Featured Artist: deM atlaS

deM atlaS relaxes before the ‘Mi Vida Local Tour’ show starts at the Senator Theater on Friday. Photo credit: Brian Luong


Over the past year, Chico’s Senator Theater has gathered notable entertainers from the likes of Insane Clown Posse, Poppy, Bhad Bhabie, and All Time Low have all come through Chico.

Chico’s notable rise in popularity for these big acts is astonishing and shows the appeal the college town has for entertainers across the country.

Putting a spotlight on one of these acts, deM atlaS, came to the Senator Theater on Friday to open for Atmosphere. Joining the mish-mash of varied entertainers to stop by Chico.

Born Joshua Evans Turner in Akron Ohio on May 31, 1992, deM atlaS is an artist with the vocal range and insightful lyricism matched by few. He came to Chico Friday and performed as part of Atmosphere’s ‘Mi Vida Local Tour.’

deM atlaS performed “Tomorrow Party” and other songs from his latest album Bad Actress Friday night at the Senator Theatre. Photo credit: Brian Luong

At the age of four, he moved to Minneapolis Minnesota and found a passion for art, watching anime, drawing maps, studying cultures and in high school, he fronted a band called The Argonauts.

deM atlaS didn’t know what he wanted to do as a kid, all he did know was that he wanted to become rich and that eventually lead him to hip-hop. He adds his own unique spin on the genre as he raps, sings and “screams.”

“Rap didn’t come into the picture, damn, until I was in my teens,” Turner said. “I was a really shy kid so I didn’t even explore the possibility of getting up on stage and singing in front of people. Until I saw others do it and that inspired me, even more, to do it.”

deM atlaS performs at the Senator Theatre in Chico Friday night as one of the openers for Atmosphere on the Mi Vida Local Tour. Photo credit: Brian Luong

His name, partly, derives from the old saying, “Nice guys finish last.” He capitalizes the M and S in his name to give them their praise. It also reflects his outlook on life, the dem is the human side that makes mistakes and the atlas, like an atlas, encompasses everything.

“I used to love to draw maps, draw cities and makeup made up places and made up names, Turner said. “Also, I was really into other people’s cultures. I would be in the back of class reading atlas’, drawing maps and drawing all the time. It’s where I got part of my name.”

This love for expression led deM atlaS to write and produce his first solo project, from his mother’s basement, ‘Charlie Brwn.’


He would go around performing for anyone who would have him and eventually caught the attention of the independent record label Rhymesayers Entertainment. He had a meeting with co-CEO Siddiq and ended up signing with them, joining his tour mates Slug and Ant of Atmosphere who also co-founded the label.

“No one ever knows how it will happen but I knew I would be alright, Turner said. “I went to college and I flunked out of my classes. I dropped everything to do this. I kinda just knew it would figure itself out because I wanted it so bad and I feel like I have something to give.”

deM atlaS looks out to the crowd after one of his performances Friday night at the Senator Theatre during the Mi Vida Local Tour. Photo credit: Brian Luong

Joining names such as Brother Ali, Grieves, P.O.S, MF Doom, Aesop Rock and of course Atmosphere, deM atlaS is part of a label known for producing legends in the hip-hop industry.

“It’s like a family I never had growing up, Turner said. “I’m surrounded by a lot of people that have lived their passions and lived their truths. That inspires me. To be a part of that lineage and that history and to be that next generation carrying the torch is a great honor. I don’t take it lightly. I didn’t think that would happen but this is just part of the journey.”


Even with 2 million streams in 65 countries in 2018 on Spotify deM atlaS remains humble and does it all for the love of art.

“It’s about expression, any artist, or some artist really believe in showing their work, Turner said. “As into share it and to influence and to inspire people with it. Like those who have come before me inspired me. It’s just kinda that unknown thing where you just want to pass it down. So I absolutely want as many people to hear my music. That’s what it’s about, not streams.”

Being inspired by the likes of Malcolm X, cartoonist Jim Davis, painter Frida Kahlo, philosopher John Michell and many more, he doesn’t want to limit himself to just making music. One day he could be making pottery in Thailand and he’s just taking it a day at a time.

deM atlaS relaxes before the ‘Mi Vida Local Tour’ show starts at the Senator Theater on Friday. Photo credit: Brian Luong

“I don’t want my thing to just be music because that’s not the total sum of my parts, Turner said. “I definitely want to get into cartoons and maybe one day even have an art gallery where I’m hanging up paintings and s**t, that’d be cool.”

deM atlaS will do whatever he is passionate about and will make music for as long as he can. He never takes anything for granted because he knows it could all be gone tomorrow because nothing is promised.

Ricardo Tovar can be reached at [email protected] and @rtovarg13 on Twitter.