Esseks (Sam Eckstein) is a Brooklyn based producer and artist who creates emotionally driven electronic music and art. He plays guitar and also produces for the band Technicolor Lenses. While Sam has been recording music for more than seven years, he began experimenting with electronic music three years ago after being exposed to the massive sounds and extreme level of control made possible by electronic mediums. This musical awakening prompted him to start Technicolor Lenses with Jackson Whalan in 2011. Since the release of his first solo effort Hair and Nails in April 2012, Esseks has shared the stage with range of artists including Ott & The All-Seeing I, An-Ten-Nae, Dynasty Electric, D.V.S*, Srikalogy, LowRIDERZ, Govinda, and Mike Greenfield of Lotus. His music is influenced by a variety of styles from J Dilla inspired hip-hop beats to heavy bass fueled dubstep to house and even blues and swing. The diverse elements of his music are tied together with Esseks’ signature basses and synths, creating a sound all his own.
Released April 1st, 2013
[LiS] What is your morning ritual?
[Esseks] A spliff and a coffee. Always.
Where do you normally look for inspiration?
I don’t usually go looking for it. I don’t think I’ve ever found inspiration while intentionally looking for it. I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by friends who are all extremely talented and just as obsessed with music as I am. My friends and bandmates are always inspiring, teaching, and motivating me.
How does the dynamic between Technicolor Lenses and Esseks work?
It’s been changing since the beginning of Technicolor Lenses. There was a time when Ty and I would sit down and make beats together. Then there was a point when we’d make beats on our own and work them out as a band together. When we made Eternal Eyes, our last EP, Ty, Brandon, and I wrote the first song “Oompa” together in the same room. I wrote the original beats myself for the second two songs, and we worked together on making the tracks into a final product. This time around, for our new EP we are writing all the songs together and it’s coming out great. It is definitely a constant process of compromise when collaborating with other people but this compromising has been one of the most educational and beneficial processes I’ve gone through. It’s helped teach me what I like and what I don’t. I’ve learned to appreciate things in music I may have never noticed or even thought about before. I think the fact that I have Esseks as my own outlet to allow my unfiltered ideas and voice to be heard has made the writing process for Technicolor Lenses easier. We all have our own side projects with full control so when we are working together it doesn’t matter so much if one of us has an idea the others don’t like or whether or not our ideas are highlighted in the mix because we have other outlets for these ideas so they don’t have to be scrapped or forgotten. It allows our music to speak for itself free of any ego or ties to any single personal influence. It also makes for a way better live show when we are all equally invested and on the same page about the songs we are playing.
If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
Of course I wouldn’t mind being able to support myself a little better, but in all fairness that can’t be made out to be the responsibility of the music industry. As a musician who grew up with online “piracy,” I can’t say whether or not I would have ever found the inspiration to make music without all the illegally downloaded music that inspired me. I also can’t really say whether or not I would have been financially successful in the music industry even if it wasn’t crumbling. So I guess I wouldn’t change anything.
How does making your music affect you physiologically?
I don’t even really know how to answer that. My whole life for the last seven years or so has pretty much revolved around writing and recording music. I guess you could say entirely.
Name three things that DO NOT influence Esseks.
1. Reality TV
2. The news
If you could have a cup of tea with one person, who would it be and why?
John Frusciante. His solo albums, his musical philosophy and his whole background story of his career have been a huge influence on the way I write music and even the way I listen to it. His music just has so much emotion and personality.
Where is your favorite place to play on Earth?
Boston. I haven’t played there by myself but I’ve played there a few times with Technicolor Lenses, and I’ve always had a great time. I just love the community, and we’ve always had a great crowd out there.
Brooklyn is an intensely catalytic environment. How do you stay level and on point in such an environment?
Living in Brooklyn has pretty much shaped my music through the people I’ve met here, and the music I’ve been exposed to. To be completely honest though, lately I’ve been a complete homebody. I go out to shows now and then, but for the most part I like being at home where I can be productive. Over the past few years though it has definitely become apparent how much of a blessing it is to be able to operate out of a hub like NYC because I’ve met more like-minded, talented, helpful, and appreciative people than I would have ever expected when I first started playing shows here. I feel recently, more than ever, a sense of community here in the music scene. It’s a great feeling to be able to go out to a show and know that you will be able to see some familiar faces and share the experience of live music together on such a regular basis.
