By Josh Sudman
Armed with a Tascam model 4-track, an El Capistan pedal, and a collection of vintage Casio SKs and Portasounds, Thomas Nils Howard, also known as Orchid Mantis, strives to recreate his childhood memories of summers in Sweden through lofi, ambient soundscapes.
The contrast between Howard’s urban life in Atlanta and his summers spent immersed in Swedish nature led Howard to create an idealized picture of his time in Europe. When speaking with Howard, he explains that he saw his summer home as a small, pure universe of its own, and took inspiration from this faraway haven while composing. His exposure to the enormous, all-consuming sunsets and hidden lakes of the Scandinavian countryside sparked a desire to recreate these effects within his music. Orchid Mantis was made to keep these memories alive, to soundtrack them and also preserve the resulting emotional state that first gave Howard inspiration.
“David Lynch’s films and art basically broke down the walls of expectations I had developed for what I could be trying to do in my own art,” Howard noted, adding that Lynch’s escapist desire to detach from reality led him to seek “contemplative dream-like headspaces” which exaggerate details and emphasized feelings beyond the point of reality. The choice of Orchid Mantis as Howard’s moniker, meanwhile, was a conscious attempt to separate his music’s identity from his personal self, removing any reference to his humanity.
“I really wanted to choose something natural that doesn’t reference myself or my humanness,” Howard explained: “something that would sound anonymous and intriguing even if I wasn’t particularly secretive about myself.” By removing his person, Howard allows the listener to enter his warped-tape musical universe with nobody specific in mind.
Listen to more Orchid Mantis on his SoundCloud.