I love “First Snow”! “SAY WHAT?!” “The Emancipator track, fool.”
Hey now, you look stressed. You need to chill the fuck out. Here, I’ll help: Just lay back and bite into Doug Appling’s tracks of violin riding crisp beats and get sucked in to his time-warping flow. Now secure your headphones and listen while you read, and I’ll see you at the ‘Dise on February 2 when The Brain Trust and Crossroads bring one of my favorite producers—who also freestyles—back to Boston. Consider this a rap battle challenge, Appling.
A lot of people use the phrase “stands the test of time” with music, but when I listen to your albums, I feel like each track “stretches time,” in a way. Does that make sense to you?
Yeah I see what you mean. It’s slowed down and sped up a lot, so kind of, stretching time, stretching the meaningful time experience.
Did you grow up in a small town?
I grew up in Virginia, like 45 minutes outside Washington, D.C. … in the woods. Yeah, definitely small town.
What was your first job?
The last job I ever had before I was a full-time musician—I was serving tables at a Turkish restaurant in downtown Manhattan. (pause) (laughs)
Did you like that job?
No, I didn’t. (laughs)
You were in bands in high school? What kind of music?
I started playing in indie rock bands. And I played the drums in some fun experimental bands in college. I was more into, like, The Pixies and bands like that.
The Internet helped your music reach more people in a very big way in your career. Can you elaborate on that?
It’s helped me out immensely over the years. With the Internet, you can be more targeted in where you’re sharing your music, and reach more niche communities around the world.
Do you feel like the fact that the people who are making electronic music use digital tools and the people who seek it out and listen to it use digital tools to do so is related?
Most electronic musicians are computer nerds of some kind. I think the most tech-savvy individuals are able to wield technology to their advantage, more so than somebody who plays acoustic guitar and can’t figure it out.
Technology has evolved crazily in the past 10 years. 10 years ago we were using flip phones; now we can stream Soundcloud on phones, communicate using a million social mediums from them, and do all kinds of things. But in 10 years, our kids will think we’re backwards. Where do you see technology 10 years in the future?
I think … computers are getting exponentially faster and the scope of beta-processing—
the speed at which you [will be able to] perform with digital audio is going to make us look like we’re walking around with Gameboys.
You started making beats in high school, with Acid Pro and Reason, what software do you use now?
Yeah most of my new album is from songs that were produced in Acid Pro and recovered. But over the past few years, I’ve become proficient in Ableton. And that’s my program of choice for new projects.
[Ableton is] 100 times more stable than Acid Pro; Acid Pro is just some archaic software that crashes all the time. But I’ve kind of developed my own way of working in it, my own style. I mean, I stuck with it for many, many years. But now, I’ve seen the light.
I listen to your music a lot to calm down and pictured you as a really laid back person. Are you?
Ohhhh yeah. I would say that. I think most people I know would also say that.
Your music combines both organic and digital instrumentation. Which is closer to your heart?
Real instruments have the human touch—variations and nuances that only the human can play, that wouldn’t be possible with a program. On the other hand, electronic music allows you to manipulate audio in ways that cannot be played on physical instruments. It’s really the best of both worlds, being able to use both.
What would you like to say to people who argue that music made with computers isn’t real music?
(Laughs) I have weeks and weeks of music I could show them that might broaden their horizons on what they think when they think of “electronic music.”
With your new album, Dusk to Dawn (stream it here), how would you describe in your own words how your sound has evolved?
I tried to branch out and explore some new styles—trying to keep it fresh. Some tracks barely even sound like electronic music at all; it sounds like a live band mix. Others are clearly electronic, a little more experimental and glitch. I’m trying to expand my horizons as a producer—explore different tempos and different arrangements of instruments.
Do you have a personal favorite track on the new album?
My favorite is probably … I like the one I chose for the music video. Bu they all are their own world, so it’s hard to choose. It depends on the mood.
How did you meet your live violinist, Ilya Goldberg?
I met him in Colorado three years ago. We were introduced through a friend at the Fox Theatre. We wrote many of the songs together.
What music do you listen to when you’re chilling out?
Usually music without words, like chill-out electronic stuff. Right now, I’m into Four Tet. I like Bonobo’s music—and the older instrumental shit, like Shadow.
Do you know how to freestyle?
Yes. Oh yes. (Laughs)
Because I always freestyle over your beats. Do you ever do that?
Sometimes, while I’m working on a track I’ll start rapping over it to get in the flow. And the rap keeps it going and keeps it flowing, and that’s how I know the beat is good.
If you could freestyle with any hip-hop artist right now, who would it be?
(Laughs) Man, I would love to rap with Slug. Or just listen to him freestyle. (Laughs) No, you know what? Eyedea.
Are you excited to come to Boston? That’s the worst question ever, but—
(laughs) Yes, I’m definitely excited to come to Boston.
Every time it’s a pleasure. And we got some new jams this time around.
THE BRAIN TRUST & CROSSROADS PRESENT:
PARADISE ROCK CLUB
967 COMM. AVE.