Your plane is crashing, you have time to grab three objects before you are marooned on a tropical island. What are they?
1. A guitar
2. Ma gurl
3. A Wilson volleyball
Are you currently stoked?
Mate or coffee and why?
Coffee with milk and sugar. I like something hot and sweet in the morning.
What’s your favorite geometric shape?
Triangles because I’m a minimalist and they’re DOPE.
What other creative and artistic endeavors do you currently find yourself involved with?
Technicolor Lenses has a new EP that will be coming out soon after the release of Artifice. I’ve been recording that with my bandmates at their new studio, and I did the design for the album cover and the social media banners, etc. I also made a video for the new single of the Technicolor Lenses EP which I did all on a free app on my iPhone, and it turned out surprisingly well. I can’t wait to release it. I am also currently in my last couple months of school at Parsons for illustration. So I’ve been working on my thesis which involves album artwork, posters, and many other aspects of music branding and design for both myself and Technicolor Lenses, some of which will be on sale on my Bandcamp along with the album. I’m also doing a freelance job designing t-shirts. I make pieces for fun all the time too and upload them to my website pretty regularly. You can check em out at www.sameckstein.com.
What are the main driving elements behind the new album?
It was made over such a long period of time that there are really a lot of different elements that I played with. Some that I’ve played with before and some that are brand new. I tried to make it sound varied in style and tried some things I haven’t really tried yet, but also have something to tie it together into a cohesive piece.
What is the new album called and why?
The album is called Artifice. It refers to what differentiates the organic from the artificial, and how this line can be blurred. Considering the fact that we are natural beings, anything we create could be considered just as natural or organic as a beavers dam or anything else in the natural world. When I first heard this idea, it resonated so deeply with me. I think it was really profound to me at the time because I know people who don’t really “get” electronic music or “don’t think it’s real music” or something along those lines. I think it was like my response to all those comments in a nutshell. Whenever I talk to someone who “just doesn’t get it” or whatever, I always try and convince them to reconsider. As futile as that sounds, I think they owe it to themselves. I can admit to having the same attitude towards electronic music years ago before I was exposed to the right kind and experienced it in the right way. It really opened my eyes to the fact that analyzing someones instrumental ability or worrying about how the song was made or performed while being recorded is pointless. It keeps you from enjoying a whole world of music that is just as relevant, in terms of the way it makes you feel, if you can just get past the fact that it was made on a laptop. I think being able to listen and appreciate music as nothing more than frequencies, organized with thought and intention was a really exciting realization for me that completely expanded my whole world.
How does it differentiate from past albums?
I think it starts where the last one left off. I can’t say any specifics on what makes it different in terms of my approach, but my head’s in a different place from last time. I’m listening to new artists and finding new inspiration all the time. This album is just where I’m at now. Of course, I tried to use a lot more electronic elements and make some more “robotic” sounding tunes to fit the theme, but I don’t always like getting too crazy with those kinds of sounds.
Are there golden threads you’ve found in your toolbox of sounds?
Most definitely. All of my favorite artists are people that have sounds they stick with. As a fan it always excited me to hear a sound I recognized from a previous album used in a different context. I was always a huge fan of The Mars Volta and their guitarist/mastermind Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. It always got me so excited to hear him use a guitar tone I recognized from an older album. I think the sounds that artists stick with over the years shows a lot about them, especially considering the endless possibilities of sounds that are available. I can’t really say what any of my specific go-to sounds are considering the fact that I’ve just randomly compiled all my go-to sounds from different sample packs, etc. into a folder and haven’t really kept track. I do know I’ve been using the Rob Papen Albino since my first album for bass sounds mostly.
Where can we expect to see Esseks live in the near future?
You can see me play with Technicolor Lenses at the following events:
April 26th – USA Shaolin Temple w/ Kaminanda, Skytree, Hot Jambalaya, and more (NYC)
May 9th – Sullivan Hall (NYC)
June 7th – Fiori w/ ELECTRONICAnonymous (Great Barrington, MA)