Hey all, great to be here today. I'm Doug Appling, also known as Emancipator.

My Proof: https://www.facebook.com/emancipatormusic/photos/a.105878821661.95211.6624596661/10153167255596662/

I'm often found in the studio, producing and recording tracks with my two ocelots. One of my favorite things is collaborating with other musicians and it's how my label Loci Records was born. We've released some dope albums all year, and tomorrow (Sept 25th) we're also releasing my first studio album in three years, Seven Seas, which sums up the time of my life during which these songs were made, a lot of travel and getting musical influences from all around. I can't wait for you to listen tomorrow and to play it on my upcoming tour!

As a special thank you for stopping by the AMA here's an exclusive first listen of one of the songs from Seven Seas, "The Key". Hope you enjoy it! https://soundcloud.com/locirecords/the-key/s-lYga4

Edit: Hey, it's been a lot of fun hearing from you all and answering questions for the last few hours. There are still so many I didn't get to that I'll try to answer later. Thank you all for your support! I'm excited for everyone to hear 'Seven Seas' tomorrow. Peace for now! -Doug

Comments: 554 • Responses: 63  • Date: 

stark-winterfell118 karma

What was it like to work with Nujabes? Had you heard of him before you worked with him?

I love your music. Your first album is one of my favorite albums of all time. I've probably heard it 1000 times.

Are you ever going to come to India or South Africa?

Emancipator_112 karma

It was an honor to have worked with Nujabes. He put his midas touch on 'Soon It Will Be Cold Enough' and helped distribute it through his label Hydeout Productions. I had discovered Nujabes’ music only a few months before being contacted by his label in Japan and I was a fan.

Emancipator_25 karma

Would love to, please spread the word and hopefully we’ll be there soon enough.

martinap100 karma

Hi Doug -

I've been a fan of your music since '07 and cannot tell you how much I appreciate your sound. First Snow is still one of my fav tracks! Stoked for the new album!

Your music is so layered and filled with atmospheric sounds. How does this come about? It's so cinematic and hard for me to fathom how you can mush all of this together and make sense of it. Thanks for answering!

Emancipator_85 karma

I love layering many simple sounds to create more complex textures, it can create a lot of depth and re-listenability to music when done right. Space and minimalism are important too, I try to remind myself.

baa41056 karma

Have psychedelics influenced your music in any way? Also I loved your music video for "Ocelot"!

Emancipator_91 karma

Yes. Thanks!

AmbientTech41 karma

Hey Doug! Going to see you in St. Louis this October, and I can't tell you how excited I am. Soon It Will Be Cold Enough is my absolute favorite album to listen to in the winter time. I've only got one question for you sadly. Have you ever thought about working with Bonobo on a track or something like a split EP? I love both of your work, and you've referenced Simon as an influence a few times. Everyone over at /r/triphop would be beyond overjoyed!

Emancipator_53 karma

There's nothing in the works, but of course it would be super dope to collab with Bonobo on a track!

casse_toi29 karma

Hey Doug, what artists have you been listening to lately?

Emancipator_155 karma

Here are some artists from my recently played in iTunes:


Chrome Sparks

Maribou State

Four Tet



Fila Brazillia




Rene Aubry




Kodak to Graph





Nicolas Jaar

Joey Bada$$

Kendrick Lamar


Catching Flies

RedChronos24 karma

What was Nujabes like? Top 5 favorite music makers? What is your favorite track that u made and why is it dusk to dawn?

Emancipator_35 karma

Nujabes was a genius, but a humble dude who had a quiet strength and calm about him. He was so incredibly passionate about music. I wish I had gotten the chance to get to know him better. Top 5 music makers? It hurts my brain to think about answering that.

Mega_Duck23 karma

YO! Thanks for the music, come to scandinavia! My question is simple: My favorite song of yours is "miles above" even tough its a very simple song it just hits home for me. Can you tell us how the song came to be, and do you ever intend of finishing/ releasing it?

