Artist spotlight: Erik Schoster

Amelia Perron

By exploring electronic music on his own and “dorking around” with computers and sounds, senior Erik Schoster has written an impressive collection of music.
Schoster, from Madison, played trombone for several years before entering Lawrence as a composition major. After two years, though, he decided to pursue his writing through a different track. Now a senior, he is completing an English major while taking composition classes and experimenting with music independently.
A self-proclaimed “computer and music dork,” Schoster’s experiments quickly led him to electronic music. Although his music has “an undercurrent of stretched-out jazz,” much of Schoster’s work also employs insect and forest sounds. The unexpected pairings of sounds isn’t uncommon to Schoster: “I do my best to mix things up.”
There’s more to it than mixing; the beginning of any project involves a few days of “just making sounds,” the fun part of the process. These sounds become the “bedrock” of his composition. Once he has enough, he sorts through the sounds to “look for some music in them.” Finally, there is the challenge of piecing together a narrative from the sounds.
Schoster, who works under the name “he can jog,” has so far put together five CDs and other works available online at Of his earlier recordings, Schoster says they were “new to me, but not to music at large.” Later, he became more inventive and open to a wider variety of styles.
Many of Schoster’s explorations occur while performing. He has been a member of the band Cedar A.V. since high school and says the comfort the group has developed “makes it a lot of fun to go nuts and see what happens.” Similarly, frequent collaborations with senior Bryan Teoh are works of “ESP.” Even after years of playing together, Schoster still says “I reinvent my approach every time I play.” The invention is good though, as “playing live has been the most positive influence on my writing.”
aAfter he graduates this year, Schoster hopes to address the issues concerning the “parts of this country [that are] equivalent to a third world.” He won’t abandon music, though, and hopes to pursue electronic music or new media in graduate school. “But selfishly, it would be great to dork out over computer music for the rest of my life.