Sky Titan Media’s Austin Cage is running on all cylinders in 2020. Not even 1/4 of the way through the year and the Austin-based musician, producer, songwriter and label head already has a Top 5 iTunes hit on his hands, with the very first single release from debut act, Chords Of Eve. With another COE single scheduled for release at the end of March and two EP releases in April (one from COE and the other from Strings Of Atlas), Cage was able to take a breather and answer some questions for our readers…
Indie-Music: Congratulations on the release of Chords Of Eve’s “Brightside” single! Tell us about the song, the lyrics, the production, the recording process:
Atlas Cage: “Brightside” is all about seeing the light in dark times. Times when we feel like we want to tuck ourselves into a corner and quietly disappear but instead, choose to stand up and keep moving forward. Smile when you feel like you can’t, but know that it’s ok to feel the way you feel. The song is a mid tempo, dreamy jam layered with live guitar and bass, and synthetic keys from the digital music world. The production was first done at my home recording studio of Sky Titan and then polished off at Scary American studios with one of the best sound engineers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with, Charles Godfrey. Together we shaped the final sound of Chords of Eve. We have also been working together for years on Strings of Atlas.
The song went to #2 on the Pop charts in South Africa, only kept from the top spot by Lady Gaga. That’s quite a feat! Do you listen to Lady Gaga? Any favorite songs of hers? How does it feel to do that well on an international level?
I am actually a big fan of Lady Gaga but more so for her acting! The first time I saw her was on american Horror Story as a vampire in a hotel of the damned and then later with A Star Is Born. Rarely do you see musicians make a successful crossover to acting (although Jared Letto and Kris Kistorpherosn did a good job) but she is amazing. On top of that she has a great voice and a very rock and roll spirit. If there is anyone that we have to lost that #1 spot to, I’m glad it was her!
It always amazes me to see our music pop up overseas. The internet opens so many doors for us as musicians to be able to connect with the world far beyond our own front door. Back when I first started music, wifi didn’t exist and dial-up was the only way to get anything. I don’t think we could have gotten nearly as big back then without having a powerful marketing force or lots of money to throw at a project. We are even starting to see spins in France and the UK!
Tell us more about the Chords of Eve EP coming out in April. What should listeners expect?
The hope is that we will be able to create a world in which listeners feel connected to the music. This whole project is a sci fi romance story, not in the more modern sense of romance but that of the Romantic era in Europe in the 1800’s. It tells a sad story through a beautiful melody, capturing life as it is through characters that we create.
Let me tell you the story of “Eveylyn”. It is titled in honor of a woman that no one had ever heard of, until she jumped to her death from the top of the empire state building and her suicide photograph was featured in the May 1947 issue of Time Magazine. The song is inspired by the letter that she left to her family and fiance, and the struggles that we as human beings face with mental illness and struggles with self worth and connectedness. I’ve come to recognize among people around me a common unspoken feeling of loneliness, not being good enough for the world, or maybe just not mattering at all. “Evelyn” seeks to capture that dull, persistent, anxiety or sadness so many of us feel. Most people have either dealt with these types of issues themselves or know someone close to them that has and it’s never going to get better if we are afraid to talk about it. The topic is a delicate line to walk. We wanted to explore it in such a way that does not judge or dismiss, but simply recognizes that it ‘is’.
Let’s switch gears and talk about Strings Of Atlas. You have an EP project coming out with them on the same day, April 10th. What should fans expect from the SOA project? What are the differences between COE and SOA, and are there any similarities?
Strings Of Atlas is a long time running rock and roll project. This particular EP, “How Far We’ve Come” is a lookback on all of the things we have accomplished both in life and in music and acknowledging the work it took to get here. The title track is also the single from the album and is available Friday March 13,th 2020. It was set up to be a SXSW release but the CoronaVirus has put South By on hiatus but the album is still on schedule. There is also a music video in the works that will come out with the full EP in April starring Texas theatrical actor Adam Rodriguez that I am very excited about. We leaked a sneak peek at it in one of our vlogs (sky titan media on youtube) so definitely check that out if you can. Here’s the spotify pre save for it as well https://ditto.fm/how-far-weve-come
The genre difference between SOA and COE is wide but the feel, the groove, the emotion, that’s all the same. We all tell stories of what we face in life, how we overcome the bad and learn to appreciate the good. Some just tell it with airy vocals and dreamscapes, others with a very loud guitar.
How did the idea behind Sky Titan Media come to you? What are your goals/hopes/dreams/fears of running your own label?
Sky Titan has always been a dream of mine that I wasn’t able to act upon until recently. I went to the university to study business because I wanted to start my own label. I felt like I had been doing music enough that I knew what I needed to know there, so I focused on the side most artists dread..and did not like it. It wasn’t until years later when I re-approached the idea that I had the needed experience and mindset to bring it to life. Given my love for music, I decided not to go with a genre specific label but more of a feel and the idea of creating a community (and supporting our own local community). I hope to help create more than a handful of names in music that have a strong and genuine impact on music and creators.
Beyond the SOA and COE releases, what else does Sky Titan Media have planned for music lovers in 2020?
We have a hip hop project that we are looking at for late summer release. It falls somewhere between the indie sounds of artists like Sage francis, Flying lotus and Nujambes, and the lo fi vibe that anyone surfing youtube for lfo/bedroom beats has come to love. We even have a few producers lined up to give us a few reimagined tracks from our current line up. It should be a lot of fun. Aside from that, just working on sculpting a new way to bring the live shows to the masses via the digital world.
You’re from Austin, TX. A Lot of people were disappointed by the cancellation of SXSW this year, due to fears over the CoronaVirus. What are your thoughts on the cancellation? Were you personally affected by the cancellation?
In terms of Sky Titan and our artists, we are not personally affected by the cancellation of SXSW but we know a lot of artists who are. We had some L.A. acts that we were working with who were flying in, that were cancelled with only a few days notice. There are a lot of folks in the service industry who are feeling the ramifications more than anyone else. On the one hand, I feel these things should be taken seriously, as it is hard to detect and easy to spread, and has already claimed lives in the process. On the other hand, if we were to stop living our lives at every hint of danger, I feel like we would always be afraid and always isolated. It’s a hard line to walk, understanding the risk but not being controlled by the fear of what if. Who knows, this might also give the local artists a chance to shine, as most of the official SXSW acts are almost never local austin bands. Now that there are only smaller shows, people might get to see a group they may not have otherwise even heard of.
Any plans to tour outside of Austin?
Live performance is a huge challenge for the Chords Of Eve project. It was designed in such a way that we could include a wide variety of singers, much like in the vein of Apocalyptica or David Guetta. They have so many featured artists, no two albums are alike yet they all have a similar groove. But because of this, it is hard to have 10 people go on tour and play 2 tracks a piece live. Sometimes it’s hard enough just to have two people whose schedules work together to play live. We are exploring creative ways to share our music and storytelling with music videos currently in production for Chords of Eve and Strings of Atlas.
Thanks so much for taking the time. Any last thoughts you’d like to share with our readers?
Thank you for having me. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Sky Titian, for Chords Of Eve and for Strings Of Atlas! They are all such a huge part of my career right now and I can’t wait to see where it all goes. We have already gone over 7K streams with Strings Of Atlas and 8k with Chords of Eve, so now I want people to start reaching out and telling us their story. What do they feel when they listen to the music, where does it take them? In times like this, where isolation is being prescribed even more,I hope that people do not lose their connection with each other. And remember, wash your hands, wash your vegetables and live your life!