Anamanachuchi is an 8-bit band that’s more “band” than “8-bit.” This was especially clear at the start of 2013 when Pete Berkman, Ary Warnaar, Luke Silas, and James DeVito (above), launched the video for “Meow,” a party-sized sucker punch to the nostalgia which offered a glimpse of a bigger, better, neon-er Anamanaguchi than we’ve seen before.
Shortly after, they launched a massively-supported Kickstarter campaign (asked for $50k, got $277k), released an epic debut full length, Endless Fantasy (22 solid originals wrapped in one of the year’s best album covers), another killer video (they shot pizza into space), and a stretch of live dates ending with support for Dillon Francis’ IDGAFOSanta tour.
We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Pete and Ary over a Google Hangout. Check our chat, plus the first Nest HQ guest mix of the year, MIXED BY ANAMANAGUCHI, below:
From the start, it seems like Endless Fantasy had this push behind it (the videos, the art, tour etc.), that was different from your previous releases. Was there a sense to go big or go home with the debut album?
Pete: That’s definitely true.
Ary: We just got tired of sounding worse than everything else. (laughs)
P: We wanted to get real. And it wasn’t really on purpose, but we did definitely push ourselves.
A: The next shit will be better.
What kind of stuff were you guys listening to when you were making the record?
P: I was listening to a lot of lil b, a lot of perfume and capsule — the j-pop stuff — our friends’ music, George and Jonathan, NSYNC, some OWSLA stuff, like Phonat — so, so good — pretty much anything I could get my hands on. Ary has a completely different set.
A: I only listened to Headhunterz for like six months straight while we were working on it.
P: I think that’s actually true. And, I don’t think he’s stopped.
A: Headhunterz are playing Coachella this year. I’m pretty sure next year, one of the three days will just be hardstyle.
Are they really playing Coachella?
P: Are they? Where are they?
A: Probably… right under Outkast (laughs), no they’re-
P: I think you may have misread “2015 leaked…” Oh no, dude! They’re there. But yeah, that’s pretty much all Ary was listening to when we were making it.
A: And I think you can tell when you listen to the album.
(laughs) For sure. What’s your favorite Headhunterz track, Ary?
A: Umm, the real big standout over the last couple years was the “MF Point of Perfection.” It’s conceptual. It discusses the logarithmic potential of reaching something that’s perfect, which they clearly did. I see a lot of myself in that track, I guess.
P: (laughs) We come out to it on stage. It helps people get excited and confused.
This kind of music reminds me of old Counterstrike videos and it makes me really happy.
P: Dude, yeah. I can see the headshots.
P: I actually had a friend who used to edit Counterstrike videos. This must’ve been the one that made him want to start doing it.
So what have been some of the best reactions from new fans since doing the Dillon Francis tour?
P: It’s always great seeing people stand on peoples’ shoulders. That’s something that doesn’t happen at our shows, where people jump off the stage, it’s kind of more on the punk side of things. But that shit is awesome.
You’ve mentioned being really into the Katamari Damacy series. It seems like that soundtrack has had a big influence, whether subconsciously or not, on a lot of artists coming out right now, with bo en, Lindsay Lowend…
P: For me, it’s actually very conscious (laughs). It’s just deeply ingrained. I played that game all the time in high school. I used to deliver pizza when I was a senior, and I would listen to that soundtrack all the time while I drove around. It’s some of the best music ever. I love that it’s poppy, electronic, and complicated, but yet, deceptively simple. I try to channel that whenever I’m writing music.
What are some of your favorites?
P: “Lonely Rolling Star,” with that square synth lead. “Cherry Blossom Color Season” is really great too, the one with all the children singing. Obviously the main theme is amazing too, with that crazy percussion. There was really nothing else like it.
Who were some of the artists that got you wanting to mess around with chip tune sounds?
P: Some great chip tune artists are Xainus, and this guy Huoratron from Finland. He made really aggressive 8-bit electro. He still makes music but I don’t think gameboy stuff. Huoratron, especially with pushing the context of where those sounds can go.
What kind of visuals are going through your head when you’re writing the music?
P: Pretty close to what ghost dad, who’s incredible, has been making for us for our live show. But yeah, actually, I dunno if all musicians do this, but whenever I’m making notes and doing stuff, I like to treat each instrument as a little character with their own personality. And if one of them is getting a little too out of line, I’m like, ‘dude, you’re kinda bummin’ me out, we gotta fix this’ (laughs). I’m trying to make, like a big group of friends… in a song. Thats the first time I’ve ever been able to explain that out loud, but it’s something I’ve always thought about whenever I’m writing music.
You and Ary are both the main writers for the tracks?
P: Yeah, and Luke writes a bit too.
Ary, do you have any sort of process for writing?
