EarthCry Talks About What Inspires Him in Music and His Workshops With Modular Synthesizers in iEDM Exclusive Interview
I had the awesome opportunity to interview Anthony Thogmartin of Papadosio about his side project EarthCry. EarthCry is just Anthony, his computer, his modular synthesizers and any other musical instruments and components that he decides to add. He has two albums out, as well as various songs and remixes but his shows often consist of live improvisational electronic performances.
When I came in to greet Anthony, his girlfriend visual artist Melissa Leigh of Sweet Melis was sitting beside him and I asked if she would like to join in on the interview. She had the chance to answer my first question before she went off to live paint at Resonance Music & Arts Festival.
iEDM: Why do you think music and art go together?
Melissa: I think that if you had just one there would be a slight lacking of the full spectrum of an experience that we as people make together. If it was just art or just music it’d be really great but when you combine those things and even add the workshops and yoga you’re really getting a full spectrum of what outside of the festival life would be good to have in your life. I couldn’t imagine painting even at my house without music on. I think musical artists can get a lot of inspiration from visual things, inspiration from being a part of different mediums. I’m not a musical person but having that in my life makes me a better person. It makes my art better and my art is better also when I exercise or do yoga. I think they’re all tied together.
iEDM: What made you want to create music?
Anthony: My mom’s dad used to play Johnny Cash songs and they would play these italian songs together. He was on a guitar and my grandmother was on a mandolin. They’d always sing and I was like well that's cool. And my parents used to sing in their church so there was music everywhere. We would watch musical things and we would drive around together as a family singing all the time. So it wasn't as if I decided to start making music it was just around me. My mom used to play radio songs on her violin and she used to play those to put me to sleep at night so yeah it was just everywhere. Rob’s family is the same way too, very musical.
iEDM: What made you want to share your knowledge about modular synths?
Anthony: I think it’s really interesting. I think it’s cool. Sound and wave shapes and wave forms are so intrinsic to our lives that for people to understand them it’s really cool. Like when people actually do understand them it’s really interesting to see what comes out that, it’s like primary colors like understanding what a wave form sounds like its like we can take a green crayon and do that why can’t we pick notes on stuff and know how it sounds and why the sound is making the sound that it is and how frequency and audio work. We know how frequency and color work a lot so a modular synthesizer kind of helps you break down sounds created. I think people should know that. It’s cool.
You learn the progression of color like in science class you learn that red is a certain frequency and Ultra violet is another frequency. So people associate frequency with the progression of color so why not associate it with the progression of notes and pitch.
iEDM: You’ve done a few online tutorials are you going to keep doing that?
Anthony: Yeah the Seed to Stage Channel is something that I’m going to build for a couple years, maybe 3 years or something maybe even longer I’m not really sure. I just want to get the entire body of knowledge that I have about applying this kind of stuff in a live setting out there. It’s kind of a passion project. It’s not very lucrative and it takes a lot of time to do. But I felt like I’ve gone to too many shows and have just seen nothing happen on stage and it’s boring honestly. You can do so much. With software and midi controllers, that whole world, you can do live performances that are amazing. I saw a guy put all these drum things on him and was tapping himself. You can do that kind of stuff but nobody wants to do that they just end up pushing the play button and putting their hands in the air. As a musician I want to see more fun. Even if it’s gimmicky, it’s fun to watch. It’s cool to see people innovate.
One thing that I’m trying to do this tour is do what’s known as a rig run down. What that means is you show what’s on stage when you’re performing and how each part of it interacts with another part and I’ve been trying to build up the more complex lessons like about very certain specific aspects before I finish the rig run down because I’m going to do a bunch of links and annotations when I get to each part of the video. So this thing does that and if you want to learn about more about this, go here. So it’s kind of like a web of information and I’m trying to get to the point where I can do that on this tour and do the entire rig rundown in some random city when we have some extra time. and that’s when it will really start to take shape.
iEDM: What inspires you in your music?
Anthony: Different stuff at different times, Interfacing with modular synthesizers and touching something physical and feeling the actual resistance of the knob. That was really ground breaking because it makes those kinds of sounds usually you have to do with a mouse or boring programming stuff on a keyboard. It’s actual physical interaction.