Keep it real

Emancipator_43 karma

Thank you! Yep, I’ll be in Finland and Denmark early next year as part of a European tour that hasn’t been announced yet. ‘Miles Above’ is a lo-fi guitar+vocal song I recorded in 2008. I was listening to artists like Jose Gonzalez and Iron & Wine at the time and wanted to try writing something in that style.

triplejohnson20 karma

Hi Doug,

I would love to hear you and Sadistik together on one album once again. Is there a chance of that happening? Or maybe you plan to work with some other rappers?


Emancipator_29 karma

Sadistik and I have a few unfinished tracks in the vault that may or may not see the light of day. It's often easier to just write something new than to excavate ideas from the past. I've been reinspired by hip-hop lately and have started writing more beats with space for a rapper in mind.

mistykristie17 karma

Do you record your own bird samples/nature sounds?

Emancipator_32 karma

Sometimes. My new album includes field recordings I made of cicadas in Costa Rica and a hailstorm in Portland.

paranon16 karma

Hi Doug, I'm really looking forward to the new album and I'm sure it will be up to your usual exceptional standards. Regarding loci records, do you know if Tor is planning a new album? His first really was a masterpiece in my opinion.

Emancipator_18 karma

Tor has shared with me a few songs he's been cooking up, and they are somehow are even more amazing than his first album. Be stoked!

arrivederci_spaceman16 karma

Hey hey, Huge supporter of Loci Records.

What are your influences, if you had to pick 3 artists that helped chisel Emancipators signature sound, what would they be?

Emancipator_44 karma

Influences in terms of artists I was listening to very closely in my formative years as a producer... DJ Shadow, Four Tet, Bonobo

hns214 karma

Hi Emancipator, a big fan here

I'm an ex-video editor and made some artistic edits. As the content creator, seeing it over and over again, day after day, I found the final project "ok", like I always did, but the people who saw it, loved. They said it's a masterpiece etc etc

So, I noticed it's an artist karma: you make the content and don't have the oportunity to really appreciate it. But after few years without seeing your creation you can appreciate it like you're one of your fans.... the feeling is really good and you don't have the "creator eyes" anymore

So, my question is, have you ever experienced this? Like listening to one of your musics years after and feeling a new feeling that you haven't before?

Emancipator_13 karma

Yes, I know that feeling. Music doesn't have the same holistic effect when you are keenly aware of all of its cogs and pieces, and there's nothing surprising about it. I was able to experience one of my own songs with a refreshed perspective recently when I listened to a song called 'Hill Sighed' that I never play at shows so it had been years since I heard it.

AugustSun14 karma

Hey man, huuuuuge fan of your work. Anytime it snows where I live, I endlessly listen to Soon It Will Be Cold Enough. What was your inspiration for that album, and do you go about recording a lot of acoustic samples yourself?

Emancipator_10 karma

Thank you! Yes, I record a lot of acoustic instruments myself. On 'Soon It Will Be Cold Enough' I didn't have much access to or knowledge of 'proper' recording technology and there was a lot of resourcefulness involved.

_basshead_14 karma

Hey Doug, thanks for doing this AMA! Huge fan of your work. I saw you in Syracuse, NY a few years ago at this small 200-300 person venue called the Westcott theatre and it was incredible.

Anyways, I was wondering the story behind the album Soon it Will be Cold Enough? That album always speaks to me and am really wondering where the inspiration stemmed from.

Emancipator_25 karma

'Soon It Will Be Cold Enough' was special because I didn't know what I was doing back then, it felt free and less self-aware. I was drawing upon some of my earliest emotional memories and musical experiences on that album. You can only do that once - after that your memories are actually referencing the previous time you remembered something.

HorkBajirGafrash12 karma

Hi Doug.

Have you actually been to Greenland? I have and your tunes have so many musical connections that I feel (not even taking into account your tune that is literally called "Greenland") that it must stem from somewhere!

