After receiving a track, he'd write arrangements for violins, violas and/or cellos, then record each in different parts of a studio, "to sound like an orchestra." He's now a much-sought-after string player; The New York Times has called him "a leader of skilled ensembles, a celebrator of repertories, an organizer of legacies."
He's connected and respected. But not rich. "I usually have enough money to live for three or four weeks," he says. "I've turned down a lot of high-paying gigs because it didn't feel right." A practicing Buddhist, his artistic decisions are based on the vibes he receives from music, and he now focuses only on projects he feels connected to, like his recent work on Flying Lotus and Thundercat's albums.
Atwood-Ferguson broke out with producer-mentor Carlos Niño on the acclaimed 2009 EP Suite for Ma Dukes, a reimagining of hip-hop producer J Dilla's songs with a 60-piece orchestra. Now he's crafting his debut album, to be released on Flying Lotus's Brainfeeder label next year.