Interview: Manatee Commune

There are electronic musicians, and then there’s Manatee Commune. Born Grant Eadie, this Washington-based producer/multi-instrumentalist has been gaining lots of buzz as of late, participating in the local Sound Off! competition, as well as landing a gig at Bumbershoot Music Festival. He is noted for his love of classical music, energetic live performances, and a wide range of musical skills. Additionally, his new album, Brush, was released last month. DFC had a very intriguing discussion with Eadie, one that you can read below.

DFC: When did you realize you wanted to become a musician?

GE: In my senior year of high school I started recording and composing my own music with Logic. First time I really had the freedom to express myself musically, as I had been a classical musician up until that point. That same year I also took first place in my state for solo viola performance, and I guess that really made me realize I had the ability to do what I wanted with music.

DFC: What made you choose to compose music electronically with software?

GE: More flexibility I guess. I was listening to a ton of Gold Panda at the time and it moved me in ways that most other genres couldn’t and I figured that’s what I wanted to make too. Also the technical side makes a ton of sense to me. I love the concept that a bunch of 1’s and 0’s that make up puzzle pieces in a program can be arranged in such beautiful patterns.

DFC: When you compose these songs, is it all spontaneous or carefully planned beforehand?

GE: Very spontaneous. Most of my creativity hits me like a train and I have put down everything I’m doing at that moment and sit down with my laptop and viola and just let it flow out. I hardly ever have any idea of where my music is going until it’s very close to the end of the song. That in mind I still work very hard to capture a particular mood. I want people to sink into themselves, get introspective, and find a new state of emotion to hang out in. A “mindforest”, that’s what I want to make.

DFC: Would you say using organic instrumentation in some of your songs is an advantage for you?

GE: Yes! Definitely an advantage. Live instrumentation and acoustic parts tend to put electronica in the realm of the real world. A lot of electronic musicians with strictly use midi-synth sounds and they tend to sound like they’re in a computer world, which is totally awesome. I try my best to step out of that world though, try to sound like Manatee Commune is birthing from the ocean or a deep forest; a live, lush, lustrous cacophony of recognizable noises that make up a world. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, haha!

DFC: Is there a certain philosophy as to why you sometimes go barefoot when performing? Or is it just a comfort thing?

GE: Mostly a comfort thing. I like to feel unrestricted and free when I play music. It also gives me a sense of a personal relationship with the place I’m playing, something about touching the floor makes me more a part of my environment.

DFC: What inspired the moniker Manatee Commune?

GE: I love manatees, they’re the most docile creatures I’ve ever seen, floating around and bouncing off of stuff. And when I was coming up with names I was listening to a ton of Animal Collective so I wanted to kind of do a little tribute. Also Manatee Commune is very original and an easily searchable item on the internet.

DFC: Were there any names you rejected before choosing this one?

GE: Haha, yeah actually. Buffalo Buffalo was my first choice. Still not sure what that was all about.

DFC: The word “commune” is defined as “a group of people living together and sharing possessions and responsibilities”. Would this reflect your music?

GE: Definitely. It’s hard to explain, but when performing live my ultimate goal is make my audience feel a part of something. I always try to explain that dancing and moving with each other makes for a better time and overall better show.
I also try to capture the idea of giving and receiving. My favorite part of a performance has to be watching my audience’s reaction.
And that’s what live music is all about. I give a group of people something artistic to interpret and feel, they respond with body language and dancing, and the cycle continues. Community makes shows and music, it wouldn’t exist without it.

DFC: For you, would it be more fun when you’re making the music, or performing it live?

GE: I think they’re different kinds of fun. Performing live is such a massive adrenalin rush, I love feeding off of a crowd’s energy. And there’s nothing like walking off stage to meet a ton of people who were moved by a performance. But in the studio, it’s so calm and relaxed, just enjoying coffee and my own mental freedom. I usually have small epiphanies whenever I’m writing music, and that’s always very pleasant. I always need a balance of the two though. Without performances I feel trapped in my studio space, but with too much performance I get tired of my music.

DFC: On the opening track of your new album, there is a guest vocalist, Marina Price. How did this collaboration occur?

GE: Haha, kind of a funny story. I run sound at my university- Western Washington University, and I was doing tech crew for an open mic night at my universities local coffee shop. About an hour in, this stunningly beautiful girl gets up on stage and plays an incredible cover. Perfectly in tune, incredible articulation, awesome mid-range voice. I really, really wanted to ask her out, but I also really wanted to use her voice on a track, so I decided to knock out two birds with one stone. Right after the performance I found her on facebook and asked if she wanted to write a song with me. She said yes, and after three or so sessions in the studio I had what I needed to make White Smoke. After that, we went on a couple dates we’ve been together ever since!

DFC: Woah! Met through music, sounds like every musician’s dream.

GE: Haha, yeah man. I feel so incredibly lucky.

DFC: How have family and friends reacted to your music and the new album?

GE: So incredibly well. My family has always been overwhelmingly supportive in my musical creations. They’ve been two 90% of my shows and taken the time to listen to every song and give me their opinion about them (which is usually very positive). I also couldn’t ask for better friends. I hang out with a lot of very musically inclined people and I’ve gotten nothing but excitement and support from those kiddos. So many listens and critiques have come from my peers, I owe my music to them.

DFC: When someone puts on your music for the first time, how would you want them to feel? Is there anything you would want the listener to experience while listening?

GE: I have this weird vision of someone listening to Wake for the first time and suddenly feeling the urge to dance and just doing it. Closing their eyes, following the rhythms, having the feeling of being bodiless over taking them, and just letting their tension release and float away as they move their feet around. Open, relaxed, free, calm, content.

Purchase the new album Brush here, and stream it via Spotify below.

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