ETHOS XCIX, real name Eric Thompson, is a Minnesota native making sounds for the world. Growing up learning classical piano, his genre-bending electronic music tells the pains of heartbreak and struggles of mental health. His musical topics are hugely relatable to listeners, and it’s this combination of big beats and strong emotion that has already proved successful in previous releases such as ‘Stay’ and ‘Feel’. DMCWORLD dive in…
Hi Eric, of ETHOS XCIX, great to chat. Firstly, how have you been this past year? How has the pandemic affected your music?
Life over the past year has been very dramatic! Definitely a roller coaster. So many things have changed for me (mostly positive thank God). I have learned and grown a lot as a person, as well as an artist. Life, relationships, jobs, money, and emotions have been so sporadic. Although I can proudly say that directly because of the hardships the last year has brought us, I have never felt more transparent and organic with my music. There’s always a silver lining I suppose!
How long have you been writing music? Were you musical growing up?
I first touched Ableton (a digital audio workstation) in the fall of 2017, so just over 3 years! Growing up I wasn’t TOO musical. Although I excelled at piano lessons for a large part of my childhood, and always used music for a lot of inspiration – especially for sports.
What drew you towards Dubstep? Do you have plans to branch out to other genres?
I think the first memories I have of dubstep are born from the notorious Skrillex haha. When you hear music like that, all you can do is think, “ok, WTF?? HOW did he make that?” After finding artists like skrillex back in junior high, my interest and curiosity for sound design only increased from there. Although believe it or not when I first began producing I was creating House/Tropical House. Since Martin Garrix, Kygo, and their melodies were a massive influence for me. I loved the nostalgic vibes it really gave off, which is something I’m still often always going for. At the time though I didn’t have much knowledge of the EDM industry and all it had to offer, so when I found melodic dubstep I was absolutely blown away haha.
What is ‘Leave Me’ about?
My song ‘Leave Me’ is a single that comes from a pretty vulnerable place. At the time I felt pretty hopeless and worthless since I was cycling through relationships. I couldn’t find someone with an interest to actually stay, and felt like I was being consistently used. I was seeking validation really. I felt like I was giving up on love, like it wasn’t for me. Thus the lyrics “its to late to save me, I won’t regret it. I’m fucked up and I know.” Already struggling with different mental health problems, it can be a weakness for me to rely on other people’s company for my own happiness. The feeling of BELONGING. And to be honest I think that’s something a lot of us struggle with, but don’t always want to admit. I really enjoy showing this kind of transparency because it really opens us up. It’s what makes us human. My whole goal is to read minds, put what people may be hurting and thinking about into a song. Touch hearts of those who may be struggling with similar issues. Because it’s ok – you’re not alone.
How did the production come about? Did you start with the vocals or create an instrumental first?
Sometimes vocals can make the structure of a song easier to make, but for this song I did create the production first. I did a lot of digging for vocals, and when I finally did find one that was a perfect match I edited the production a little more and expanded on the vocals to make them compliment each other.
What is your favourite track you’ve released so far and why?
Oof haha. This one is tough. I would honestly say this is my favorite track so far for several reasons. I’ve always wanted to be a unique artist, all artists do. Besides having this song on repeat, I feel it marks the beginning of me exploring an avenue of combining emo genres with the EDM (melodic bass) world. I think it’d be a really great addition to the same loving and understanding community. I also feel like it’s easily the best quality – completely self produced – track I’ve released so far.
Are you planning on DJing once clubs reopen?
I am ABSOLUTELY planning on DJing once clubs open again! That’s all I’ve been dreaming about haha. I was lucky enough to get a few private gigs under the Covid blanket, but I truly miss the love, energy, inspiration, vulnerability, and connection that comes from live shows.
What can we expect from you for the rest of 2021?
I have so much planned for 2021! An otherworldly live show experience, lots of new music, hoards of top quality content on my socials, and a whole lot of sad stuff (music) 🙂 While live shows have been down for a year now, I have been exponentially expanding my live show experience! It’s been a bit frustrating since I haven’t been able to truly use it yet, but that first show back will be insane. I can’t wait to continue to connect with awesome people like you guys, help those who may be in dark places, and expand on combining similar emo/punk genres to melodic dubstep this year!