By Rebecca Dow
In a college of over 6,000 students, there are bound to be artists hidden amid the brick-and-mortar classrooms on campus, weathered by salt and time. Some artists are not so hidden, however; some continually reach for the recognition they know they deserve in this world of shifting interests and fashions of perception — regarding what “is” and “isn’t” art. One such talent peeking out from the shadows is Ashton Altvater, a student at SMCC who has a passion for rapping stating that “It’s more than a hobby, it’s a passion.”
Originally from Pleasant Point Indian Reservation in Washington County, Maine, Altvater is a proud member of the Passamaquoddy tribe. “I think it’s pretty neat being a Native American rapper from Maine, and just doing something different this game hasn’t seen before,” he states. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Altvater, delving deeper into the history behind his music, as well as his inspirations.
Regarding the start of his musical journey, he said, “Honestly, it was kind of like a joke at first; I used to freestyle with my friends. I guess I started to take it seriously when I was about 17, 18 — senior in high school. I made an established YouTube page.”
You can find his YouTube channel by searching “Ashton Altvater,” and clicking the channel of the same name. Additionally, he has a soundcloud account at “https://soundcloud.com/mc-undeniable”. Both accounts have original tracks and videos that can be accessed for free online.
As our interview progressed, Altvater revealed the production process of his first official-feeling song. “We recorded ‘Tryin’ To Make It’ when I was 18, in April of 2012,” he said.
“We recorded with a shitty 10- to 15-dollar Walmart mic that we were hanging from the ceiling. That’s how I started … It looked really corny — but I guess, that’s the humble beginnings.”
As for his backing tracks, he replied, “I lease the beats usually, but I’ll go to the studio and I’ll record in there and mix a master [of the track]; stuff like that. Thirty-eight hours in the studio. It’s pretty tight.” The fact that he is seeking out finer equipment for better audio quality seems like a true sign of his unwavering interest in refining his work. As artists, we too should seek to refine our styles and tools to achieve fresher, higher-quality works.
When asked if he ever collaborates with other artists, Altvater replied, “Yes and no; I do, and I’ve collabed before, but I don’t like doing too many collaborations because you’ve got to put a lot of investment, time and hope into someone else for a song. If you did it by yourself your product would probably come out quicker.”
Not only has Altvater remained diligent in pursuing his passion for music, he has gained the support of family and friends throughout his journey. He is active in his community, going to open mics and circulating his content via the web. Additionally, he told me what kind of people inspire him: “Big L is definitely my favorite artist of all time; I guess, people who bring you motivation in life, who go through the same struggle.”
I felt honored to be able to interview someone so confident and filled with motivation for their passion as Undeniable. I encourage you all to listen to his tracks and dip your toes into the local music scene in your area. Take care to be true to yourself as you discover what your innermost self craves.
Altvater could not have given me a better ending quote to the interview: “To be different in this world you’ve gotta separate yourself from everybody else — and you’ve got to pursue your own thing of happiness; find your own path in life. And do what makes you happy, and don’t give a damn about what people think, just do what you love, pursue it to the fullest — 100 percent. Nothing is impossible in this world.”
I raise my proverbial glass of spirits to toast all who are able to express their talents for the world to see. That requires a level of courage and confidence which can be very difficult to achieve for some people. Thank you, and keep sharing your work with us here at The Beacon.
Categories: Arts & Culture