Manatee Commune: The masterful mind of Grant Eadie

by Halee Hastad

Grant Eadie sits across from me at a wooden coffee table with a glass top. On it there are two cups of tea and a National Geographic featuring a red apple on the cover. There is a ping-pong table, piano and a collection of plants (live) surrounding us. His living room is a fine space.

Grant is explaining why he chose Manatee Commune as the name of his music project.

He pauses to think for a moment.

“It was a result of many unrelated things that took place within a short period of time,” he said.

Animal Collective had been playing in his head for quite a while and he had taken a liking to their name. Grant was also learning about the phenomena that is a commune and found that to be, as he describes, “funny.” He says something about a GIF of a manatee making contact with the glass of its tank that I don’t quite understand. Later, upon watching the GIF, I still don’t understand.

Most notably – the two words together, manatee and commune, yielded not even one result on Google, he said.

That was in 2012. Search Manatee Commune now and Google will retrieve some 54,000-search results.

Few of them relate directly to the phenomena that is a commune and there is little to be seen about manatees. The results are nearly all related to Grant and the many various shows and projects that he has been involved with over the past four years. Four busy years.

And it seems the fruits of his labor yielded the finest crop last year, in 2015.

Let’s break it down.

There was an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition that was the outcome of a video he made with a couple of friends for NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. That video led to his debut record, Brush, making its way to #3 on Bandcamp, Amazon and iTunes.

The festival circuit saw him at SASQUATCH!, Bonnaroo, What the Festival, SXSW, and the list goes on.

He toured with Emancipator and Blockhead, and there were concerts shared with the likes of ODESZA and Slow Magic.

He produced his first single on Bastard Jazz, a label out of Brooklyn, NYC.

And, like the fine community member he is, Grant found the time to play a handful of shows in Bellingham.

His latest single, “Clay,” has 30,000 plays and counting on SoundCloud and features Western student and Bellingham singer Marina Price, also his girlfriend.

All of this traveling and success is served as a humble presentation however, for Grant is not one to brag. His popularity may, in part, be due to the business-savvy Austin Santiago. For those of you who don’t know, Santiago is Grant’s general manager who has made a name in the Pacific Northwest music circle via a cool hairdo and a work ethic presented as a determined nonchalance.

“Austin took a gamble with me,” Grant said.

A major component to his following is, of course, his sound.  The music he makes is something that you could expect to be heard on a Planet Earth episode that featured monkeys swinging from one branch to the next, having the best time of their life. It is equal parts dance and cool contemplation. He plays the drums on set, the viola and incorporates homemade electronic beats.

His steadfast dedication to making sound happen has changed not only him as a person but his music as well.

“The songs I produce are a reflection of my personality and my personality is in a constant state of flux,” he said.

His personality, of course, is mirrored by the settings of his environment. Grant grew up in Spokane and moved to Bellingham to attend Western. Many of his earliest days here were spent walking through the dense and rainy woods of the area. It was the natural sounds of the environment that inspired his earliest tunes.

The natural world around him continues to play a role in his music, Grant said, but not as much as it once did.

I sense that Grant’s first pieces were a reflection of being in a new place, the naivety of a youth on their own and the lingering whisper of a promising future.

It seems now that he has come into himself over the years and understands the realities of being an adult. His music has evolved to a sound that is more to the point and delivers a sophisticated ambiance.

Changes set aside, the whisper of a promising future remains.

Much of his music has been and remains purely instrumental; the result of his preferred taste being classical. And it is well-received. You read about 2015.

Grant is constantly thinking about music, he said, and how it will impact his future and what he can do to grow as a musician.

“Sometimes, if I could choose to not think about it, I would,” he said in reference to the process.

It is hard, after all, being  creative.

Though, if I were a betting person, I would put money on Grant going places in this lifetime. Places like Mississippi Studios, Portland, in March, and Echoplex, LA, in April.

And other places not related to music as well. Like his living room, where he plans to spend some time sharpening up on his ping-pong skills.

NEW RELEASE AND LIVE SHOW: Manatee Commune’s new Thistle EP will be released Feb. 26. Catch him live with Cuff Lynx at the Wild Buffalo on March 3. For more information, check out facebook.com/ManateeCommune.

Photo by Austin Santiago

Published in the February 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine