When the COVID-19 quarantines put in-person music programming on pause, artists were forced to adapt to an ever-changing landscape the best they could. As venues and festival grounds collected dust, livestreams rose in prominence as a digital community of dance/electronic music enthusiasts flourished in step. Among them was Jason Ross Presents: The Atlas, a concept show that aired on Insomniac‘s Twitch channel every Monday night, where creator Jason Ross and a different special guest could reliably be found one day each week for a large part of 2020 and 2021. Fast forward to 2022 and “The Atlas” would become something of a blueprint for Ross.
“To me, Atlas means home” he told Dancing Astronaut. “[It] became a weekly event that gave people something exciting to look forward to while the world was shut down. From there, it built into a thriving community that a lot of us (myself included) call home.”
Building on that sense of community, that sense of home, remained important to Ross long after the “pause” on live music programming gave way to “play,” such that it became a driving force of his sophomore studio album of the same name. “We talked about themes a lot during the [studio] sessions and the concept I kept coming back to was this idea of home and what it means to us. So when I was thinking about the title of the album, it only made sense to call it Atlas,” he said.
From a top-level perspective, Atlas is 10 tracks of the signature bass sound that listeners have come to expect from Jason Ross, who has not only become synonymous with Ophelia Records, but also with consistent production quality. Look beyond that surface though, and you’ll see that Atlas is “a mixed bag of genres, influences, and tempos,” per Ross himself. “Every song was so different and had its own crazy journey to make its way onto the final album,” he added.
The album is led by “Hate This Kind of Love” (with HOLT), “Take You Home” (with MitiS featuring Dia Frampton), “Ghost Town” (with David Frank), “Burning Sky” (with HALIENE; debuted as the closer to Ross’ sunset set at EDC Las Vegas), and “Slow It Down” (with Chandler Leighton‘s L8NCY project).
Ross’ ability to extract the best out of the producers and vocalists with whom he works with is not unique to Atlas; it’s something he’s made a habit of throughout his career. Not coincidentally, many of his best-known releases are collaborations involving talents like Seven Lions, SLANDER, and Gryffin. Understandably, working on collaborative singles comes in tandem with “such a different process” than that of working on a long-form project like Atlas:
“Collaborations like those are just super exciting and fun! It’s also a great opportunity to learn from one another and grow; I always come out of a collaboration with a few new tools to add to my arsenal…[but working on an album involves] a lot more planning and digging deep, as this where you really want to convey to listeners who you are musically, visually, and everything in between.”
In fact, his favorite part of crafting Atlas might just be developing its visual components:
“I loved focusing on the visual identity of the album and brand. I naturally gravitate toward abstract and minimalist art, and I am stoked about how those monoliths on the album turned out. I’m really excited to explore even deeper into this world because I think there’s much more to do and say in this space, visually.”
It’s been two years since Ross released his debut LP, 1000 Faces, and he’s the first to admit that a lot has changed since then. “I’ve grown a lot. I think I’ve become more confident in who I am as a producer and what I’m really trying to convey through my music. I think my music has definitely matured since 1000 Faces, but it still shares the same sonic identity.”
Although much has changed in the time since, one aspect has remained the same: like 1000 Faces, Atlas is getting its release via Dancing Astronaut‘s 2021 Label of the Year, Ophelia Records.
“I truly feel like Jeff [Seven Lions] and Ophelia have given me a platform to explore who I am as an artist. They’ve been consistently supportive of me and my ever-evolving sound. I never really thought to explore new genres until I met Jeff, and doing so has made me expand substantially in my music,” Ross reflected. “I think taking risks is something a lot of artists are afraid to do, but as long as you’re being authentic to yourself, it can absolutely be worth it.”
Of course, no album is complete without a supporting tour and Ross’ Atlas tour is shaping up to be his biggest headlining endeavor yet. The 30-stop live initiative will feature city-specific appearances from a range of acts, including Arty‘s Alpha 9 project, Au5, Ray Volpe, Ace Aura, CloudNone, Gem & Tauri, Last Heroes, and more. The tour starts off with a bang at Los Angeles’ Hollywood PalladiumâRoss’ largest headlining show to date.
“It’s incredible to think this is actually happening,” he said. “I remember playing [at the Palladium] for the first time during Seven Lions’ Journey II tour and dreaming of one day headlining it. It’s a dream come true and I can’t wait to start things off there!”
View a complete list of Atlas tour dates and ticket information here, and stream Atlas, out now via Ophelia Records, below.
Featured image: Shane McCauley
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