Exclusive Interview with Avian Invasion
Children of the stars hold on tight, Avian Invasion has arrived. B1, the bird with a wing spand of unconditional and infinite love has come to remind you of the most beautiful parts of your being. Avian Invasion (real name: Matthew Ebel) is an American electronic dance music singer, songwriter, producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist. His latest release titled “Carnival of Animals” is a whimsical display of electronic grit.
An artist for the people, Avian Invasion operates by communicating with the language of music. Limits do not exist in the reality of Avian Invasion and his style and experimental musical choices show that. The heartfelt and heart-centered energy that Avian invasion sends through his music has the ability to touch the parts of us that long for connection. An artist with a scientific mind, an open personality, and a heart beaming with green cosmic energy that can light up the darkest parts of the ego.
With a synthesizer under one hand and his faith in love in the other, Avian Invasion extends his potent and infectious joy throughout the speakers. We spoke with the Seattle, WA based musician to discuss his all things music and passion. Knowing “Carnival of Animals” is only part of knowing Avian Invasion. Its time to get to know the spirit and light within Matthew Ebel.
OneEDM: You can hear your talents and knowledge of multiple instruments when listening to “Carnival of Animals”. What is going on inside of your head, inside of your heart, and inside of your body when you write melodies and scores? Is making music to you similar to a scientist experimenting in his/her lab?
Avian Invasion: Ha! You took the words right out of my beak– When I was younger I imagined the songwriting process as a mystical, right-brained affair. Now the only mystery is where and how that initial inspirational spark will appear. How I fan that spark into a fire is, as you suggest, almost purely scientific: Experimentation, puzzle-solving, almost like unraveling a complex math equation. Every creation calls for specific ingredients and sometimes those ingredients aren’t synthesized. Sometimes it takes an accordion or a tuba to make a song work.
Please give us some details about “Live, from the Crate” your weekly radio show? How do you go about making your mix? Is there a weekly theme or construct created for each specific episode?
The purpose of Live from The Crate is to give my audience something fun and pleasant to finish up their day, hence why I broadcast at 4 pm on Wednesdays. Back when I had a day job I remember how difficult it was pulling through that last hour before quitting time. Or the commute. Or the post-commute de-stressing. My goal is to make people a little happier on the tail end of every Hump Day.
As for how the mixes come together, think of it as a time capsule of emotion strung together with a four-on-the-floor beat. I try to make it as much catharsis for my audience as I do myself. (I don’t dare use the word “therapy,” that one’s kinda taken.) Some weeks I’ll plan out a setlist to showcase whatever vibe fits the current mood, others I’ll start with a few planned tracks and just dig into my library while the cameras roll. Often the spontaneous shows are the best ones, but isn’t that usually the case?
How would you describe the effect Avian Invasion would have on someone’s music library? What addition would you add to an already avid EDM music collector’s basket?
In a word, imagination. Imagine a world where synthesizers and acoustic instruments live side-by-side in literal harmony. Square waves and sitars, accordions and arpeggiators. Imagine a world where science, fantasy, mysticism, and the visceral urges all work together to make our lives better. If the listener is ready to go somewhere beyond the confines of their reality, my music is ready to
take them there.
Your fans or “the invasion” is known to come to your shows dressed like wild animals. What is the joy behind cosplay for people? What do you think a person is experiencing when they put on that character or persona?
We all live behind masks, some of us just choose to become more than merely human. Sometimes it’s a spiritual connection; someone will try to embody the totem or guide that lives in their soul. For many, the costume changes their personality as much as it does their appearance. I am an extrovert; I love new and interesting social environments… but for some of my fans, the masks and costumes allow them to leave their shyness and uncertainty in the cloakroom and hit the dance floor as a wholly different being for a few hours.
The lyrics, “These carnival of animals are part of me” can be looked at more than just lyrics but a way in which the joining and unifying of all people is a must for our future. How is the leader of “the invasion” being an example or inspiration to people in seeing that separation only hurts us?
I’m VERY glad to see you picked up on my meaning. I wouldn’t call myself a leader, tho. All I do is extend a hand through my music. It’s up to the listener if they want to take that hand and join me or not. And I think that part is very important: Preaching unity, tolerance, and reconciliation can be kind of a drag. Preachy, if you will. It is far better to live as best an example as you can be, and always keep a hand out to lift someone up when they’re ready.
How can we as a community and as a collective see more of the reality we wish to see, which is peace and cooperation? What can we start doing now to make that reality (which the world is pleading for) happen? Or better yet, what can we take from the past and utilize now to bring us into a better future?
At the risk of alienating some, I immediately think of Jesus. In a time of absolutism, self-righteousness, and political division, he crossed social barriers to treat the “unclean” like cherished human beings. He defied the arbitrary rules of his own religious establishment. He emphasized service and love, even to those who wanted him dead. More than anything, he set an example of patience.
