To some, it must seem like this young electronic producer came out of nowhere this year, but those in the know have been following Emancipator since he self-released his first album, ‘Soon It Will Be Cold Enough,’ at the age of 19 in 2006. His agile melodies layered over headnodic, immaculately-produced beats captivated fans across the internet and across the world. ‘Soon It Will Be Cold Enough’ was picked up by Japanese super-producer Nujabes, pressed in Japan and sold 5,000 copies in the first six months. Emancipator landed a Puma sponsorship, gave an interview to Rolling Stone Japan, and even had his song ‘Maps’ played at the Bejing Olympics.
His latest album ‘Safe In The Steep Cliffs’ blends new instrumentation and organic samples with the signature Emancipator style of clean production, silky melodies and addictive drums. Dense layers of choirs, horns, American folk instruments such as the banjo and mandolin, violin and some distinct Asian influences make for a playful but refined album built out of intricate tracks listeners can enjoy on as many levels as they want. Dance to it, chill out to it, immerse your mind in it.Tony Simon, aka Blockhead, grew up in downtown New York City. As the son of an artist, surrounded by visual culture, he early on found that his passion was for music, for the sonic. A fan of a whole range of sounds, especially hip-hop, Blockhead steadily built a tremendous collection of tapes and later CDs from innumerable artists, a quiet accumulation of knowledge and know-how. After a brief stint as a rapper, he realized his calling was behind the boards and not on the mic – and from there he began to produce beats. Since making that decision, he’s kept pretty busy: carving a niche as a quality underground beatmaker that people call when they want something special. Blockhead produced nine tracks on Aesop Rock’s critically acclaimed album ‘Labor Days.’ Additionally he produced half the tracks on Aesop’s follow up EP, ‘Daylight.’ He has also worked with other indie giants Atmosphere, Murs, Mike Ladd and Illogic. In between, he found time to complete a break beat album entitled ‘Blockhead’s Broke Beats,’ with ten hard-hitting instrumental tracks, which was released on Mush Records, the US home of cLOUDDEAD.
To understand Blockhead’s presence and gravitas – look no further than the fact that he has also contributed three tracks (including the first single) for Cage’s ‘Hell’s Winter’ on Def Jux. The other producers on the project are DJ Shadow, El-P and RJD2. All this occurred simultaneously to his debut album on Ninja Tune, ‘Music By Cavelight,’ described as ‘one of the most fantastically good albums you’re going to hear this year’ (Sunday Telegraph) and ‘a beautiful record’ (Metro), with Blockhead himself tipped as ‘definitely one to watch’ (Touch.) Blockhead returned in 2005 with ‘Downtime Science,’ another set of deep, emotional instrumental hip hop tracks, this time dedicated to the downtown area of Manhattan where he grew up and has lived his entire life, encompassing all the attitude, anger and edginess of the neighborhood. This expansive album also features some melancholy reflections upon failed relationships and the promise of future loves. ‘The Music Scene,’ his first full album in 5 years (discounting the tour-only release of ‘Uncle Tony’s Coloring Book’ in 2007) has elevated his craft to another level.
Blockhead released ‘Interludes After Midnight’ in 2012, marking his latest triumph in the world of instrumental music. His thoughtful beats and iconic samples continue to help him stand apart from the crowd when it comes to originality and emotion.
Since 2010, Blockhead has performing in a variety of electronic festival like Photosynthesis, Emerg-n-See, Art Outside, Camp Bisco, Trinumeral Festival and One Step Beyond, co-headline tours with Emancipator and Signal Path, and support date runs with both Bassnectar and Pretty Lights. No longer content with being behind the boards, Blockhead has emerged as a real touring force with his new live show that keeps audiences nodding along and wanting more!Manatee Commune, a.k.a. Grant Eadie, began in the misty trees Bellingham, Washington. Combining textures of the rainy woods and the windy seas of the Pacific Northwest with the calming mood of clean surfy guitar licks and rolling arpeggiated sine waves, Manatee Commune seeks to capture the atmosphere of taking a thoughtful, self-reflecting stroll through the forest. Bright, downtempo percussion placed neatly under pleasant, classically influenced violin melodies make his music both easily listenable and complex.