[Interview] Emancipator’s Doug Appling Talks Purple Hatter’s Ball, the Future and More


Doug Appling, better known as Emancipator, has been conquering the music scene for quite some time and has no signs of slowing down. Appling and violinist Ilya Goldberg make a phenomenal team on stage as they grace audience’s ears with an aural stew of electronic composition that tugs at one’s heartstrings. We got to touch base with the Portland based producer and get the scoop on Emancipator.

What does Purple Hatters Ball mean to you and can you contribute some
of your success due to the support you’ve harnessed from the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park over the years?

I’ve always felt honored to perform at Purple Hatter’s Ball because I followed the story of Rachel Hoffman when it happened and to participate in honoring her memory at one of my favorite venues in the world means a lot to me. I love the community, the location, and the purpose of this event.

Tell me about your come up from selling personally burned CDs of “Soon it Will Be Cold Enough” in college via Myspace in 2006, and the progression to where you are now.

I’m amazed at the career that I’ve had so far which all seems to have sparked from that first album. It’s led to some great opportunities, from being on labels like 1320 Records and Hydeout Productions to landing premier festival bookings. Because of this, I’ve been able to form Emancipator Ensemble, start my own record label Loci Records, and build a studio to record even more music. One thing that has only intensified is my dedication to making mind-expanding, soul-feeding music and sharing it with the greatest fans in the world. I am obsessed with making music.

You haven’t released much since “Seven Seas” in 2015; is there any new music in the works and what can we expect from you in the future?

I’m actually writing this on the final day of mixing my new album. That’s all I can say for now, but rest assured I have a lot more music in the pipeline.


You formed Emancipator Ensemble back in 2015 and toured pretty heavily
with them over the next couple years. Are you planning on continuing a tour in the future?

There are definitely some tour dates in the works!

The music you create is expertly crafted and never ceases to take the
listener through a melodic and multi-layered soundscape leaving one wanting to hear over and over again. How do you unequivocally mesh together such a sonic masterpiece?

Thank you for the compliment, but I think excellence is a result of not ever feeling complacent in that I have written a masterpiece. I’m always listening for ways in which I can improve a song. Are there sounds I could add or remove that will intensify the emotional charge or the sense of rhythm? Does it have a mixture of both familiar sounds and uncharted territory? Have I created a mix that is both tonally balanced yet expressive? These are some of the thoughts that I have during the creative and mixing process. I’m just happy to have discovered the medium of electronic music in which to create. I’ve found great meaning in trying to create art that means something to myself and others and the quest for greatness is a lifelong process.


Can you elaborate on discovering the naturalistic and ambient samples
you so tactfully use (i.e. the bird chirps in “Smoke Signals”) as well as the incorporation of vocals from Thao Nguyen and Madelyn Grant.

Field recordings from nature can offer a much needed dose of texture and chaos in the sometimes sterile world of electronic sound. And there is nothing that speaks to the soul more than a human voice – it is the first thing we hear in this world and it is our lifeline to human connection in the form of the language. While my next album doesn’t feature lyrical singing, I’ve made a point to include vocal textures in every song.

In your off time (if any) do you ever dabble in any other genres other than ambient downtempo electronica?

I have fun making all kinds of music outside of what you’ve already heard from me, like drum and bass, house, and trap (aka Doug Trappling). Most of those tracks are works in progress. I just need to spend the time mixing them to the the standard of quality I’ve set with my other work. I’m also working on an EP of experimental jazz/funk where I play live drums and another album with a singer. I’ve also been really inspired by lo-fi hip-hop lately and I’m working on a beat tape in which the main ingredients are samples, breaks, and keys.


Emancipator will be headlining this year’s Purple Hatter’s Ball. Taking place at the beautiful Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (SOSMP) in Live Oak, Florida June 2 -4, 2017, the three-day music festival benefits The Rachel Morningstar Foundation (a non-profit 501c3 organization) in honor of longtime SOSMP friend and music festival lover Rachel Morningstar Hoffman.

For guests that want to arrive early, PHB will host a Thursday Pre-Party on June 1 with Zach Deputy, Dubconscious, Bells and Robes, and Blackwater Grease. Tickets on sale now.

PHB 2017 will utilize three stages including the famed Amphitheater Stage, a Beach Stage located along the wild black water Suwannee River that is picturesque for daytime sets, and the Uncle Charles Porch Stage. The event also features live art, yoga, workshops and a silent auction, as well as a Charity Disc Golf Tournament hosted by Zach Deputy. Since Rachel was an aspiring chef, PHB will be adding a culinary component for 2017 featuring food from several top notch chefs that will be announced at a later date.

The most memorable moment of the weekend is when Rachel’s loving mother, Margie Weiss (aka Momma Margie), leads an emotional ceremony celebrating her daughter’s memory. Each year, they released 24 monarch butterflies – 23 to represent Rachel’s age when she was taken from this world and 1 for her spirit that lives on.


Tickets are on sale here. Tickets will include three days of music and primitive camping. VIP upgrades are available, as well as tickets for the Thursday Pre-Party. The park also offers guest comforts including a general store, a full-service restaurant, showers and water stations. SOSMP will be offering a specially priced packaged that includes a cabin for four and golf cart for the weekend. To join the wait list for cabins, golf cart rentals and RV hook-ups, please contact SOSMP at (386) 364-1683.

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