Exclusive Interview: Anakim
We’re all just a bunch of kids, and dance music is our candy shop. For Anakim, the LA-based producer bred from San Diego, his adrenaline addiction began back at EDC 2010, yet he has refused to come down off the sugar high since.
Although Anakim’s personal and musical aesthetics are dark, his energy exudes a vibrance of color and taste. As we sipped teas and Thai iced coffees at Toi on Sunset, we spoke about his journey through the candyland that is LA’s rave culture. Where Insomniac Events are the humble go-to gummy bear, Anakim eventually also found the pop-rocks equivalent, Desert Hearts. Today, Anakim released the 3 track dark techno EP, Poseidon’s Revenge, on Desert Hearts Black, acting as a coming-of-age peak into Anakim’s career.
As a reflection of Kollection and the community of true music lovers within the epicenter of the industry, Anakim is a light to look up to as he found success in the same beat that he once found intoxication in. Read our interview below to get to know the man who is taking the techno scene by storm and catch his next set at Sound to curb the cravings of your sweet tooth.
Just to start off, what are the 3 words that you would use to describe yourself and 3 words you would use to describe your music?
There words to describe myself? Oh wow. I would say I’m an ambivert (really outgoing and an introvert at the same time.) I’m ambitious, and I am goal-oriented. To describe my music, the first word would be dark, then sexy, and fierce.
You went to school to learn to produce and DJ. Can you talk about that a little?
So, DJing I taught myself. I taught myself how to DJ before I had any idea that I was going to produce. Back in 2014 was when I found this really good deal on some CDJ’s. I would go to so many shows and so many festivals and so people were like, “You should learn how to DJ.” Eventually I was like, “Fuck it. I’m just going to buy a CDJ and teach myself.” I spent the majority of 2014 teaching myself how to DJ. By divine intervention, I found out about Icon Collective. About a month and a half before the new quarter started there I applied. They checked out my music that I was just messing around with on FL Studio and then I was accepted. First month of January 2015 I found myself there.
So you were going to festivals and concerts all throughout high school as well? Music was always a passion?
Yeah! I was into the more “mainstream” world of dance music first. My first festival as EDC 2010- the last one that was here in LA. From there I was like, “what is this magical world?” I just kept trying to chase that feeling that I got at the very very first one. So, I went to every single show under the sun, every single rave under the sun. I went to every Insomniac event. It didn’t change until 2014, and the funny thing is, I had a friend who was a part of Desert Hearts. At the time he was head of business development. He was like, “You should come check out our festival. It’s a much deeper style than what you’re used to, but I think you’ll really love this.” So, I went. That kind of changed my paradigm. When I was in music school at Icon, I didn’t really know what style I wanted to make. I was open to all genres, I didn’t really know who I was as an artist. Everything was so new. I went back to Desert Hearts spring festival that year, and that’s when I heard a set that I had never ever heard the style of music before. Now, it’s the style of music that I make.
That was kind of my experience too. I went to every festival under the sun and I was like, “Well, I have no talent so how do I make this my job? Oh! I’ll interview the artists!” But no, I was going to ask too about the difference of the vibe in the crowd of Desert Hearts events and Insomniac events. Doing your EP under Desert Hearts Black, do you feel that it’s easier to be in your element with that style because you know that it will receive such great recognition from a Desert Hearts crowd due to your experience in them?
Absolutely. I am really fortunate that I do have the backing of Insomniac. It’s such a blessing to play all of these Insomniac festivals that really introduced me to the scene. But, I can tell there still is this discrepancy where the crowd enjoys it but may not really get it yet. The crowd at Desert Hearts festivals are so open to new sounds left and right and they’re really wonderful people- so loving, so engaging. I’m just really excited to finally be releasing on Desert Hearts and having the perfect demographic here in California and the United States.
You have residency at Sound and you still play at underground warehouse parties in LA, correct?
Yeah. I mostly only do warehouse parties with this group called Understated who are my really good friends. When I was first starting out, they took a chance on this EP that a lot of really big labels loved, but at the time it wasn’t techno enough for the techno labels and it wasn’t tech-house enough for the tech-house labels. It was right in between, so I was having a lot of trouble signing it. But, Understated saw me perform the very first time I played at Sound Nightclub. The label manager, Andrew Conde, approached me and asked me if I wanted to send them some music since they were starting a label. I did, and essentially they are a really big reason as to how I grew so quickly. So, I will play their events any time and their warehouse raves anytime, but I’m kind of limited to them.
