Interview by Parisa Eshrati
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to speak with Doug Appling of Emancipator over the phone. We discussed psychological theories behind music, upcoming releases, Mortal Kombat, The Simpsons, and much more.
You graduated with a degree in psychology. I'm interested, since psychology and music can go hand in hand, do you feel like you have a psychological framework in mind when you're writing so you can better relay your intention into your sound?
Yeah, I definitely do on some level. I've always been most interested in where music and psychology meet. I love where the two fields meet, and I took some classes on music psychology when I went to college. It's interesting to me how music can affect people so deeply with such powerful emotions.
You've mentioned in previous interviews how bass music is essential to your primeval senses. Do you think there's some sort of evolutionary aspect to this type of music that makes it so essential?
Definitely. In nature, bass sounds are mostly related to a threat or fear of some sort. It stimualtes you on a primeval level. When you hear bass, it could be similar to thunder or earthquakes, that kind of stuff. That sound is very deeply rooted in our psychology. When we listen to bass music, I think it activates that part of your brain.
You've also mentioned how the lower you go in octaves, the more primal it is. Your music is well recieved around the globe. Do you think it's the lower octaves that's been key in making your music more universal?
Hm, maybe. I made my first album before I had any experience with large sound systems and bass and all that. It has always been a big focus in my music, or sometimes as an afterthought, to have some songs bass-focused or other songs are more cerebral with higher frequencies. It just depends on the track.
Your label, Loci Records, just dropped the Beyond Stolen Notes album by Stev two weeks ago. What's the visionary goal behind your label and how do you find the artists?
The point of the label is to curate music that I like and shine light on artists that I feel deserve more recognition. As far as which artists and which albums we release, I receive demos through the Loci Records SoundCloud. I'm digging through music almost every day and I'm constantly looking.
You just announced that there will be a remix album of Dusk to Dawn coming out this summer. Who are some people doing remixes on this album?
Oh yeah, I'm really excited about this. We have Odesza, Elliot Lipp, Brainworx, Lapa, and several others. That will be out in about a month. I'm not featured on the album 'cause I've been busy working on my own record that's 98% done.
Oh wow! Do you have an expected release date for that?
I'm planning to release it late summer/early fall before I head out on a national tour.
That's awesome news. We'll definitely be on the look out for that. You were exploring a house music project back in 2013. Is that still on the table?
I have a handful of house tracks I've made, probably enough for an EP at this point. The way I work is kind compartimentalized as far as genre goes. I probably won't release that project until I develop it more. I like making music of all genres but when I release an album I like to keep some sort of consistency.
You've said how that Simpsons Lollapollooza episode where Cypress Hill played with the London Symphony Orchestra was really influential in your understanding of combining hip hop with orchestral music. Now, you do a lot of live collaborations, would you consider having someone rap while you play with the Ensemble?
[Laughs] That's such a cool episode. I'm really into producing for rappers and hip hop artists. That's kind of where I got my start. Lately I've been feeling re-inspired by hip hop. We'll see, maybe I'll be working with rappers in the future.
Who would your ideal collaborations be with?
I mean, it would be awesome to work with Kendrick [Lamar] or Missy Elliot...haha, I'm not sure.
You've mentioned how the Mortal Kombat soundtrack is one of your musical influences as well. What character do you relate to the most?
I've played so much Mortal Kombat on the tour bus. I don't know [laughs], I've always had pretty good luck with Fujin.
Sonic Bloom is just around the corner. What artists are you looking forward to seeing this year?
I've been to several Sonic Blooms and they always have amazing vibes. I can't wait to be there. I have to look at the lineup again, but Talib Kweli will be there which is cool. Shpongle is always great too.
What else can we look forward to from Emancipator for the rest of the year?
I think in a few days we'll release a live album from the Emancipator Ensemble. It's a recording of a show from Athens, Georgia last year. In a week we'll get that remix out album. In a month or two I'll release my own music. I've been stockpiling music for awhile so it's time to share it with everybody.
For more information on Emancipator:
All interviews posted before October 2015 were originally recorded for KAMP Student Radio.