“It’s almost just like using another instrument,“ says ANIMA, on the samples that saturate his hypnagogic take on ambient music. “Giving it a new life or making something completely different from it.”
We are talking via video chat in the lead up to Sweden’s Norbergfestival, where the Stockholm-based artist is preparing for a DJ set among the disused Mimerlaven mine. ANIMA’s euphoric sound reflects the nostalgia of simulated experiences in an online age, drenched in blissful pads and commercial pop music samples. It’s a sound that is representative of today’s prevalence of ambient moods in underground music, often sample-based and playing on a post-digital blurring of time and memory, melding allusions to big room dance, rap, and pop music. Take for instance his prominent reworking of Tears For Fears’ ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’—displaced from its ‘80s context and set against a lush bed of trance pads—in ‘Wheat’, which closed out AQNB’s Out of Body compilation last year. ANIMA’s tracks have featured on compilations from Club Paradiso, SIRENS, with mixes for the likes of HKCR, Genome 6.66 Mbp, alongside musical collaborations with artists such as Cedric Madden, 500, as well as kindred spirit and childhood friend Aeoi.
Raised in Helsingborg, within Sweden’s southern Skåne county, ANIMA describes its smalltown provincial character as a preliminary influence to his sound. “I think it shaped how I look at music. A lot of the house and Avicii samples and shit like that.” Continuing, “there was this little street where the clubs were, only this one street. It was just super bro-like small town party stuff. So you heard a lot of these tracks growing up.”
As he prepares for the Norbergfestival set soon after midsummer, we spoke about Sweden’s lineage of exploring the dreamlike in its underground music scenes, nostalgia, and the slowed down and sunkissed escapism of internet-native ambient music.
**I wanted to ask about your context coming out of Sweden. I think about the influence of scenes like Sincerely Yours, through to current labels like YEAR0001, which often have this dreamlike sound to their artists. To me your work fits into that world a little bit. Do you see yourself as sitting in that lineage? What do you think it is about Sweden that has brought this sound to a lot of underground music?
ANIMA: I mean it’s hard hard not to feel like it, because yeah, it’s a big thing for Swedish people with that whole scene, and the people who are actually in it. I can’t deny that I’ve been inspired by these things. I think it’s because Sweden is so dull I guess, like kind of grey, not a lot going on; people are just looking for a lot of colour in their lives. Maybe it takes the shape through this. The forests in Sweden have a bit of a dreamy vibe to them as well, like anywhere in Sweden, I feel like maybe this contributes as well.
**I’d say your music sits in a new wave of ambient music online. What do you think it is about our present moment that is making this sort of attraction to ambient moods in underground music?
A: I don’t know if there’s probably a bit of nostalgia that is mostly the motivator. But then also, things are going so fast all the time. I think people just like to slow down a bit every now and then. It’s a very hard question, or very interesting question…
**I’m glad you raised that because my next question was actually on nostalgia. What’s your interest in this kind of nostalgia in your work?
A: I think that it’s very personal. So what’s nostalgic to me might not be the same for someone else, but if you can use things that you feel are nostalgic in some sort of art form, I think that it can help build your own sound.
**Another thing that I feel nostalgia relates to is sampling. I wanted to ask how you came to use samples in the way that you do, and where the interest is for you? Is it in some way related to digital culture and it’s recontextualisations, like a sort of internet-oriented way of thinking?
A: Definitely. I also listen to so much music all the time. It’s just in my head constantly. So I feel like, as you say, things that I like when used in a new way can be very intriguing. Sometimes I work on a little melody, and something pops up like a Katy Perry acapella or something, it would just fit. I also liked listening to a lot of Elysia Crampton as well, because she samples heavily, and I’ve been very inspired by artists like her.
**Can you tell me about your collaborations or working relationship with Aeoi?
It’s one of my childhood friends. We always had similar interests in things like music and internet stuff, all of this, so we clicked pretty early on and started producing at the same time. I enjoy having someone that I know from way back, not from being in a scene, or an industry or something like this. We feed off each other’s energies or creativity.
**Finally, I wanted to ask about the festival itself at Norberg. Is there anything you’re excited about for your set there?
It feels special to me, honestly. Since I used to think about playing there. So it’s obviously special, and Aeoi is also coming with me, so that makes it even moreso. We went there back in the day together as well. It’s in the summer and a cosy place. I hope I can give some sort of equal feeling to the mixes I would put out on SoundCloud, but then a little bit more spicy.**