An Interview with Emancipator
For people unaware of Emancipator — the electronic music impresario who, at the age of 19, exploded onto the scene in 2006 with his self-published album Soon It Will Be Cold Enough — it’s probably only a matter of time before his music hits your speakers. Covered by Rolling Stone Japan and sought after by prominent promoters, Emancipator is now an internationally known musician whose work is appreciated by a large eclectic fan base. Below is a brief interview with the young trip-hop producer.
What was the original intent behind self-releasing your first album Soon It Will Be Cold Enough? And would you recommend self-publishing to other artists?
Soon It Will Be Cold Enough was originally self-released because it was my debut album and I didn’t start out with the backing of a label. Before Hydeout Productions or 1320 Records, I was mailing out hand-assembled albums from my apartment, hoping to spread the word about my music. Right now I am fortunate to maintain complete creative control over my music. That should be a priority of any artist. It’s also important to consider who is getting a piece of your pie. Artists today are able to cut out a lot of the middlemen that have traditionally stood between them and profits. All of the tools to self-publish your music are available to anyone with the right time and effort.
Can you describe what the step from budding artist to full-blown touring artist was like?
It happened relatively quickly. I went from touring dive bars to hitting the stage at Red Rocks within a year. As I reach more listeners, I naturally become more self-aware of the music I’m creating. I have been trying to maintain my signature sound and style even as I present my music in these new environments. Performing music on the stage requires me to think differently about my music — bringing songs out of their original context and into the club’s sound environment, which tends to emphasize the low end and overarching grooves rather than the nuances. It is a challenge to come up with original sets consistently and present old material in a refreshing way.
What were your biggest influences (musically and otherwise) early in your career as opposed to right now?
I grew up listening to a lot of classical, electronic, folk and world music. I used to listen to a lot more rock music than I do now. Hip hop remains a big influence. I listen to mostly music without words that is electronically produced.
Your thoughts on electronic music and its recent-ish rise to popularity here in the U.S.?
I was exposed to all kinds of electronic music growing up, so it’s always been a normal part of my life. I have watched it evolve from various subcultures to the present, where it has permeated virtually every style of mainstream music. Technology continues to grow exponentially, and with it the capabilities of music production tools. It is especially interesting to hear some of the sounds that innovative producers are creating from scratch and how they are fusing sounds with existing styles. Hearing all of these new sounds is like a chef discovering new ingredients to cook with.
What does the future look like for you and your music?
There are a lot of ongoing projects in Emancipator land. Right now I’m focused on finishing my third full-length album. There are only a few remaining tour dates for 2011, but it won’t be long until I hit the road again.
Any thoughts on the upcoming Eugene Celebration show?
I’m very excited to be heading down to Eugene to play this event. The last time I was at the McDonald Theater was with Bassnectar in 2010. Ilya Goldberg will be accompanying me on violin.
Emancipator plays 11 pm Saturday, Aug. 22, at the McDonald Theatre, at the Eugene Celebration.