What do you fight for with your music?

Atlanta musicians weigh in on philosophy and motivation

"We fight for our originality. We fight for our freedom to do what we want as artists. We fight for our families to have no bosses, to live free and do exactly what we want to do whenever we want to do it. We fight for our own goals and things that we've set from when we started doing what we are doing. We fight for the youth, so our kids don't have to struggle or be treated like anything other than kings and queens not exposable human beings." A.T. and In-Doe of Goldyard

"Playing music has been challenging to me in that I've always struggled with my self worth or validity as a musician. I think I initially forced myself to sit down and practice every instrument because when I started playing, the Atlanta music scene was a bit of a boys club and I wanted to prove that I could be just as good. Now I just fight to challenge myself and my confidence boundaries. When I started Glare I didn't really want to front a band or do vocals because the idea terrified me. Once I realized how scared I was, I knew I had to make myself do it." Rachel Pagillo, Glare

"Though I prefer not to fight in general, a lot of what I do champions personal identity and narrative. I hope that by sharing my experience (my feelings, dreams, pains, perspectives, ideas I would be prone to keep private in person) intimately through my music, others will identify or recognize moments and parts of that same experience in their own life. I hope that will then be of benefit to them to feel less alone, be more connected to other humans and receive a moment of relief from the worry and stress of everyday life. Then maybe we all can attain happier, more fulfilled and meaningful lives. And have a little fun while doing it." Ben Davidow, Buzzards of Fuzz

"I fight for the freedom of boundless artistic exploration. We can box ourselves into conformity so often as artists and humans. When I express myself I try to be as free and in the moment as I possibly can. Even if what i'm feeling at the moment isn't what's popular or what's expected of an artist like myself. Jeremi Johnson, 10th Letter

"Most of my pieces have a story behind them, but since my music is instrumental and abstract, the audience doesn't necessarily know that. The Edgewood Saxophone Trio's 'Dust,' for example, was written after contemplating how quickly someone with a badge and a gun can turn an unarmed young black man to dust. I look at what our society has become, and it spurs me to write and play with more purpose and intensity. With my music, I fight for openness, intelligence, connection, empathy, and the expansion of possibilities." Jeff Crompton, the Edgewood Sax Trio

"Over the years I've always aimed at curating forward thinking and unique experiences. Since I've always been drawn to sharing genuine underground music and playing to non-conventional crowds, creating safe spaces for self-expression is key. That's what's always driven me. Whether I'm throwing goth dance parties, DJing my resident nights at Mary's, providing a soundtrack to a couture fashion show or playing late night warehouse techno, I fight for people feeling like they can let loose and safely exist in their own skin." DJ Silk Wolf, HUSH at Mary's

"I fight for the spirits, freedom from thought (don't think, feel), innovation and change. I also fight to expose the youth to music and all of the arts." Kebbi Williams, Gallery 992, the Wolfpack and the Tedeschi Trucks Band

"A good portion of what I fight for in my music is mental health. My writing stems from the constant battle with coping and finding inner strength. The freedom to allow yourself to exist in your own skin. There are dark truths behind the alcohol and drug-infused realities and metaphors in my writing. Anxiety, depression, feeling out of control when the lights of the mind go out. Crippling and overwhelming, terrifying, isolating, and strange. At times, it is almost impossible to cope in my own mind. I fight for those with their own demons and fears, to help harness them and not hide from them. I fight for those who can't get out of bed, and want to give it all up. There is such pressure, real or imagined, that many people face daily. I fight for those who feel ashamed or insane. Writing Cold Heart Canyon's full-length, I've been tapping deeper into the power I have within myself to change the world around me. I fight for those who feel like they have no other options, to show them they are not alone. We're all a little fucked up, and for me, that's more than OK." Rachael Petit, Cold Heart Canyon

"I fight for the right to be vulnerable, to be needed and wanted, no matter who you are or who you want. It sounds very Morrissey to say, but so many people go through life feeling unwanted, because they're trans or overweight or one of a million other things society says isn't normal, and I spend a lot of time when I write just trying to say ???you're beautiful and desired' without it sounding overly hokey or worse, exploitative. We all want to be loved for who we are and that connection is for me the most important thing in the world to sing about." James Andrew Ford, Tifaret/DKA Records

