Discovering new music is one of the few reasons I spend hours on end online every day and it's because of cats like Annu that I keep going back and digging deeper, searching the deepest and darkest nooks and crannies I can find.
If you haven't heard the name or the tunes get over to his bandcamp page and familiarize yourself with the man who makes ghostly hip electro jams perfect for a late night drive home from the club, or as background music to the session.
His debut album Def Vibrations caught my attention with it's cohesiveness which left me with an urge to keep pressing play upon it's completion. He builds songs up, chops things left and right, utilizes a wide range of drum knocks for different effect and emphasis on the selected spaced sounds vibrating in your ear. Basically, if I were an A & R at Brainfeeder I'd be knocking down the door to get at whatever he has on tap.
Over the last month and a half or so I've corresponded with the man behind one of my favorite releases of the last year. He is a great dude, easy going and very relaxed. He offered up a collection of some songs from the last year that didn't make it onto the album but he still wanted people to hear. If you need any convincing that you need to spend the 5 bucks to get his album check these cuts out first!
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Planet Annu.
Can you introduce yourself? How did you get into making tunes, how long? Is Annu your first incarnation as an artist?
My name is Leland Jackson, I'm originally from Misawa, Japan and I've been living in Virginia for the past 11 years. I got into making music around 14, I was in sort of a rock band with a couple of good friends. When I entered high school my tastes started changing. I had FL studio for a while and was experimenting with it on and off during my time being in a couple bands. After various failed attempts I just decided to do my own electronic music full time. I started making music and playing my songs at shows under the name Alamdia. Annu came about after I left high school and it was basically when I started to get into sampling and putting more of a Hip Hop influence on the music. After a while, I felt I was holding myself back and I eventually decided to put my old influences as Alamdia into the mix. So I'd like to think Annu is a fusion of my past and present tastes.
What were you influences growing up? What are your influences today?
My main influences growing up was just exploring new avenues of music, hanging out with close friends, trading and listening to music. My influences nowadays come from being around people who are trying to push the envelope of music, mostly just listening to a lot of what's being circulated on the internet. There's an insane amount of people I feel connected with through the music they are making. It's fresh out the oven music.. and it's redefining the future of music for all of us, right under our noses. It's a beautiful thing.
What current music are you listening to?
A lot of different types. It always depends on my mood. I can be getting up in the morning and I'll put on some Dwele or Slum Village or be going to sleep and throw on a Harold Budd and Brian Eno record.
Does vinyl and digging play a roll in your music making? What is in your studio?
For a short period of time I was digging to find some serious vinyl. I kinda grew out of that when I realized I can get almost anything digitally if i needed. I also wanted to keep my piano interest up. It just ended up not being relevant to my process. If I go and try to pick out vinyl now, it's strictly for my own listening pleasure. In my studio.. haha my studio consists of a low quality laptop, an even lower quality laptop, a beat up mpd24, a nanokontrol and a dying edirol midi keyboard. I'm hanging in there.
Where do you reside? Are you a part of the music scene there if there is one?
I'm currently residing in Richmond, VA. I'd say yes I am part of the music scene here. Although I can't really say there is an official 'music scene' in Richmond unfortunately. There is an immense amount of talent in Richmond, but it is suppressed in many different ways; some of which we can blame others and other ways in which we can only blame ourselves. Nevertheless, Richmond tries to enjoy its small beacons of hope for a brighter future.
Do you bother with classification of your music or with music in general? Is it better to just consider it as sounds constructed for listening pleasure then to be trying to place it in a box?
Well I don't personally classify my music for the sake of keeping my interest true. Although there's nothing wrong with discussing genres as a way to dive into the trends or history of music in my opinion. But I try not to take the genres too seriously, I'd like to think in more progressive terms, but they are both valid I suppose.
Do you see yourself continuing the tradition of Hip Hop production?
I'd like to think so, even though my view of hip hop has changed considerably over time. I feel I'm speaking for a new generation. Music is evolving and I think that we're heading in a very interesting direction.
You speak about music evolving and it heading in a very different direction. Could you elaborate on your thoughts of what this evolution and new direction is, in your opinion?
From my point of view, it definitely has a lot to do with the power of the internet. The flow information is rapid, and this leaves a lot of room for new music to catch on quick. If someone decides to upload a song or photograph for public view, it's automatically available on a worldwide scale, at all times. I'm finding myself being inspired by new artists everyday, and revisiting artists I've found that are keeping their listeners up to date on their work. The internet as a medium for promotion is only progressing, and large networks of underground artists are using this as platform to gather. Whether it's done consciously or unconsciously, it's redefining the movements of art.
Listening to your music I hear elements of music that is coming from London & LA. Is this a conscious influence?
I'm definitely liking a lot of what is going on in those parts of world, I think they inevitably find a way into my creative process. I choose to embrace whatever comes to mind at the time.
Are you a DJ? What is the live Annu set like? Are you playing many shows?
I wouldn't say I'm a DJ, I've tried a couple times to DJ shows but I have a lot to learn haha. It's definitely an art of its own. I'm still working out different ways to play live, but most of all I try to leave a lot of room for improvisation. I'm playing a decent amount of shows, at least once a month. I'm comfortable with having a lot of time between shows, I need that down time to come back and have something completely new to share.
What is your opinion of bandcamp as a method for artists to distribute their music and make money off their art?
I'm a fan. It's another outlet for musicians to push their music, and it takes it to the next level by organizing their releases and making available for purchase or free download. I think it only helps a musician who's trying to promote themselves.
Are you collaborating with other electronic musicians or players of any instruments? Do you hope to eventually get vocalists on your tracks?
I have a couple projects in mind. I've currently been working with my close friend John from Eachothers, and other endeavors as well, with Tyler Newbold, from Coald Toast. I'm really interested in working with more vocalists in the future. We'll see what stirs up this year.. I'm very excited for 2010.
What is your day job?
I'm working with a non profit called Art180 in Richmond. I help teach and mentor various art programs for inner city youth. It's really awesome.
What is at the top of your wish list for next addition to your production set up?
Man that's hard to decide, I'm still trying to concentrate on what I have now, but I've been considering using Ableton and getting a new laptop.
How does Richmond influence your sound?
It's a number of things. There isn't much of a beat scene established here, Richmond is more known for band oriented music.. so It's a little strange for some people when there's someone behind a laptop attempting to play something other than 'party' music. I've been taking on a lot more pop aspects to my music to make it more accessible. At the same time, I'm trying to make music that invokes a feeling that is outside of the world of what people in Richmond might hear on the radio or at dance parties. I've found a lot of comfort on the internet as far as being able to share my music without any thought of restricting myself to a certain genre. Here I have to be a little mindful of how I approach a live setting, but I think with time something can grow here.
What's your favorite record?
That's hard to say but lately I've been listening to Bulles Bubbles by Kenlo and Vlooper... it's some really great stuff.
I wanna thank Annu for taking the time out to chat with me and for the tracks, get them here if you didn't already - how can you say no to Free99?
Check him out on the web at these sites: