Escapism: A Conversation With Wesson Desir on The Complexities of Life And More

Wesson Desir

Wesson Desir doesn’t sound like your average Atlanta rapper, he has always been labeled somewhat of an outcast, or as he explains, ” I think I’ve always been like that.”

“Growing up, even in elementary school, I would have moments where I’d think why is everybody thinking the same thing, why is everybody doing the same thing.”

Interestingly enough, it’s puzzling how interconnected the candid moments throughout our lives really are — the moments of innocence, of unknowing, self-discovery in a sense — all aligning to influence our existence. In Wesson’s case, his objective reality is almost like one prolonged social experiment that divulges into escapism and independence. He has no desire to conform for the sake of relatability.

But when you’ve been naturally distant your entire life, that in itself can pose its fair share of problems, even creating a divide amongst family members. “When I was 11, for some reason, my brother just stopped talking to me.”

Wesson Desir’s otherworldly outlook on life is best attributed to his fondness for Greek mythology. Most recently, the budding star released Apollo Archives, his debut project. Finding the young talent in a state of introspection, Wesson’s nine track effort covers a range of subject matter that explores fashion, fantasy, and surrealism.

After our 30-minute conversation, I was able to develop a better understanding of Wesson’s unique ethos as an artist: he channels a palpable sense of vulnerability with every creation. His music is wide-reaching and reflects his empathetic nature towards others, but this notion of compassion could very well be his own Achilles’ heel. Our conversation, lightly edited for context and clarity, follows below.

Wesson Desir, is that an alias or your real name? 

That’s my birth name, Wesson Desir. I’m not gonna tell you my middle name. My middle name is terrible (laughs). 

Would you consider yourself an outcast, in terms of not fitting into that Atlanta “Trap” aesthetic, or how do you deal with being different? 

I think I’ve always been like that. Growing up, even in elementary school, I would have moments where I’d think why is everybody thinking the same thing, why is everybody doing the same thing. I think that’s what led me to explore outside of my environment’s music. It would range from the Kendrick’s to Lil Wayne’s, I wasn’t just leaning on the Gucci’s, the Future’s, Thug (Young Thug), all that — but I would say there’s elements: I do listen to Atlanta music, I listen to that trap shit. It probably doesn’t show in the subject matter, it’s more so in the cadence and flow. For example, with “.22”, somebody came to me and was like, “Yo, this shit sounds like some alternative Future type flow.” Like with HNDRXX — when they explained it, it’s like ah, I didn’t think that would show up because when I make music, I don’t have a goal in mind, it’s more so subconscious thoughts being thrown on paper, just like ideas and little anecdotes, stories and what not. 

Do you find solace with getting your thoughts out on wax? It just feels like music is more than an experience for you. 

Definitely. I feel like when you vent to other people, people don’t actually listen or they listen, but they can’t necessarily do anything for you. They can offer perspective, but that really doesn’t solve anything. It has to come from you, yourself and your thinking. Or, what they’ll do is take your information and use it against you in the future. That’s the whole idea of being vulnerable, allowing yourself to be open to different things possibly happening to you, disclosing information. It’s definitely therapeutic because I don’t confide in people like that. I got one super-close friend that I might tell information to, but yeah — it’s fun to do it on records because you don’t have to say anything, you can sugarcoat as much as you want to, you can mask it. I’ll say something and people wouldn’t take it that way, they would hear it as me playing around with a melody or something, but there would be more to it. There’s reasons as to why I might say certain things, I might not even know why at the time. I look back and realize what my mindset was like when I made this. 

How did we get here: have you always maintained a reserved character? 

I think it’s probably a mixture of multiple factors. I was naturally observant as a kid or openly aware, scanning and trying to understand how people do things or why I do certain things. For some reason — yo, this is so weird — but at one point, my whole family was not talking to me: they were all giving me the silent treatment, except for my parents, they were always at work. My dad worked in cable, so he would be doing contract work in let’s say New York maybe, Virginia, random states just picking up work. My mom, she was working at Grady, she’s a nursing assistant. She would always be putting in a lot of hours, so it was basically me and my siblings. I got an older brother, older sister and a younger sister. When I was 11, for some reason, my brother just stopped talking to me. He would give me the real silent treatment. It’s so weird, I don’t know how to explain it. For years, my brother would not talk to me. Even when I was young, my initial thought was I don’t need to talk to anybody. Maybe I had a bit of an ego, but it got me to where I’m at right now: becoming independent and free-thinking. Me and my brother started back talking when I was 19, so that’s eight years, which is crazy. 

When you reflect on that period of time, that lapse in communication for eight years, what did that moment mean to you?

I didn’t have no one to talk to, so it was more like I would just listen to music. I didn’t start making music until I was probably like 15, but I would just listen to it and over the years I would pick up new things. I was growing up with music while music was raising me in a sense. I think that definitely contributed to how I think. 