"In this sociopolitical climate, people are often combative and focus on differences rather than being inclusive. Clubs and dance floors are one of the most inclusive spaces we have. I fight for anyone that has curiosity towards those different from themselves rather than 'othering.' Club music these days tends to be geared more towards a masculine vibe. I like a more femme feel in my music, with some of my favorite artists like M.I.A, Missy Elliott and Donna Summer. I fight for that femme energy. For some of us, meeting up with friends at a club and dancing is truly like the church experience. There are bonds we create there and there is that special thing that happens on the dance-floor. It truly feels like you're going to church on the dance floor; it's enormously uplifting. Artists like Sylvester grew up singing in church and was shunned because of his homosexuality. He found community in the club world with people who embraced his 'otherness.' In turn, he made one of my favorite dance songs, 'Over and Over.' When I think about Sylvester and all the trial and tribulations they have gone through and still created such a beautiful song I can't help but want to burst with happiness. I fight for feelings like that." Ree de La Vega, Resident DJ at 8ARM, Mary's, STK

"The news can be so anxiety-inducing in 2017. So as important as it is to pay close attention to what's going on in the world, it's also more important than ever to protect our mental health by banishing those stresses to the background of our brain every so often. I love DJing events that support human rights, equality, animal rights, etc., but the majority of what I do with NonsenseATL is to help people fight against the pressures they deal with every day, to give them a brief escape from real life and transport them to an inclusive place where absolutely everyone is free to scream/sing and bounce and clap and act completely ridiculous without judgment. I try to give people that not only with the music I play but also with the interactive art projects, weird surprises and other distractions we add to our parties. None of us can fight the good fight if we're completely overwhelmed by the news cycle. Nightlife is the ideal way to activate that reset switch." DJ Kimber, NONSENSE ATL

"We fight for something that seems relatively simple but often incredibly difficult to achieve: understanding. To be able to understand and hopefully empathize with our thoughts and feelings about existence. I'd like to think our last LP Exit Youth communicated something pure and relatable about making art and aging. I'd also like to hope our recent 7-inch 'Moment' did the same for being black in America. Of course, in this day and age, hope is something that's in short supply. I've grown increasingly cynical in the past few months of Trump's administration, but being in this band and being able to say the things I can say is one of the last few sources of hope I have." Jonathan Merenivitch, Shepherds

"As Latinx people, our existence is already a radical form of living and protest. We've grown up with music that praises the struggles we've endured in this country and encourages us to sigue luchando (or keep trying) with a moment of healing in dancing. La Choloteca: Ley de Latinx was created to give space to those who have felt a need to express a part of their identity that wasn't allowed to be fully expressed in other spaces as well as creating an intersectionality in others. We have strength in numbers, and taking space to celebrate our similar yet different diasporas is a powerful message of unity. We will never back down from being seen and heard. We are a party with a mission and we throw one hell of a pachanga!" Kenneth Figueroa, Josephine Figueroa, Randall Ruiz, Luiz Sandoval of La Choloteca

"What do I fight for with my music? My ideal answer to this question is that I fight for music itself namely, giving new and old music the exposure that it needs and deserves. I fight for expressing my diverse music tastes while keeping the crowd motivated. I say 'deal' because ofttimes the nature of my gigs requires that I stay within certain boundaries. That being said, I'm not above pushing those boundaries." Adam Darby, DJ Black Sunshine

"I always thought and sang about the abuse in our ways of life as we moved around with Mother Earth while forwarding out into Mother Universe. I hoped that my music and art would help motivate and inspire humans, both now and after my lifetime, to take better care of the only planet we have. I see that art can be a way. For a long time, I fought just to keep my art from being destroyed by people who didn't understand it, or me. I made music for myself that I thought was going to waste, but it kept me focused. Now that I am sharing my art and music all over the world, I still fight for those same things but with more purpose. Thumbs up for Mother Universe and thank you to Atlanta for being a place I can make art and music. It is now 12:36 p.m. on Saturday, June 10, in the 17th year of the 21st Century. And I'm an African American artist." Lonnie Holley

