If you were a fan of the underground rap movement of the early 2000s, chances are you remember several shout-outs to "Atoms Fam." Originally a loose collective of artists who found a kinship with each other and frequently collaborated around the same east coast indie rap scenes, the late-2000s New York City rap drought quieted the Fam, as it did so many others. Now, Atoms Fam alumni have returned, rejuvenated as a trio with original members Alaska and Windnbreeze (both formerly of Hangar 18) and Cryptic One, until the name ATOMS with a new album SANDS.
We're pumped to premiere the new ATOMS video "Origami" as Alaska spoke to us about creating this new ATOMS record.
How did this new incarnation of Atoms Fam with you three as ATOMS come together?
The name of this was just an homage to that past, and is tied together with that past in that it's the three of us. There's no additional history to that, and we're not building off of that legacy in any way.
The last Hangar 18 show was in the summer of 2008, with the reason given around that time being that Windnbreeze was sick of rapping.
He was. I think, to an extent, a lot of us were. He was definitely sort of done with it. He had started a business with his finacee with that time and moving to California.
And then you did the two Crack Epidemic records in 2009.
I think [those] were more of a response to the last Hangar record [Sweep the Leg]. I wasn't happy with the way that record turned out. We sort of lost track of what we were doing with that record. We started worrying about reaching different audiences and trying to do different things and I felt like we compromised ourselves. I just wanted to make a record that we always wanted to make.
Do you have those same reservations about the first Hangar record?
No, not at all. I think that's why the two records are so different in energy.
What do you think lead to that? Did it have to do with the recent details about the last days of your former label Definitive Jux's distribution deal creating pressure from requiring quarterly releases or was it internally within the group?
It was internally within the group. [Definitive Jux] never put any pressure on us. I think they had pressure from the distributor to put out some of the bigger acts, and since we weren't one of the bigger acts it was about trying to become one of the bigger acts. We had started touring with a lot of different groups like Gym Class Heroes and west coast groups seeing the audiences reacting to the stuff they were doing and emulating that. We did Warped Tour, it was being on the road all that time and not really sitting in the studio making music lead us to get away from having a vision and idea, which is what Jux was always so good at.
At what point did you, Cryptic and Wind know you wanted to come together to make an Atoms Fam project?
It started to happen around the time when [former Hangar 18 DJ and filmmaker] Paul was doing his Adult Rappers documentary. We all sort of came together, talking about doing stuff on our own. Cryptic started doing music for the documentary and Paul asked us to record something over one of the beats. It was going to just be me and Cryptic but we decided to reach out to Wind. From there, it just sort of spiraled.
What was the idea behind the "Origami" video?
The original idea was to tell the stories in each of the verses, but working with zero budget and no serious timelines, the plans for that didn't come through. The director, Eric, took the performances and mixed it with some other stuff. It turned out pretty well, I think.