MUSIC BOX: Contour will set you free

By on June 2, 2015

Emancipator brings the beats for multi-day music fest in Jackson


Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Doug Appling, a.k.a. Emancipator, introduces his brand of moody, groove-heavy music as one of Contour Music Festival’s headliners 7 p.m., June 12 at Snow King. The Portland based musician is in heady electronic company, joining the likes of Thievery Corporation and The Polish Ambassador for this eclectic music festival that features renowned artists across multiple genres.

Born and raised in Virginia, Emancipator’s first experiences with music were through his father’s extensive album collection, which covered multiple genres from world and folk to electronic DJ music. Appling’s own musical journey began at the ripe age of 4, when he decided he wanted to play the violin. After studying the instrument for eight years, he moved on to the drums and then to the electric bass, playing in middle and high school with various musical projects until discovering ACID Pro around the age of 15. The design of ACID allowed electronic artists of the late 1990s and early 2000s to quickly build beats, musical textures and complete compositions within the software program, and it helped to propel both MIDI audio recording technology and the rising electronic dance music, or EDM, culture of the time.

“I was hooked,” Emancipator told The Planet of working with ACID for the first time. “I loved the process of producing music, of re-contextualizing sounds, of building beats and creating songs.”

After the release of his 2006 debut “Soon It Will Be Cold Enough,” Appling found himself quickly riding the wave of success, making rounds through the EDM and music festival circuits. He released “Safe In Steep Cliffs” in 2010, followed by the launch of Loci, his own record label. In a nod to his early childhood, Appling performed his live shows accompanied by Ilya Goldberg, a violinist. “Dusk to Dawn” followed in 2013, and Emancipator has been on a steady upward trajectory since then.

But contrary to popular belief, the best electronic music isn’t necessarily digital. “I build all my songs from analog sounds,” said Appling, a multi-instrumentalist who plays the piano, guitar, bass, drum and violin, to name a few of the instruments in his home studio. “I get my musical inspiration from all of my life experiences, there’s not just one way that it comes to me. Music is my outlet of expression.”

Appling’s production process is organic and often improvised. “Sometimes it starts with a musical progression, sometimes it starts with a beat, sometimes it starts with a simple line on the guitar,” he explained. “The most important thing is that it grooves. I love the process of building a song and exploring all the different ways you can bring it to life and make it sound.”

Appling understands that there is a divide between DJ culture and the world of live performance band. “I think the biggest difference between the two is that some people care more about seeing a performance on stage, and other people care more about feeling and experiencing the sound of produced music,” he said.

“My product is the sound I’m delivering, but I’m trying to incorporate more live elements on stage, that’s why I have Ilya on board. You know, this ‘electronic DJ’ thing is still young, like decades old, it’s still evolving. The biggest limitation has been the music technology, and as that advances, that will increase the live performance options for electronic artists.”

See Contour’s four-day lineup and learn about other artists at

WYOmericana at Contour
The beauty of the Contour Music Festival includes its diverse lineup. From global electronic sounds a la Emancipator to flavors of the Rocky Mountain West care of the WYOmericana Caravan Tour. Founded by Seadar Rose and Aaron Davis of Screen Door Porch, WYO mericana began in Spring 2012. They created it as a way to promote and help foster the blossoming original music scene of the region. Three individual bands “caravan” together and perform as a multi-act show with all musicians joining together onstage at the end of every concert as a finale. This year’s tour, which covers Utah, Montana and Wyoming, makes a stop at Contour Music Festival June 11 at Town Square Tavern and features Jackson Hole-based bands Screen Door Porch (soulful roots-rock/country blues) and the Canyon Kids (plugged-in indie neo-folk) alongside Laramie rockers The Patti Fiasco.

One Ton delivers new grass

Longtime Jackson Hole music staple One Ton Pig will celebrate the release of its newest album, “Lastville,” on Tuesday. In true One Ton fashion, the release party is on bluegrass night at the Silver Dollar Bar, where the group has held status as the house band for the last eight years, faithfully overseeing the whiskey-soaked cowboy and trice-divorced wife escapades every Tuesday night. Lastville was recorded in the Henhouse Studio, Ben Winship’s Victor-based  recording center (formerly functioning as a henhouse before it’s Cinderella musical makeover). The album was recorded in vintage style, with live, six-piece full band takes on every track, which not only highlights the masterful musicianship of the band but gives the album an authentic feel. Mastered by David Glasser, a Grammy-winning engineer who has worked with the likes of The Grateful Dead, String Cheese Incident and Leftover Salmon, “Lastville” delivers poignant musical chops. 

About Madelaine German

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