Whether you believe or not, Afta-1’s music is real. In a period where everyone is clinging to their martian-like tendencies or spiritual being and celebrating or exploiting it, Afta-1 is more or less what you see is what you get. The California representative that now resides in Flatbush, Brooklyn is on a road that he understands is already written for him. He’s been and continues to be very observant of where sound and opportunity may take him. This fresh beat-maker may be compared to the likes of Flying Lotus and historically to that of Sun-Ra, but he’s developing his own lane under those musicians who had and have a foundation of freedom when they create. Afta-1 is real as his music, and like Presidential Candidate Sen. Obama may be what the music world needs at this very moment, music that allows us to self-reflect, nod our heads, and remember how music used to and still can make us feel.
Clutch: What moved you to coin yourself Afta-1?
Afta-1: Actually I came about it early on in high school, I was with a few other rappers and a few other folks I used to make music with. During one of our recordings he named me Afro-the-Amazing-One [laughs] because of the hair, but as I’ve moved along it’s definitely taken on new meaning. It’s more on a creative front of where I channel this energy from to make the music; that being one, I come Afta-1.
Clutch: What is that creative process like; where does that stem from?
Afta-1: It’s not so much a process in the sense of I gotta’ have certain things or there’s a certain sound that I’m using, the process to me is just letting it go and just letting the music be what it’s gonna be, as opposed to putting any pressure on it to it become anything finite.
Clutch: When does it hit you that its time to go in the studio and make that next track?
Afta-1: It can be anything, it could be taken’ a walk down in the park or just doing something in the city, or I could wake up just feeling like I want to make some music. I can’t really say that I pinpoint something or there’s one thing that really inspires me, its just love of life and that’s just what it is and that’s how I feel when I make music it just depends on when I have the time to do it.
Clutch: What were you doing before this, before you started making music?
Afta-1: As far as taking something seriously it’s pretty much been music. I skipped college so coming straight out of high school I started initially with a little hip-hop group we started and doing little shows locally in L.A. Then we went our separate ways but it’s pretty much been music since I started.
Clutch: What made you make the decision to move from L.A. to New York?
Afta-1: Well actually I think this will be my third time in New York. This time around it was for a launch party for Creative Criss Cross. I came out here to DJ with Geology on a one way ticket and I was like whatever the flow is like out there I’m just gonna make my decision and move based on that. I came here and was well received and made a bunch of new connections and everything in the universe just worked for me to be held down right now. So, I have a place, I don’t have to worry about serious rent or anything and I just have a chance to create, and that’s what made me stay and I’m just kind of letting it be until whenever I need to move to the next place you know?
Clutch: When I listened to your music I thought of Sun-Ra and I thought of Flying Lotus, who were some of the cats you studied before and still do today?
Afta-1: The list grows as I continue but definitely you hit it on the dot. Sun-Ra and a bunch of other jazz cats early on, especially getting into sampling and digging for older music. Of course you have the Miles [Davis], Coltrane [John], and Alice [Coltrane] that kind of music and that music that resonated kind of wanting that universal awareness and kind of existence and I always believed that –that was the source of the music and that’s why they call it the universal language and so that kind of stuff. I guess being slash DJ that listen to everything from jazz, electronic, to punk. So yeah definitely Sun-Ra and Flying Lotus is doing his thing right now for sure.
Clutch: When did you decide that you were going to allow yourself to be free and just go with the flow, was that always how you lived your life from day one, or was it something you kind of came into?
Afta-1: Well actually I could say in the sense of the circumstances that have been laid out in my life and the way that I believe that things have come to be. As far as as pinpointing it and being aware that – that has become the truth in my life it’s been very recent actually. Within the last year and the culmination up into my album release and what made that happen and possible and what allowed me to be in New York right now, a lot of the stuff is really unexplained but I don’t question it man. I just figured if there’s no resistance, no pressure, or no fear, I just flow along with everything that’s presented to me and the opportunities the universe just holds me down [laughs] that’s the only way I can really say it.
Clutch: When it comes to making albums with that thought process of it being a stream of consciousness do you focus on keeping it together or is that even an issue for you?
Afta-1: Yeah, that process is kind of like as I go along as well like it kind of spawns the next idea so it goes in progression anyway and that’s how it usually seems to build when I’m in that flow because its more of a sense of constant growth. So the music is always evolving naturally so if I just let it be it creates that collection if you will or creates that sound for those tracks and then you can call it an album. With Afta-Thoughts being that that was my first real release it was probably a few years worth of music and things that I sometimes came back to and you have to accept that sometimes you may not finish something right away or it cuts off or you have to come back to it and just evolve so it’s a process as your living.
Clutch: What do you say to all the critics that say here comes another “space cat” that is all into the celestial etc? There are a lot of people who say that’s just a gimmick and there’s a part of society that that lifestyle is so taboo anyway.
Afta-1: People have their own way of perceiving things and a lot of times just because ignorance really and honestly I’m not to concerned with what the critics. My thing has always been presenting the music and letting it speak for itself. I would say listen to the music, if its lying to you than that’s what its doing.
Clutch: How do you take all the music that you hear being a DJ and then separate that from the music that you create?
Afta-1: It’s endless, there’s so much that I’m listening to and there’s so much stuff I’m being put on to. Just things that I vibe to and not necessarily sample or use because the process when I’m making my own music is like there’s a listening period. There’s also time when I go into my cave mode where just recently I’ve pretty much been at the crib making music listening to my own stuff. If something sparks me I will go in that direction and then it kind of flows into what it’s going to be.
Clutch: What do you want people to take away from your music?
Afta-1: I would like it to be something that inspires you to do your art. The fact that its music its free for people to take their minds and go where they want to go with it. If you’re a writer a painter, whatever you do I want it to inspire them to do that and I hope it resonates with that.