In Conversation with Peter Koronios of The Black Atlas, Part II

“The Black Atlas” is the alias of Peter Koronios, a solo artist who creates an intriguing blend of ambient and grunge rock. He’s recently released a brilliant cover of Florence and the Machine’s What the Water Gave Me,” as a follow-up to his latest EP, The Other.

Koronios, spent eight months teaching himself guitar, bass, and piano, and he performed most of the EP’s tracks himself. The EP is deliciously rich and redolent of the dark forces lurking in rock history, and in “What the Water Gave Me” Koronios’s vocal interpretation forms an authentic expression of the sentiments and mood of the song, making his version a significant musical event in its own right.

The Other will be followed by more EP’s as part of a series called The Equinox.

“The shadow escapes from the body like an animal we had been sheltering.”
– Gilles Deleuze

How do you avoid sounding like everyone else in this genre?
I think it has to do with a few things. Firstly, my collaboration with Jesse (Clasen, HRVRD, The Bear Romantic) yielded some really interesting tones but also helped me embrace my strengths and recognize weaknesses. Essentially, you can ask someone how they became such a great point guard in basketball, and It’s because they were never tall enough to dunk. So there is an entire other series of skills to be honed based on a very definite limitation. You have to be willing and take initiative to explore and grow in other areas.

Did you write the lyrics for “The Other?” If so, can you tell us something about the narrator character?
I scrapped some lyrics I initially had for an earlier version of that song. I ended up writing the final draft in my hotel room, the night before tracking vocals for it. It’s the personification of the lower, bestial self, the vestigial product of animal evolution deeply embedded in our psyches, which continually thwarts our best intentions.

It’s not very keenly aware of much outside of its very limited sphere of consciousness and self-interest, but very capable of manifesting destructive forces. It’s usually only a matter of time before it finds a way out of the prison of morality, conscience, and other constructs we create to keep it oppressed. More of a waiting room, really. It can’t be locked away; it can only be transmuted.

Do you have to get yourself into an otherworldly headspace to create this music, or are you in an otherworldly headspace all the time?
My interior landscape definitely keeps me isolated from a lot of people and things sometimes. Ultimately, That’s where I find the time to be creative, which is a boon. I stopped caring that I was weird a long time ago. I say strange shit, I’m interested in esoteric things?who cares?

I don’t think It’s otherworldly. It’s just going beyond the tedium of mundane life to see that there is a lot more going on than just the things we choose to focus on societally. I work jobs like everyone else, but I don’t come home and watch reality TV and zone out. I read. I literally sit and think. I don’t do it on purpose?It’s just what I’m interested in doing.

What conditions do you require in your life in order to go on being creative?
Hope.

What do you feed your muse?
Antiquarian literature of a specifically esoteric nature has been my creative mental fodder for the past five years or so. Surrealism of any kind. Nature programming is something I’ve always watched and it affects the way I observe people, especially in a city like New York. I don’t think I could have written the lyrics to “The Other” if I had never read Faulkner.

Tell us about your current projects.
Writing and demoing songs for the last EP of the series, which will probably be recorded in a few months with Jesse. Gearing up to head out to San Francisco to do some songs with Drew Roulette (Dredg, Dark Heavens) this spring. Going to Alaska to hang out in the wilderness for a few weeks in June.

What’s next for you?
Dinner.

Wanda also penned the poems for the artist book They Tell My Tale to Children Now to Help Them to be Good, a collection of meditations on fairy tales, illustrated by artist Susan Malmstrom.

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