Exploring the Ethereal with Stray Theories

Lauren Krieger

It takes a special emotional connection to the music to create ambient soundscapes which can transport the listener to another place and time, a gift which Stray Theories shares through his own productions, and through his new show Ethereal on CHILL.

As with most electronic music, it’s impossible to limit the description of a genre, and even greater with musicians whose sound goes beyond the usual definitions. A mix of cinematic, shoegaze, ambient, post-rock, and other unlimited labels, the sound of Stray Theories is something more easily felt than discussed.

With music used often in film and documentary projects, his always ingrained deep moods and floating atmospheres set the tone for emotional escapes that mix beautifully with visual expressions. His new show on FRISKY’s CHILL Channel opens the door for further explorations, featuring artists who inspire and exemplify his soothing sound. Ethereal’s premiere episode already has a reach of over 2K, so join the rest and find yourself getting lost within its seamless flow.

PRESS PLAY and read on to learn more about Micah Templeton-Wolfe, aka Stray Theories:

What first drew you into the ambient music world?

I have always been drawn to more emotive & melodic styles of music I think. A long time ago I came across a vinyl compilation called ‘Ambience’ by Australian radio station Triple J, it opened my eyes to a lot of music & artists that i had not heard before. The first time I heard the work of Brian Eno I was hugely inspired… it had been a sound I had been looking for, but had never really come across at the time until then. I had already been experimenting with recording, touching on some of those ambient/minimal elements but I wasn’t so aware of the wider ambient music world, so those few moments amongst many others lead me seeking out & discovering more music & artists in the genre.

What was your first foray into production like? What are the biggest changes in how you approach producing music now versus when you first began?

I started experimenting with music production in high school, I was already playing in a few bands and I had the opportunity to do some recording. I quickly became hooked on it. At the start I learnt everything from a combination of trial & error, future music magazines & collaborating with a few musicians with similar interest. I did some work experience in a few studios when I was 15 or 16 which was hugely inspiring. In a way I have done a full circle in how I approach producing music, at the very start I was recording any instrument / sound I had available, with a basic studio setup, experimenting with looping and sound design. Then for many years I switched to a mostly software based setup, not as much live recording & creating music mostly ‘in the box’. I needed a change to stay inspired and for the last 5 or so years I have returned to spending much more time focused on live recording, more improvisation, collaborating with other musicians, collecting synths, instruments & any noise making device I can get hold of, I find it much more inspiring this way. Initially I spent quite a few years experimenting with different styles, trying out new ideas and trying to work out which direction I wanted to go in, more recently I have focused on creating music with a more specific & focused sound.

Is it ever a challenge for you to get into a creative mode? How do you deal with times when you might feel stuck creatively?

Yes, that does happen quite often for different reasons… I have found personally the best way is to push through it, make time for creativity even if you don’t feel it initially & experiment with something new (different style, instruments, software etc). I have been changing how I write quite often for that reason, to keep things fresh.

Do you find that there is a theme or message which runs through all of your music?

Overall there is not really a specific theme or message which runs through my music. Creating music is my own therapy and place of calm & freedom. It is always interesting & inspiring to hear the different interpretations of my releases. I feel like there is often a reflective & nostalgic feeling which is not always intentional, but when I listen back I can hear it throughout different releases…

What is one element that you think defines the “Stray Theories” sound?

Overall I think the atmosphere & mood – I think there is a connection throughout all my music, an emotive quality that I always look for & try to create when writing music… I’m not sure if there is one specific element that defines Stray Theories, but I feel that as I build & layer a track, the finished work tends to fit within my overall sound.

Do you have a favorite project that you have worked on and / or your music has been used for?

There has been so many wonderful projects over the years I have had the opportunity to be involved in, too many to identify one. It has been really inspiring to see my music appear in some really amazing short films & documentaries…

Do you have a dream project you would love to work on?

There is not really a dream project as such right now, although lots of plans & goals in mind… I would love to put together a new live show and travel with it at some point in the near future & also to continue focusing on soundtrack work.

What is your favorite part of the composing / producing process? Something you enjoy doing the most?

Sometimes there are magic moments where you get completely immersed & lost in the music, whatever you are creating resonates with you… I am addicted to those moments and always search for that in whatever I create. It’s what gives me such a passion for music & creating it.

What do you love to listen to? (a particular instrument, sound in nature, etc.)

Lately I listen to a lot of post-rock, jazz, anything shoegaze inspired, also a lot of minimal ambient & drone. There is such a unbelievable amount of amazing music to be discovered… I am always searching for unique new sounds.

What are your goals with Ethereal? What can we expect to hear?

I hope to share new discoveries & music that inspires me, highlighting some of the amazing music that is being released from independent artists & labels.

Listen to Ethereal on-demand now: