ATLANTA UNTRAPPED: There’s more to Atlanta music than trap

Demo Taped spreads love and positivity through electronic music

1200px Demo Taped
Photo credit: Savana Ogburn
CHURCH CHAT: Demo Taped learned to be comfortable in front of crowds while performing at his grandfather’s church.

“Insecure,” the opening number on Momentary, the latest EP from singer/songwriter Demo Taped (born Adam Alexander), sounds as though it were conceived for an urban youth choir. The organ arrangements and lyrics such as “You claim your love is pure/You try to reassure me lately/I think I've been going crazy” wouldn’t raise an eyebrow in any black church. It’s no surprise the song was written by a preacher’s grandkid.
Alexander’s grandfather, Dr. Cameron Madison Alexander, is the longtime pastor of Antioch Baptist Church North, which was founded by eight former slaves in 1877. The church is an Atlanta landmark, one that requires a pastor with both an understanding of Christianity and charisma enough to captivate a dedicated congregation. Growing up, Demo Taped studied his grandfather’s ability to capture people’s attention. He watched his father lead a band and play bass. He led solos in the choir, a responsibility he once resisted but now considers his entry into performing live.
The 20-year-old singer is a refreshingly positive voice in electronic music, offering honest reflections on topics such as anxiety and masculinity over bouncy productions. While readying a new single and working on a new EP, Demo Taped took a few minutes to talk about how he hopes to bring attention to Atlanta’s DIY music scene, the influence of growing up in Atlanta, and where he sees himself going from here.

You grew up in a musical city in an era when Atlanta wasn’t known for gospel music. How did that influence you?

I still have a lot of friends that are rappers or rap producers, and I grew up around a lot of people who liked different stuff than me. Now I’m into hip-hop and rap, but for a while I really wasn’t. I was into Jimi Hendrix and psychedelic rock. I would get kidded because I wasn’t listening to what everyone else was listening to. At first I felt alienated, but when you’re doing your own thing, it doesn’t matter. I got into electronic music, and that’s when I found my voice.

Do you get nervous when releasing music that’s tied to personal experiences?
I was kind of afraid of that but I got over it. Now, when it comes to personal stuff I think it’s just my duty as an artist to be as open and to reach as many people as possible.

What high school did you go to?
I went to a couple different ones. I went to North Springs for my first year of high school. I did online school for a little bit, and then I went to Galloway. Galloway was my last school, and they told me to leave because they said I should be pursuing music.

__Did you pay attention or just brush it off?

I’d been an all A’s student my entire school career. After I released my first project in 11th grade and saw the traction it was gaining, I was like, “OK. Time to invest fully in music.” I stopped doing high school stuff. We were allowed to have computers at Galloway, and I’d literally just have headphones on, making a new song while the teacher was talking. After a while they said maybe you should pursue music. It doesn’t happen often that an educational institution encourages you to go the creative route. That was really cool. That was like the defining moment.

What does the rest of 2018 look like for you?
I’m working on another EP right now, and I’m really digging deep for this one. I’m doing a lot of thinking and writing. I want this to be really special. The last album was more a stream-of-consciousness project. That’s how I went about writing for it. I wrote all these things I liked and disliked and things I loved. I wrote it all out and corralled it into a project. This upcoming project, I’m thinking more ahead of it. I’m really planning it out.

To what do you attribute your optimistic outlook?
I want to see more positivity in the world. I think it’s important for me to use whatever voice I have to spread love and good energy because that’s needed. It’s important for young black kids to see a smiling black male living a carefree life. I think it’s really important to put that out there to show it’s possible.

Read Jewel Wicker’s Atlanta Untrapped column every week at www.creativeloafing.com/ATL-Untrapped.

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