Just wanted to let you know that you are always streaming in my headset when I'm working. You're more or less entitled to half my pay by now.

Emancipator_19 karma

I've never been to Greenland. That song stems from my imagination of what Greenland's vibe is. A distant mystical land of the North.

Antisym11 karma

Hi Doug, huge fan!

I am from the UK and noticed that it's been a while since you did a UK tour. Is there any plans to come back to the UK with the new record?

Keep up the good work, buddy. Looking forward to the album!

Emancipator_18 karma

See you in Early 2016 ;)

Merry_Crimbus11 karma

Hey Doug, do you have any plans on bringing the ensemble back to Red Rocks in the near future?

Emancipator_17 karma

Yep, we love it there

orias0_o9 karma

In consideration for cancelling the Nashville, TN show to play instead at an outdoor festival, at 6x the ticket cost ($120 each) that weekend, could there be a discount or something for those ticket holders?

Coming from out of town as it is, I'm already $350 (+gas, food, etc) into this trip.

Also, what are the odds of doing another show with Bonobo? What about Trifonic?

Love your sound! I saw your last show in Nashville. It was so worth the trip!

Emancipator_21 karma

It wasn't an easy decision to cancel. Send a FB msg with your e-mail address please.

helenat138 karma

Hey Doug, looove your music. So excited for the new album. Out of curiousity, what would your last meal be?

Emancipator_15 karma

I'm a simple man... whole fish, salad, rice, bread, wine...

stewhan8 karma

Hey Doug, Thanks for the AMA! What instruments can you play? Are their any that you would like to learn how to play?

Emancipator_8 karma

This makes me think, what does it take to be qualified to say you can play an instrument? I play most instruments like a chimpanzee trying to write Shakespeare. My favorite to play is the drumkit, followed closely by guitar. I'd love to be more fluent on keys.

iantense8 karma

Hey Doug, long time fan. I'm curious how you write your songs. Do you write on a computer/in a DAW, or do you write it out on paper? Also, any specific releases of yours that stand out to you as special, single or album? Love the new song!

EDIT: Also, how do I get on LOCI?

Emancipator_15 karma

I write my songs in a DAW, Ableton these days. It’s a mixture of live recording and manipulating samples. I don’t usually have a clear vision of a song going into it, each song tends to develop its character as the sounds accumulate. I’ve always liked my song ‘Black Lake’ because I felt like I broke through to a new style of jazzier sounds and intricate production on that track. As far as Loci, send some tracks to me on Loci's soundcloud and I'll find time to listen!

cbrownell848 karma

Doug, what is your favorite mexican food in PDX?

Emancipator_12 karma

Taqueria Santo Domingo (NE 42nd & Killingsworth)

IranianStonerCulture8 karma

Did you get the name of your first album from Planet Earth?

I was watching the other day (can't remember the episode), and noticed David Attenborough ended a beautiful section about the ibex by saying "Their day ends as it began, safe on the steep cliffs".

Emancipator_12 karma

My second album 'Safe In The Steep Cliffs'... ;)

Dr_ZoidbergHomeowner7 karma

Hey Doug, I just wanted to say I'm a huge fan and I wanted to thank you for making such great music! If you weren't making music what do you think you would be doing with your life?

Emancipator_16 karma

I almost went to grad school for psychology. I was interested in the field of music psychology/neuroscience. I guess I’ll never know!

jointsandtits7 karma

Hello! I'm a big fan of your work and you're the first artist I love every single song of, so thank you for being awesome. I had a question about a song of yours. I've been trying to find the song/sample you've been using for the end of 'lion heart' but I can't find it anywhere. Can you please tell me which song/sample it is?

Emancipator_10 karma

I wouldn't usually divulge the source of a sample, but since that sample was left off the official 2008 version.. it was from an archive recording of Shackleton's expedition to the South Pole

theghostmedic7 karma

Hey Doug! What's your favorite jam from the new album?

