Ark Patrol is an artist many of you might already have come across in the quest to find more original and uplifting sounding electronic music. Riveting arpeggiators, ingenuous beatmaking and an intricate manipulation of vocal samples should tempt those who haven’t yet! The now LA-based producer talks to us candidly about his emotions, what he has achieved up until now, and his diverse influences. Tune in for his new LP release Geode, both an emotional statement and farewell, coming out this thursday!

ARK PATROL: The words “Ark Patrol” popped into my head the moment I sat down to decide what I should call my project. For years I didn’t know where I’d gotten it from or what I was referencing, until one day I sat down at my parent’s house with my old Yamaha keyboard. One of the song presets is called “Ark. Patrol” (Ark being an abbreviation for the state Arkansas). So I subconsciously took it from a Yamaha demo song.

Mostly I would say growing up in Hawaii stopped me from ever wanting to make Reggae or an acoustic guitar singer/songwriter project. I grew up in Hawaii until I was 18 when I moved to Los Angeles completely on my own. I never fit in with any of the native hawaiian kids in school, so instead of making party music I generally made more lonely space-sounding stuff.

Well it depends how you decide what making music means but I’ve been hitting the piano keys since I was 2. Sunday service choir kid at 10 years old, high school jazz band at 15. Ark Patrol started in 2012 and I used to just use garageband on a MacBook I had.

I started by just making tracks and clips that I thought sounded “cool” which now that I think back on were all hugely cringeworthy ideas.

Yeah I took piano classes for a few sparse years as a kid and attended Berklee in Boston for a bit. However I’m not classically trained by any means – I mostly pick up things by listening to them.

Empire Ants – Gorillaz set the bar for me musically as a hardy 16 year old. Still chasing that feeling again now.

“I’ve had a really hard time allowing real emotion to get into the music. I still struggle with it – a lot of the sounds now are very very close to expressing what I feel but still maybe one degree removed from what I actually feel.”

I let it mess with my head trying to be overly humble and making the mistake of never being as confident in myself as I should have been. I think it kind of stunted any momentum I had, constantly changing my sound. I ended up being too hesitant on music.

Those earlier songs were way more unprocessed than the audio I put out now. And I say unprocessed from a mental standpoint: nowadays I’ll go over tracks over and over so much more analytically whereas back then I think I just played a thing into the computer, smiled and called it a day.

Yeah, so much. But also the way I think about music has barely changed.

I’ve had a really hard time allowing real emotion to get into the music. I still struggle with it – a lot of the sounds now are very very close to expressing what I feel but still maybe one degree removed from what I actually feel. It’s because I have low self-esteem. It’s a challenge since tons of my influences displaying raw emotion is the entire reason I even got into music in the first place.

I had just gone through a terrible break up with my girlfriend of almost 4 years since high school. When I was still going through it, I felt so alone and I was so fixated on my regrets that the words “sorrow doesn’t resurrect” captured my wishful thinking.

Ark Patrol · Sorrow Doesn’t Resurrect

I think I had made the chorus first and tried to extend it out into a verse which was where the sample came in. I came back to it a little later after processing the breakup and decided to finish it with a big ol finale. San Holo was doing a lot of stuff at the time, which I think really influenced the ending of the song. But yeah it’s breakup music.

“I don’t see myself as true to my sound, I feel like I’m actually constantly leaving behind what I did last.”

Oh god I can never answer this question. I usually say a cross between electronica, hiphop, pop, trip hop and chillwave but with the new album I’m not even sure that’s appropriate anymore.

I know I’ll get roasted for this but I’ve never listened to Justice. I even saw them live in Palm Springs and still haven’t checked out their music after. Please don’t shoot.

Ark Patrol · The Betrayal of Lyla

It’s easier than playing the same 8 notes for 32 measures in a row.

Flume, Gorillaz, Toro y Moi, Little Dragon, Radiohead, Weezer, Tommy Guerrero, Disclosure. Definitely Chrome Sparks and Slow Magic as well.

I don’t see myself as true to my sound, I feel like I’m actually constantly leaving behind what I did last. I guess the “signature sound” you’re talking about are the sonic motifs I don’t really recognize that I do. Subconscious patterns I’d guess that someone else would have to point out to me.

