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Welcome Eskmo! (introduction)
Old 6th June 2018
Welcome Eskmo! (introduction)

For our new round of Q&As we’re proud to welcome Brendan Angelides, better known under his artist name of Eskmo to the forum.

For your information, here’s an overview of the carreer of this multi-talented producer, performing artist and composer:
In ’94 I was introduced to Primus, and The Prodigy. So… my whole landscape for bass just opened up. So I bought a bass and then started fooling around. I was obsessed with Primus around that time…. Back then (note: late nineties) it was kindof references were trip-hop, avant-garde type stuff, you know..
(source: Magnifier)
Living in Conneticut, at first Brendan made music to share with friends using a Miracle instructional keyboard, a four track recorder and that bass guitar. A Roland JX-305 keyboard was used for the first CD “Machines on Task” for a school graduation project.
His artist name comes from the “Eskimo” titled album from experimental band The Residents from San Francisco (1979).
It was essentially a sonic representation of life up in the ice. It shined a light on the way the government would take these people out of their traditional lives, rich with story and tradition and place them in apartments complexes, leaving magic behind and watching re-runs on TV. I loved what they had created and it happened to coincide at the very same time I was working on this album.
For some reason, I was inspired to create a character based on one of the stories from the album, which was about a shaman from the tribe using sound healing to save a child that had been stolen from the spirits. They essentially used the music to go under the ice and rescue the child, returning him to his family. I really responded to that idea as a metaphor, as an archetype. That was my starting point in music and I basically haven’t stopped ever since.
(source: Goldo Sync Report)

You can find a full discography of Brendan Angelides as “Eskmo” here.

From that moment until 2005 Brendan developed his sound, and published two more albums; Ascension and Illuminate, both on his Eskmo Recordings label.

Since 9/11 political issues were on Brendan’s mind, and this influenced his music as well, but after some time, he decided to make a clean break and decided to explore new environments and sounds.
I wanted people to be motivated and come together and make change, but it had the opposite effect. I realized that music could be a tool to bring people together.”
(source: Resident Advisor)
This aspect of making music would from then on be a constant in his music.

Around 2004 he went on a backpacking trip to the UK, and was influenced by breakbeat.
The Basement record was a collaboration with Manchester based breakbeat artists Karrie Price & Paul Chadwick (Backdraft) Various breakbeat releases followed on the Cyberfunk and Vertical Sound labels.

My subsequent releases were mainly with labels out of the UK and other parts of Europe and it happened pretty naturally. Europe has a long history of appreciating particularly adventurous electronic music, so the audience was there. I had found Ninja Tune because I’d fallen in love with Amon Tobin’s work early on and found Warp because I was a huge fan of Aphex Twin.
(source: Goldo Sync Report)

After a gig in San Francisco in 2006 the city’s vibe appealed to him and he moved there.
Around this time Brendan started releasing tracks under the artist name “Welder”. These are more downtempo tracks, with a focus on sounddesign and slowly evolving textures:

here you can find the discography.
Welder is the gentle, inward, very organic sound in me. No attention paid (for the most part) to bass lines or anything that feels the need to make a track ‘hit’ on the dance floor, where sonically or to make people bug out. Once you enter than sort of territory, the whole game changes.*Eskmo, is the more open, outward, big sound. He understands the dance world and intentionally messes with it, where as Welder doesn’t even acknowledge a need for playing with the rules, cause there aren’t any. At one point I thought to make them extreme opposites from each other, but I could never bring Eskmo*to be an annoying dance anthem character and still be ok with myself.
(source: Headphone Commute)

Clearly the breakbeat vibe is present in his productions from this period but it also moves into another direction:

"I wanted to write a tune at 140 bpm," he says of the beaming, colorful song. "I made [the beat] a triplet pattern and added some Tom Waits-y sounds to it. I wanted it to be a really big sounding track without it being an aggro tune.”
(about Hypercolor)
You can say “Hypercolor” was Eskmo’s breakthrough, the tracks from this EP were picked up by Mary Anne Hobbs and more people noticed his style. First video is a remix from Bibio on the Warp Records label, second (short) clip is a live performance from the Brainfeeder Sessions in Los Angeles.

