Ian McDonnell (aka Eomac) has been on a very impressive roll lately; in the past year he released Bedouin Trax on Bedouin Records – a terrific follow-up to his 2014 album ‘Spectre‘ on Killekill – which sampled Moroccan street music, as well as Islamic ceremonial recordings. Soon thereafter, he debuted a live-show at Unsound Festival specifically centred around ‘Bedouin Trax‘, which combined visuals as well as live-movement tracking from a dancer onstage, which got rave reviews.
About a month later, he launched Eotrax with the release of “Temple Of The Jaguar”, accompanied by a video of McDonnell dancing in monchrome at a fever pitch, stripping himself down and strenuously mirroring the track with his physicality (as well as two fellow dancers during the last few minutes).
With “Temple of the Jaguar” being released this week on physical format, we spoke to McDonnell about the concept of his live show, how he primed himself for his own physical performance in his music video and what’s next for him in the coming months.
Interview by Mitch Strashnov Video directed by Sal Stapleton and Eomac
"The track is a physical one, very much about connecting, or more correctly, re-connecting – to the body and the animal nature within us all."
You debuted your A/V show for Bedouin Trax at Unsound this past year. Let’s start with how the album came to be in terms of its concept – was it always your intent to go that far with the album in terms of its spiritual essence?
It started organically; an invitation from Salem at Bedouin to do an EP with the label – at the time I was a bit reluctant to do it due to the timing, but when he explained the concept I was enchanted by it and wanted to do it. The music I was listening was about unity, oneness and it spoke to me, personally. Part of the last few years for me have been geared towards a spiritual outlet; figuring out my internalized spirituality through music.
When did you see this becoming a project that had to fall in line with being an album, then evolve it into an A/V show? How long of a process was it to bring it to fruition?
Once Bedouin Trax was wrapped up, I really wanted to do a live show based upon — however I didn’t want to keep it entirely club-oriented – I wanted the show to reflect dance, movement and the record itself. I met Federico (aka sYn), who had some great ideas about body-tracking and motion-tracking sensors that would move into tandem and map images. Personally, just doing a bigger show was a venture in and of itself – it’s only come together for a few months but we started talking about a year ago.
"I didn’t want to keep it entirely club-oriented. I wanted the show to reflect dance, movement and the record itself."
The debut of the A/V show for the record was at Unsound Festival – playing Unsound is pretty great in and of itself, but a debut must’ve provided a bit of pressure for you. How do you feel now that the debut is behind you?
I think it went well – the nature of the festival is that people are accepting of new live ventures, more interesting music – it’s reflective of what I was feeling and I think it was the right time to share my feelings with a great crowd that would be inviting as well as critical.
But it’s not entirely over is it — you’ve launched Eotrax – your own imprint. Considering how busy of a year you’ve had with the album and 10” being released, what brought you to the point of getting your own label started up?
It was something I had thought about for a long time; sharing music has always been something I’ve been keen on. The label is an extension of a listening group I was in a few years back with Dara from Lakker – it became a great highlight to me to just listen to new music and see how and why people are enjoying it. It’s also great to have your own platform to put out music you want to put out whether it is someone else’s music or my own. It’s the same reason I do my own podcast, actually.
"We are part of nature, not above it nor apart from it."
With the release finally coming out on physical format – it seemed appropriate to ask about the dancing in “Temple of The Jaguar” – it seems like your own physicality was the best way to exude everything. The track is close to 11 minutes, was there a plan in regards to the choreography, shot composition of how your body would reflect the indelibly feral nature of the piece?
Absolutely, the track is a physical one, very much about connecting – or more correctly, re-connecting – to the body and the animal nature within us all. Remembering that through our bodies we are part of nature, not above it nor apart from it. I think that’s an important thing to remember at the moment.
In regards to the shots and choreography everything came to me fully formed. The day I finished the track I took it for a walk on headphones and as I walked the video appeared in my head, pretty much shot-by-shot, the look, the setting, the light, the choreography, really the entire flow.
What I saw in my head fitted the music perfectly; it very much expressed sentiments I had been feeling on a personal level. That’s never happened to me before, I knew immediately I had to shoot it. So I enlisted the help of dancer/choreographer Emma-Cecilia Ajanki and director/visual artist Sal Stapleton to help me realize it. It was just a process of sketching out what was in my head, then refining and shooting it.
"What I saw in my head fitted the music perfectly; it very much expressed sentiments I had been feeling on a personal level."
Considering you’ve done the album with such a strong sense of setting, theme and tonality, what’s next for Eomac in 2017?
Some more releases, but what’s important for me right now is to just explore who I am through my own music, I try and not limit myself at all and expel all labels whilst translating that into what I’m creating. I am trying to be as honest as possible with the label, with what I do next, wherever I go next.
There’s other elements I want to creep into my creative work that isn’t necessarily tied to music – such as dancing in my own music video or just pushing forward a label or a specific sound or narrative. Honesty is the most important thing with whatever I want to put out.
- Order a digital copy of Temple Of The Jaguar via Bandcamp.