AnD are a talented Manchester-based duo who have garnered a lot of attention in the last year as pioneers of the hard techno resurgence. While many of their older releases have a deeper, dubbier feel, their recent tracks (and notorious LWE interview) have placed them in the spotlight as a continuation of the UK hard techno tradition. In this interview, we try to follow up on some of the questions left unanswered in previous articles that we were curious to hear more about.
AE: First, I’d like to talk about how you view your music under the AnD alias. Surgeon, who has a signature sound in some ways comparable to your own, once said that he really doesn’t think of his music as “dark,” like many reviewers had branded it. Instead, he viewed it as inherently introspective music. Now, of course there’s the obvious: your recent music is distorted, hard, gritty, etc. But in a sort of synaesthetic sense, what images does your music call to mind? Without using audio-related terminology (distorted, noisy, etc), how would you two describe the themes of your recent music?
We would say that our music has a transcendental quality, for us we definitely go into a trance like or meditative state when we make music together. Not much has to be said to one another when in the studio, a lot of the time things just happen and we like to keep the tracks as close to the original idea as possible. We like to be spontaneous, so nothing is ever thought about at great length, we like the idea of no preconceived ideas just to make music and see what comes out. We always try to maintain the original energy in our tracks and hope that these energies are passed on to the listener as well.
AE: In that same vein, you’ve just released an EP with Electric Deluxe entitled Kundalini. “Kundalini” is sort of a yogic, spiritual word referring to some unconscious force inside of a person. Is there any significance to this name? Why was it chosen?
Yes the title of the EP was due to our interest in eastern philosophies, yoga and meditation. Andrew’s girlfriend Charla, was the one that actually suggested the title and when it was brought into conversation we really liked the idea and thought that it had a good feel. When making music we think a lot about the placement and separation of frequencies, so this goes hand in hand with Kundalini energy and chakras.
AE: One of the most interesting things mentioned in another interview was that you have three or four secret alias you’ve been releasing under. Is the plan to keep these a secret forever, or will the truth eventually come out (like it did for Shed’s thousand-or-so aliases)?
Yes, it is true we have released under other aliases and we also have new material coming up this year with these projects, but at the minute it is nice to release some different stuff under these names. So we will most likely let one or two of these known to people but it’s fun to keep guessing too.
AE: Is the work created under these aliases still techno? I know that you’ve mentioned working on ambient and hip-hop and other genres as well.
The work under these aliases are not strictly techno but they definitely have a techno aesthetic to them.
AE: Let’s zoom out a bit to talk about techno culture in general. You mentioned in another interview that you’ve been going to shows and collecting records since the mid 90’s. Thus, you’ve bore witness to most of the arc of techno’s evolution. Over the last 20 years, the various styles of techno (be it acid techno, minimal techno, dub techno, etc) have gone through peaks and troughs of innovation and popularity. There seems to be a global consensus that right now, techno (as a whole) is at a fairly high point. Obviously the Berlin scene is incredibly vibrant, and the techno scenes in the US, South America, and Japan are steadily growing. How long do you think our scene will continue to grow? What happens after it inevitably peaks?
We think the scene will always be growing and techno as a genre has always been based around the idea of looking towards the future, technology and science fiction. Techno as a genre has been around since the mid 80’s, when Juan Atkins started Metroplex and started releasing material under Model 500, but techno has been around for a long time before that. A lot of techno’s inspiration came from krautrock and industrial music, people like Kraftwerk, Cluster, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and DAF. Before that the BBC Radiophonic Workshop with Daphne Oram, Delia Derbyshire, Maddalena Fagandini, Ron Grainer etc. were really making techno in the 50’s and 60’s with their interest in music concrete and tape manipulation making truly futuristic sounds for their time. Pierre Schaeffer, Pierre Henry, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Iannis Xenakis were really pushing sounds into interplanetary territories from the 30’s. So we don’t think you can put a shelf life on a scene because it’s only natural that these things will mutate and develop with time into something completely different anyway. Techno is a feeling and an attitude so it’s more than just a sound.
AE: Techno culture seems to be extremely focused on the sounds of various cities: Detroit techno, Berlin techno, Birmingham/UK techno. In the past, the local scene had a much greater influence on a DJ’s taste because the Internet had not yet transformed our access to global music. But now, you can watch your favorite DJ from another continent perform live on the Boiler Room, and easily purchase all of his or her tracks online, and then read an interview like one this without needing to purchase a magazine. Do you think it’s likely that we’ll continue to have these geographically concentrated styles, given the incredible reach of the access we have now?
You are right that the internet has certainly made it more accessible for people to research new and existing artists, but we feel that a scene is something completely different to availability. Scenes help build up collectives of people and it is the interaction between people that gives the scene the vibrance and energy that they have. Again you can watch and listen to as many different artists as you like on the internet, but it won’t give you the same feeling that you get when your in a club with friends and a loud sound system. As human beings we react to our environment so the space can give you a real sense of feeling as much as the music you are listening to. Scenes are very important and they help to constantly inspire and motivate people to do new and exciting things, we must remember this and always support our local scenes because without them music, artists and people suffer.
Alright, let’s end with the same question that all Dub Monitor interviews end with: Which up-and-coming artists and labels are you excited about right now?
We are really excited about a new artist called Angus Tarnawsky, he is an Australian based in New York. He is making some really exciting music at the minute and he will be the next release on our label, Inner Surface Music. He makes more experimental based music, but he’s still got a dancefloor sensibility in his tracks, he is a drummer and has a love for modular synths and DIY electronics. Another young artist is Setaoc Mass, a young producer from Manchester who we have known the last 3 years. It’s really nice when you watch someone mature within a local scene. He is making some really interesting music at the minute that is techno but he has a great ear for melody and pulls influences from people like, Mills, Hood and Phase – one for the future!