Also, just want to say thank you so much for your music. When I was in Iraq, Soon It Will Be Cold Enough and Safe in the Steep Cliffs playing on repeat were the only methods I could find to soothe my mind and help me sleep when I was able. I got to see you once in Nashville several years back and got to shake your hand afterwards. It was an honor and again I'm extremely grateful for your music. Keep on keeping on.

Emancipator_7 karma

Thanks! It feels good to hear my music helped you through that time. All of the jams on the new album made the cut for one reason or another, but I'll say that I'm most currently stoked about a song called '1993'.

DrOrganicSwagPHD7 karma

Bless Pandora for introducing me to your music years back!

How did you like Austin? Come back soon please! (:

Emancipator_7 karma

Love Austin!

JayCrizzle7 karma

Thank you very much for playing Symbiosis Gathering and I'm looking forward to catching the fall tour and the new album of course.

I noticed that the ensemble has incorporated drum n bass into a couple tunes in your sets. Which drum n bass artists inspire you and can I expect some of that influence in the new album? Thank you for the AMA!

Myrmeis7 karma

Hey Emancipator/Doug. I wanna say i love your music, big ups my friend. Also do you have any rituals/specific thing you do to get inspirated?

Emancipator_16 karma

Listening to music I love on a hi-fi soundsystem is a daily source of inspiration. Jamming out on the drumkit before sitting down to produce always gets my brain going too.

yo_cuz_from_oz6 karma

Hola from your (actual) cousins in Australia, Doug! I'm Sallie, Greta's daughter, but I don't think we've met since I was in the states for Cindy's memorial in '05. Love the music! Any plans to come to Aus soon?

Say hi to the fam for me!

Emancipator_2 karma

Hey Sallie! I'll be in Australia in March for a 2 week tour. It would be great to see you and the family then.

BigTuna_Froyd6 karma

Hey Doug, thanks for doing this! I also want to thank you for putting together Soon It Will Be Cold Enough, it's a top 5 album of all time for me. It's been on heavy rotation since the first listen and so many great memories are attached to each song. I don't know if it was on purpose but that album reminds me a lot of Biosphere's Substrata album, which I also love.

My question for you: It's very clear you've drawn a ton of inspiration from nature. Do you have any other major inspirations?

Emancipator_7 karma

I'm going to check out Substrata, thanks for the suggestion. Another major influence in my work that I don't mention as much as I should is film.

Sbsvn6 karma

Looking forward to Seven Seas man! My only question is when are you coming back to the Netherlands / Belgium? It's been a while, you would fit perfectly in the line-up for Dour Festival. Good luck with the release man, real excited for it. Let me know if I can help spread the word.


Emancipator_8 karma

What's up Bas! I'll be in the Netherlands sometime in Feb 2016, announcement for that tour forthcoming.

marcoandpollo5 karma

whats the first thing you do when you wake up? ♥

Emancipator_8 karma

feed the ocelots

thegolyo5 karma

Hey Doug! What food would you order backstage before a concert?

Emancipator_7 karma

Local, fresh, healthy food

TheBigConnection5 karma

I've been a fan since about 2012 now and I just saw my first Emancipator show over the summer. The set was closed out with an incredible remix of Kids by MGMT. I was wondering if that track will ever see a release or if that one's gonna be saved exclusively as a live show song?

Emancipator_7 karma

Thanks! You can expect that as a free download sometime next week. I've been loving playing that song at festivals this summer. It's a mashup of two acoustic MGMT covers and my favorite song from the Truman Show soundtrack.

throwAwayException004 karma

Hey Doug amazing to see you here! I've been a fan of your music for a little over a year now and it's amazing to relax and think to.

How did you get into making music? Do you have any tips for aspiring music makers?

Emancipator_5 karma

Create as much and as often as possible. Don't be a perfectionist at first. Use unconventional sounds. Try to find your own voice. Acquire an organized library of dope sounds.

