Drift Away With Manatee Commune
Grant Eadie, more commonly known as his stage name Manatee Commune, has made big splashes in the music world with his signature style of chillwave music. Hailing from the Pacific North West, Manatee Commune has worked hard to develop a sound unlike any other that incorporates a mix of live instrumentals and electronic synths. His live shows truly showcase his talent as he masterfully performs with multiple instruments for each song. From drums to the viola, Manatee Commune is a master at his craft. His music takes listeners on journeys to distant places where life is calmer and peaceful and where you feel like you can escape the every day world.
Grant performed at this years Capitol Hill Block Party as part of the Red Bull Sound Select one year anniversary party at Neumos. His set was magical and really transported the crowd someplace different compared to the high energy sets that other artists put on. This is not to say his sets don’t have energy to them, just a different kind of energy; one that makes you sway back and forth and really feel the music instead of jumping around. With such a unique sound and style, I was extremely happy to hear he had agreed to do an interview. Here, for your reading pleasure, is Only The Beat’s interview with Manatee Commune.
OTB: What has been your biggest inspiration for your music?
Manatee Commune: Undoubtedly Cascadia. The northwest has one of the most unique and inspiring places, the coasts, rain forests, and misty little cities like Bellingham.
OTB: Your music incorporates a lot of live instruments including guitar, drums, viola/strings, and even wind chimes while still using a lot of midi controlling and DJ techniques to compose beautiful soundscapes. What challenges come from such a complex live show set up?
Manatee Commune: Oh man, definitely just setting up the damn thing. Finding the right signal flows, learning where to put instruments so I don’t knock them over, and still having enough space to rock out and engage the audience was just so difficult to get right. So many painful mess ups on stage and long set up times have made me a much better musician though, and I love what my live set has to offer to my listeners.
OTB: Your latest album Brush is an absolutely incredible showcase of your musicality. What went into creating Brush and what plans for the future do you have after Brush?
Manatee Commune: In terms of creation, my heart and soul was really dropped into that album. Being my first full length, and production-wise the most complicated project I’ve taken part of so far, the conception and creation of Brush is by far the most gratifying journey I’ve taken in my musical career. Probably one of my most important lessons I gained from making this album was my ability to have ‘soft ears’. Everywhere I went there was a new sound to be heard and captured, a new melody to incorporate, or an atmosphere to mimic. It’s like a form of meditation, really changed my life.
For the future I’m mainly focused on honing my live performances. I’m very excited with how CHBP went, but I have long strides to make before I can pull off something like Four Tet, John Hopkins, Machinedrum, or Tycho. More instrumentation, surprisingly enough, is my next step. New controllers, effects, and hardware. Perhaps adding another member and having a drummer?
In terms of production, I’m going to start moving into the realm of remixing. Scary stuff, but the power my music gets from vocals is always astounding, so I’m stoked to make some strides in that area.
OTB: How much of your music production is done strictly on the computer and how much is playing around with live instruments?
Manatee Commune: 50/50 I would say. Most musicians can certainly relate with this- I just sit in my basement with a cup of coffee, my guitar, viola, drum set, microKorg, and laptop in a circle around me and let my hands just brush over everything. I get a chord progression on my guitar, set up a sweet arpeggiated synth line on Logic, throw down a smooth melody on viola, loop the microKorg, and suddenly I have a mood. Usually sounds horrible until I spend some time on it, but thats the basic idea.
OTB: What is your background with instruments? You are extremely talented performing them. When did you start learning instruments and what training have you had?
Manatee Commune: Started playing viola in fourth grade, absolutely loved it. It was the best way to express the angst. Always had a passion for it, and some how ended up in the most prestigious youth orchestras in Washington (All Northwest, SYSO, Marrowstone), and managed to get first in State Solo Viola Performance in my senior year which I consider one of my best accomplishments.
I picked up guitar in my freshman year of high school, and having played string instruments for so long it kind of just came to me. It’s definitely my favorite instrument to practice just by the sheer flexibility of it. I can never get enough bright, airy guitar.
OTB: With your music gaining traction in recent months and with your performances at the CHBP, Bumbershoot, and Decibel Festival getting your name out there, what plans do you have for the future of your live performances? Where would you like to take your live show in the future?
Manatee Commune: More instrumentation and improvisation, better production, and more audience engagement. Also live visuals are key at this point in my career!
OTB: Manatee Commune is a very interesting name, how did you come up with it and what significance does it have for you as an artist?
Manatee Commune: The character that manatees tend to have is the feeling I’d like my listeners to experience. Silently content, floating in a vast ocean of possibilities with a half smile on their face. I imagine that all my listeners are a group of manatees just enjoying their commune.
OTB: With Chillwave gaining so much traction as a genre, what other artists would you like to work with in the future?
Manatee Commune: If Kodak to Graph and I could just get a drink sometime I would be so happy. That aside, in terms of work I’d to love to share with people- Evenings, Soosh, Shigeto, Machinedrum, Schlomo, Balam Acab, Tycho, Gold Panda, Teendaze, Baths, Deru, and Eagles for Hands would be sweet.
For more information on Manatee Commune and to hear all of his music, check out the links below.
I would like to say thank you to Grant for taking the time to do the interview as well as Red Bull Sound Select and Laura for helping set up the interview.
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