Anz, DJ and Producer: ‘This Is Music for All Hours – And Ours'Posted by Mike Schuck
Pre-party rituals, trips through the club, and echoes of nightlife that linger until the following day: nights out are a confluence of so many stimuli. Anz, a Manchester-based producer and DJ, incorporates these experiences throughout her work. “I always listen to garage before I go out,” she says at a Manchester pub, observing the amusing mix of people who are leaving work late or going on the lash early to celebrate the end of another week.
"I'd like to hear a drum workout during peak hours." I want something huge, hands-in-the-air, like, “Oh my God, where are we going after?” as they're ready to throw us out of the club.
Her new EP, All Hours, was inspired by this story arc. Each track correlates to a time of day, with a bright piano opening indicating the awakening dawn and a dreamy synth outro intended to lull you to sleep as the sun rises and strangers fall out on your couch, so listeners may "choose their own adventure" over 24 hours.
You Could Be, the album's first single, is a bright, sunny song featuring London vocalist George Riley and is intended to evoke an upbeat afternoon mood. Anz's music often incorporates voice snippets and samples, which she views as instruments that help the track seem more human, but she wanted to find a real vocalist for You Could Be, which took a five-year search until she met Riley on Instagram.
A swinging garage cut for the evening, an electro/drum track for the dancefloor, and a heady, proto-breakbeat and jungle song for those early-morning, lights-on moments are among the other tunes. Each track includes a sonic aspect from the one before it as well as the one following it; Anz not only links the dots of the day, but also demonstrates how dance music history is woven together. It's excellent work that demonstrates the 29-year-breadth old's of expertise.
"As I was putting the record together, I realized it could be about who I am as a producer and what goes into me to create the output," she explains. The New Dance Program, a Soul Train-style dance music TV show that aired in Detroit in the late 1980s and early 1990s, inspired the liveliness of the album, which channels different UK electronic genres – rave, breaks, garage – and black music in general.
Today's dance scenes are based in black inventiveness, a fact that has been overlooked in the past but is now being recovered. "It's music for all hours, and it's music that belongs to all of us – ravers and black people alike." I don't simply refer to one group of individuals; I refer to all of us."
Anz's career prior to this release consisted of a few club-ready 12" songs that were colorful and energetic, unrestrained by genre: "I believe this should be enjoyable. Discourse merchants, I believe, get caught up in becoming genre purists. Is that entertaining? No!” Her DJing reflects the same vision.
She adds, "There's a certain kind of fun that comes with mixing genres." "Music deserves respect, but that doesn't mean it has to be a chore, a battle in which we argue over semantics rather than appreciating it." This is dark electronic music, yet it doesn't have to be somber; it can be lighthearted."
She's known for her yearly mixes of her own productions: upcoming singles, sketches, and exclusive songs mixed together into the most powerful elixir of tomorrow's new sounds. She's also famous for her residencies for BBC Radio 1 and NTS, as well as her own newly launched label OTMI.
"I hadn't seen anyone else do it, so I wondered if I was being unusual." But this seems like a one-of-a-kind thing I can accomplish... It reminds me of the joy and awe I had when I first attempted to create music."
All of these efforts have resulted in a dramatic increase in visibility. "The strangest thing was returning after the pandemic and walking out in front of a crowd – it's no longer a 200-person basement, it's thousands of people staring at you." She's busy adapting to the new balance, which includes preparing or performing several performances over the course of a weekend while attempting to keep her material fresh.
Anz contemplates her ideal day, drawing inspiration from the EP concept: "Every perfect day starts with a lie-in, no alarms, just sunlight." No one has texted, called, or emailed me. In the evening, the garage. There was no pressure on anybody at the party since it was just myself and my buddies playing. A nice aftershave, and a day at the park the following day.
It's like when I first realized I wouldn't get in trouble if I didn't attend to class and instead watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Ferris would be pleased, but with her new schedule, her ideal day may be hard to come by.
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