Modern performance has taken a new form as technology pushes the boundaries of whats possible on stage. Packed with modular synthesizers fit into a carryon, Rotterdam-based duo Animistic Beliefs sits on the forefront of the live electronic movement. A far stretch from many artists labeled ‘electronic music’, Linh and Marvin are creating acid-heavy electro reinvented each night on stage.
Regulars in the most influential Dutch clubs, Animistic Beliefs are quickly becoming a household name in European music. Founded as a live act, the two seem to have instantly found a a fit by analog machines most often reserved for the studio. As they prepare to release their first EP on Sync 24’s Cultivated Electronics, the live act proves their ability to nail down powerful records. Dubbed ‘pure machine funk electro’, Molucca Quake hits the rack this month.
Quite frankly Animistic Beliefs is one of the most exciting acts in underground music right now. As they tastefully take over dance floors across the region, they shine as model examples for analogue creator culture. We asked a few questions about the intersection of music, technology, and other mediums while creating a well-rounded
First things first can you give us a brief background story behind the project, was there a shared passion for hardware from the start?
Linh: The project actually started out as a live act. Marvin was playing lots of modular synthesizer events like Noodlebar. He was doing improvised soundscapes/ambient back then. One day he had to play a festival and asked me to join him for fun. I brought a TB-303 clone and a TR-606 drummachine.
Marvin: One year later we suddenly had a residency at Transportbedrijf, a technoclub in Rotterdam. We hosted our own room at ISOTOOP, so we had a lot of freedom to try out new music and practice playing live.
I think it took another year to come up with a name. We used to be on the bill as Marvin and Linh hahaha.
The Animistic Belief sound is an extra punchy electro that sounds fit for some sort of dystopian underworld. What artists, labels, or experiences influenced the project’s productions?
Marvin: I used to be obsessed by AFX’s Analord series. Warp’s Artificial Intelligence serie had a great impact on me too. I remember working at a warehouse, listening to newly acquired albums every shift. I really got into the Warp and Rephlex sound. That’s when I discovered Dopplereffekt and Drexciya..
Before that I was a huge hip hop head in high school. I was really into the darker sounds of oldskool Eastcoast and Memphis (horrorcore) hip hop. The dark and lo-fi gritty production styles attracted me. The rawness of Rotterdam is also a big influence for me personally.
Other non-musical influences are oldskool cult anime/manga like Blame!, Ghost in the Shell, Angel’s Egg and the original Devilman, the first Alien movie and both (human-)nature and technology.
Linh: I started getting into electronic music when I just got out of high school. I went out to techno and hardcore raves alongside my older sister. I really enjoyed the punching techno sound and I especially loved acid. The sound of the 303 is what really got me going. The harder and faster the music the better. It was at one of those raves where I heard the track that made me shift my interest towards electro. That track was The Final Frontier by UR’s Mad Mike. I loved it so much. That song gave me such a powerful euphoric feeling. I asked what it was and I started digging from there. I really enjoyed the combination of softness with punch and grittiness of artists like The Exaltics and E.R.P. It really gets you dancing and it’s really beautiful at the same time. I think all of this together influenced my contribution to our ‘Animistic Beliefs sound’.
You recently played a Gucci rave, gotta be some #lifegoals there right? What role do you think fashion plays in the modern world of music?
Linh: Playing at a Gucci night was such a cool experience! Really have to thank both Lhaga and Alberto for that! We expected it to be a corporate thing, but it was actually the total opposite. It was a proper basement rave with nothing more than a stroboscope and smoke machine. Exactly how we like it.
Marvin: Fashion and music go hand-in-hand. I think music and fashion have a strong mutual influence on each other. The last couple of years has seen a lot of fashion brands embracing electronic music again. I think it’s great because fashion is really big and it will introduce a lot of people to new/old sounds. It’s hard to pin down the origin of a trend, but I do think the fashion world is really good at predicting and thus being key in shaping trends. Dior did a hardcore inspired collection in 2017 and Prada is using EBM soundtracks for example.
As a group, you’re constantly on some pretty stellar hardware both in the studio and on the stage. How have you evolved your live setup to bring modular and more to the performance?
Marvin: The modular was always part of it as that’s how I started doing performances.
Linh: The setup has changed a lot during the years though. We bought an Elektron Analog Rytm, which is smaller and more versatile than the TR-808 and scaled down the set-up.
Marvin: We started to get more and more shows abroad and did not want to bring a lot of vintage gear anymore. I am terrified to leave our gear in the cargo area of the plane. We can fit our setup in two carry-on suitcases now. It’s still a hassle, but we just love playing live.
In one interview you both mention that every song starts differently, does this also apply to your live show?
Linh: We have an MPC filled up with samples taken from our released and unreleased material. Those are mostly pads and an occasional vocal. Other than that it’s all made up on the spot. I would say our sets are 80% improvised, so it will be different every time.
The new EP is described as ‘pure machine funk electro’, how did Molucca Quake materialize as an EP?
Marvin: When Phil asked us to do an EP we knew we had to come up with something a little darker. We also wanted to sprinkle some IDM flavors all over the record.
This time we experimented a lot with the ARP Odyssey, a lot of the robotic percussion came from the ARP. We also used the Analog Rytm more frequent.
Linh: Most tracks in general originate from one of us just noodling around on a synth until one of us is like “record this”!
I think some of these tracks started with a chord progression. One of the pad sequences was actually already in our live-set for some time and we thought it’d be perfect to turn it into an actual song for the EP.
Cultivated Electronics has become quite the label many years in the making. How did you link up with Phil (Sync 24) and eventually debut on the ‘From the Dark’ compilation?
Linh: Really love what Cultivated Electronics has put out so far and really happy to be part of it!
We actually linked up via Facebook, just chatting about our previous EP and future plans J
The track that’s on From The Dark was actually one of the demo’s we made for the Molucca Quake EP.
What can we expect next from the project?
Linh: We are finishing an album, we really wanted to expand our sound and introduce people to the new ideas that we have come up with. I am really excited about it.
Our ideal is to release something different every time, without losing the Animistic Beliefs feeling.
We are constantly developing our musical language.
Marvin: We’d love to be big names without having to do concessions. It has been an organic growth thus far. I am always a bit scared to get stuck in a certain style but equally anxious about alienating our listeners.
Linh: Electro is all about experimenting though!