iDJ meets an Essex producer who's about to release his debut EP – on Doorly's Reptile Dysfunction, no less…
A few years ago, a certain hard house DJ (whose name we won't mention) achieved industry notoriety with a biog so grandiose and self-congratulatory it's gone on to become the stuff of legend.
You certainly couldn't accuse Essex-based Aniche of such vanity. When we agreed to an interview after hearing his debut Prologue EP and started digging around online, we could find out precisely nothing about the man! Not so much as a Twitter egg with a single tweet to its name, or a Soundcloud page saying "Aniche hasn't uploaded any content yet". Nada. So we'll spare you the long intro, because literally everything we know about him is below anyway!
All we will say is that debut producers don't normally get big features in iDJ. But when we heard the Prologue EP, with its distinct blend of house styles and strong Eastern influence – and when we saw it was coming on as respected a label as Doorly's Reptile Dysfunction – we knew this was someone we had to speak to, because we suspect you'll be hearing a lot more from him in future.
For now, though, there's this…
There's virtually no information about you online, and the hype sheet for the Prologue EP doesn't give much away! So can you start by telling us a little bit about your background and how you got into making music in the first place?
"Fair enough, let’s get candid! My birth name is spelt 'Anish', but is pronounced 'Er-niche'. My heritage is north Indian, but I’m actually from Essex… proper Essex. Country roads and cathedrals! I’m 33 now, but since about five or six, when I wrote my first song, I’ve always been into expressing myself through music be it emotionally, physically (beatboxing) or conceptually.
"For the longest time, way before DAWs were a thing, I would collect samples and secretly store them onto tape. A long string of detentions meant that being artistic wasn’t entirely celebrated during my childhood, so as I grew, I sought ways to turn my ideas into something I could listen back to for real. DJing came about aged around 12 as a way to do that. My first mix was just a way to remix stuff live – like mash-up culture, but before mash-up was a culture. Since then, my journey with it all has been… colourful!"
Ah, yes – I gather you have synaesthesia? So tell us about that and how you think it impacts on the music you make – both in terms of the sound you end up with, and your working methods/how you get there?
"Ah mate, I love it! It manifested early, say aged four or five? So I didn’t really focus on it because it was always there: like an extra understanding of sound in general, but also an additional layer to experience it all with. It was only when I got into synthesis and sound design, aged 14 or 15, that I started to encode ideas with it. As for working methods, etc… okay, bear with me here!
"If I hear a sound in the outside world, it manifests in my head as a shape, colour, texture, or a combination, right? And when I hear a sound in my head (which is always!) it has the same effect. So if I listen to or create something in my mind, everything I can hear in my mind’s ear is then encoded visually in my mind’s eye, so that intellectually I already know how to produce/synthesise those sounds when I get home! Works in dreams, too."
Theoretically, should your music resonate the most with other synaesthetics, or does it not work like that?
"Oooh, I never thought of that! But probably because you’re right: it doesn’t work like that. Synaesthesia comes in different forms, and can be triggered by different stimuli for different people: words, smells, taste, emotion… even numbers! It’s an entirely subjective experience, to the point where, before I knew it was a thing, one of my elder brothers and I used to have genuine arguments about what colour certain songs were! Obviously, he was always wrong, because he’s my brother – and a total git."
And speaking of your working methods… what's in your studio? Are you a hardware devotee or an 'all in the box' kinda guy?
"Ain't gonna lie mate, I don’t have the kind of budget [or even space] for much hardware – all my money goes on music and decks, though I do have some synths and samplers. I’m definitely a DAW kinda guy, but would love to have something akin to Hans Zimmer’s studio – nerdgasm central, for sure!
"To be honest, I started making music through cutting tiny bits of other records, and placing them into a skeleton made of markers and silence, and then layering stuff on top of each other. So even though nowadays I make my own drums and instruments etc, I’ve never really had much of a chance to pursue actual studio time! Hold on, there’s a violin around here somewhere…"
One thing the hype sheet does tell us is that you've been "writing and producing music" for 20 years, and DJing for 15. Yet this is your debut release, so were you working in other musical fields, purely tinkering around in your bedroom or…?