I got hooked on this when I started chopping up loops in Acid Pro for fun in high school.


Your music is so evolutionarily heavy. Is writing it a very emotional process for you?

Emancipator_11 karma

I feel most activated when writing and building a song. It's just so damn exciting to be surfing the waves of sound and crystallizing infinite possibilities into something tangible. There's no doubt that I use this process as a way to process everything else that isn't music.

ThatGirlCalledRose3 karma

Was there any specific meaning behind the video for 'Ocelot'? Some environmental one maybe? I know you've been involved in environmental campaigns before.

Love love love your music.

Emancipator_4 karma

I called the song Ocelot because the feeling I got from the song was walking through the jungle at night with animal eyes flickering all around. You don't see the ocelot, but the ocelot sees you.

l0rn13 karma

Hi Doug :)

I absolutely LOVE your music and could listen to your stuff all day. It's great music to masturbate to btw :P

However, I have a few questions:

Do you listen to your own music in private? And if yes, what goes through your head? Can you name a specific piece which is connected to deep feelings? Or is your music more like anything you don't really think about?

How do you usually start with a new song? May be a bit private, but can you actually live off making music (in terms of money)? What did you do before making music?

Emancipator_9 karma

Ha! That's cool...

I don't listen to my own music in private other than tracks that are currently in progress. All of the songs on my albums were picked because they resonate with me on a deep level. The ones that don't carry an emotional weight don't end up being chosen. It's gotta have soul! I've got a bunch of unreleased songs right now that are interesting from a production standpoint or have more of a club/party vibe and they almost feel like a sideproject. Having deep feelings has been a defining part of the Emancipator sound so far.

All it takes is one sound to start a song. Sometimes I'll program the chords and tempo before diving into the drum programming. A lot of songs I start on guitar.

I feel really fortunate to survive off music for the past years. The last jobs I had before being a full-time musician was a server at Bodrum, a Turkish restaurant in NYC, and as a dishwasher at a bar in Williamsburg, VA.

Reiniercevb3 karma

Hey Doug!

Huge fan here, I love all your work! I’ve listened to your music countless times and will definitely go see you if you come by Copenhagen

  • Besides music, what are your other interests?

  • What would be your advice to someone who’s looking to pursue making music as a career path?

Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA! :) I’m super excited for the new album!

Emancipator_3 karma

-I like dank food, playing soccer, being in nature, visual art. -Make music a priority, that is the only way to succeed.

L4MB3 karma

What's on your playlist right now? What are your top albums of the year?

Big fan, thanks for doing this AMA!

MoeFOE1232 karma

When are you coming back to denver? Missed your last show

Emancipator_3 karma

2016 for sure

jasonsizzle2 karma

How's playing with a Colby Buckler been treating you?

Emancipator_2 karma

Colby is a badass drummer as well as an awesome tourmate!

janfpl2 karma

Hello, I wanted to say that you are my absolute favorite artist, and I love how much emotion you convey in your music.

As a guitarist, it would bring me so much joy to be able to learn some of your music, is there any way I could purchase sheet music or tabs?

Emancipator_3 karma

I too, would like the chords/sheet music for my songs. I'm often relearning my own guitar recordings to play live.

MidnightFlight2 karma

where do you find the inspiration for the names of your songs? or how do you come up with them?

Emancipator_5 karma

The song titles are usually picked after the song is finished. There are some literary easter eggs on a few titles too...

3morrow2 karma

Hey Dougmancipator,

What are your favorite/preferred headphones?

Also, hope you have a good tour. :)

Emancipator_3 karma

Sennheiser HD800's currently Thanks!

DarkenedSpear2 karma

I've encountered your first album by chance a bit more than a year ago, through the track "Maps", and both the track and the album became among my all times favorites almost overnight. I also love Safe in the Steep Cliffs and Dusk to Dawn. "The Key" and "Ocelot" are both also incredible, and I'm looking forward to listening to the album.