Does playing those warehouse shows help you connect to the beginning of rave culture and make you feel a part of this history that you love?
Yeah, absolutely. When you look back at rave culture and underground warehouse parties back in the UK, I truly feel like there is no better warehouse scene in the world than what is going down right now in LA. I was talking to my friend Jamie Rosenberg, he’s a big photographer in the scene, and I told him, “Hey, do you ever stop and think when you’re at the warehouse rave and realize you are the person who is capturing all this history that 20 years down the line people will be watching?”
For Sound, can you pinpoint your favorite moment performing there?
The owner Kobe and my friend Mark who is a talent booker there know this story now, but when they first started booking me they didn’t know how much history I had at Sound myself. I went to the very very first opening night at Sound. In 2014, before I even thought about going to music school, I bought a table there to celebrate my birthday because I just loved Sound so much. It was my favorite club in Los Angeles. I got offered to be a resident there, and it was just so crazy to have everything coming full circle. But, I’d have to say my favorite memory thus far is from last January. I was closing for HVOB, and it was the first time that I debuted “Poseidon’s Revenge” which was the title track to this EP coming out on Desert Hearts Black. Since they have a live set, they cut the music and I just came right in. I was like, “Well, I don’t know how anyone is going to receive this,” but the crowd went absolutely ballistic, and I was like, “Okay, I’m onto something with this track.”
What does a typical day look like for you when you have a gig later on at Sound?
I wake up and try to work out. I usually work out with my girlfriend- we go to 24-hour fitness. Then I hang out with my dogs for a bit. And then from there, if I feel like my set needs anything else, I’ll hop on Beatport for a few hours and just go through new tracks and try to incorporate that into my setlist. Then I’ll export, get dinner with Mark from Sound and my manager and then we go and see what happens.
And does the night end there?
*Laughs* Uh… if I’m not closing it does not end there. If I am closing, then it usually ends up at my apartment. I don’t know why, but everybody wants to come to my apartment.
That’s a great personality trait to have.
I guess so!
So, why do you think we as a community love techno/house music?
I think the vibe is just the type of music that you can really truly get lost to. It has this hypnotic element where there is a through line through all the tracks. If you just close your eyes on the dance floor, and say the lighting is dark and sexy, you can really just lose yourself. I think a lot of people love these shows because they do want to lose themselves. I think for a big room show on main stage, there’s always these big builds and drops and vocals coming, and you can’t really close your eyes and get lost in music. But for this kind of music, it really allows you to just be free. Seven hours can turn into one minute and it’s like, “Whoa, where did time go?”
Yeah, I think a lot of people would think darker techno has a scary element that’s taking from you with its intensity, but in a lot of ways it’s the opposite. You have the consistency in it that you’re falling into rather than being taken out of.
I feel like what other people see as dark and scary is really sexy. There are so many different plays in the basslines. There’s not a lot of high end in this music while mainstream music there is a lot of high ends. I just love the way the bassline and the kick drums playing and that’s what really takes you on the journey, at least for me.
To go back to the EP, I want to ask you this: Your former self who used to go to every show around the sun- if that self had listened to your new EP coming out, what would that version of you think?
I think my former self would not have understood it. My former self would have found elements that he would have liked, but I think on this EP I really stretched my abilities on sound design. Especially with the track called “Alien In The Stargate,” that was a new level of sound design for me and arrangement within a song. I think it’s going to catch a lot of people off guard because I truly don’t think anything sounds like that one specific track. So, my old self, not having such a tuned ear to this style of music now would have been like, “Oh, this is weird.” I personally think it’s really cool and it’s a sound that I really want to focus on for life.
What do you listen to if you’re really not feeling in the mood for dark techno?
A lot of rap and a lot of hip hop. A lot of people who are in the dance music scene who don’t listen to rap, they wouldn’t guess that I do listen to all the Soundcloud rappers. It’s because it is so different from what I make and what I go see in concerts, so I need some sort of break.
Is there anything you want to leave us with? A quote that you tell yourself that will be written on your gravestone?
My girlfriend is going to laugh at this. A lot of people are so concerned about making it really really fast. I always just say, “Time is an illusion.” It doesn’t exist. Time is a construct. You never know when you’re going to hit, so just be open to your journey and where it’s going to take you. I used to think I had a time table for all of this stuff, but the journey has just unfolded so beautifully for me and so many wonderful people have come into my life and onto my team, like my wonderful publicist Megan, and I just couldn’t ever have imagined I’d be where I am right now when I first started at Icon.