Uncaged Creativity: An Interview With Emancipator
To emancipate is to set free, and as Emancipator Doug Appling and Ilya Goldberg do just that. Their distinct and diverse sound migrates freely through various instruments and influences fusing organic sounds and digital samples together to create music that’s tremendously eclectic and enthralling. With a new album coming out in January, the launching of Loci Records and a 26-date winter tour just announced Emancipator is beyond busy. But I was fortunate enough to catch up with them before their show at the Aggie Theater to chat about their love for Colorado, the definition of ‘trip-hop’, and the digital music revolution.
AKcreative: Tonight is the fourth and final show of your tour through Colorado. How have the past three performances been and is there anything special about this state’s fan-base?
Doug: Colorado always has a place in our hearts. It’s one of the strongest responses we see and the past three nights have been good evidence of that. We sold a lot of tickets and the crowds have really been digging the music so far. We’ve been having a blast.
You actually met Ilya after a show in Boulder about two years ago and since then he’s become a primary part of your unique sound and stage presence. How has his presence changed or enhanced Emancipator?
Ilya has definitely brought his own style to the music. His personality comes through when we perform live and also on our new albums.
Ilya: Over time it has become more and more of a collaboration, especially on the new album that is coming out. I bring my own flavor as well as a respect for the style and music that Doug has already created. I think that both of our interpretations of music and our feelings about music coexist in a really good harmony.
As a violinist from a family full of classical musicians you chose a pretty unconventional career path. What do your parents think about Emancipator?
Ilya: I don’t think my family is totally clear on what I’m doing yet because the scene is very strange to them and they’re not accustomed to it at all. But they always trust and respect what I do. I have yet to bring them to one of our shows but it’s going to happen soon.
How did you (Doug) link up with Nujabes early on in your career and what was it like to achieve sudden success in Japan?
Doug: Nujabes was my big break in a way. He helped introduce my music to the world and I very much appreciate that. I had just discovered his music three months before he contacted me and I was also very interested in being a part of his label in Japan.
Was it weird to hear your song “Maps” featured during the Beijing Olympics?
I have no idea who picked out that music to be played in the gymnastics stadium. But I was watching it on TV in New York City and I heard my music faintly playing in the background with a lot reverb echoing in the stadium. To this day there’s still no answer to that mystery.
You’ve accomplished a lot since releasing your first album Soon It Will Be Cold Enough in 2006. With 2012 soon coming to a close, do you have any personal resolutions or goals as an artist for next year?
I’ve spent the last two years kind of exploring a variety of different styles so this new album is going to be eclectic in a way. I’m going to try and focus on what I’m creating a little more. I haven’t decided what style that will be exactly for my new project, but I know I’m going to be more conscientious of what I’m making as I’m making it.
Are there any particular artists who you hope to tour or work with in the future?
I would love to tour with a lot of my favorite artists who I listen to like DJ Shadow, Bonobo, Fourtet or Thievery Corporation. That would be like coming full circle for me.
Congratulations on recently launching Loci Records. What was the inspiration for starting your own label and what should fans expect to hear from it?
I just launched Loci Records a couple days ago and we’re excited to introduce Tor’s new album ‘Drum Therapy’ on December 11th. It’s been an idea I’ve had for a long time in the back of my head. Since I met Tor and heard his album early on as he was working on it I kind of asked him if he’d be interested in releasing it on a label if I ever had one. So once he finished his album that kind of kick started me to actually make this happen. As we continue releasing music on the label a clearer picture will evolve. But with Tor’s album and also my new album dropping in January on Loci Records we’ll start to paint a picture of the super organic sounds we’re trying to curate.
On Wikipedia you’re referred to as a ‘trip-hop’ producer and although you exhibit elements of that sound I think your style is ultimately too unique to be classified as simply ‘trip-hop’. How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it before?
I think trip-hop is kind of a dated term. It reminds me of the early 90s and that type of trip-hop when it was first evolving. But I tend to use a lot of the same sounds that come out of trip-hop music, which is why I started that association. Trip-hop kind of just implies that there’s an electronic element involved in these otherwise chilled-out style hip-hop beats. Now it’s evolved to something beyond that. Electronic music is pretty much every type of genre, so when I describe my own music I refer to it as melodic down-tempo instrumental hip-hop electronica. If I can say all of that then it paints a pretty good picture.
You’ve previously mentioned that, “there is a revolution going on right now in digital music.” As a ‘digital’ artist what makes you believe that we’re in the midst of a musical revolution?
What makes me think that is how accessible you can make your music to anybody in the world instantly. We have access to pretty much all music and within a couple minutes we can track it down and listen to it. I started on MySpace back in the day just putting my music out there and I’ve used social media to evolve my music career.
Is there anything you’d like to tell your fans?
Thanks for being so passionate about music, going out to shows, listening to electronic music, suggesting it to your friends and everything else.
Ilya: In particular to our Colorado fans who came out to our three shows this week. Many many thanks for supporting us and sharing all of that love.
*For more information on Emancipator visit www.emancipatormusic.com and be sure to share some love with them during their Winter Tour.