What we can do right this second is look inward and expunge the things that give us a false sense of righteousness— the belief that I’m better because I voted for this candidate or I’m vegan or I’m straight or… you get the picture. Second, we need to look outward to find the beauty in others. We tend to find what we’re looking for, so if we look for ugliness under that MAGA hat, we will find it. If we look for beauty, we’ll find that instead. When you’ve tuned your own sense to see one of the two, you may find it more and more difficult to see the other. Choose what you look for wisely.
You have a post on social media with the caption – “Do you remember the light you hold?”. Sadly, people are forgetting their hopes and dreams. They are forgetting that their hearts are the strongest and the truest part of them. What would B1 say to someone who has forgotten all those things?
The light never goes out, it only gets blocked by the baggage we all store over time. If you’ve found that your light is too dim to see, it’s far too easy to blame someone or something else for blowing it out: My job is shit, my marriage is shit, my politicians are shit, etc. The truth is no hurricane can blow that candle out.
Perhaps it’s time to search yourself for what’s been blocking it.
You can always find that light, if you look for it, and every time you rediscover it you may end up falling in love with those dreams and hopes all over again.
You’ve got a great voice when you sing, but when it comes to communication, how do you actively speak your truth? Has it ever been difficult for you to express yourself as you grow as an artist and an individual?
First of all, thank you! As my parents would attest after many after-school meetings with my teachers, it has never been difficult for me to express myself. As an adult, however, impostor syndrome has certainly hampered my willingness to open up. Even in the EDM world, I find it difficult to accept that my music compares to what I hear on the dance floor. Strangely enough, it’s a sense of humility– the belief that we are all students, none of us are the master –that makes it easier to share. We’re not defending a
dissertation or thesis before a skeptical board, we’re all in the same class trying to unravel the same mysteries together.
What is a typical recording session like for you? Do you have a system or process or specific time in which you write?
First and foremost: coffee. After that, it varies.
In the studio, I almost always start with a rudimentary beat (kick + hat) and work on a complimentary bass line. Because my background ranges from classical piano to country to geek rock to EDM, melodies and song structure come somewhat easily for me. But the essential backbone of any good dance track is that marriage of kick and bass, and that remains one of my most challenging tasks as a producer.
Once I’ve got something that sounds right, I’ll add a thousand instruments on top, get frustrated with how crowded and muddy everything sounds, make another cup of coffee, come back, and start hacking off instruments like it’s harvest time.
I suppose burying that initial spark of inspiration under tons of useless crap, then spending time and effort digging to find it again is a perfect metaphor for every part of my life.
What would you like to see the Progressive, House, and Trance Seattle scene explore that it hasn’t yet?
I would very much like to see the scene explore something other than Facebook. No, seriously… why does every club and group and promoter exist almost entirely on Facebook? Haven’t we been through this before? Am I the only one old enough to remember the morning that MySpace vanished without a trace? Anyone?
Our days won’t always be sunny, things won’t always go exactly how we want them to. What is the use of finding the good in the bad or as you say it “we must find beauty in the rain”, why is that mentality important for you?
Optimism is the air hole in the mine shaft. No matter how far down we get, being able to see even the faintest glimmer of light is sometimes all it takes to hold on ‘til we’re rescued. Or until we dig our own asses back up to the daylight. And yeah, it’s difficult. Economics suck, politics suck, adulting sucks, network television sucks… sometimes it takes work to keep your eye on that little speck of light. But the only alternative is to stay down there until we suffocate. I choose to breathe.
Music is Universal. If your music were to be played at a giant festival on a distance unknown planet, how would you describe that planet or realm? Would it have birds on it?
You’re assuming this hasn’t already happened. I’m very big on the outer spiral, though my agent was recently vaporized by space pirates so… I may need help finding a new rep to get back to those festivals.
Does the fun ever stop when it comes to hours in the studio and long hours on stage? Do you ever worry if you can continue on with all that is expected of you?
I’m fortunate enough that, instead of scrounging for resources just to survive or escaping a war zone, I can sit in a padded room and make thumping noises for a living. While I won’t lie to you and say that every single day is fulfilling, blissful, and exciting, there is never a moment when I feel my “burdens” are too great. I am very blessed to be alive during this perfect confluence of art, technology, and social development that allows me to make this my career.
What is something you have discovered about Matthew Ebel and your relationship with music as Avian Invasion cultivates?
As Matthew Ebel I found myself growing addicted to a very potent drug: attention. I know it’s a common problem for entertainers, but I couldn’t escape it. By removing myself from the equation– by becoming the Bird –I could re-focus the attention where it belonged: On the listeners. The dancers. The imaginations of those whom I want to reach. As Avian Invasion becomes more established in my life, I feel like both the music and this human named Matt are both better off.
What more can we see for the rest of 2019 and what do you have in store for the coming new year?
The Invasion is only beginning. As a new force in the EDM world, the task for the next year is simple: Share my music with any who will listen. And believe me, there is plenty more to come from this Bird. With any luck, 2020 will bring this beak to more stages across this planet. I want to see every part of it before my warranty expires.
Is musical expression/ creation, your soul’s purpose?
Music is the only language I speak natively. I have no other purpose, and nothing makes me happier than standing in a room full of people who are as moved by the sound as I am.