Here is a registration of a performance in the Netherlands in 2011:

You know, the set up was a live PA and then I’d use Ableton and a handful of different MIDI controllers on stage, so I’d be able to do live looping. There is a lot of live tweaking on my sets, so the music tended to evolve as I continued to tour. I would also sing, adding another layer of live vocals. Before any given show, whether I was playing at a festival, a club, a theater, or anything in between, I would essentially run around backstage and rummage through janitor closets and even garbage bins to find random objects to incorporate into my act on stage. I would add in PVC pipe, empty plastic water bottles, the sounds of crumpling paper, metal scraps, literally anything I could find. You can’t tour with those kinds of things. They wouldn’t let you on the airplane. So, after I’d land, I’d start collecting things and turning them into instruments. That creative process was constantly changing and taught me so much.
Here’s a short breakdown of his setup from this period:
A laptop, running Ableton Live and various plugins plus Novation 25SL MKII controller and a Machine MK1 controller.
Here’s a registration of a performance at the NPR Tiny Desk Concert some years later:

By then Brendan had met Amon Tobin and joined force s in the “Eskamon” project, with a focus on field recording and sound manipulation.
I had another release out on Planet Mu and I met Amon when we played a show called Yuri’s Night in a NASA space hangar out in Northern California. It’s a funny story because I gave him a completely blank CD, which was supposed to have my music on it. In my opinion, it’s already tough when someone hands you their music while you’re on the road. If you’re on tour, it’s more than likely going to end up getting lost. That ended up being embarrassingly hilarious, but we ended up staying in touch after I found a way to contact him after that. We became friends and released a track together on my own imprint, Ancestor.
Ableton sample libraries were released in a collab with Amon as “Fine Objects”.

Currently he’s using a Sony PCM-D50 recorder for this purpose:
Link to field recording bundle, on his Ancestor label.

One song, which caught my attention was “Cloudlight”. It has a gorgeous video. But “We Got More” also has that magical combination of video and music:
The first was “Cloudlight” which was directed by my friend Dugan Oneal. The 2nd was the video you mention. I’ve been real blessed to have been able to work with these two directors. Each song definitely comes from its own little world and different intention was put into each. We (Ninja and I) wanted to show 2 very different sides to the Eskmo*character. Cloudlight comes from a very personal subtle sorta place. There is lots of story behind that one. I knew before the album was even done Cloudlight needed a video, but Pete at Ninja convinced me to do one for We Got More. They knew Cyriak (I hadn’t heard of him before), and I trusted his judgment that it would be a good fit. And luckily it definitely was. I feel he nailed the exact quirky vibe I was hoping to achieve in tune.

I had to include the “Ancestor mix” from 2009 in this introduction. Essential listening.
And the Ninja Tunes mix from a few years later:

On Eskmo’s Soundcloud you can find more mixes.

In 2015 the album “Sol” was released on Apollo Records (a sublabel of R&S):
The majority of it was done in the studio for sure. The recordings, honestly, for the most part, came about spontaneously. I would bring my recorder and just grab stuff. That is usually how I work. I would say 90% of the time I just have it and record things; seldom do I have a specific thing that I actually want to go and record just for putting into a song. For example, on a previous release, one time I had knocked over a bottle into the tub, and it just had this curvature to it where it just kept on rolling back and forth, and it ended up just being amazing. So, I recorded that, and I ended up taking the little wire mixer normally inside a protein shake bottle, and then I just threw that around in the tub, and it ended up making like this really flanged-out kind of sound. I ended up just doing that for about 20 minutes. It was completely spontaneous. A lot of the time, I know that I will find some textural and cool things, like when I went to Costa Rica, I knew I would get some jungle sounds that I could use, but I wasn’t expecting to get the monkey sounds and the horses that I ended up finding down there. The majority of it is studio-based stuff.
To clarify, I actually did record a string ensemble for this album. I went to my friend’s studio and recorded a small ensemble, so there are actually live string players on it. Other than that, I did play everything else: keys, percussion, bass.
(source: Consequence of Sound)

Here is an interesting report how UA Plugins were used on that album: link
Brendan also uses Soundtoys Crystallizer, Decapitator, Devil-Loc, EchoBoy, Little AlterBoy and Tremolator. link

Touring began to eat at him and he craved for a life more based around a steady home. At this moment Brendan decided to move to Los Angeles.
Eskmo is one of the founding members of the Echo Society, which is a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization. The goal is to “inspire, challenge, and enrich the community through the creation and performance of new sonic and visual art presented during singular, one-night-only experiences”.
Link to some live pieces:
and here

For every show, each composer is required to compose a brand new piece of music written specifically for the orchestration put together for that particular night. And for each show, the ensemble changes.*This in itself is a huge undertaking but also a super rewarding process. The same goes for working with the spaces.
Changing venues each time, which is in itself is a large undertaking, also influences the theme for the night,*the lighting design,*the type of orchestra we put together and drastically effects the pieces written for the particular ensemble for that particular show. This pushes the whole team, whether composers,*lighting and design, sound or production, to reach further, potentially improving and trying something new and a bit risky and vulnerable.*

