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Angelus Is Fusing Digicore & Pop. And It Sounds Fantastic

Meet the artist bringing an internet genre to the pop masses.
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This article previously appeared on Audiomack World.

Angelus’ digicore history runs deep. The internet-based music community, notable as the origin of buzzing artists like midwxst and ericdoa, erases both genre and location boundaries, letting a worldwide network of teenage firebrands cobble together viral hits from their bedrooms. After discovering the broader rap underground via artists like Hella Sketchy, Angelus found their way into the Discord server for the collective LosersClub—one of the places where their scene originated around 2018.

Since then, their star in the world of online pop has only risen. The 17-year-old French artist, hot on the heels of their debut album drama queen, is one of a handful of young musicians who’ve been picked up by labels as the digicore scene has been scouted for new talent. But Angelus, who’s fond of clean, big-budget hits from the likes of Michael Jackson and Drake, has stayed true to their roots since joining the AMCO roster.

drama queen is full of driving pop beats, but it’s also marbled with glitchy effects and dotted with lyrical nods to digicore darlings like Juno and Kurtains. The stripped-down “selfish” focuses on Angelus’ best asset: the airy sneer of their voice, which seethes with muted, digital angst. They pull from across the pop spectrum: Angelus mentions taking heavy inspiration from fellow genre-skewing weirdo Rina Sawayama, and “hollywood” plays like a music-box rendition of Camila Cabello’s “My Oh My.”

Angelus has put out music for years, but once they saw their peers notch major opportunities last year, they knew it was time to take their craft more seriously. Witnessing their ragtag online friend group turn out major artists has been a shock for them: “Everything just feels like a surreal moment nowadays… I just feel proud of my friends,” Angelus tells Audiomack.

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You recently signed to AMCO. Tell me how that came together.

It took a while for that to happen. That’s also why it took forever for me to drop the album. At first, I was just finishing up the album, making it good, but then my manager told me I should really do this deal. It took a while to get the right deal and negotiate certain things, and in the end, it worked out really well.

Are there any growing pains you’ve experienced going from a more niche artist to someone with all these responsibilities to a label?

It’s definitely unsettling at first, but you get used to it. I get lazy a lot, so I have to keep up with things. But other than that, I’d say I’m doing a good job.

How do you think labels should approach you and your friends’ music? If I’m an A&R, what’s the best way to handle a digicore musician who’s trying to go bigger?

Go with the flow, and let them do whatever they gotta do, and branch off from their perspective and what they wanna do. Because I feel like they have the craziest ideas. My friends have the craziest ideas. If I was an A&R, I would really just trust the artist, basically.

I know you did a couple of fashion shoots and a couple of music videos with a budget. How was doing that stuff for the first time?

It’s really weird. I don’t know how to explain it. When I was doing it, it’s like, “Wow, this is really my life right now.” Everything I’ve ever done on the internet has led up to this moment. It’s really weird, but I like it. I lowkey like doing photoshoots more than video shoots, though. 100 percent.

Why’s that?

I feel like video shoots are really tiring, bruh. Shooting shots and shit, looking at them, “Oh, something is wrong here! We gotta redo it!” And with photos, I feel like taking pics is simpler. You just pose up, and they can take multiple.

So I enjoy taking pictures more than music videos. But that could change with time. I’ve only had small music videos, either with just one person or a crew.

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The sound of drama queen is a little more pop-leaning, more accessible. What do you think the challenges are trying to take your sound and make it poppier and bigger?

Before I even made the hyperpop sound in like late 2020, in early 2020 I made more accessible music, but it wasn’t really pop music. It was more trap-oriented. I feel like those songs are accessible, except the mix was kind of rough; I wasn’t really as good at mixing. But you’d see the potential, you know? I already knew how to make accessible music.

In the second half of 2020, I would experiment more with different sounds. And I feel like when 2021 started, I combined both, and then the album happened.

If you have a regular pop song to start with, what are some ways to make it weird and give it character?

Be yourself.

Elaborate on that.

For example, in “gossip girls,” I added all these little sound effects and shit. That’s a thing that people do in the underground scene, but I just incorporated it into a mainstream pop beat. Things like that. Things that are done in the underground, I just apply to more accessible music, and I make it accessible.

aobeats did a lot of the production on drama queen. They’re not super tied to the digicore scene. How did you start working with them?

Basically, the way I found them is that they produced this one ericdoa snippet. I forgot where I saw it. I don’t know the name of the song, and I don’t even think it’s ever gonna come out. But I saw that they produced it, so I was like, “Shit, I need beats… This is kind of fire, I’ll see what I can do.”

Before I hit them up, I saw they already followed me, so I was like, “Wow, this is a good sign.” I followed them back on Twitter, DM’d them, we talked for a little bit, and the first song we made was “gossip girls.”

What are your career aspirations? Where do you see your music career in four or five years?

Hmm. I haven’t really thought about that deeply. But I lowkey wanna be, like… I actually don’t know. Probably a big artist, obviously.

How big is “big”?

Like, Billie Eilish-type big?

So you wanna be huge. Do you think you could handle that?

I mean, if it comes my way, I can’t really stop it. But I think it’s cool. I’ll figure out a way to handle it.

By H.D. Angel for Audiomack

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