Portland-based, DMV born electronic producer Eastghost has spent the last two years making his new album Misery & Wonder that is out now on San Holo’s beloved label bitbird. The album captures the sound he has been honing over the past few years with big drums, bright synths and a variety of tracks from big future bass tunes to soft ambient records. With the album out now, we asked Eastghost to make us a playlist of his favorite songs of the moment that helped shaped the record. Pick up a copy of Misery & Wonder here and listen below.
We also chat with Eastghost about how the album came together, how the DMV music scene impacted him and his relationship with bitbird, which extends into touring and remixes.
The playlist is formed from songs that he turned to when making this album according to the producer.
“Since the very beginning of Misery & Wonder’s construction I was circling back to the origins of my own career & revisiting the personal classics of my idols growing up. Artists like Tycho, Dan Deacon, Panda Bear, Com Truise, Bibio & more helped decide the color palette I would also go on to paint with in electronic music. More recently I’ve made an effort to keep the flame of discovery ignited within me. I’ve come across different sounding music that connects to a strange emotion. I love when music conveys a feeling, which is otherwise very confusing to describe,” explains Eastghost.
“Some of the top contenders I’ve recently found are Moderat, Blanck Mass, Rival Consoles, Julien Mier, Dusky & Groundislava. There will always be a special place in my heart for bass music. Although it’s a blanket term, which applies to so many things, they’re connected by the foundation of loud sub-bass. Some of my current favorites under the umbrella are Sorsari, Sam Gellaitry, Rustie & Decap. This mix contains a variety of music that’s affected my own writing and inspired me. It’s my hope that in passing these songs down the line they live on to inspire many others.”
What have you learned about yourself in the album making process for Misery & Wonder?
I’ve learned I put the process first, I trust my process and I give myself time to breathe. I’ll let the song ring out in my head a little while. A song normally takes me about a month or two to finish and I’m okay with that.
I learned I’d restart the same song two or three times rather than scrap it & start something new. Like I said, I trust the idea. If I didn’t achieve it, that doesn’t make it a bad idea, I just need to try again and approach it differently. I learned that usually the ending is my favorite part to write. I love the finality of writing music. It gives us the chance to end things the way we want them to end! That’s a sense of control we often don’t get it life.
Why is your album titled Misery & Wonder?
It was initially titled, “The Smiling Face of Misery & Wonder” which signified that very pivotal, special moment of realization when a person finds themselves at the bottom. When all their regular silver linings & positive affirmations & mechanisms of coping have been exhausted. When the future is uncertain and the past is a mess that can’t be cleaned up. Smiling in the face of that moment, just because it’s a feeling that can’t last and one day it will be so distant. The wonderment and misery of that moment is a special thing! You’re so sad you’re almost happy, because you are starting a new page and it’s out of your control.
What did you take away from the DMV’s musical heritage into your music now?
The DMV inspired me in strange ways! I didn’t grow up as connected as some of my friends to the hip-hop and go-go scene the DMV’s known for. I found myself entrenched in a different sort of local art scene brought on by the likes of Dan Deacon, Future Islands, Ed Schrader, Beach House, Animal Collective, etc.
At the same time this experimental rock/electronica movement is going on, the drum & bass and dubstep wave was hitting Baltimore harder than ever (this was around 2010). I found myself increasingly obsessed with Pittsburgh drum & bass pioneer, DieselBoy. I frequently started going to Baltimore clubs like Bourbon Street Ballroom and the 8x10 for heavy electronic music. I also attended Baltimore’s Starscape Festival four years consecutively before it was shut down. Those days shaped me! If you listen to my sound now, you’ll hear an obvious link between these two distinctly different music environments that I loved so much growing up.
Why did you sign your record with Bitbird?
I trust them. From Sander and Thor who started this label out years ago in a bedroom to the well-oiled machine and all of it’s different parts and people today. I’ve gotten to know these folks really well and I can tell their heart is in it. Their fans trust them and they’re honest. I got the opportunity to meet everyone involved last October out in Amsterdam, I knew immediately this was a group with perseverance. Over the last six months I’ve made friendships within this label that I’m certain are life long. I met people that support me, truly support me in doing what’s in my best interest. I’m keeping them close and one day I hope to pay that forward when someone needs my support.
Why are you doing an album now?
Albums became my favorite way to digest music again. I was listening back to all my favorite albums and discovering a lot of new favorites. I stopped being able to convey what I needed to in 3 or 4 minutes. I thought if I had a whole hour, I could really describe everything I needed to and do so in great detail.