Don't Think He's Weird, But Eskmo Believes Music Has the Power to Heal People
Five months ago, Brendan Angelides spent ten days in silence. There was no talking, no Internet and no music, which was a decided change of pace for the DJ-producer, who records under the name Eskmo.
"It's all about equilibrium," Angelides says of this Vipassana meditation retreat in Joshua Tree. "The clearer I can get with myself all relates back to how I approach my work and my art and what I try to bring out to the world."
For Angelides, a typical day starts with waking up, collecting his thoughts and meditating. Then he might go grab a juice from Naturewell near his house in Silver Lake before settling in to make music while consciously trying to stay present and avoid dipping into "frantic work mode."
Still, nothing about him comes off as frantic. He speaks eloquently and chooses his words carefully while making plenty of direct eye contact as we share spring rolls at a Vietnamese spot on Sunset. He talks a lot with his hands. When our entrees arrive, Angelides bows his head and spends ten seconds in silence before eating.
The new Eskmo EP Language is out today via Angelides' own label Ancestor. The five tracks are lush beats of sophisticated computer music with soul, a clear evolution from previous work that was sonically crunchier and more apt for categorization in the glitch hop/dub realms.
"With a couple of the tracks, people will be like, 'What are you doing?'" he says. "People that have been listening a bit longer or don't associate me with crazy bass sounds might be a bit more open to it. I stepped away from that a bit and consolidated my tools while trying to keep a really distinct vision, without being too up my own ass about it."
Angelides' interest in music was kick-started when he was 15 and first heard Prodigy and Primus, two acts he promptly became obsessed with. "Admittedly," he says, "in that same month I was introduced to smoking herb too. It was like my whole musical landscape blew up."
Angelides played in bands in the small Connecticut town ("it smelled like cows") where he spent most of his high school years. Interested in more than casually getting together with friends to play bass and get high, he began making his own stuff on a four track and the "cheap keyboard" his parents bought him. By the end of high school, he had a glut of material. Taking his name from Inuit mythology, he assembled this music on a CD and submitted it as the final project required to graduate from high school. He passed.
After working food-service jobs and making music on the side during a stint in New Haven, Angelides moved to San Francisco in 2006. "The west coast felt like a big opening," he says. He was soon playing shows throughout town, and with this, the notion of making music an actual career became realistic. "Seeing the reactions from the live stuff, I knew there was something happening."