"Well, I’ve actually produced six albums, nine EPs, and innumerable remixes and singles in that time. But this was before publishing opportunities really became mainstream – not forgetting my first album was made entirely in secret because of my aforementioned ‘behavioural issues’! When I started DJing, I made stuff specifically to play out in my residencies, but never played anything original because I felt it was too ‘out there’ and I didn’t want to take such an extravagant risk for the sake of my own gratification… remixes would suffice!
"So why release now? No-one would sign it before! Only in the last few years have I been making stuff that industry people are starting to really take to – before, it was only cousins and mates that would ever really get it, y'know? Now, however, I’ve come full circle: making self-expression that works for a wider audience, and makes sense on the dancefloor… and, truly, I’ve never been as proud of my work as I am now."
The Prologue EP comes on Doorly's Reptile Dysfunction, which is an impressive way to start. How did you come to hook up with him/them?
"In 2018, I ended up on the second of Doorly’s Ibiza retreats – some pretty important stuff in my life had started to collapse around me, so I thought 'Why not? I’ve got nothing to lose but a bit of cash!” And it was honestly the best thing I could have done.
"Doorly’s one of the kindest, most generous but honest people I’ve ever had support and mentor me. Some of the stuff he’s said to me, and the questions I’ve had to find answers to, has gone on to change everything about my perspective and attitude towards my career: where I’m actually trying to go, who I actually am, and what that looks like on a broader scale, outside of myself. Honestly, I’m so much sharper and more confident now, and I think a lot of that has got to do with his influence."
To me, the Prologue EP blends deep and progressive house styles with elements of Eastern music. But how do YOU describe the sound you make?
"To be fair, that’s pretty accurate for this EP! I’ve since coined the blanket term Asiatic Dance Music for what I do. This EP is quite deep and/or tribal, as I was in Ibiza when I made it. But when you hear the other stuff that’s coming out, it pushes some of the broader aspects of what I’m into… and I have a lot of influences!
"I also have a sub-style called Himalayan Soul, of which the second track on this EP is actually the second installment – the first one is called Third Eye, and came out on the Reptile Dysfunction Miami sampler in March."
If you had to review the EP for iDJ, what would you say about it? One sentence per track…
"Ooooh, how exciting! Okay, erm…
"Little Green Leaves: Introspective dance-floor meditation, at a Full Moon party in Thailand.
Enchanted Gold [Himalayan Soul Mix]: Self-perpetuating Karmic introspection, atop the Himalayas.
Lipservice: Big, tribal, breakbeat roller!
Enchanted Gold [Cinematic Acapella]: Man sings an’ dat, yeah?"
There's an album coming, I gather, so tell us about that…
"For me, the album is like The Chemical Brothers vs the Dalai Lama – it takes your spirit on a bit of a trip, but it’s one helluva ride! Without saying too much (#NoSpoilers) it comes in two parts: the sesh, and the trip.The former is a cohesive run of the singles, whilst the latter has more of an over-arching narrative that takes you with it and doesn’t let you go. Cool 'n' colourful, but also epic and psychedelic… very me, ha ha!"
Finally, what else is going on for you right now that iDJ readers need to know about?
"Well, once the world gets back to some semblance of normality, I should be giggin’ all over the place again – it’ll be good to get back to Ibiza and LA, but I’m also looking forward to some of the festivals and raves that might be back later. I’m also collaborating on some cool creative projects with people from other industries. Some of it is quite alternative for current trends, but you can take more risks when you’re not trying to be mainstream. Plus I’m very much concept-driven, so let’s just see how that manifests…
"Thanks for getting in touch, guys. It was a lotta fun!"
Words: Russell Deeks
The Prologue EP is out this Friday (10 April) on Reptile Dysfunction