Emancipator – “Safe In The Steep Cliffs” Interview

‘Safe In The Steep Cliffs’ represents the tightest, most unique, most organic beats I’ve made in the last three years. This album has a new palette of sounds and samples from around the world, including more original recordings (guitar/violin/mandolin/banjo) and new guest artists including Japanese jazz musician Uyama Hiroto. It’s ominous and overgrown, dense and ethereal. And epic. Always epic.”

Doug Appling/Emancipator


Download your copy of “Safe in the Steep Cliffs” here:


-LostinSound.org’s Interview with Emancipator-

LiS: Did you go anywhere special over the holidays? How’d you ring in the New Year?

Emancipator: My last show of the year was the late night in Denver on the 29th following STS9’s acoustic set. NYE was all about champagne and campfires.

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?

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?

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 emancipatorbeats@gmail.com


Here are a few of my favorite tracks from “Safe In The Steep Cliffs”, enjoy!


As Emancipator describes the album as “epic, always epic”, I think Nevergreen is it’s most epic track. It starts with a smooth beat that drops atop a resounding, slow piano progression. This minimal drumbeat comes and goes as the prominent cello layer rises and falls. At 1:41, a durty rock guitar riff steals the stage as it rips through briefly, as if to peak off into an even more elegant and epic ending.

Old Devil

Old Devil has an antique twang to the guitar and plucked strings, accompanied by a wild drum progression that is as tight as it is sporadic. This track- like many of Emancipator’s tracks- has a deep fiddle that creates various layers. At times a loud, intense crescendo, and at others a strange tremolo lull. All of these parts move together at an amazing speed that makes me think of a less flashy Beats Antique track, one that I can leave on repeat and would just feel natural to hear over and over.


There is a howling, mysterious nature to Rattlesnakes. It makes me visualize a seductive and eerie setting, like a dark moonlit canyon. Starting off with a howling flute and swift mandolin-like progression, the song is marked by natural percussion sounds, such as maracas and the tapping of wooden blocks, which create the auditory illusion of a Rattlesnake’s rattle. I like how this track upholds the Emancipator sound, while creating sparking fresh imagery in my mind through the mix of new mediums.

I think what interests me the most about Emancipator’s music is that truly anyone can listen to it. No matter where they’re from, what they’re into, or how old they are, it’s always a good groove; just a blend of really attractive sounds. I think Doug/ Emancipator is setting a new standard, and at such a young point in his career I hope he continues to change what we perceive as downtempo electronic music. LostinSound feels privileged to have the oppurtunity to get to know Emancipator, and cannot wait to work with him in the future!


Download your copy of”Safe in the Steep Cliffs” here:



Feb 2 Crown Hall – Mendocino, CA w/ Bassnectar
Feb 3 Arcata Theatre – Arcata, CA w/ Bassnectar
Feb 4 McDonald Theatre – Eugene, OR w/ Bassnectar
Feb 5 Roseland Theater – Portland, OR w/ Bassnectar
Feb 6 Showbox SoDo – Seattle, WA w/ Bassnectar.
Feb 22 Wilma Theater – Missoula, Montana w/ STS9
Feb 25 The Depot – Salt Lake City, Utah w/ STS9
Feb 26 House of Blues – Las Vegas, Nevada w/ STS9
Feb 27 Marquee Theatre – Tempe, Arizona w/ STS9
Feb 28 Rialto Theater – Tucson, Arizona w/ STS9
Mar 3 New Earth Music Hall – Athens, GA
Mar 4 90 Proof – Knoxville, TN
Mar 5 412 Market – Chattanooga, TN
Mar 6 12th & Porter – Nashville, TN
Mar 7 Kentucky Downs – Franklin, KY
Mar 19 Kinetic Playground – Chicago, IL
Mar 20 The Loft – Minneapolis, MN
Mar 27 – Harper’s Ferry – Boston, MA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.