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Behind The Beats: Fathom 9

What does the name Fathom 9 mean and signify?

The name Fathom 9 is a mystery unto itself. It was, however, not my first moniker. I.Q.(Internal Quest) was my first official name. While attending an open mic set one evening, I submitted my name to the host to perform. When the host called "I.Q" to the mic, two people arrived. Of course, we—like the audience were baffled, and I conceded to him keeping it and taking that spot. This led me to an intense searching for some name that adequately conveyed the attributes of me. I am an enigma—at times, to many, as well as myself. Fathom—being depth or measurement, and 9—the end and the beginning of numbers, the period of gestation of the fetus, and somehow, my first name in Greek, has some relation to the 9 muses of the Arts and Sciences. Anytime I have researched my name—its various meanings seem to echo many of my attributes. I wanted something that would reflect these things, and with the help of Mr. Skurge Kingass (DJ What)—Fathom 9 I became.

Detail the struggles that you have balancing the beat making and the daily duties of being a student?

Wow…beatmaking…as it were, almost lessens what this craft has meant to me. I will admit there is great difficulty in finding such a balance—I’m passionate about both, and see little distinction in the craft of production and immersion in my studies. There are times I’d rather be making tracks than studying though. Lol. It’s almost a form of meditation—when the maelstrom of the world becomes too much.

What inspires or motivates you?

Some producers make beats with nothing in mind but the bottom line. I don’t knock that. However, I make what I feel. It’s funny, I am first and foremost an emcee. I began making beats because I couldn’t find a producer who could make a sound that would complement my various styles etc. I am far more intimate with these sonic creations, almost to the point of obsession. I tell people—I literally bled to get my equipment to do what I do—hence—I’ve bled for Hip Hop. (Referring to a serious car accident I was in around Jan. 1999, and the resulting settlement financed my equipment). I see emceeing and music production as vital components of the other. Sure—you can get a beat and spit anything on it, but when you apply the Right lyrics to the appropriate beat—that synergy is unmatched, and makes for a true Song. This is the axiom I apply to my process.

Some state that instrumental projects are just a collection of beats, how does your music or projects defy that preconceived notion?

I would pose that question to any naysayer by asking: Was J Dilla’s Donuts a mere collection of unfinished potential classics? Emphatically, no. Sure, there were beats on there, but to see them as merely a collection of beats-- devalues the beauty of that project. Each installment—to me, conveyed a distinct sentiment, and in many instances was a bit prophetic. Ultimately, opinions are subjective, but I like to believe my beats tell their own story. Have you ever wondered how your life would feel if you had an actual soundtrack to it? My beats, along with works from some of my favorite producers, composers, singers etc.—offer that soundtrack to my life, imbuing me with energy when it wanes.

Who are you looking to collaborate with?

Wow…ummmmm. I’d be open to collaborating with anyone who was passionate about their craft. I already work with a band of formidable cohorts who are (as of now) below the radar of the mainstream, but if I could work with any artist—Last Emperor, Pharaoh Monch, Lauryn Hill—a slew of other artists I can’t think of at the moment. As long as they were passionate…I’d be down.

What are some of your pet peeves in regards to working with emcees?

This is a dozy. As an emcee, I realize that we can often annoy producers, especially when we don’t take the business as serious as we should, i.e. punctuality, fees etc. Now, from a producer’s perspective, while many of us on the subterranean level don’t have the social/political/monetary status of a…Dr. Dre, our work is just as important. You can’t immediately try to sell your dream to a producer expecting to get a pass. You MUST pay your dues…symbolically and quite literally. I remember going without a phone for two weeks just to have some cash to go to DJ Kojack’s studio to satisfy that itch for creation. I don’t know—perhaps due to the advent of technology—if many emcees would have such resolve.

Have you worked with emcees in your surrounding area?

Indeed I have. My first group was called The Genesis Experiment. It was comprised of 3 emcees, and a DJ (G-Sicks of LES, DVSJ a.k.a. Mike P, DJ Mecca, and Fathom9). Other artists I’ve collaborated with are The Iron Mic Coalition, Max Ptah, RoyalT The Top Emcee, Ill Chemist from Little Rock, AK. Etc. I can’t forget my connects in Chicago (DVSJ, Simeon Viltz, GQ the Teacha).

What are your short term and long term goals with music?

The current project I’m working on—Revenge of the Nice Guy, is the result of 10 years of revision, rehashing, and a loss of spark. I actually allowed other collaborations to distract me from completing this project. Having experienced some very personal events in my life recently, I am committed to completing this endeavor. Part of my problem has been my severe critique of my own work, afraid to embrace the “beast” that begs to be unleashed. There have been moments, but I would snuff my hunger. I was deluded by the notion that this album was to be my magnum opus, instead of just putting an album out. Untitled (Pulse Beta) is just a taste of a 16th of what I can do (as my big sister so affectionately boasts). And although many have been awaiting a solo project from Fathom 9, while this project is for them, it is that much more for me—for it will resound as a testament that I can do ANYTHING. It will remind me that something can be beautiful in its imperfection, and my soul has too much to convey than to be limited to one project. That’s too much self-inflicted pressure. An adage I live by: "The Mic is an Instrument/I am the Conduit/Conveying the Intimate/Sentiments/of the Infinite." At the end of the day, I just want my music to be heard. I plan to continue to infuse my craft within my academic pursuits, in hopes to one day teach a branch of Hip Studies on the college level.

Inspiration is...(add your own words to fill this statement)

Inspiration is that force one feels that can never be conveyed in words or tongues; that note that triggers an unquestionable chord within one’s soul motivating them to express their gifts given by the Universe thus contributing to the Song of Life…

What advantages does the introduction of social networking have on your music and the ability to reach the masses?

Social media provides access for artists who wish to stand by their artistic integrity to enter the global public sphere. The Music Industry is almost tyrannous in its choke-hold of access. It causes one to question if the blockage is deliberate. With the advent of social media, artists of various mediums can at-times be on par with more well known artists, but more so be motivated to do for self rather than beg for crumbs from the industry.

What are the best ways for emcees, journalists, etc to contact you?
The best way to contact me would be:

Fathom 9 on Facebook
Fathom 9 on Reverbnation
Fathom 9 on Twitter


  1. If I was a musically talented individual, I would be inspired to stay on course of my dreams. Even though I have no musical abilities whatsoever, I am still highly inspired by this interview. As a new listener, this was a joy to read.


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