A: I work really fast because I get bored with stuff really quick, and I’ll rarely work on something for more than a day. And after that I’ll do clean-up stuff. It might be from a melody, or a sound, or because I wanna replicate something. Usually I just do shit really quick in a couple hours.
A lot of our culture is really fixated on nostalgia right now, whether it be classic games or TV shows. What do you think the younger generations will be remembering about this time (years from now)?
P: iPhones? The thing is, culture moves so, so fast, and that’s why we have nostalgia. The issue is that the acceleration is happening so quickly, that we’re already nostalgic for things that have just happened.
A: I think kids will mainly remember apps that weren’t popular for very long, like Draw Something or HeyTell.
P: Nostalgia is like the focus of this time. Everything is re-contextualise this, remix this, whatever. It’s definitely where a lot of our inspiration comes from, whether we like to admit it or not. Our attachment to media from the past, experiences on the internet from the past. The technology really did grow up with us.
We had it when we first learned how to use our brains (Ary and I were born in ’88), and then we get online and get social in middle school, and we have our awkward experiences on forums and live journals, and then in high school, we were all on Myspace, and then in college, Facebook was invented, like ‘this is the thing you show your employer.’
I feel like people that were born when we were, are kind of in this unique position of knowing what it was like before it was ubiquitous, and also having a 1:1 linear relationship of growth with it.
In this era of music consumption, where everything is kind of forgotten the next day, do you have a drive to make music that lasts?
P: Anything I write is going to be personal in some way or another, and I’d like to think personal things can last forever. But I also think it’s really important to stay with the time and be a part of the cultural dialogue.
Ary’s said this a hundred times, ‘ignoring trends doesn’t make you invulnerable to them.’ You are always going to be a product of the time you’re in and you can’t really ignore that fact. But it’s not like I’m like, ‘oh man, I hope this is timeless!’ (laughs)
All that I really want, is the feeling of seeing people at the shows, so in the moment, and so feeling it, even seeing people comment online like, ‘yes this is awesome!’
Let’s say in like 400 years, the world is completely different, people looking at the music of our time right now, how will they see it? It depends on where culture has moved. We could be looking at producers the same way we look at Beethoven. Or maybe they won’t care because they’ll have automated music machines, like ‘that’s cool, but now we have really cool shit.’
I think each era is restricted the sounds they can get their hands on. Like right now will be remembered as the “vst” generation.
Definitely. I mean the 90’s were Protools, y’know? 1997 alt-rock is Protools drums. But yeah, I think there will be something that completely changes everything. I’m waiting for the time I can just mash my brain all over the keyboard, and make something cool from that.
Can you tell me a bit about this new EP you’re working on?
P: It’s strictly secret right now. There may or may not be a really sick collaboration happening. And it may or may not be out in the spring. And it may or may not be fucking awesome. These tracks are definitely more in that dance-y vibe… but we’re trying to keep it real.
So for this Nest HQ mix, what kinda vibes are we gonna hear?
I’m gonna put in some Japanese d&b, and lots of other cool shit…. How bout you Ary?
A: Can I just spoil it? I already did it. And it’s chill, and I liked it.
You already did the mix?
A: Yeah, I just downloaded the top 5 recent Headhunterz tracks.
Anamanaguchi are about to hit Europe with a new stretch of tour dates. Dig into their excellent Nest HQ MiniMix and tracklist below, pick up Endless Fantasy on iTunes, Beatport, Vinyl, or USB — out now through dream.hax — and keep up with the dudes on Twitter, Soundcloud and Facebook.
Anamanaguchi – Nest HQ MiniMix Tracklist
Chibi-Tech – Love Is Insecurable
Jagerverb – Brocken Sceptre
Huoratron – Top 1%
Pa’s Lam System – b00mb0x
Blood Diamonds – Osaka
Blank Banshee – Anxiety Online !
Depressed Teenager – Abstinence (its my choice)
Jay-Z + Kanye – N.I.P (Eprom Remix)
Anamanaguchi – Triangle (BoxPlot & Mega Flare Remix)
iPhone – Marimba (PandaBoY Remix)
Flight Facilities – Stand Still feat. Micky Green (Wave Racer Remix)
Lindsay Lowend – Basement Dweller Overture
Michiru Oshima – Quiet Tree of Creation
Deadmau5 – Raise Your Weapon (Madeon Extended Mix)
Phonat – Set Me Free
Shirobon – Cyber Party (ft. Radix)
Anamanaguchi – Untitled
4mat – 1989
Michiru Oshima – Misty Capital
Random – Nightflower
Elecktronboy – Gee (Tokyo Highway Mix)
Take – Sakura (ft. Hastune Miku)
Anamanaguchi – Untitled (demo)