Emil & Friends crafted a mixtape that gives listeners a peak into his creative mind. Everything from 60s pop to 70s smooth pop and Prog rock to John Frusciante, MGMT & The Smashing Pumpkins. Sit back and enjoy this hour and 30 min musical lesson brought to you by Professor Emil.
Asian Dan Presents Emil & Friends “Astronaut Ice Cream Mixtape”
Tracklist at the end of the interview.
Here is a new track by Emil & Friends that is an introspective and folky feel good tune. The guitar work at the end reminds me of John Frusciante.
“Fame and fortune don’t mean shit to me. 0o0o0 baby now…”
Asian Dan Interview: Emil & Friends
1. Who is Emil & Friends? How would you describe your music?
Emil & friends has been called everything from a band to a boyfriend/girlfriend duo to one guy with multiple personalities. At this point, and most likely until a tour, there will just be me doing what needs to be done. So I guess its more the multiple personalities… More specifically, I play the instruments, write, sing, record, produce, mix, design strange graphics and animations (All these done usually while wearing a costume of some sort). When I decided to release something I picked the Emil & Friends label because it sounded average, showed I wasn’t taking myself too seriously, and that I wanted to collaborate and start a band in the future, should it happen that way. I figured as long as I made the music good enough it would stay afloat. It could always change to a reference from some cult movie. That seems standard these days.
A description of the music? Its kind of like buffet style servings that vacillate between nylon/electro dream fountain pop and driven crunchy disco dirt while stopping to sample flavors of soul, punk, trip hop and whatever else slips by undetected.
2. What are you biggest influences, musical or otherwise?
Every now and then I get a new obsession that stimulates a lot of ideas. This month I am pretty hooked on old dream pop like Cocteau Twins, Slowdive. Totally rain-on-the-window music. I would say that I draw a lot of ideas from the way vocals sound on early Zombies and the Animals records. My stoner uncles would approve. I get a lot of drum sounding ideas from Australian house, disco punk, French touch, American top 40, and lo-fi hip hop. Oh and some old electro like midnight star. Video game music is in there, smeared everywhere.
I do have some friends that continuously influence the E&F stuff. These kids are so cutting edge… its nice to have them blow your mind by playing you something on their car stereo that was released ten seconds earlier in Sydney. And you KNOW, with a smirk on their face, they are just waiting for you to ask who the artist is.
I get so many ideas from film. Science Fiction film, cutting-edge-new or black-and-white-ancient, does it for me. Low budget art house films and Hollywood blockbusters can both get me going. In my opinion the great thing about so called “pop” music is accessibility. While bad pop is farthest, great pop music is the closest to the intersection of other forms of art and expression: Film, Literature, Visual art, Fashion… All these things start to weave together and make this great place to hang around in. Get influenced by one and ideas for the other come out of nowhere. When I talk like this, I start to sound like an asshole.
3. What is your songwriting/production process like? I feel like a few of your tunes are sampled based such as “Short Order Cooks”.
Well singing and songwriting is a new thing for me. Musicianship and production came first, before I had a decent taste in music, and its taken a while to even the playing field. I have always had different patterns and song ideas swimming around, non-specific to genre. Most musicians and music freaks do. Bjork has an accelerated state of this condition, which she describes as “having a certain chemistry of sounds” in her head.
When writing a song, the track is usually instrumentally done with some lyrical ideas coughed up in the process. Short Order Cooks was actually an old beat I had made at a slower tempo. The sample sets the mood, which is usually how samples behave for me. I knew lyrically it had to start with “shakedown just walking around, cooking up a story for you”. After that, the lyrics follow sort of through. Its kind like… the second you have one line of a song, it will eventually write itself, because as a producer, you know what would come next in a good song that sounds like the one you are making…if that makes any sense.
4. I feel like Emil & Friends are on the quest to find the perfect pop sound. What is the pinnacle of pop music that you are striving for? What are some of your favorite Pop records and producers?
The perfect pop sound is so dependent on the sign of the times, even if you make it to that point, somebody else’s innovation will draw the light away from you eventually, as it should, for the sake of music not sounding stupid. I would say the quest in this case is something a little more modest like millions of fans, dollars, houses, vintage electronics, remote control toys and bottles of wine (as they are all important parts of pop music).