I've been wondering, were the various sounds and / or instruments appearing in your various songs / tracks, such as the guitars in Smoke Signals or Maps, recorded by you or produced by other means? Were these tunes composed by you or someone you're affiliated with?

The guitar tunes in the above mentioned songs are absolutely fantastic, resulting in both songs being my favorites, and beoing played over 800 times each in the last year and a bit.

Whether you choose to answer or not, I wish you the best of luck in anywhere you go. Keep creating the great music you do, if you can. I also definitely wouldn't mind if you came to Israel sometime.

Emancipator_2 karma

Thank you :) Those guitar parts were some of the first Emancipator sounds ever recorded as they are two of the first songs I made for my first album when I was ~16 yrs old. I didn't record a lot of guitar melodies on my last two albums but I'm bringing it back for the next.

gavers2 karma

Hey Doug! I discovered your music a few years ago through Lionheart (it was used as the background music for a clip) and I just fell in love with your style and sound. I just wanted to thank you for making such great music.

Do you have any plans on touring Europe or Israel/Middle East? I would love to see you preform live, but I'm rarely in the States and when I am I'm never near where you're preforming.

Emancipator_3 karma

Europe in Early 2016

Arielramira2 karma

where will we be in five years?

Emancipator_4 karma

In the present if we're lucky.

balagopalkv1 karma

What are the upcoming productions you are most excited about from Loci Records?

Emancipator_3 karma

All of them! The Lapa record we just released is really special and the new record from Nym is really really good. There’s plenty more in store too.

HardlyCapable1 karma

Any chance you'll be coming back to the UK? Loved the Dusk to Dawn Remix album by the way!

Emancipator_7 karma

See you in early 2016

Semenkho1 karma

I enjoy your music, just wanted to ask do you think you will go touring in east Europe?

Emancipator_5 karma

2016 for sure

cathalsean1 karma

Hi Doug- Huge fan.

Just wondering if you have any plans to come to the uk in the near future?

Emancipator_3 karma

Early 2016 ;)

champloooo1 karma

Hey there!! Just bought tickets to your show at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta! How did you like our city when you came here last?

Emancipator_5 karma

Love the A.

Singami1 karma

Hi Doug!

Man, I so don't want to ask this question, as it's very generic, but are you planning an EU tour? I am so surprised of how many people around me know and listen to your music. Huge amounts of fans over here, let me tell you. I'd travel any distance across the continent to listen to you, but if you could visit Poland, that would be great!

Emancipator_2 karma

Feb 2016 there will be an Emancipator EU tour!

nalacamg1 karma

Hi Doug! Your music has been an important part of my life for a couple years now. Thank you for what you've made and done.

What artists or genres do you listen to that don't really make an obvious influence on your music? Who are some artists that you would like to work with but haven't had an opportunity to yet?

Emancipator_2 karma

I love listening to African music like Thomas Mapfumo, jangly guitar music like Ali Farka + Ry Cooder, even some pop music for it's production quality and universally distilled melodies.

I've been interested in working with more singers lately.

bu5quets1 karma

Hello Doug,

first of all I want to thank you for everything you've given to us by composing all of these absolutely wonderful tunes. My favourite album is Dusk To Dawn, and my question is also related to this masterpiece. Which is your personal favourite tune from this album?

Emancipator_2 karma

Probably...Valhalla or Dusk To Dawn. Eve II is close, but I'd mix it differently.

Virtual_Trip1 karma

Hi Doug! How long would you think it takes you to make a track ? also would you ever abandon a project and move on to a new one or would you push through and try to finish it

Thanks! :)

Emancipator_5 karma

It varies. I made a remix in just two days this summer, and there's a song on my upcoming album that I started in 2007. I've got about 3 dozen songs on the drawing board right now that have album potential. I wouldn't call them abandoned, just cryogenically frozen.