Epikus - 10 Questions Music Interview
The W.A M. Awards celebrate the year’s most outstanding independent artists from around the world in multiple genres and categories. "Best Song" and "Best Album" nominations were based on Artistry, Musicianship, Originality, Professionalism, Diversity, and Excellence. W.A.M. stands for "We Are the Music Makers.' Epikus' album "Voice of Thunder" was the 2020 W.A.M. Award Winner for Best Concept Album.
Was there something (an experience) or someone in your life that was the "catalyst" for you to start writing music? Tell us about it. Music has always been a part of my life. I have always had a natural propensity and proclivity toward it. Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, music is part of my culture. I have no "one single" catalyst, but joining the high school choir my senior year kicked things off, I'd say. Having seen the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in theaters the three years prior, and hearing its soundtrack solidified my love of epic orchestral music - be it film or trailer music. In any case, joining the choir in high school and then starting voice and composition lessons privately afterward was the "catalyst" I'd say.
Let's get this out of the way. What is the CRAZIEST thing that has ever happened to you in your music career? The craziest? Well, if by "craziest" you mean most EPIC, then singing the main theme song from "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" underneath the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park in summer 2012 would fit that bill. There are others...but I think that one's the best. Being on national television for a few moments in a news spot about the mountain west regional Metropolitan Young Artists auditions of fall of 2013 was pretty interesting too. Singing in the choir for "Video Games Live" in Idaho Falls in fall of 2014 was particularly crazy, in that the theme from "Skyrim" was part of it. I knew the lyrics before ever purchasing the game, and nerded out being able to perform the shouts from that iconic theme! Also, I'd say that my hit song "Otar the Foul" going viral was very significant to me.
What has been the high point of your music path? So far, the highest point has been the release of my 2018 album, "Voice of Thunder". I consider it to be a seminole album of sorts - it has, so far, been the pinnacle of all my musical abilities combined! I hope to reach higher points in the future!
So, how do you approach songwriting or what is your creative process like? My music tells stories. If music doesn't tell a story, then I don't listen to it - and not only lyrically. The film and trailer music influence is high in my style, but I also have used my own classically-trained opera voice to take the instrumentation to new heights! Often, I'll start with an overarching musical theme - a leit motif, even. I will build off of that, and create a fitting title, and then work to arrange the orchestral, vocal, choral, synth, and other instrumentation to help tell a story. I loosely follow the "trailer music structure", that is an intro, a build-up, a climactic portion, a break, then an even bigger climactic portion, followed by an outro. Going by that, I'll arrange the instrumentation and orchestration to tell a complete story in the two to five minute (or more) window of time. It depends on what's needed for the track. When I add vocals, there are two varieties: operatic and warchant. I usually do those last, and save the lyric-writing for that point as well. All are parts of the whole. Story...that's what music - particularly of the varieties that have heavily influenced me - is, when you boil it down to the absolute basics.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing Indie Artists today? Or, if you could ask the music industry to change one thing, what would it be? I think the music industry could do well to change things up a bit, yes. Epic Music, which has more of a cult following type of community, is fantastic for truly appreciating the emotions and various facets and aspects of the human condition, and in my opinion better expresses these than the highly-formulaic (albeit successful) music that is often played on the radio. The largest challenge, I submit, is the music industry itself. What I mean by that is they have done things successfully the way they have for so long now, it would be refreshing to see them make a shift once in awhile.
If you could share the stage with one other artist or band, who would it be and why?
If I could sing, and collaborate with Lindsey Stirling, I would be most honored and delighted. The reason is because I love what she has done, and love that she "broke the mold", so to speak! ALL of her work post-America's Got Talent has been uniquely hers! I love that! I admire her success story, and continued success, despite facing great odds on numerous occasions. I can relate to that last part, for sure, and she and those like her are inspiring to me. It's never too late, and it's never over. Not unless one gives up, and she didn't and isn't; neither will I!
What are your rehearsals generally like? Or, how do you prepare for a live show? I have only had one small, small, tiny live show, but preparations were simple enough. Get in costume (a suit of armor to look "kingly," as Epikus the character is a king), get in character, warm up, relax, and just go.
Pick one song that was your greatest challenge to write. Tell us about it!
I don't think I can pinpoint just one song or piece...they all have their own difficulties, honestly. Nearly every track on Voice of Thunder was a challenge. I pushed myself on that one!
What's coming up in the future? I don't know...fully. I know what I want to do, if that works. I'm working on finishing another album release (gonna be called "Like a BOSS", featuring music one would typically hear at the final boss battle in a video game such as Dark Souls, et al) to be released in November! Doing live shows would be something amazing, and I could work with pandemic restrictions and just go virtual. I don't need a live orchestra (yet), so a mixer, PA system, and audio interfaces with a computer to play instrumental versions of tracks from my vocal album(s). But nothing - NOTHING - beats singing in front of a live orchestra (60+ pieces) or a live organ at quadruple forte, and my voice cutting right over the top of it! So eventually, I would like to have all live instruments! If films could be made of my stories, or even operas, I'd be glad! Even just shorts of scenes from the stories! Anyway, those are some of my thoughts on future endeavors. More short-term goals include starting a Patreon at certain milestones (reaching ten thousand subscribers on YouTube, for instance).