What’s cool about the analog realm is that it’s truly random like digital randomness isn’t always random It’s difficult to achieve that. So when you’re messing with something truly random it’s such a crazy world. It’s even cool to look up what random number generators are and the coherency that they have during certain events, it’s mind blowing, that’s real. So our perception of what randomness is changes every time that’s one of many things that’s really really inspiring.
iEDM: Do you think bringing people together through music is important?
Anthony: Absolutely, we were just at Oregon Eclipse and I actually copped this quote from Alyssa but she was like “this is probably the last time where we’re going to experience this, where no one’s cell phone works and we’re all together” Because you know in a crowd if you’re like messing with your phone most people are like what are you doing man? Dance around. Have fun, you know. So it was one of the only times in life where, especially the younger generation where people weren’t on their phones distracted or driving or late for something you know it’s like they’ve arrived for once they can just do something with each other.
Outside of just having a good time, music brings people together and makes them arrive, just be there and be present, it’s cool.
iEDM: Do you feel like your music has therapeutic elements to it?
Anthony: I did that solfeggio experiment and it was really interesting, with the first EarthCry album. Those tones, especially when used over prolonged periods…. and I had a really interesting experience with them because I didn’t know I just did it to see what would happen. And what I found that I think is more powerful in anything is that chords, right, you can play a 1, a 3 and a 5 and it’s a major chord, it lends yourself to feeling happy when you hear it and then a minor chord when you flatten the third it lends it to being eary, sad and so it’s really cool that you can do that. And also in order to accomplish that you need more than one person. Like back in the day before instruments there were people singing. In order to inject emotion in to the music you need more than one person and I think that’s really interesting. I’d say that after all is said and done, just intervals are super powerful.
We’ve had experiences in Papadosio where this girl, she’s at the festival here actually. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Circle Patch, she’s a young artist, she’s like 11 years old or 12 years old. But she makes amazing little patches and she also makes stop animation stuff. So she has a camera and sometimes it’s claymation and sometimes it’s construction paper cut outs. I was talking to one of our tour buddies Thomas, back in the day and he was like can you make me a video where you’ve got this wolf and he’s in the woods, it’s for Out Of Hiding, where the wolf is lost and climbs a hill and watches the sun rise and it’s wounds are healed. Can you make that video? And I was like sure. And then she release a video on youtube of that song and it’s about wolf walking through the woods, climbing up a hill, watching the sunrise. And I never talked to this girl at all about it. Thomas didn’t know who this person was at all, nobody knows how it happened and it’s really interesting.
There’s something underneath of it. We’ll be on the bus and I’ll start singing a song in my head and I can hear another bandmate humming it somewhere else. There’s a language. There’s definitely a language and I don’t know if there’s mysticism to it, it’s just what it is. It’s cool. You know it’s like a crystal is cool. It’s just cool that there’s something that we haven't uncovered yet with the language of what’s happening underneath the music. I think it’s rad. I don’t know what it is or how to quantify it. I don’t know if it’s mystical or spiritual in nature or if it’s just like the law of gravity. I don’t know.
iEDM: Why did you choose the name EarthCry?
Anthony:I had been hiking when I was younger I had a really wild imagination and I would always imagine this sprightly, little figure running around with me. For the longest time I always thought that was the thing my brain would come up with because there needed to be some interface between me and the woods or wherever I was, the wilderness. I could talk about experiences in Peru or all that other stuff but to sum it all up in to a really easy to understand kind of thing, I eventually needed somewhere to put that musically. And some music that I compose doesn’t make sense in a band. And I wouldn’t even ask my band mates to play this repetitive thing over and over again, you know what I mean?
And so I was like I have two things that are happening here. I have all these ideas and they’re really fun and then I have this notion that the earth is needing something. Trying to identify what it needs, and maybe some things that it needs are rivers to be cleaned up or something like that. It’s really hard to put my finger on exactly what it is. But pretty much I feel like there are signals being sent to us that we’re missing. And that concept is kind of through out, even with what we make as a band. Like the song Cue for example means missing cues, missing that signal and so it’s just kind of another thread of that same notion. If I had any sort of aspect of me that had a true purpose in all this might be that i’m trying to react to what that signal is. So one way to name it is like an EarthCry.
Content Photos By Keith Griner of Phierce Photo
Content Photos By Heady Festy
Special thank you to Anthony Thogmartin for talking with us. Check out the EarthCry SoundClound HERE.
Check out more iEDM exclusive interviews HERE.