At Work: Eric Hilton
“You start with maybe a beat or chords—then, you play a bass line, write a change, play some melodies,” Eric Hilton says, recalling the natural, stream of consciousness process that gave way to his debut album, Infinite Everywhere.
Typically, Hilton spends his time as half of the experimental duo Thievery Corporation but, with Infinite Everywhere, he is truly striking out on his own for the first time, even releasing the record on his own Montserrat House label.
Thievery Corporation is still alive and well, he notes, but Hilton admittedly found himself creatively limited by the “bottleneck” of any musical collaboration—as well as the geographical barriers between himself and bandmate Rob Garza, who lives bicoastally.
“We have done Thievery for 25 years and, in that time, I’ve dedicated almost all of my musical expression to it. And I don’t regret one minute of it,” he says. “[But working solo,] you have to trust yourself 100 percent. I found that kind of exhilarating.”
Indeed, Hilton views songwriting as something of a cleansing act, where his mood can be channeled directly into his sonic output. Infinite Everywhere’s musical meditations range from the reflective “Expert Dreaming” to the mobilized, rallying reggae of “This Strange Daze,” which features Puma Ptah.
“I try to create vibrations that work on me and give me certain feelings. And that’s sort of the path I always follow when I’m making a piece of music,” Hilton explains. “If it’s vibrating in me in a nice way, then I just continue down that path.”
Impressively, Hilton played almost every instrument on Infinite Everywhere, including those outside of his typical comfort zone, and he is already deep into a second volume, which he hopes to release next year. He points toward the delicate psychedelia of the mid-album track “More Beautiful Things” as a personal favorite.
“I elevated my game a bit on that song,” he explains. “One thing that some people should know about me is that I’m not a very accomplished musician. I play bass pretty well, and I can play a bit of guitar, but I’ve never really written anything on the keyboard. I’ve learned a lot more about music in general over the last year and a half, and I’m getting a lot better, which is a great feeling.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to believe that you can do it. And you can,” he adds with a chuckle. “It’s kind of comical.”