Interview with Stef Exelmans of ATMOSPHERES


Atmospheres from Belgium have just released their second studio album titled “The Departure.” The band that is surely one of the fastest growing acts on the European Prog Metal scene has many plans for the future, and about this all guitarist Stef Exelmans talks in the interview below.

Define the mission of Atmospheres.

Ever wondered what it would be like when humanity has depleted earth and leaves in search of a new home. That’s exactly the feeling we want to transfer. Melancholic melodies, accompanied with heavy guitar-parts, from time to time, yet still preserving a positive vibe. ATMOSPHERES builds a bridge between progressive rock, sci-fi movies and pop. Our live performance is unique and takes you on one big musing trip, instead of playing song by song.

Tell me about the creative process that informed your new album “The Departure” and the themes it captures.

The first song on the album was the first song written for “THE DEPARTURE”. Our debut album was more “djent” influenced, but with our new album we wanted to explore more towards the progressive/post-rock side. I usually come up with song ideas and makes demo’s. Afterwards we can make changes as a band and decide how we want the song to evolve.

What is the message you are trying to give with “The Departure”?

A new beginning for the human race, but not on this planet.

We have suffered from our own mistakes and it is time to make a new start on a clean slate. All of that might seem quite negative and depressing, nevertheless we intend to make it sound positive in the end. Who doesn’t want a new start at some point in their lives?

Atmospheres - The Departure

How did you document the music while it was being formulated?

Every song get’s demoed in my studio, ATMO Studios. We program drums and play guitars with amp simulators to get a decent sound quickly, so we get an idea of how a track sounds when it is actually recorded.

With those demos we can play around with structures and effects.

Experimenting with different instruments is also a field we like to discover. Among others we even used piano, bass synth and ukulele for “THE DEPARTURE”.

Is the dynamic flow of the pieces carefully architected or is it an organic outgrowth of performing them together?

We all like albums that tell a story. And what kind of story would it purpose if the chapters are not connected? Try to compare an ATMOSPHERES album with watching a movie. Yes, you have different scenes, but together they seamlessly form a whole.

Describe the approach to recording the album.

Matt and I are working together as music producers. That implies that we record/mix/master everything ourselves. We have been running “ATMO Studios” for a while now and have already been of service for a lot of artists. Recording everything ourselves means that we deliver an album 100% ATMOSPHERES. It feels good to develop an album like we do and not be depending on other people. It seems that a lot of people appreciate this approach and feel more connected to the band.

How long “The Departure” was in the making?

I am not completely sure, because some ideas have been flying around for more than 2 years, I believe. On the other hand, some songs were even written right before the start of the recordings. Sometimes a song just pops out, sometimes it needs time to ripe…

Which bands or artists influenced your work on the release?

There are a few bands we could name that influenced “THE DEPARTURE” and ATMOSPHERES in general. We all listen to a lot of different music genres, going from metal to movie soundtracks to EDM to jazz… Sometimes you develop more ideas by listening to something that is our of your comfort zone. It is quite funny, but no one in the band actually listens to a lot of metal music. If we have to name a few bands, we would pick Karnivool, Animals As Leaders, Helios, Gustavo Santaolalla, Koan Sound, …

Atmospheres live

What is your view on technology in music?

Mostly, a new movement in music goes hand in hand with a technological innovation. We had the DX-7 synth, MPC2000 sampler, … Right now we have things like an Axe-Fx that imitate guitar amplifiers.

With that new technology, recording gets placed into a whole new perspective and also gives the electric guitar loads of new possibilities sound-wise. Our album “THE DEPARTURE” features the POD HD Pro (an Axe-Fx variant by Line6).

Do you see the band’s music as serving a purpose beyond music?

I would be happy if we could inspire other people to do great things in their lives that not necessarily have anything to do with music. If Einstein would have been inspired by ATMOSPHERES to calculate his crazy theories… That would be awesome, no?

What are your plans for the future?

More music, videos and gigs. And more people that get to enjoy ATMOSPHERES.

“The Departure” is available from Bandcamp. Follow Atmospheres on Facebook.

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