"It's a fight, I suppose, when you push forward a personal agenda or vibe that makes you vulnerable. These days I write my songs about ways I feel that don't always sync with popular attitudes. I'm an intensely happy person, overall, and I'm generally anti-fighting, but the world throws a lot of attitudes at me which often make me embarrassed to be or feel certain ways, i.e. jubilant, silly, romantic, sentimental, cheesy. Sometimes I refer to myself as a 'hysterical romantic,' because I burst into tears at Mexican bolero ballads from the '50s, and things like that. My social world says it's cool to be an iconoclast, alienated, jaded, ice cold. My music, maybe, is where I defend my right to be the sort of person I am, and to try to gently massage people's hearts subtly and with humor and play, get them to feel squishy romantic feelings. That's the good stuff. But I keep a bit of darkness in there because we all know it's dangerous and painful to be a wide-open squishy romantic person, and also it helps me not become a total crunchy hippie flower person, and I can be a better and more effective influence on my dark edgy hipster friends." Adron

"Music is a healthy, cathartic way for people to explore and overcome our own shadows. A lot of musicians and artists struggle with some form of depression, addiction, mental illness, eating disorder, or PTSD. Music is a very effective way of fighting off those demons and reaching out to others who are struggling with the same things. I fight for anyone who's had to go through that darkness; I want to tell them that they're not alone, and that things will get better. Keep fighting. It's worth it." Austin AdkinsDoesin

"Atomic molecules. Cells. Halftone patterns. Dust. All things that are concrete and steel to their greater manifestations. If you have met me you may not realize this, but I am an introvert and I've also always had an extreme micro view of the world. These are contributing factors toward a need to be hands-on locally within music. Yes, touring is important, and regional friends made are even more important to the greater manifestation of our metropolis of music scenes. For myself though, Atlanta is the beginning and the end. Post-high school anarchy sign sprayed on my gas station jacket, national and world politics were not something I easily identified with. Punk in Atlanta has been my home for close to 20 years now. This communion I take part in, the slime from all the spilled beer and illicit dust after each show, is part of my DNA. The organ systems I've booked, played with, released and distributed records for are part of my cosmic body. There are no rock star aspirations for me, as I am comfortable with being part of the foundation. My fellow Atlanta atoms are what are worth fighting for."Josh Feigert,Uniform,State Laughter Records

"I'm not sure if I am fighting for anything specific with our music, but our frequently misinterpreted name has made it impossible for us to get anywhere without a fight. So the main thing lately has been to stand strong in our commitment to artistic freedom, particularly in the face of near-constant opposition. Most, if not all, the words I write have an 'us-vs-them' quality to them. That is what our name is about. Feeling 'othered' by the world at large has been the hallmark of my life. I wish the people who take issue with our name would do the smallest bit of research before making inaccurate assumptions. But that's unfortunately not the world we're living in right now. People want simple answers. They don't want nuance." Christian Lembach, WHORES.

"We Pyramid Club fight for a world where you can dance to PTP (a Ministry side project) in a club without getting hassled by a cyborg cop. Through our music we hope that Leland Palmer can enjoy his evening of dancing to 'Show Me Your Spine' without getting tossed around by a cybernetic police man corpse. The cult of the Pyramid is based on this fundamental viewpoint that a neon foggy club should be enjoyed by people from all walks of life that need to unplug from the daily din and become more in touch with themselves as they ride the rhythm. In other words, they should be able to enjoy late-'80s EBM/industrial/techno music without being hassled by the man." ??Chris Daresta and Matt Weiner,Pyramid Club,DKA Records

"Holders fights for the idea that it's OK to not be OK. If you've ever put on a happy face to hide how sad you really are then we fight for you with our music. If you've ever pushed down and repressed your anger to benefit somebody who doesn't deserve it, then we're fighting for you. This music is our peaceful protest, our therapy. We've experienced highs and lows and keep giving every performance everything we have. Through mental illness and financial difficulties, we still fight with our music. This is a journey of self-improvement for us and we appreciate anyone who believes in us enough to give us an opportunity. This isn't an easy city to get a legitimate opportunity in, and over the years has become dangerously political, but we strive to get better and improve despite that. We hope people stick around for the ride." Nelson Crawford, Holders

"Call me crazy, but through observing people not judging, but observing people I've noticed we all have a little bit of crazy. Some do a better job of wearing the mask, but I feel there are more people on the brink of insanity than there are sane. I'm fighting for individuality. What drives most people crazy is not living up to standards. I want to make songs that guide you through the motions. Those feelings people are afraid to express. There are enough people making songs about partying. I'm fighting for the feeling. Don't go numb." Kesha Wiseman, Dusah

