“To some, it must seem like this young electronic producer came out of nowhere. Emancipator played his first live show in July 2009, opening for Bonobo at the Roseland Theater (cap. 1500). Since then, he’s toured with Bassnectar, STS9, Pretty Lights, drawn crowds at festivals like Trinumeral and Symbiosis, and closed out Sound Tribe Sector 9’s late night parties in Denver at the request of the band.
But those in the know have been following Emancipator since he self-released his first album, Soon It Will Be Cold Enough, at the age of 19 in 2006. His agile melodies layered over headnodic, immaculately-produced beats captivated fans across the internet and across the world. “Soon It Will Be Cold Enough” was picked up by Japanese super-producer Nujabes, pressed in Japan and sold 5,000 copies in the first six months. Emancipator landed a Puma sponsorship, gave an interview to Rolling Stone Japan, discovered one of his songs was played at the Beijing Olympics (still trying to figure out how that happened) and his song “Shook,” a mashup that perfectly mixes Mobb Deep’s mighty raps with a haunting track from the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, become the highest-rated song on Hype Machine’s “Best 50 Songs of 2007,” and appeared on Hype Machine as the #2 most popular song in April 2009.
His latest album “Safe In The Steep Cliffs” blends new instrumentation and organic samples with the signature Emancipator style of clean production, silky melodies and addictive drums. Dense layers of choirs, horns, American folk instruments such as the banjo and mandolin, violin and some distinct Asian influences make for a playful but refined album built out of intricate tracks listeners can enjoy on as many levels as they want. Dance to it, chill out to it, immerse your mind in it.” – EmancipatorMusic.com
LostinSound’s interview with Doug Appling aka Emancipator:
LiS: What kind of music background/upbringing did you grow up with?
Emancipator: I grew up in a very musical house. My father is an avid record collector of every genre out there. He also builds dulcimers. So music was all around growing up. At age 4 I started violin lessons and later picked up guitar, drums and bass. I played in a few bands. In high school I started using music production software Acid Pro and Reason and that really opened up a lot of sonic possibilities. I’ve been obsessed with producing music ever since.
LiS: I think its safe to say your music was an overnight sensation that is here to stay. How did Emancipator begin?
Emancipator: As far as exposure, things have really moved quickly within the last year. I had been building a fan base online for years and got my first break when ‘Soon It Will Be Cold Enough’ was picked up by Nujabes and released in Japan on his label Hydeout Productions. In 2009 I started working with 1320 Records and touring in the U.S. Musically though, my sound wasn’t developed overnight. It’s been a gradual evolution and I don’t expect it to stop.
LiS: Do you play any of the live instruments on your tracks?
Emancipator: I’ve been recording guitar and bass since I first got a Tascam 4-track mixer 10 years ago. More recently I’ve tried recording some of my own violin, banjo, mandolin, and keys. I’ll try to play any instrument I get my hands on and sometimes it works out. You can hear the results on ‘Safe in the Steep Cliffs.’ Both my albums so far have musical guests and I’ll continue that.
LiS: Both of your albums’ names and artwork seem to have a natural theme. Does nature provide you with inspiration for your work?
Emancipator: I make computer-based music but gravitate toward organic sounds. The natural world is amazing. Nature moves you the way beautiful music moves you. Beyond that, there are many familiar qualities found in nature that can be seen in music, like repetition, nested patterns, rhythms. So yes, I’m a big fan of nature. I live in Oregon. I watch a lot of Planet Earth.
LiS: What excites you about the future of this musical community that has been anticipating your new album?
Emancipator: The community is thriving right now. There’s a growing collective of musicians, artists, dancers, etc. coming together to create a complete experience that fans participate in. The fans are passionate about music, they keep their ear to the ground for what’s fresh and they come out strong for shows. There’s never been as much musical output, diversity, and accessibility as there is right now. I’m feeling great about the state of music and happy to be a part of it.
LiS: I caught your fire late night set at the lake stage at Trinumeral festival last summer. Can your fans expect to catch you on the festival circuit this year?
Emancipator: Trinumeral and Symbiosis were two incredible highlights of my summer. If I get the opportunity to play more festivals in the future, I’ll be stoked.
LiS: In 2009 you shared the stage with such heady acts as Eskmo, Bonobo, and Big Gigantic. How would you describe your experience in 2009 as a musician?
Emancipator: It’s been a thrill to play with so many artists I respect and have been listening to for years, and to discover a great number of new artists at the same time. It was definitely a big year and it’s given me some good momentum going into 2010, especially with a new record just out.
LiS: What do you hope the new decade holds for Emancipator?
Emancipator: We’ll see.
LiS: What are you listening to right now?
Emancipator: Flying Lotus as I write this interview.
LiS: Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
Emancipator: Enya is dope.
LiS: Are you thinking about having a live band?
Emancipator: My music has a lot of potential for a live ensemble. It’s a matter of finding the right players who are on the same wavelength. Send resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org
Make sure to check out Emancipator at Camp Bisco 9 Music & Arts Festival in Mariaville, New York July 15-17 alongside acts such as LCD Soundsystem, Ween, Thievery Corporation, Pretty Lights, Rusko, Diplo, and many more. Look out for the LostinSound crew raging front and center, rocking Use Your Head pins. Ask us for a pin and you just might find yourself in our post-event crowd coverage!