Getting to know minimal ambient composer Purple Decades

Image credit: Sandlin Gaither

Graduating from the Academy of Art University in San Franciso, Tristan Eckerson a.k.a composer Purple Decades is a jack of all trades – from his impeccable music production to designing mesmerizing artwork for his releases. This results in cohesive elegance with a subtle whimsical charm. Purple Decades leads his listeners into a tranquil abyss that is anything but depressing. 

We asked the charming composer a few questions about his music in recent months.

Describe your sound for us. What do you want people to feel when they hear your music?

With Purple Decades I want to have a sound that is ethereal, immersive, and sounds organic.  I really like the idea of interactive music, and I’m trying to infuse that uncertainty and life into these pieces of music.

Which 3 artists have influenced you the most growing up?

That’s a tough question, but I’d say at least in regards to Purple Decades, I’ve drawn a lot of influence from Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sigur Ros, and Jon Hopkins.  And also Johnny Greenwood and Radiohead if I had to throw in a few more…

How did you discover your particular sound?

Purple Decades is more or less the ambient sound that I’ve created over the past few years while creating solo piano compositions which I’ve been releasing under my own name.  I realized that in the process of creating a nice ambient bed for my piano compositions, I could just take out the piano and focus on the background, but bring certain elements to the forefront and give them more life.

What are the most important pieces of equipment to you?

Always a keyboard, and after that pretty much just my computer and Logic.

What outside of music inspires you to create?

I love graphic art and design.  I’m inspired artistically by aesthetics and visual design a lot.  Also writers.  I’m always reading and I love finding good new fiction authors.

Do you have a favourite memory of your career so far that you will take with you forever?

I used to play in a band in San Francisco and one time I wrote string arrangements which were recorded by the Magik*Magik Orchestra at Tiny Telephone studios.  Watching them record my music was definitely a special memory for me.

If you could work with, or perform alongside any artist living or passed, who would it be?

Maybe Jimi Hendrix or John Coltrane.  I don’t know that’s a tough one…

What kind of message are you trying to send with your music?

I never consciously decide I’m trying to send any message, but if anyone was to get anything out of my music, I’d hope it would be the ability to slow down, look around and appreciate life, and learn to be kind to other people.

What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

Yes, quite a bit actually. I’m going to be working on a few albums this year.  First and foremost a full length for Purple Decades.  And then after that a full length for my classical project, with a full ensemble this time around.

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