While the world of Chicago hip-hop is a very specific one, one that we love and are proud to be a part of, the brightness of Illinois artists does not stop with that genre. There’s a murderer’s row of talented electronic DJs and producers out there, Chicago creators with the same ambition. One of those artists who has stayed under our radar is producer Edamame. Real name Ed Harris, he is a Wheaton native, metal-head, graphic designer and recently signed artist with Emancipator’s label, Loci Records. For reference, Emancipator is opening for Bassnectar this weekend, so it's fair to say this is quite the cosign. A life-long fan of music, Ed “was always kind of involved in making or playing music in some way...near the end of high school that eventually segued into years of touring with metal bands, either as a vocalist or just a merch guy for friends’.”
Listen to Edamame’s music with the above paragraph in mind and you’ll immediately notice that his new album Ochre couldn’t be further from metal, as is the case with all his releases as Edamame. What gives? It’s the same with a lot of artists now – technology keeps opening doors. “I became very computer savvy at a young age. I had always enjoyed instrumental and ambient music, even in my metal days...as my music tastes changed, I eventually had a friend show me the world of music production, knowing that I was fairly familiar with the elements involved (computers + making music). As I began getting more and more into producers and electronic music, and as I discovered the world of downtempo production, I was shown the album 'Lucky Shiner' by Gold Panda and was blown away at the quality of that record and the awesome blending of world elements with electronic music. That album specifically really inspired me to dip my toes into music production. Five or so years later, I've put out my 10th release!”
Ochre is the name of his new project, providing a landscape of music to look inward with. Ochre is the pigment found in iron ore, a color and dye seen in prehistoric cave paintings, ancient Egyptian drawings (yellow ochre being a mark of the eternal) the renaissance, and so on. His message on the relationship between art and nature is clear. Says Harris, “I've always kind of been a nature nut. I love the great outdoors...so I like to try and put elements of that in my songs...try and channel those blissful feelings into the music. That's why I will record a breeze through some trees, or birds chirping, or rain hitting the outside of a car. Familiar atmospheres and sounds that help your brain paint an image of something or somewhere when you close your eyes.”
Using Ochre's lush final track "LLevar" as a specific example, Harris explains how at times, this nature aesthetic is more of a vibe prioritizing people, emotion and feeling than literal recorded sounds. "On my new album Ochre there is a song called 'Llevar', which loosely means 'carry'...inspired by my trip to Guatemala last December...not only was the scenery beautiful, but I remember being blown away by the kindness of all the people there, so I tried to encompass the song with the kind of warmth and mellowness and general good atmosphere..."
Now a member of Emancipator's Loci Records, life is moving quickly for Ed. No longer one of thousands of bedroom producers, the hobby is slowly becoming the career. Says Harris, "When Doug (Emancipator) initially told me he was interested in putting out my next release on Loci I had the biggest fan-girl moment. Emancipator was one of the first artists I was shown when I started getting more into down-tempo electronic music and I've loved it ever since...it was rather shocking, and extremely humbling, to get a nod of approval... I never expected an artist that I respect like that to suddenly discover my music."
Discovered it has been, and now Edamame can look forward to all the benefits that will ideally come from that, including tours and upping his live performance game. Regarding these enhancements, Edamame plans on "getting together with a live drummer here very soon to mess around and see what we can try and work into a live set. On top of that, "we are working on putting some tours together, definitely in 2017 at least. If these tours come together then I'm going to be looking into some other ways to make my live show exciting. I'd love to incorporate some more live percussionists since percussion elements are such a big part of my songs...My plans for the future are to hopefully bring live Edamame music to more people around the world. Or at least the country." Agreed on all counts, and I for one can't wait to see where Edamame goes from here.