“Learning how to share my creative process with my friends completely revolutionized the last of year of music for me. Inviting those I trusted and loved into my studio to spend even just an hour talking or jamming opened fountains of inventive energy for me, especially from the ones who lacked any musical knowledge. I soon found myself incredibly inspired by the originality of even the smallest interactions with people, and so I pointed my field mic at anyone who had a story, a melody, or a stumbling beat they had been absentmindedly drumming, all in the hopes of capturing their individuality and framing it with my ever expanding insight into audio production.”
Musician and instrumentalist Grant Eadie’s highly anticipated EP Thistle was just released, and we caught up with the nature enthusiast and audiophile to find out more about his creative experience and process. Based in Bellingham, Washington, Grant’s field recordings from his natural surroundings perfectly impart that feeling of being utterly immersed in the lushness and beauty of our planet. His classic education and training mixed with a seemingly boundless enthusiasm for sound and technical experimentation result in a body of work that can easily transport you elsewhere, or help you get more in tune with yourself. Manatee Commune’s latest release, Thistle, treats us to an uplifting, at times playful, and thoroughly joyful experience. For Grant, Thistle was mainly driven by human interactions, and sharing the creative process with friends, thus resulting in an EP coloured with the input of people close to him.
Thistle continues Manatee Commune’s ability to get people dancing and takes his shimmering, warm sound to new levels. Stream Thistle below and read on to find out more about Grant and his thoughts on the vulnerability of artistry, self-exploration through sound, and what he’s currently listening to.
You were playing the violin at 6 years old, and then later moved on to the viola. Were you already aware of your musical talent at such a young age? (How (and when) did you first discover your interest in sound and music?)
I didn’t really find my interest in sound until my older age. I was always super emotionally affected by music, and I always stuck hard to my lessons and ensembles, but I never really classified myself as a ‘talented musician’ until I started to pick up new instruments and really come out of my shell in high school.
Did this evolve into making your own music naturally over time or was that something you experimented with at a young age? Did you have a strong idea of how you wanted to approach making music from early on?
I was always experimenting with my own music as a kid. I found much more joy in writing little melodies and chord progressions than being forced to play others. That being said I never developed any core ideas about the pieces I made, they were always for fun and never captured or portrayed anything.
You’ve said that you prefer the sidelines to the spotlight, but you ended up being a solo musician. Do you still feel a bit nervous in the spotlight now or have you grown used to it as a result of playing live shows in front of crowds?
Grown pretty used to crowds honestly. I kinda realized in the last year of performing that creating a persona and letting him play the show is much easier. That happy-go-lucky kid that hops on stage is just someone I use to help me get through the anxiety of being in front of people. I guess I’m faking it until I make it.
You mentioned that you’ve been inspired by the scenery of the Northwest since you started making music. How has nature affected and inspired your creative work?
Mostly clarity. Nature is this blank canvas that sets my mind back to a easy, comfortable place where I can quietly make things. Though it was my inspiration initially, I’ve come to know it as more of a necessity for my sanity, inspiration comes from discovery and exploration.
What is your biggest internal motivation to make music?
Making something I really enjoy. Creating something from scratch that I am personally proud of. Capturing new feelings and interesting sounds in a digestible piece of artwork.
You’ve said that creativity is an exploration of self, and is all about the process and self discovery. It’s true that creativity work is essentially an introspective activity, which is then shared (or not) with some group of people. The artist is doing a very vulnerable thing by releasing their work into the world. Do you value sharing your work as much as creating it? What role do listeners of your music have in your creative process?
In a perfect world, my ears and my listeners would have an equal balance of say when it comes to a track, but unfortunately it isn’t always the case. I find myself sometimes hearing what a critic might say as I am writing which ultimately affects how I move forward, if I do at all. That being said, without those thoughts I think I would be somewhat unaware of how I fit into the musical world which would give me false sense of security and not allow me to grow. So honestly I’m still finding how my listeners fit into my creative process.
When you say ‘exploration of self’ – are you more interested in your own self, or the philosophy behind ‘the self’. Are you interested in exploring the human condition or are you trying to understand more about who you are? Do you consider the insights you gain to be human in nature, or do they pertain more to yourself?
I’d say both. On one hand I’m searching for that golden moment when I can sense people sincerely enjoying my music, but I’m also trying very hard to search more into myself as a person. I have so many habits and addictions that have so much power over my choices, and making music certainly illuminates them for me. Its painful sometimes, but its a meditative process that requires practice and I think I’m getting better at it.
What are some of the important things you’ve discovered about your self so far?
Haha, lots of things. I suck at getting up early, I love seventh chords, learning wind instruments is borderline impossible, I don’t like things I’m not good at, I love making pretty music, over-practicing is very possible, my left ear isn’t as sensitive as my right ear, etc.
What is your day to day like as a creative professional and musician? How is your work split between composing and all the other aspects of your career?
It all depends on what I’m freaking out about at that particular time. At the moment I have a deadline set for an album, so get up, have a minor panic attack, then work until I get tired. I suppose some day I’ll have some magic process that manages my productivity and yields amazing results, but for now I just let my excitement take over.
Some of your songs feature vocalists – do you collaborate with songwriters and singers or do you seek out vocalists and provide them with lyrics? How does the process differ when you’re working on a song that includes vocals?
I’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of friends in the music industry who are willing to throw down vocals and maybe help write a song. Usually I’ll send something that partially done to a vocalist, let them take a crack at putting some stuff over the top, then I completely re-write the track and make it into something fresh.
What sort of music do you listen to that inspires you to make your own? What are you listening to these days?
Fela Kuti is the most inspiring musician for me. Nowhere near my genre, but the layers of instrumentation and the vocal lines are so hypnotic and the song structure is so freeing, it makes me want to jump into the studio and just have fun with no expectations.
Other than that I’ve been listening to Chrome Sparks, Taylor McFerrin, Shigeto, Blu and Exile, Kodak to Graph, Froyo Ma, Frameworks, FKJ, Flamingosis, Arms and Sleepers, Little Dragon, Animal Collective.
Purchase Thistle EP here.
3.3 Bellingham, WA Wild Buffalo (EP Release Party)
3.10 Portland OR, Mississippi Studios
3.11 Seattle WA, Nectar Lounge
4.19 Tucson, AZ Club Congress
4.20 San Diego, CA The Hideout
4.21 Los Angeles, CA The Echoplex
4.22 Santa Cruz, CA The Catalyst
4.23 San Francisco, CA Social Hall
4.30 Vancouver, BC Alexander
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIA KAO.