Artist Feature 006: Eli Muro

Feb. 23. 2015

Photo: Georgia Johnston

Photo: Georgia Johnston

Hello and welcome to another edition of Music Monday!  This week we welcome Vancouver based audio/visual artist Eli Muro to the blog.  Illustrator, producer, connoisseur of instant noodles, Eli is truly a man of many talents.  Delve into his mind a bit below as we talk everything from his musical roots to shopping at Value Village.  Oh, and he’s also left us a nice lil’ freebie below.

Hello, please introduce yourself
My name is Eli Muro. My first name is Hebrew and means “Ascension”.  My last name is Spanish and translates into “Wall” in English. So basically I’m all about climbing walls.

Where do your roots lie with electronic music? Was there a specific album or moment that was pivotal for you?
I really got into music listening to hip hop. I had a party when I was a young teen and my friend left a tape full of Wutang, NWA and Snoop Dogg at my house and i just listened to it over and over again. I was really into hip hop for a long time, and didn’t really know any thing about electronic music. A lot of people that I knew in the hip hop scene in Vancouver were very negative about the idea of electronic music, but really hip hop is electronic music at its core. As I grew a little bit older, I started to get interested in the production side. There was this magazine back in the day called Scratch, that was an offshoot of Vibe or XXL or something. All it covered was producers and production and had no real rap articles. I read every issue of that magazine from cover to cover. At the time I had just moved to Vancouver and didn’t really know anyone. I had always wanted to start making music but had no idea how. In the back of Scratch there was this article dedicated to music gear.  When the SP 404 came out they covered it and a gave it a great review, which it deserved of course. I went out and bought that and started sampling, it was quite an uphill battle literally having no idea what I was doing from a musical or technical standpoint. 

As both an accomplished visual artist and musician, how do these two creative pursuits relate to one another for you?
It's strange to think that I’m accomplished, I don’t really think I am. I’ve definitely done some things and met some people that I never thought I would, but I still feel like I’m learning and have a long way to go and don’t think that's ever gonna change. I have done a lot of artwork for my own music, and some for other people over the years, and continue to work on music based projects with my visual art. A lot of the things I have learned about either discipline is usually translatable into the other so when I’m working on an illustration, at times, I will think of it musically and vice versa if that makes any sense. I feel like there are parallels to all the creative mediums and practicing or studying one can influence and inform the other if you look for and recognize those similarities.

Lets talk a bit about your time at Emily Carr University… how was your experience?
Well I have always been a visual artist, I didn’t start music until way later so I always wanted to do that as a career. Once I got in to Emily Carr, i studied lots of different stuff, but I was too young and didn’t really have any direction whatsoever. I was just floundering around taking sculpture classes and drawing and history all that general studies stuff. I grew up pretty poor so I was borrowing money to be there, I realized that it was a waste if I didn’t really know why I was there so I stopped going. I also was starting to get more into music and all my friends were making music and I wasn’t really integrating into school, I didn’t know many people there and I had been there for a couple years so it just made sense from a couple different angles. Since I left I’ve done a bunch of stuff and I have found lots of new interests. I recently decided to bridge my musical, visually creative and technological interests and am now back at Emily Carr studying interaction design. I’m learning how to program and stuff like that, which of course I’m going to feed back into my other practices which I’m really excited about. 

After taking a leave from Emily Carr, you formed Jellyfish Recordings. Tell us a bit more about the label and the type of music you generally sign?
Once I left Emily Carr there was something I missed. A community of people doing things together and exchanging ideas. Since I didn’t know that many people in Vancouver yet, I thought that I should start something and hopefully that would attract some like minded people. The old “if you build it they will come” thing, and it works. At that time I was still really into hip hop and trying to make beats for rappers and stuff, but I wasn’t feeling most of the stuff coming out of Vancouver, everyone was doing the same stuff or trying to emulate. Anyway, in the beginning it was mostly hip hop stuff and I wanted to bridge the gap and really do what the people down in California were doing, merging hip hop with new ideas in electronic and beat based music.

The most recent release on the label is your very own “Dreamtime Hunter” EP. What was the concept behind the album?
Well I often dream and remember them, and they tend to inform my day to day life outside of the dreamworld. I don’t take them literally, but there is a lot of interesting subconscious stuff in there that can be useful. I found this great shirt at Value Village that has this cave drawing-esque design on it with the title dreamtime hunter. Its done in a sort of rough dot matrix way like african art and I found it very intriguing. When I looked into it i found out that its is referencing an ancient Australian belief about the spirit world. I mean, maybe I’m just coming at this as a westerner fascinated with aboriginal beliefs from a sort of cultural tourism sort of way, but I found a lot of parallels between what I read and what i experience in my own subconscious. Anyway I had that name “dreamtime hunter” saved in my mind for the right music and I decided to use that for this project, feeling that it was fitting. I like the idea of chasing and catching things in your dreams, the rules in that world are so undefined, if there are any.

Why is music and art important to you?
I think that for me it's about socializing and being a part of something bigger than myself, maybe in the way that some people are religious. It gives you a belief system and something to follow and identify with. It's easy to connect to others through music and art, via conversation or performance and the great thing is that everyone is involved you don’t need to be a creator just a lover of it and you can be a part of it.

Take us through your production process a bit when making a tune. Hardware, software, both?
Well I always try and incorporate an array of sound sources into my music. I use software and hardware to create sounds and often I use my voice and hide it in there. I’ve been thinking of trying to incorporate some lyrics in there but.. I dunno. I sample from vinyl, use my voice, use hardware and software synths, drum machines and samplers. I find gear very inspiring so I don’t think I can ever make a tune with just a computer. I work out of a studio where they are always changing up the gear and buying new stuff so I love to go in there and try new things.

What’s coming up with the label and yourself over the next few months?
For me right now I’m working on a bunch of new music and actually remaking some of my older tunes. I recently found a bunch of old songs of mine on a hard drive that are actually pretty decent and have a really warm sound because I was using only hardware to make them and I’ve started using them as source material to sample and rework. I’ve taken the last couple years to get really familiar with the software music environment and now I’m going back to incorporate the old styles and unite them into something unique. I’ve been pretty slow on the label stuff with school and all that but we are hanging in there. Really would like to change into something more than just a label so I’m marinating on that and working on getting some more skills in the meantime. 

Parting words?

Check out the track Eli has left for us below entitled: Water Lily
“i just kinda arrange the beat hella quick, its not mastered or anything, real raw”

Hear more of Eli on Soundcloud, Instagram, and his website.