I think everything coming up is looking and SOUNDING super exciting! The new Jamie XX, James Blake, Photay, Against All Logic, Jadu Heart all phenomenal. Electronic music definitely hit a wall and bounced in the last 3 years. It was all imitation “flumestep” and the same ‘bwah’ synth sound. Then we all got over it and started singing on our music. We’re in for a good few years of music I know for sure.

Yeah it’s pretty draining but I’ve learned recently it doesn’t have to be. The hard part is not seeing the value in a song anymore but trying to believe that it is worth something to someone else, and then putting in the work to finish things so you can share them.

Yeah it’s darker in my opinion. It’s a “give-up” album. Far fewer cymbals, crashes, hi-hats and more just simple basic synths and guitar. Less thought towards production and more thought towards wrapping it up already.

I think it’s just an altered bell pad with some reverb and panning. It’s a simple instrument so I use it often.

Yeah. I’ll usually start with a chord progression, drum beat, or music sample. The vocal chops always come about midway through the track. After vocals come more percussion/cymbals/risers. Then I’ll take a step back and analyze the song structure of the track. Depending on what I feel like it needs, I’ll restart the whole process but just add it on to the end of the current track. At some point I give up and master/release it.

Movies definitely. Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Harry Potter. I attended Berklee for film scoring, originally intending to do just that. I think I would have had I not gotten picked up by an indie label because of Ark Patrol.

Paris, the route to and from my ex-girlfriend’s house, hurricane hill at the olympic mountains. My car when I had to sleep in it the night of my first show in San Francisco because I’d driven down from Portland that day.

I felt I was “diving” into a new sound and wanted to represent that in the music video. That was the first and only take of the video because I hate getting wet.

I would say don’t think of it as writer’s block, call it something else. And then learn to expect it like a friend and use it as a signal to take a break. Don’t force ideas – it gets faker the more you do. And I don’t develop ideas into finished tracks on a regular basis, they’re all quite untimely. I finish work in batches and often with months in between each one. Usually I would feel guilty and work on some music but otherwise I just do it because I want to get something done.

Get off of Soundcloud, don’t bother with promoting anything, focus solely on the music and compare your music to your influences A LOT. Also, make sure to release your stuff on all streaming platforms.

“I think i’m expressing confusion in a lot of my music.”

Sure. Geode is a love album which I made while infatuated last year with someone I had just met. Something in my life allowed me to accept a new direction sonically and so I spent a lot of time just finding a ton of interesting ambient sounds and samples and felt enough like a new person to try them all out as Ark Patrol.

Throughout the album is that person who you can hear sampled periodically. The idea being that they give me enough confidence to actually stand up and sing for the first time, as well as try new ideas.

You could call it accomplished but it seems very geared towards fun and less concerned with establishing it’s identity.

I have sampled my own voice. Usually I’ll just spend a ton of time listening to vocal samples, picking out the tones I think are rare/special and cutting them to what I think are their core parts. Then it’s just a matter of placing it in the track, pitching it and making sure it’s not too annoying.

Every couple of years for like a split second.

All the time, it gives me anxiety.

I think I’m expressing confusion in a lot of my music.

Glad you like it. I feel safe with that song for sure, and you could definitely say that’s rewarding. Maybe it’ll feel even more rewarding once it’s out! (SoundCloud – Asphalt Love)

Can You Hear The Future, mostly because it draws from Coldplay in it’s last half and Radiohead in its first. The lyrics also explain the parallels I saw in that person and the future I envisioned we had together.

2x JBL studio monitors, yamaha keyboard, bass, guitar, vocal mic, MacBook. It hasn’t ever changed much honestly.

Sylenth1 for synths, Ableton for everything, Kontakt 5 for live instruments and Splice for samples. Honorable mention goes to Trash 2, my distortion plugin, and SynPlant.

I was definitely planning on being more active this year, but coronavirus gave me the opportunity to just focus on my own feelings for the first time in years. So I’m sure it’ll affect whatever’s next for me, music or not.

Ooooo check out Vanilla Beats on bandcamp and listen to his records “Soft Focus”, “For What It’s Worth”, and “Sweet Talk”. Then, check out the band Seekae and listen to their song “The Stars Below” and “The Worry”. Finally, check out a guy named Indian Wells.