In 2015, Brendan started a new project called “FEELHARMONIC” which connects creatives, from a variety of fields, to collaborate on bringing the deaf community new ways to experience sound.
They develop hands-on events to engage and excite about exploring, communicating and connecting with other participants. These events are brought to schools, educational institutions and communal centers.
I started to develop a conversation with a mother living in San Diego named Kirstal Molina. She has a deaf daughter and is dedicated to helping out the community by being a liaison between families with deaf / hard of hearing kids and social services (schools, after school programs, learning centers and more.) After the project was ready to go, we would bring it to San Diego for the first test trial.***
Using only a SubPac*which is a vibrating unit that you place on your chair or wear like a backpack,*I wrote a 1.5 minute piece of music using no headphones or speakers. I wanted to make sure the piece translated properly.*
The goal of the piece was to not just convey the experience of music, but even more importantly the
feeling*of communication.
In my mind as i was writing I pictured little colorful shapes "talking" to each other, telling jokes and then playing music together. Having kids feel notes and basslines was intriguing but I felt it needed to go further.*The overall message I wanted to convey was:*

"No matter our differences, we can communicate, make sounds and laugh together.”
Welcome Eskmo! (introduction)-feelharmonic_shapes.gif

In the past few years Brendan started writing scores for tv series.
Here’s a link to the IMDb.
How that worked out for a touring live musician:
When I started working on Billions about two and a half years ago, that put a stop to my life on the road. I did some gigs right at the beginning of season one and it was scary to be diving into my first scoring job while I was still on tour. I was over in Europe and had other things to do at the same time. When I started composing for the show, it was about hunkering down in the studio and creating something. One of the biggest things I’ve learned from working as a composer is to get out of your way. You can’t spend six hours on a hi hat. There’s no time for that. It’s about trusting yourself and following a thread. If that thread doesn’t work out, it’s all good. Find another thread and let the creativity flow out. That’s what works for me.
On the tools used for creating a soundtrack for the TV series “Billions”
For my scoring work, I’m mainly in the box. On Billions, it’s more tone oriented than overtly thematic. There’s definitely a lot of stuff put out to busses and I like having various levels of saturation happening simultaneously. That is one of the main things that creates the mood for the show. I use Razor, Serum, Imposcar. I use a bunch of Kontakt instruments. For effects, I like to use tons of things from UAD, Soundtoys, Trash from iZotope, and FabFilter. I don’t use any outboard synths stuff at all for scoring. On the sound design side, it’s really about messing with feedback in the sense of pushing certain frequencies really hard through compressors to make them sound like they are fighting. A big commitment in all of this was crafting the focused churning sounds.
(source: Goldo Sync Report)
I’m still fairly new to scoring. I’m not new to music, as I’ve been doing my Eskmo project for a long time, but Billions was my first proper scoring experience. For this, I asked myself: *“how can I create themes that are very simple, yet stand on their own?” I think with any art form (like woodworking or painting for instance), particularly with music, there exists the desire to want to do more: making things even busier and having more and more things happening. Ensuring that this score provided something minimal and poignant for each character was a practise for me.
Also, a huge part of a scoring process like this one, where you’re doing a new episode every week, was getting out of my own way. When you’re working on albums, you can be a bit selfish and do exactly what you want with however much time you have. You can spend seven hours on a hi-hat. But, with this kind of project you don’t have that luxury. So, the aim was to create a strong and evocative score, whilst getting out of my own way and allowing the music to do its own thing.
(source: Score It)
What I was doing before was much more selfish. As a producer, I could do whatever I wanted, be as messy or clean as I wanted to be. For television, you have to help the story along and get out of the habit of expressing freely with no limitations. You have to leave your pride off to the side and take care of what needs to happen. I also had to learn that sometimes what makes sense for a scene is not necessarily something I would just write on my own.
(source: Goldo Sync Report)

To fit the narrative, accentuate it, Brendan really goes into the characters of the story (13 Reasons Why) and writes a seperate piece for each:
“A huge part of this work was maintaining the integrity of the original story and maintaining the integrity around these imaginary kids,” Eskmo says. “They have to be real.”
(source: Variety)

Welcome Eskmo, to the Q&A! Let’s have some fun!
Old 7th June 2018
Attached Thumbnails
Welcome Eskmo! (introduction)-eskmo-scoring-13-reasons-why-anais-godard.jpg   Welcome Eskmo! (introduction)-eskmo-600x399.jpg   Welcome Eskmo! (introduction)-echosociety.jpg   Welcome Eskmo! (introduction)-feelharmonic_shapes.gif  

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