Formed in Montreal, based out of London, and currently recording in Tulum, Mexico, DJ duo Vivie-Ann and Anstascia of Blond:ish bring an eclectic, incomparable style to the techno world that reflects their love of diverse sounds and landscapes. Their latest Inward Visions EP, released on German minimal techno powerhouse Kompakt, is their most left-field work to date, fusing a love for dark psychedelia with infectious grooves that defy the stale repetition of their contemporaries.
Before performing tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 1) at the Basement, I spoke with the duo about capturing field recordings, remixing Depeche Mode, and getting hit on by the Wu-Tang Clan.
One of the qualities that makes your music distinctive is your choice to incorporate organic sounds and percussion. Why do you work so hard to have that human element?
Vivie-Ann: It gives us a different dimension... We don't sound like everyone else. Yesterday we were running around our town, like our little area we live in. They sell you everything like water and coconuts, they fix your electrical stuff, they ride around on their bikes yelling "Agua! Beep beep beep!" So we went around town recording this on our Zoom recorder, and maybe other people do that, but it is going to bring something unique to our production.
Anstascia: We like to sample random sounds around where we're going so we like stalking people.
How often do you use found sound or sporadic recordings in your music?
Anstascia: We've been doing it for a really long time. We just got a new recorder so we decided to take this opportunity being in Tulum, Mexico. We set up a studio here and we're gonna be here about a month total making music. We're just inspired by all the different crazy noises around on the beach and all these amazing aboriginal, Mayan instruments that are really unique to this part of the world.
Vivie-Ann: I was in Colombia in December at an artisanal market that only happens once a year. I found an instrument that's like a sitar from India but it was made by a Colombian tribe in the mountains.
Why did you decide on Tulum?
Vivie-Ann: It feels like home, Anstascia got married here last year, we've been here a lot the past 6 years. It feels like home and all our friends have come here around the new year so it's a nice place to meet with everyone. We're trying to make eight to ten tracks because we toured a lot last year and we found that we couldn't get in the studio groove well so we're trying to think forward and just make a bunch of EPs for the rest of the year.
Anstascia: It's good to have a routine because you can get up in the morning and go to the beach for a few hours and have a nice lunch and get inside the studio. It's nice to have a routine and we're tanned all the time. We'll be tan when we come into Atlanta. We'll make everyone jealous.
That's interesting that you chose Mexico because when I heard your Inward Visions EP, it reminded me of being trapped in some eerie winter storm. Is your new music going to reflect the more summery feel and atmosphere of Mexico?
Anstascia: Not really.
Vivie-Ann: It's a bit tribally but not in a tribal sense. Its more ethnic. We use hanging drums, singing balls, all kinds of different djembes. We'll play a couple in Atlanta this weekend and you can tell us what we sound like.
Anstascia: We like to say we play romantic techno as a mind twist if that makes sense.
Another unique influences for you both is psychedelic music and your experiences with Burning Man. How did that psychedelic mindset and environment get into your music?
Vivie-Ann: Burning Man put all of our crazy thoughts and what we thought was accessible to test because there's so much more there to discover. It just brought us into new horizons on so many fronts so it was nice to discover that.
When you make a mix, how do your different approaches complement each other?
Vivie-Ann: Anstascia likes to do the top lines.
Anstascia: I like to do the bacon of the track - the melodies and top lines. I like to look around for hours and find the exact sound and modulate it to change it up and make it our own or play whatever comes to mind. Vivie-Ann likes focusing on the grooves.
Vivie-Ann: You can just throw everything into Ableton and it's really easy to get a groove going.
I know that you both heard a lot of hip-hop growing up in Vancouver. Did that exposure influence your music and if so, do you have any favorite Atlanta rappers?
Anstascia: The only hip-hop I ever experienced was in Vancouver. Though recently we played with the Wu-Tang clan at a festival in Croatia.
Vivie-Ann: We played after them and then Dubfire played after us. It was so random. While we were DJ'ing in the middle of the set, one of the Wu-Tang clan comes into the DJ booth trying to get Anstascia's number. And she gave them my number!
Do you remember which one?
Anstascia: Sorry, I can't remember, there's like a 100 of them!
Vivie-Ann: We're not influenced by hip-hop now.
Anstascia: Growing up when I would sneak into clubs in Vancouver that's all they would play. Reggae dancehall, hip-hop, R&B, but I never really used it to make music.
Vivie-Ann: No offense to all you hip-hop lovers!
Do you have any tentative release date for your next release?
Vivie-Ann: The next thing we have out is a remix we did for Depeche Mode. We weren't asked to do it but we had the opportunity and they had refused previous mixes and we were kind of nervous about it. It took forever for them to reply and we took forever to make it and they finally accepted it. It's coming out on Colombia Sony. We don't know when, but there's a preview on our Soundcloud. We've been getting a lot of complements on it so we're really excited about it, and we'll definitely play it in Atlanta by then if people come out of the snow. It's a big shock in our system coming from paradise to Atlanta.
Do you have any more release planned on Kompakt? I thought the label was a really good fit for your sound.
Anstascia: Yeah, of course. Inward Visions was only our second EP with them and we're working on our third right now. That's actually what we're doing right now in the studio and we're really excited about it. It sounds like German Techno - 2014 is our tentative release date for that.
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