joe zorzi speaks with the burgeoning reggae superstar and former Wailer …
Elan Atias got his big break in music singing for The Wailers. On top of rocking out with Bob Marley’s old band, he’s collaborated with artists such as Pharrell Williams, Matisyahu, Carlos Santana, Dave Matthews Band and more. He just released his second solo album, We Are, which combines the sounds of reggae and pop creating a great collection of upbeat jams. He was recently featured in this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue in their first-ever emerging artists showcase.
Pop-Break’s Joe Zorzi spoke with Elan about The Wailers, girls in bikinis and all things irie.
Pop-Break: You recently released your second solo album, We Are. Did you collaborate with any songwriters and/or producers on it?
Elan Atias: Yes, I worked with a lot of great friends to bring the album together — such as Wally Gagel from Wax LTD, Erica & Bruce Driscoll from Blondfire, Yonatan Elkayam, Nick Rosen, Marcel Camargo and Daniel Jimenez Afanador.
PB: What was your approach to writing the album?
EA: I just wanted to make an album more raw and more to what I was feeling at that time musically. I feel that We Are is true to myself as a musician and as a songwriter.
PB: You had an interesting start to your career, touring as the lead singer of The Wailers. How did that opportunity come about?
EA: I met Al Anderson [the lead guitarist for Bob Marley & The Wailers] at a nightclub in L.A. and got him to record for a demo album I was working on at the time. At that same instance, The Wailers’ Junior Marvin had left the band to pursue his solo career and they were in need of a singer. Al had played my demo for the band leader Aston “Family Man” Barrett and the rest was history.
PB: Is there anything from that experience that’s stuck with you as a solo artist?
EA: Yes, all of it! The Wailers was actually the first time for me as a musician onstage in a band, so I learned a lot about the business.
PB: You’ve worked with a lot of big name musicians and producers including Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams and Carlos Santana, among others. Were any of these collaborations particularly special to you?
EA: All were special in there own ways. I spent a lot more time with Pharrell and with Carlos, so I have more memories with them. Gwen was super cool and really down to earth.
PB: Was the music video for “Step Into The Sunshine” your first one?
EA: “Step Into The Sunshine” is the first video for this record. I had did two videos from my last record. One video was for “Girl” featuring Assassin that was a big production that I enjoyed very much, and the other was, “I Wanna Yell” which was an idea that came from me looking like Che Guevara and recreating old footage together with footage from the UN’s World Food Programme to raise awareness about world hunger. It was shot in one day with green screen and co-directed/edited by a friend and me. “Step Into The Sunshine” was a lot like “I Wanna Yell” in that it was very low budget and off an idea I had. We shot that in a day as well, but post was where a lot of the work went. The experiences were each different — from a massive production to a low budget hands on production standpoint. All were great, giving amazing visuals to my songs.
PB: Do you prefer touring solo or with a band?
EA: I prefer touring solo, but obviously the experience is different from when touring with a band like The Wailers.
PB: What are the differences?
EA: The differences are that when I tour with The Wailers we are playing with a library of hits that everyone knows with a built-in audience. On my own I don’t have as much recognition so all the perks you get used to touring with a major outfit are not there. A lot more falls on my shoulders, but hopefully sooner than later that won’t be an issue anymore.
PB: Where’s your favorite place to play?
EA: I love being home in Los Angeles since I have been on the road a lot, but I have a lot of other favorite places I like to tour. South America is great, so is Australia, and I love playing Israel. I also love parts of Europe and Asia. If I had to pick one place, it would be somewhere I haven’t played yet so I can get a new experience.
PB: You played the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Beauties & Beats Music Festival on Feb. 15. Which models did you hope to woo with your music?
EA: Whatever models were standing stage-side in their bikinis!
PB: What’s the next step for you as an artist?
EA: I’m always promoting my music, trying to get my music out there as much as possible! I look forward to hitting the road, collaborating with different artists, DJ’s and producers, and plan to work on a new record in September.