Some pop records I think are great:
Moody Blues-Days of Future Past (one of the original film soundtrack style records)
Shuggie Otis- Inspiration Information (iconic)
Finley Quaye- Maverick A Strike (overlooked 90s electro dub gem)
Smashing Pumpkins- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (childhood favorite)
Daft Punk-Homework (temple of basslines)
Radiohead-In rainbows (surpasses hype like Chris Nolan)
Aphex Twin-Um, Everything
I often consult the wisdom of these great producers:
-Micky Most and his work in the early sixties (the animals).
-Eugene Record and his last name being record (Chi-lites, Jackie Wilson)
-Brian Wilson and his ability to travel time (beach boys)
-Giorgio Moroder for taking the synthesizer seriously (Donna Summer, Blondie, Freddy Mercury, Three Degrees)
-Maurice White and his intuition of soul funk (Earth wind and fire, the emotions)
-D.J. Premier and his ability to make a sample come alive (gangstarr and countless others)
-Dave Fridmann and his library of textures (Flaming Lips, Mogwai, The management)
…so far none of them have returned my calls.
5. What is a dream musical collaboration for Emil & Friends?
With time machine: Beach Boys. I would like to take a drum machine and a few other gizmos and just appear out of nowhere during a recording session and help them put out something wayyy before its time!…wait. I think someone already did that.
There are so many people I would whose records I would like to have a hand in producing. Always wanted to do an obscure soundtrack, like John Frusciante and the Brown Bunny film. We (royal we) am always open to working with a local group, if anyone sends something interesting my way. As a producer, we would love to do something with one of the most wanteds over in the Australian electronic scene right now like Miami Horror or Bag Raiders, granted that stuff is pure banger with little emphasis on lyrics. On the American front, I knew these kids in college who run Famous Class records in Brooklyn now, and the projects they crank out are great, multimedia candy all the way. Dream Big Ep with the New Pornographers mixed with really wanting to make beats for the girl from chairlift. oh and…(emil whispers) Hottttttchipppp
6. Which power duo does it more for Emil & Friends: Hall & Oates or Steely Dan?
Hall & Oates. Did you catch that video of Chromeo doing Family Man with them? The Talkbox chorus made…doves cry.
7. What are the top 5 songs you put on to make you dance?
The Cure- Why Cant I Be You? (synth horns are amazing)
The Chi-lites- Stop what your doin (70s classic soul group attempts 80s electro)
Grandmaster Flash- The message (Original Version, fuck the newbies.)
De La Soul- Me Myself and I (prince paul produced)
Boz Scaggs- The lowdown (elevator music with attitude)
8. Future plans for Emil & Friends? Tours? Releases? Remixes?
A summerish/fallish show/tour/coup is being put together, but first…
A UK vinyl release has been greenlit thanks to our new friends over at Pure Groove Publishing/Transparent Records. That will probably be an extended version of downed economy and a new track or two. This will step things up a bit. Vinyl has been a dream of mine so that’s rather exciting.
There are a few eps in the works, This next one will be much more of a start to finish production, baby. I currently have a bunch of recorded stuff, it is just a matter of making it come together the right way ay the right time, since I am doing it all on my own it takes an enormous amount of time and snack food to get everything sounding the way I want it.
I am doing the soundtrack for a super colorful documentary on Malinowsky, the Father of Anthropology, made by his grandson. I have had little time to work on (sorry zach) but am so psyched about.
There are several remixes and covers that will be cleaned up (Ocelot, MGMT, Passion Pit, Little Boots, Mowglis, snakes say hisss, and others) and a slew of others on the horizon.
Asian Dan Presents Emil & Friends “Astronaut Ice Cream Mixtape” Tracklist:
1. The Cure – Why Can’t I Be You?
2. Rusty Draper – Small Fry
3. Finley Quaye – Your love Gets Sweeter Everyday
4. The Animals – It’s My life
5. Curtis Mayfield – Billy Jack
6. The Moody Blues – Lunch Break: Peak Hour
7. The Smashing Pumpkins – Cupid De Locke
8. Bjork – Who Is It
9. The Chi-Lites- Stone Out Of My Mind
10. Jamiroquai – Return of the Space Cowboy
11. The Zombies – She’s Coming Home
12. Junior Boys – Sneak A Picture
13. Crystal Castles – Magic Spells
14. John Frusciante – Prostitution Song
15. Slowdive – When The Sun Hits
16. MGMT – Boogie Down
17. Boz Scaggs – Lowdown
18. Hot Chip – Down With Prince
19. Chairlfit – Make Your Mind Up
20. Hall & Oates – Pleasure Beach
21. Joe King – You’re My Everything
22. The Beach Boys – Airplane
23. Mega Man X – Boomer Kuwanger