A translucent voyage into depths of your subconscious. Salt Mines and Kalahari Oyster Cult releasing artist Escape Artist ventures through ambient house futuristics, off-kilter beat stylistics, trance-infused wobblers and ravey pumpers, as he provides the latest in our mix series.

Quite a bit has transpired in the electronic music realms these last few years. As we attempted to navigate our way through it all, it’s endlessly refreshing to come across someone that catches your undivided attention and places your thoughts under an unified pattern of anticipation. Appearing on our radar since the release of his debut EP on Salt Mines, Melbourne residing DJ, producer and live performer Escape Artist has been that someone the last year or so. Taking cues from ambient, house, breakbeat and techno, his tripped-out sound palette strikes a rare balance between immediacy, complexity and dreaminess.

With his second EP outing for Salt Mines just released, a track contribution to X-Kalay, and another four tracker in the pipeline for Amsterdam-based label Kalahari Oyster Cult, his flourishing list of achievements has build him a healthy head of steam. Alongside traversing across a 101-minute mix that journeys through his current favourites, the Melburnian talks about the fertility of his stomping ground, recent string of releases, musical approach, friends to watch and plenty more.

Hey Escape Artist, good having you here! What have you been up to and where do we find you today?

Hello! I’m in sunny Collingwood today. I’ve been out doing some errands and cooking.

It’s been a highlight-filled couple of months for you. One of which being the recent one off live show you did together with a couple friends at money4.lasers’ Melbourne Music Week showcase – Electric Sheep. Tell us a little about that experience. Must have been quite a special one..

That really was a highlight for me. Melbourne Music Week is such an institution down here so it felt very humbling to be a part of it. To also do it alongside some of my friends was beautiful. Especially the friends who joined me on stage to perform some of my music. They helped bring my sound to life.

Your second EP release for Salt Mines dropped last month. What can you tell us about the approach and coming together of that one? Did you feel any additional pressure after the success of last year’s debut EP?

My approach with the ‘Supernature’ EP was the same as all of my other work because I don’t have a set way to approach making music. I just kind of open Ableton up and mess around with things until they sound good. Then once I find a sound I enjoy, I’ll try to fit a song structure around it so I can send it to my friends.

That EP came together in a really strange way. I made ‘The Earth’ and ‘Carpentaria’ while we were waiting for Signs of Life to be pressed. So in that moment I didn’t feel any pressure. The title track was a different story. I think it might’ve been the longest time I’ve spent putting a track together from start to finish. There are so many sounds on it that I really love and it took a while to find a way for them to fit together in a song.

As for ‘Silicone Valium’, I felt a heap of pressure while making it but for different reasons. Local legend DJs Millú and Pjenné asked me to contribute a track for their set at Golden Plains, which happens to be my favourite music festival. Knowing that all of my friends were going to hear it made me want to make it the best listening experience possible.

Jasper van Daatselaar did a sick job filming and creating the video for title track ‘Supernature’. Tell us a bit about working together with Jasper on the project and the inspiration behind the vid’s cultivation.

Jasper is a wonderfully talented friend of mine. Not only does he do amazing videos like these but he also runs a clothing label called Stella Vendetta and an interactive design studio called money4.lasers. He also did the video for my track ‘Zenith’ which you can find here. The inspiration for the video came from conversations we’ve had about literature and its transportive powers. Then we picked a nice day to go film some nature. Then he took the nature footage and turned it super with this visual skills.

You’ve another record coming up on Rey Colino’s consistently brilliant Kalahari Oyster Cult. What can you tell us about that one? And what’s the story behind its title ‘Digital Natives’?

That one has been in the works for so long and I’m so glad it’s finally coming out. I’ve been a fan since Roza Terenzi’s ‘Mwah’ EP so I was chuffed when Colin asked me to contribute some songs to the label. As for the creative process, I made ‘Another World’ and ‘Inner City Pressure (Relief Mix)’ quite a long time ago. The latter is a real personal favourite of mine. While I was making it, a lot of my friends seemed to be going through a bunch of really hard life stuff. It all made me want to go into the studio and create a song that people could listen to and escape whatever was going on. Even if it was just for a few minutes.

