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deM atlaS Interview: Creating Art From A Place Of Vulnerability [VIDEO]

dem atlas smiling at crowd at soundset 2019 minnesota
Photo by Isaac Ford

Joshua Evans Turner, better known by his stage name, deM atlaS, put on an energetic mainstage performance at Soundset 2019. We sat down with the Rhymesayers artist later that day to catch up.

We dove deep into his recent life lessons, such as the importance of cutting toxic people out of your life and finding true friends who love and support you.

deM atlaS also shares his desires of getting a band back together, like his high school days.

Bo: You released a record in October just the end of last year, called Bad Actress. Do you want to talk a little bit about that, and what that project means to you?

deM atlaS: First off, I chose the name, “Bad Actress”, because I find it hard to put on a façade and act. The songs are raw. They’re honest and about where I’ve been and what I struggle with, so I chose that name just to exemplify that struggle.

“Actress” comes, in part, because a lot of the songs deal with relationships and deal with toxic relationships, really.

I want to be vulnerable as an artist. I want to be naked as an artist. I want to be honest with who I’m talking to because there’s only so long that you can put up a charade, a façade, a gimmick.

dem atlas doing mid-air splits at soundset 2019
Photo by Isaac Ford

It all comes crashing down eventually, so I find it very necessary to be just honest from the get-go, where I’m coming from.

If people relate to it, great, but if they don’t, then that’s great, too, but at least I’m being honest with myself at the end of the day.

Bo: Do you want to talk a little bit about your support system and how important that is to, not only your mental health but your ability to create from a place of vulnerability?

deM atlaS: Crucial. I’m so thankful that I have my moms and my family, like my brothers and my sister. I have an ear to talk to and I know a lot of people don’t have that; that relationship with their parents, or a relationship at all with them, so it’s very healing and I’m so happy that I have that.

I have good friends and it’s taken me awhile to understand what good friends are. Are they fair weather friends only here for the party and then leave for me to clean up the party or what’s left of the party?

So, that has been something that I’ve learned a lot about. True, genuine friendship is a new concept for me. I can’t stress it enough having good mates around, having good people around.

They say that you’re a product of the five people that you surround yourself with, and I couldn’t agree with that more. From the places that I’ve been, people that I hung around, I totally took on tendencies for better or for worse.

deM atlaS live on stage at Soundset Minneapolis 2019
Photo by Reid Bauman

Bo: If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would that be?

deM atlaS: Let it go. Walk away sooner from toxic relationships, from bad friendships. Know your worth.

Don’t try to please people so much. Don’t try to be everybody’s friend. Not everybody is meant to be your friend. Hold yourself sacred.

Bo: What’s next for you?

deM atlaS: What’s next for me? I’m trying to get a band together, get some players together, you know what I mean, and make some good music. Make the music that I really want to make, that I’ve always wanted to make, that’s in my head.

For a long time, I’ve had some songs in my head that I haven’t had the resources or the courage to explore, or the confidence to explore, but those days are over now.

I’m ready to turn the page and make some dope ass music, keep it going, go on my own tour someday, and aspire like that.

Bo: You fronted a rock band in your high school years, isn’t that right?

deM atlaS: Yeah, man, that’s what I’m from and that’s where I found the most joy in performing. I find joy in performing anyway when I have a DJ backing me up or all that, but I feel like I’d have the most fun rocking with players on stage because there’s some soul behind it.

It’s not just an automated track playing from a computer. I can feel the drums, I can hear the bass, I can hear the guitar, you know what I mean, and communicate with those elements.

dem atlas performing at Soundset 2019
Photo by Isaac Ford

Bo: Where can people find you? What should they be looking out for? Any new projects in the mix?

deM atlaS: Yeah, man, I got a song coming out, Atmosphere, sometime in June. It’s called “Bad Days are Over”. Dropping a song and a video with it, so it’s really cool.

It’s basically just about good riddance, saying goodbye to those vices and that darkness that’s holding you back. Saying goodbye to the gray skies and the rain. It’s time for the sunshine to come in.

Written by Bo Weber

Positive energy-seeking Minnesotan who finds joy in songwriting, graphic design, writing, videography, eating plants, and living in a van down by the river.

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