"We fight to be seen and heard on our own terms. We fight to provoke and inspire. We fight to be the voice of the voiceless. We fight for the right to stand on stage and unapologetically state our beliefs and disbeliefs. Our wants, needs, and desires. We fight for the right to not conform and deform. We fight for the right to be loud and brash, reflective and introspective. We fight for the right to be ourselves." Houston Perry, Bloodplums

"I fight for camaraderie and for anyone that's ever gone through something and felt like they were crazy or no one could identify. As cliche as it sounds, I've always felt like that was the REAL power of music and really art in general. To be vulnerable about the things we go through as humans and let people know that they aren't alone in what it is they go through. In whatever struggle they might be against." Allen Edward Thomas

"My music is not outwardly political, nor is it charged with any tangible or direct message, and I am hesitant to even go as far as to say I am necessarily fighting for anything through my music, at least in the sense that an activist fights for a cause. I have, however, realized that I am striving for something. I am striving for absolute honesty through self expression. I feel that if I can be completely honest with myself in the creative process sensitive and receptive to my own vulnerabilities then it will be easier for me to operate in the world as a more productive, compassionate, and engaged human being. Being that my music is primarily instrumental, it is difficult to express specific concepts or ideas without vocal or lyrical narrative. That said, I occasionally find ways to reflect sentiments that are a little more on the nose. For example, I spent most of 2016 composing my most recent piece "f I Were a Little Boy, I'd Be a Girl," and for the most part I had the ending worked out early on. But for myriad reasons the end of 2016 started feeling pretty damn dark, and I felt like the only way I could honestly deal with what was going on was to try and reflect what I was seeing in the world around me, thus the final statements of the music changed wholeheartedly. What was supposed to be music that closed with a sense of humble redemption quickly turned into a cold and distant struggle between hope and helplessness. It's not how I sought to end the music, but it is nonetheless my attempt at absolute and honest expression of what I saw happening at the time." Chris Childs, Faun and A Pan Flute

"Freedom, individuality, love and the right to march to the beat of your own drum. We convey these sentiments through every song that we write and perform. When we started creating Dropouts to Society our message to the world was one of revolution. Not the type that consists of physical aggression and violence, but a revolution of the mind and the soul. A fundamental restructuring of the perception of, and reaction to, the universe around and within us. With Dropouts we wanted to inspire questions regarding the societal norms of today, creating an anthem that comes from our personalities, hearts, and souls. We encourage others to be what some classify as weird, or to fight back against what you define as complacency in the world. It is a duty to promote love and happiness, passion for life, and the embracing of the unique and different." Keifer Johnson, the Sagas

I fight for the underground rebels without a home. The DJs that hate the question: What genre do you play?' The promoters that sweat it out in DIY spaces. We don't quite fit in any given circle so we create our own. Xavier BLK, WERC Crew

"I fight to bring healing medicine and illumination into the darkness, to confront yet embrace the Shadow with compassion, and to find insight into the collective universal psyche of this dimension; and perhaps maybe even other ones." Lisa King, the Hot Place

"My requirements for art for my own and the filter I view other's art through is does it assist in our search for self understanding, empathy, consolation, hope, self-acceptance or fulfillment? If I can meet one or more of these then I consider it a success. I like to treat art as a tool that we can use to help us navigate our current cultural climate. It's hard to communicate deeper themes when most of the music I make personally doesn't have lyrics or has very little vocals at all. My mission becomes boiling down a feeling or emotion to its core and trying to write music to elicit that emotion in the listener. With the climate of the world, there is a lot of frustration, anger, depression and fear. I could make an argument that there should be happier music being made to 'rebalance' us, but that's not what I'm interested in. I like art that comes from visceral emotion. Merging music and visuals, attaching a message to it so it's directed and violent in its approach. Visuals inspire people, and setting music to a compelling visual can lead people. What I'm fighting for is to aid in understanding and establishing connection in a confusing, rapidly changing, progressively disconnected cultural landscape." Daniel Pollard, Heroes x Villains

"We fight for amplifying the voices and visibility of women. We want more female identifying people to see us play and feel inspired to start their own bands, to feel empowered to be like fuck this sexist bro culture that exists in most music scenes and to come together to build a more inclusive, safe space and community. Don't know how to play an instrument yet? Teach yourself, get together every week, and write songs about whatever the fuck you want. That's what the boys have always done." Lois Righteous

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