Ahead of the next MegaLast on 22.02.19 Nik and Jacob had a little chat with one of their headline DJs Ani Klang:
Hey Ani! We’re super happy that we get to have you at Superstore for MegaLast this month!
For readers who’re meeting you for the first time, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I produce mostly left-field, dynamic, kick focused club music with lots of intricate rhythms and industrial, otherworldly sound design (I’m trying to venture away from the ‘experimental club music’ nomenclature). I was raised in California but studied music production at the Clive Davis Institute at New York University, where I started DJing a mix of hard club cuts and 160 bass in 2016. I released my debut EP “Worst of All Time” on Infinite Machine, then moved to Berlin in 2017 after graduating to see if I can make this insane career choice work.
You started DJing in NYC, which as a city is obviously LIVE for queer parties. What was your experience starting out, especially as a gay woman in the city? Were there any parties, DJs or labels who were most supportive of you?
At first, I was a little intimidated by all these incredibly cool, high fashion queer DJs slaying the underground every weekend. When I started out, I was an overzealous 18-year-old eager to break in the scene in any way I could, so I found myself doing a lot of free events at art galleries, bars, and lounges in the lower east side, but still felt the crowds weren’t the right fit for me and I couldn’t be as creative with song selection as I wanted to be. As I continued studying at Clive Davis, I did a lot of exploring artistically and gained enough confidence to start reaching out to some of the more influential DJs and I was overwhelmed with how welcoming and helpful they were to me. If anything, being a gay woman has been a benefit in that sense. A lot of these powerful DJs have had similar struggles with their sexuality or identity, so when they meet someone new who’s in the same boat there’s a kind of automatic kinship that makes it really easy to connect and support one another.
People like Anna Morgan / Larissa (Dj Ripley) and Bell Curve from the HEAVY party series were behind me from the very beginning. Amber Valentine and JD Samson from Le Tigre were also super helpful in getting me started in the queer scene (JD booked me several times at her queer party series PAT along with an official afterparty for a lesbian movie release – my dream). And of course, many of my professors at Clive were instrumental in giving me the tools and experience I needed to get started.
So you moved to Berlin more recently (and just played at Berghain for CTM festival), do you think the city’s had an influence on your music? What’s your experience been of working around the queer scene in the city?
Berlin has definitely had a massive influence on my music. It’s a weird city for sure. The streets are either dead silent or swarming with machinery, gabber played from wireless speakers, or people shouting in languages from all over the world. The omnipresence of techno is also impossible to ignore. I never really ‘understood’ techno until I moved here – but after being in clubs like Berghain where this music is truly a religion to some people – it really makes you rethink the impact repetition and minimalism can have on electronic music. I’ve tried to find and employ that intangible ‘addictive’ quality techno has on the common club-goer in my newer productions, but it’s a hard balance to strike without it become too minimal or boring. So I’ve been trying to combine that Berlin sensibility with my love of dramatic, deconstructed club and syncopated footwork grooves from NYC.
The queer scene here is definitely growing substantially. It’s become pretty competitive since I first studied abroad in Berlin in 2016, but it can be a warm and welcoming environment if you stick around long enough to prove your dedication. I haven’t had much luck playing any lesbian parties here, however, since I’ve heard they mainly like to book DJs who play Beyoncé / Drake / top 40 hits, and that’s not really my thing. I’ve played several shows with queer artists from the No Shade Collective, Trade, etc. but my focus has always been more on playing parties that are forward thinking musically. The ‘queer party’ emblem has always been more of a bonus for me when looking for gigs.
One thing that we love about your music is that you’re often playing around with quite confrontational and experiential textures, but all your music is still clubby & totally danceable. How do you walk that line?
It’s a tough line to walk. I’m always concerned with how I can create the heaviest impact in a track – and that often involves using samples that stir up some kind of emotional response within me. I’ve sampled voices of friends who have died, ex-girlfriends reading love poetry or crying, orgasms, 1960’s insane asylum interviews, things like that. And it always makes people stop and really listen to what they’re hearing – and that’s super important to me. I’ve found my most successful tracks always have an aspect of suspense and release, anticipation and arrival, anxiety and relief – and that’s usually achieved by contrasting these intense, confrontational samples with severe, almost joyous dance drops. Like finally, it’s here, I can enjoy myself and dance off all this pain and frustration. So it’s kind of a balancing act.
What LGBTQ+ musicians are you loving at the moment?
Jeremiah Meece just put out a killer record on Knightwerk that I’m in love with (that whole label is pretty queer and fun, definitely worth checking out), also Rui Ho and Born in Flamez are killing it out here in Berlin. I also love PlayPlay from NYC – they’re always releasing bass-heavy, beautifully produced club hits.
If you had unlimited budget and could book anyone, what would your perfect queer clubnight look like?
Great question – I’d kick off the night with some NYC queer club legends False Witness & Shyboi to get everyone dancing, then I’d bring in serpentwithfeet or Arca to get everyone crying and hugging, then I’d close off the night with a fierce b2b with Ziúr so no one leaves until the lights come on. And it would be hosted by Rupaul, obviously.
What can we expect from your first set at Dalston Superstore?!
I’ll be playing lots of unreleased cuts from my next ep which will be very industrial but high energy dance tracks woven with punchy, polyrhythmic drum grooves, along with plenty of sassy club edits, some bouncy techno, and maybe a little 160/footwork towards the end to round things out. It’ll be ferocious and fun and sweat-worthy.
Ani Klang plays MegaLast with Akito, Loraine James, Jlte, Ni-Ku + J. Aria on Friday 22nd February – £6/8 OTD.
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