In the summer of 2012, William Stankay traveled to the Arctic region of Svalbard to develop an environmentally-inspired music experience featuring the mysterious sounds of Arctic wildlife seamlessly blended with his own musical interpretation of the remote archipelago. In 2013, he was awarded with an Artist Opportunity Grant from the Pittsburgh Arts Council to help fund the release of a debut album containing songs created using his customized Earth-based instrumentation.
Stankay's music is created using a process of merging sound from life on Earth, recorded in various locations around the world, with innovative musical elements and artistic interpretations of these unique places. Natural rhythmics and tones within the field recordings evolve into custom instrumentation and melodic structures, creatively shaped to be used musically in his original songs and score. A shifting glacier becomes a percussive drum; the breath of a whale vibrates at the center of an atmospheric swell; a chorus of bird calls harmonize with the human voice over a pulse of bass created from the growls of walrus.
The goal of the Earthtones series is to connect people to their environment and surroundings through sound and music, exploring the dynamics of life on Earth and the ways that humans and nature interact, collaborate and conflict.
The debut albums in the Earthtones series are slated for release in 2023, along with a documentary that shows the field recording process in various parts of the world during the development of the project.