Welcome to the 405's Ones to Watch rundown, 2016. In an attempt to hammer home the 'quality over quantity' adage, this year's selection is slightly smaller at just seven artists, but we're confident you'll find someone to fall in love with this week.

A humble and soft-spoken Demo Taped puts down his newly purchased Nintendo 3DS in Atlanta when I give him a call on Skype from Helsinki. Talking about music trumps a half-hour playing Kirby and he coyly chuckles as the choice of past-time between a mostly consuming day making music. He's usually always making music. The 17-year-old artist/producer, who first stunned the interwebs and blogosphere with the three-cut Heart EP this past February, has a lot in-store for his growing fan-base this next coming year and that's precisely why he's one to watch.

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What makes you an artist to watch?

What I'm trying to do is really sound different. I'm not really trying to do what's selling and I'm not trying to produce music that I know will get a lot of reception. I'm really trying to make art. There are people trying to do that, but not a lot of people that try to do that get recognized for what they do. I really just want to make art and, of course stuff that people like, but mainly art.

And through your journey of making art, you haven't been shy about sharing your battle with depression. So at this point in your life, how would you describe the emotional and creative space you're in?

Right now, it's about finding a balance. I have my off days. I haven't had a big struggle or have been really depressed lately, as I was when I was creating Heart EP. But, I'm really trying to focus on the music and it's really helping me get along. Creating and having something to do really helps out.

Love is a prominent theme throughout your music, so I wanted to know how you describe love and its effect on you as a creator.

In my experience, it's the feeling of having someone's back and being there for them no matter what. Just being a shoulder to cry on or someone to talk to. A friend. Most of my songs are about love and either the happiness that I've found from it or the struggle that comes with heartbreak.

You come across as super emotionally intelligent for 17-years-old. Where does that come from?

I've always been a little mature for my age. I'm an introvert and I'd rather stay inside than go to a party. That has really helped me to mature. Along with the depression I've gone through, it's really helped me to see life in a way that I don't think most 20-somethings may have really gone through. I'm really thankful for where I am.

So, you have some shows coming up which is exciting. But if you could perform anywhere, where would it be and why?

Bonnaroo. I went this year and it was an amazing experience. I met amazing people that I've actually kept in touch with. Amazing atmosphere. The vibe is chill and everyone is so nice. High fives everywhere. Also, it's the festival circuit so there's a lot of energy, a lot of good vibes all around.

What's been your greatest accomplishment to date?

If I'm really, truly honest, it would be the fact that I'm still alive. With the help of my parents and my friends, that's a huge accomplishment. I can't put anything above that.

How do you feel about the somewhat-taboo topic of mental illness within music?

I've worked with a couple so far and we've talked about it, but what they may not totally call depression and general sadness, a lot of artists have it. It's very important to recognize it and to get in front of it. Especially in the art community, we should have more outlets for people to just talk and get to the root problems of what's causing their sadness or their affliction. There's no reason for the taboo. Most people get really uncomfortable when you tell them you have depression. When you get to that point where you're in a conversation or a relationship with someone and you disclose that you have depression or anxiety, a lot of people get uncomfortable that. We need to get over it.

Your 'Not Enough' visual. It's super creative and dope. I wanted to know how important the visual element is to your overall artistic vision.

Before this music took off and got any attention, I was really interested in going to school for film. I've been studying film since middle-school and the visual aspect has always been something that has intrigued me. Even now with the music, there's not enough visual. In the future, I would love to create music videos with more of a story. I want to make a short film that incorporates my music someday. One day, I'd love to get into scoring.

I know you've been working on your new music as well.

Right now, I'm finishing up my second EP and have begun working on my album. I'm very excited for it. The second EP is not as related to love as Heart. It's more of a chronological account of what happened after. I think the album is a reflection of what's happened after that.

What predictions do you have for yourself for the next coming year?

As the years go by, I really think that my sound will mature as will I. I want to get some collaborations going and work with some great artists. I really want to start doing more shows, because that's one of my favourite aspects of doing this is seeing everyone's reactions and having a crowd vibe with you. The amount of concerts I've been to, they've been crazy experiences and I want to create that experience for other people with my own music.

What was the show that changed your life?

Flying Lotus. This year in Atlanta. This was the beginning of the cube visuals and it was one of the first shows he had for You're Dead. It was the most amazing show. I think if I went to that concert, Heart EP wouldn't exist. Demo Taped wouldn't exist.


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