Your music seems strangely personal, outside of the abstract nuances used throughout your rhyme scheme. How do you manage to connect with your audience while revisiting those internalized struggles of the past? 

I feel like the people that see what I’m painting, those are the people who will migrate towards me because they’ll understand what I’m tryna put out. It’s a mentality. This project (Apollo Archives) was me trying to tap into that introspectiveness. It was based around creating images and different combinations of things that wouldn’t normally go together. I wanted it to be subtle, not too in your face or anything. At the same time, I wanted it to have that weight, that’s why I named it Apollo and kind of clinged to that idea of a Greek God and what not. 

When did your affinity for Greek mythology initially surface? 

I think probably in my tenth grade year, that’s the earliest memory I can think back to. Either that or playing God of War or some shit, it would always be surrounding supernatural stuff. Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and all that. I would say I really started actually looking into it when I was in tenth grade. We would read The Odyssey or some other epic, like we read Gilgamesh, all that. I think it’s because I related to both ends of a certain archetype. The main character would always be this hubris hero, he’d be super arrogant in the beginning. When I was younger, I was more arrogant: not necessarily experiencing things, especially with the way that I think, it’s more rational, super analytical, kind of viewing situations from a third-person perspective. Even when I’m in a situation, I view it from a bird’s eye point of view, like what would make the most sense in this situation. I think I relate to that part, the arrogant part of the character, and then after the plot when he’s more mature, more apathetic and aware, that’s when I lean more towards it. Shit’s fire to imagine a different reality. I think that’s what it ultimately boils down to, me just imagining different realities, alternative timelines and shit. 

Do you feel like you cling towards the concept of escapism more because there’s something you’re trying to get away from? 

That’s a good ass question. My last project was super realistic, real conscious, down-to-earth shit. With this project, it was more subjective, these are all things that we experience, let me offer an escape. I agree, it definitely is a form of escapism, but I don’t know why. Maybe we’ll find out in the next couple of years (laughs). 

Out of mere curiosity, why Apollo? I know that’s Zeus’ son and everything, but apparently he had a really bad temper. 

It’s crazy because I’m good, I don’t have a short fuse, it takes a lot to make me angry. I chose Apollo because I identify with a lot of the things that he does: he’s the Greek God of healing and music. I’m tryna master my craft and find myself, I think that’s why I chose Apollo. 

Personally, if you were a Greek God, what do you think would be your downfall? 

I feel like if I was a Greek God I would give somebody the benefit of the doubt and they would turn around and backstab me. I’m somebody that would analyze that: I’ll understand that it’s a possibility of that happening and I’ll still go out on a limb for them. I feel like it would be me being merciful. 

Do you feel like people would take advantage of your compassion?

Yes, I’m definitely too empathetic and I’m working on it. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, you just gotta get certain things under control. You just gotta know how to rationalize situations.

At this stage in your career, what do you feel like has been the most gratifying thing to happen for you so far? 

I gotta think bro. It be situations that warm my heart, fan love or someone will tell me my music helped them through a hard time. Then it’s like okay, this shit actually impacted somebody, like how I used to listen to music when I was younger and realized how it impacted me. I couldn’t talk to my favorite artists back then because social media wasn’t as present. Even if it was, I don’t see how I could get into Kanye West’ DM’s and actually have a conversation. I’m thankful for the people that actually believe in me up until this point. I know my mindset more than anyone could ever imagine, and it’s like, I’m thankful for everyone at this small level where I’m at now, without any cosigns. It’ s just like bro, I laid out concepts and people are fucking with it, that’s fire. Going forward, I’m definitely going to make undeniably good music in the future, great music at that. I ain’t had nothing crazy happen, it’s COVID season bro — it’s not like I can go out and do a crazy show and have people come on stage.

When it’s all said and done, what’s Wesson’s legacy? 

Honestly, I think of myself as my biggest critic. Making something and being like this is amazing. I’ve had a couple of moments where it’s like this hard, this hard, this fire, but I ain’t never had a “this is AMAZING” moment. I think that’s where I’m going to get my fulfillment, I wanna be in the studio and maybe shed a tear. It’s like damn, I actually made this with other people, they helped me create this. Seeing my music have an impact on other people let’s me know for a fact that I was made for this. Having my family live comfortably, that’s probably the peak. My parents have been living the hard life forever, so that’s where I’ll get most of my fulfillment from, seeing them live good and not have to worry about shit. I don’t want to feel like I have to constantly drop music to be relevant, I want shit to be timeless. If it can exist 10-20 years after I’m gone, I’ll be okay, I’ll be fine. I’m not in a race, I’m just tryna find that right pocket and run with it. I’m not lost 100%, I know what I want to do subconsciously, but once I have a concrete grasp of who I am and what I wanna do, I should feel that complete fulfillment.

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