Eskmo – The Noise in the Woods

Foto: Benjamin Menedetter
Nature is a big influence for Eskmo, known for his complex sound structure of slowness. We met the musician from San Francisco to talk about the sounds, big cities and the sampling of shrubs.

If you try to read up about Eskmo you will find out that this young producer has his own musical genre named after him. Well respected throughout the scene. With a catalogue that encompasses labels like Planet Mu and Warp and Ninja Tune, after he did a Remix for Bibio, which made head turn. He’s at home in Hip Hop, but his productions find themselves more and more in the dubsteppy realm. Slowly building up walls of sounds and harmonies. He incorporated his, electronically modified, voice into his productions throughout the time and made it a constant in his songs. If you watch his videos, you get an idea what Eskmo is all about. Deepness, beauty of life and sound. Valentin Menedetter sat down with him for a chat.

Living in San Francisco one obviously thinks of the Bay Area. Do you think the city shaped your sound?
Eskmo: It definitely helped change it for sure. I would say the city has changed it somewhat but honestly more the surrounding nature around San Francisco has changed it. I moved there five years ago and one of the most inspiring things that has changed my sound honestly has been going around the Red Woods and all the major forests in northern California – that absolutely influenced my sound. I don’t know why but I know it did, for sure.

You use all types of things to make noise and use them on your productions, for instance the branch of a tree, is that an inspiration from the woods?
Eskmo: Yeah, I just really like integrating natural type sounds with electronic stuff. It’s a pretty simple concept, it’s really a playful kind of thing – it really intrigues me.

Has it always been a part of your sound?
Eskmo: Definitely not, I guess my stuff sounded organic-ish before. But now it really evolved slowly, but when I moved to San Francisco it really started to seep in.

» I think my sound has gotten a lot more personal but also in a way that I’ve been able to reach a broader kind of scope, broader vision and stuff.«

Your sound is very dense and deep, there’s no time for pauses – especially when you play live. What do you see in your head when you produce?
Eskmo: I see different things for all the different tracks. Everything is very visual in my mind – it ranges all across the board from family stuff to organisms to nature to alien stuff, just energy to anything. I really like the idea of metaphors and social constructs and trying to replicate those concepts into sound. Into formulas that are representative of things that are happening in the outside world.

Do you have an idea of what you want your stuff to sound like?
Eskmo: With the Eskmo album I had a specific kind of thing in mind. I think I definitely do do it very conceptual. I think that’s always been the stuff that has really been inspiring for me in the music I’ve loved throughout the years. It’s just that stuff that can tell a story or really sets an environment. That’s what I love about sound. It’s the whole idea – music to party to has never been my interest – I understand the idea of music for celebrating life, but the idea of partying has never been part of it. I love the idea of creating environments.

A part of everyone’s environment is music, how do you deal with that, do you try to take it in as well?
Eskmo: At home I rarely listen to dance music, the only dance thing I’ve been listening to was Machine Drum’s new album, which is wicked. I’m just not overly inspired by a lot of the dance stuff that is out there. Most of the stuff I listen to is very chill, more singer songwriter indie type stuff.

Do you see an evolution in your sound?
Eskmo: I think it has gotten a lot more personal but also in a way that I’ve been able to reach a broader kind of scope, broader vision and stuff. I’m actually planning on moving to LA this September so I’m curious how this ends up shifting the sound too.

Does the LA beat scene come to your notice?
Eskmo: Yeah, I’m friends with a bunch of the guys down there; I just played at Low End Theory. It’s definitely a wicked environment – what is also actually inspiring down there is that everyone is pushing themselves and no one is really stepping on each others toes within that world because everyone is doing such different things, and that in itself is inspiring to me.