ATO is a rising Leeds based rapper, with an absolutely incredible new EP. Raised as British in Yorkshire, a lot of his music is influenced by his formative years – and he is vocal about the Black British experience through a Northern Lens, as opposed to a typical London centric narrative.
We caught up with ATO to dive into his journey so far, his past experiences spanning mental health, relationship and his identity.
Hey, how are you?
You’ve previously named the Gorillaz and Mike Skinner as musical influences. For people who aren’t familiar, how would you describe your sound, and who else has inspired you?
I’ve settled on describing my sound as art rap meets future R&B. From the age of 10 Hip-Hop has been a core foundation for expressing myself. Over time, inspired by the likes of Gorillaz, The Streets, Ghostpoet and more recently writers like Ecco2k and Kendrick Lamar, I’ve found the creative process for me is as much about asking questions as it is telling a story.
As a team, singular balance, jonathon Ng , stevexcooper and i are trying to push boundaries and find new sounds from
exploring new avenues for writing, points of views and parts of persona to sonic landscapes.
Congrats on the release of your most recent project, the versatile, genre-defying SIDE A. What’s your favourite track and why?
Thanks! You know, at the moment it has to be no caroline. There’s something quite liberating and honest about having the lighter and darker sides of my personality framing each other on the tune.
You hail from Leeds – and not many rappers in the scene today do! What is your experience as a black artist from Leeds making huge moves, like collaborating with Vic Mensa?
I grew up for the most part between Leeds and York where my parents live. I think the lack of an established black music scene in both cities on the one hand can make it harder to find your feet in music but having the space equally gave me a freedom to create without the rules and expectations that a scene can sometimes indirectly impose on you.
What are you most looking forward to at your show, and what does the resumption of live performances mean to you as a human and an artist?
My favourite part has got to be hearing the crowd singing the songs. There’s something so special about performing or watching a concert and sharing a space with people united by the music.ATO / Gigs and tours discover / introducing