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By Tom Murphy
Trip-hop producer and live PA artist Emancipator (known day-to-day as Doug Appling) got his start producing electronic music in 2002 at age fifteen when he procured a copy of ACID Pro software. After dabbling as a drummer, Emancipator moved into producing trance and electro-pop before settling on his current sound. We spoke with him recently about his influences, his vision for the future of his music and what it will be like to play a show in his old stamping grounds of Washington, D.C., on this current tour with Bassnectar.
Westword: What drew you to trip-hop as your electronic-music genre of choice?
Emancipator: I guess I really like the production of it. Really deep, smooth bass and clean sounds. It's hard to say, really — that's just the natural sound that my music evolved toward after experimenting with a variety of styles.
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Who are some of the artists who have inspired your current sound?
DJ Shadow and Thievery Corporation were huge when I first started making beats. And lately, just within the past few years, there have been tons of new artists, like Flying Lotus, Nosaj Thing, Bonobo and a lot of underground hip-hop — I like the beats. Those are the ones I usually mention.
You've played with Bonobo and will be playing with Nosaj Thing. What's it like to be on stage with the same musicians who have influenced you?
It's a trip. I've been able to meet a lot of the artists I've grown up listening to in the past year. It's kind of self-affirming, in a way, that my music belongs here with these people. I'm proud to be a contemporary in the electronic producers' scene.
Where do you see your music going in the next five years or so?
I know that my sound is evolving constantly as I become familiar with various production tools and techniques. I really haven't grown out of this style of downtempo; I just feel like I'm really getting into it, and there's lots of rooms to explore. I can see myself coming up with some uptempo stuff in the future, but for now, it's all about the smooth beats.
Who's on your dream list of artists to collaborate with?
I'd like to meet some more sexy jazz female vocalists in the future, but there's so many of them, it's hard to pick one. I don't want to say Björk or anything, but that's what I mean. I want to work with Thievery Corporation's vocalists.
Have you been back to play in Virginia since you started touring?
My show in Washington, D.C., on November 3 is kind of like a homecoming show. I went to high school right outside D.C., and this is a venue I went to go see big shows at, and now I'm going back to play it. I'm sure I'll be through Richmond or nearby. I'll get people asking to get put on the list. I know my family's gonna be there, a lot of my family.