia making good music”. I do find that maybe overseas is a bit more open or appreciative to our music than Australia itself. Which is sort of weird because I thought Australia would be more supportive, trying to get up-and-coming acts out. I guess they are, in a sense, but you look overseas and Aussie acts have so much more pull and influence than they do at home. And it’s not until an act is big overseas that they’re big over here.
We were in New York early in the year and we looked to see who was on and it was like Courtney Barnett, Elizabeth Rose, Big Scary, Broods…and they have all received such a good rap over there. In particular Courtney Barnett, who can play a big festival over here and she doesn’t pull a huge crowd.
A: Yeah, I mean, the dream for us next year is to head over to America and maybe set up base and build up from there. If we can get a good team behind us, that would be the dream.
It’s interesting looking into what’s going on with Australian musicians going overseas. It’s always been that you start in Australia, build your fan base and then you’ll try your luck overseas later. Like Powderfinger, Silverchair, and all those classic Aussie rock bands back in the day. Now it seems like you’ve got to go overseas to spark the success, and then you come back and everyone’s like, “oh my God, you’re huge!”
W: Yeah, now it happens the other way around.
A: Yeah like, “they’re Aussies! They’re ours!”
[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”250″]https://soundcloud.com/atlas-bound/soul-master-1[/soundcloud]
It’s very interesting to watch acts like Iggy Azalea and Sia winning at the ARIA Awards and then Australia taking all these accolades for their success.
W: 100% agree.
A: Yeah, it’s funny. After Lock came out, we sort of got that view already. Maybe more electronic acts, more Sydney-sounding music, trends a bit better here in Australia. But the more chilled out stuff, I find it doesn’t really kick off as well as overseas.
W: We can see where all the plays on Soundcloud come from and it’s all America.
A: America and Europe. And then Australia.
W: Australia is nearly at the bottom of the list.
A: But you’ve got to remember that LA itself has a bigger population than Australia. If you’re bigger in California, you’re bigger than you are in Australia.
Yeah, it’s kind of happening now where you can go overseas and build your career there and still be considered Australian.
W: Yeah, completely. Although I’m not trying to rip into Australia too much!
I suppose the flip-side of that is Flume who killed it here and then went overseas and killed it as well.
W: But that’s more fun too. We’d love to go overseas and move away from uni.