I discovered the term ‘Digital Natives’ in my studies at university. The definition states that a digital native is “a person born or brought up during the age of digital technology and so familiar with computers and the Internet from an early age.” This really spoke to me about the way that people engage with each other and also the way that producers create music today.

Traveling across a wide sonic palette, your musical stylistics touch quite the mélange of genres. I’m curious to hearing about some of your earlier influences. When did you get involved in music and how did things progress from there?

My earliest musical influences were from the rock genre. The first band I really got into was Black Sabbath and their ‘Master of Reality’ album. I felt myself drawn to the power and drive of the riffs. That was the sort of stuff that inspired me to start playing the guitar at 13 years old. Shortly after I started playing in punk bands with my school friends. Through my teens I got into psych rock. Bands like Pink Floyd and Tame Impala were huge for me during this time and I still make guitar driven music (expect some soon!).

As I grew into my twenties, I was introduced to some good dance music by my best friend Brett. Stuff like Donato Dozzy, Sleep D, Omar-S and Route 8. We also started experimenting with Ableton together around this time. That changed everything for me and I owe so much to him. Since then I was hooked on electronic music and I haven’t looked back.

How would you describe the Melbourne scene? I love the strong community vibes going around. It seems like there is a very supportive attitude amongst talented producers and artists alike — which has a lot to due with the Aussie rise in general over the last few years. Would you agree with that? And who are some of the local artists you’ve been working close with and draw inspiration from?

I would agree! It’s so supportive. To extend that description, I would add that it’s kind of paradoxical. Paradoxical in that on the one hand it feels really tight knit and everyone knows each other, and then on the other hand there are so many people doing amazing things that I have yet to meet or they’re just emerging onto the scene. It’s a really amazing community to contribute to in my own small way. I also feel like right now people from Melbourne or living in Melbourne are putting out the best dance music on earth. From my friends who are well known like Rudolf C, Shedbug, Roza Terenzi, Lou Karsh/Reptant, and Cale Sexton, to my lesser known friends like Hex Editor and Grim Beazley (who has a track in my Liquid Youth mix) – it’s hard not to be inspired by what’s going on here at the moment.

It’s been a little over a year since you introduced your hardware only live show. How have things evolved from that point and will you focus more on playing live music versus DJing moving forward? And what’s the setup looking like these days?

After the set at Melbourne Music Week, I think I’ll be focusing on DJing for a while. The set up is looking way to complex for my taste at the moment. I’m using an Octatrack, Digitakt, Digitone, and a mixer for the most part. They’re all wildly complicated machines and I feel like I need to get to know them a bit better before I take the live set any further.

Aside from music, what peaks your interest on a day-to-day base and what has been inspiring you lately?

Day-to-day my time is mainly taken up by my job – I work in education. I love books – currently reading ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ by Thomas Pynchon. I love sports – our indoor soccer team just won the title. My family, friends and loved ones inspire me every day.

Tell us about this mix you’ve recorded for us. Inspiration behind its selection, atmosphere, special tracks and upcoming bits in there you would like to mention, etc.?

The mix I’ve recorded for you was inspired by a party I had at my house for Halloween. There was such an incredible energy between all of the people there and I tried to capture that feeling. I’ve got a super special track in there from my friend Grim Beazley. It’s called ‘Get Action’ and comes in after ‘Pulse State’ by Future Sound of London. I’m hoping Grim releases some of his music soon, he’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

What else is coming up for Escape Artist?

Just enjoying life right now. Things have never been better personally or professionally. Looking forward to the release of my Kalahari Oyster Cult EP. I’ve also got a couple of other releases coming out soon but I can’t say too much about those yet. Stay tuned!

Escape Artist: Facebook // Soundcloud // Instagram // Discogs

Grab your copy of the ‘Digital Natives’ EP on Kalahari Oyster Cult HERE.
Grab your copy of the ‘Supernature’ EP on Salt Mines HERE.