AVC: You’ve repeatedly mentioned before that you want Eskmo to espouse a certain vibe and themes. What ideas specifically come to mind?
Brendan Angelides: A lot of it was really based around the idea of personal transformation—different aspects of the kind of human condition, whether it’s about family, relationships, or any idea of sound as a representation of metaphor. [It’s about] the idea of alchemy as a metaphor for personal change.
AVC: Do any Eskmo tracks specifically explore that concept of alchemy?
BA: I’d definitely say “Cloudlight” [and] “Gold And Stone.” “My Gears Are Starting To Tremble” is probably the most [realized] narrative on the album—a shorter track talking about the idea of the creator creating something and bringing it to life. In creating that thing, it comes to life, and by it coming to life, the creator comes to life. “You Go, I See That” or “Communication” [have] to do with social or personal relationships in the sense of the idea of loss or coming back together. The idea of alchemy—the real potency—is in the simple things we experience daily.
AVC: How important is it to be familiar with those concepts to absorb the record properly?
BA: I always appreciate if you try to make up your own stories with whatever the artist is saying. Any band I used to love when I was younger, I could create this vision in [my] head. Any tidbits you can get from the artist help solidify that vision. I don’t really listen to them anymore, but Tool really nailed that idea of creating themes and deep symbolism in their music, lyrics, and artwork. A huge percentage of Tool fans had no idea they were trying to go for that and, to be honest, didn’t really care, but ultimately, [Tool was] doing it just for the sake of doing it. It doesn’t matter if everybody gets it, as long as [the artist is] able to have a vision and have some people grasp onto it.
AVC: How fleshed out is the Eskmo character? Does he exist in a different space in your head than Welder?
BA: Yeah, absolutely. Each persona plays its own thing. This Eskmo character dives a bit into some dark areas. It’s not overly easy listening music. I made Eskmo the name and concept because I was inspired by actual Inuit Eskimo shamans—just the idea of them using sound to battle spirits, going into the ice, and coming back up and using those tools to help their neighborhood and tribe. I’ve always gravitated toward that idea that there’s a lot of healing power in sound and music.
AVC: You carry around a recorder so you can capture sounds to add to your work later. What does the ideal field recording accomplish for you?
BA: [It’s] anything that creates an environment. Old John Cage from the prepared piano stuff was actually my first introduction to that idea of abstract-type sounds. I remember my teacher putting that on and I stopped in my tracks. In “Chocolate Jesus” by Tom Waits, you can hear a rooster in the background and that really puts you in a place. Any field recording that brings you to a vivid environment is the most effective.
AVC: Have you plotted out anything long-term as to what you want to explore with the Eskmo persona?
BA: Who knows what’s going to happen down the road, but this next chunk of live performances [will] encapsulate a whole bunch of themes. A lot of what I’m doing is trying to translate messages and concepts about social dynamics or the interplay between people and society. I do that in my performances in subtle ways, adding vocal samples of authors or lecturers, integrating that with churning, bass-y stuff. I just really want to dive into solidifying my vision.*
Psymbionic: Your music seems to be very heavily influenced by concepts and ideas that resonate with you. Who are some of your favorite thinkers, speakers, and philosophers, either from today or of old?
Eskmo: I don’t even know if I can name too many names to be honest. I could even say something really simple, as in music, but he goes past any kind of music like rock star persona type of thing. Someone I resonate with, and like the shit he’s doing, is Tom Waits. He just seems really on point as an individual, at least from what I’ve seen. I really like how he’s progressed through his body of work over the years and some of the topics he hits on, it’s like his personality coming out through his music and just the way he translates whatever the fuck is going on inside of him. Wherever that music is coming from. He’s just someone who is really holding his own, you know? And I just take that as a metaphor that you can apply to your own life on that kind of stuff. And there were periods, you know, I got really heavy into conspiracy based stuff, and really researching dark, dark stuff, for a period of probably like 5 years. And that stopped, kind of slowly, around 2005. That wasn’t what I was wanting at all, you know. But I was able to learn a whole bunch of that kind of stuff and be able to translate it into my vision, kind of what I’m doing and stuff. And for a while there, it started to take kind of a dark turn. Like, there’s something that happened, and you have to fight against this ‘whatever it was’, but that just leads to this resistance type of thing and just a whole bunch of shit. So I just started to focus more on what I wanted, not what I didn’t want.
Psymbionic: Would you say you have a specific production method? Along the lines of personal thought process.
Eskmo: Kinda, but not really though. I still really try to maintain the fact that I’m doing it for therapeutic reason for myself and also hopefully I can translate that to other people. So I don’t think about it beyond that as much. As an example, I just wrote a tune where I’m basically just signing the words “communication” over and over for about three minutes. It was right after I got back from Christmas break, and I had a really really strong powerful good talk with my little brother. There was no thought process behind it, other than that I just felt like I needed to express that and it just kinda came out, you know? So I don’t know if it goes any beyond that, but I usually just try tohave a direct connection, and if I’m not inspired by something, then I won’t force it, but usually 9 times out of 10 something will come out.