HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Ananda Project Interview

What started out as a demo mix tape has evolved into the critically acclaimed, soulful sounds of the Ananda Project. Masterminded by Chris Brann whose past ventures include P'Taah and the Wamdue Project. From their first release "Cascades of Colour" they have brought a one of a kind sound that has earned them fans across the globe.

With their newest album "Fire Flower" just released, and a tour to go with it, HigherFrequency was able to find out more about the man behind the music and the music itself.

> Interview & Introduction: Len Iima (HigherFrequency)


HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Internationally, US cities like NY and Chicago are famous for their scene, however your city Atlanta isn’t as well known. Have you thought of moving to a bigger city?

Chris Brann: It’s never really crossed my mind. Of course we always talk about it, it’s like “If you wanna make it, then you have to move to New York”, you know it’s a common perception but again I always say this “Atlanta is great” because it allows you the freedom and the space to just be yourself and not have the pressure of competing against what you think is the most popular thing or trying to fit in with the culture. For instance in New York, it’s very competitive world of House music, House DJ’s, who’s playing at what club, who’s on what label and to me it’s just about bypassing all of that and just do music and we’ll find the right place, the right expression, the right format to come out. It’s kind of idealistic and naïve but I think it’s just how you make it work, wherever you are, it doesn’t matter if we’re in Atlanta or not. We could be in Iceland, great stuff comes out of Iceland. It doesn’t matter.

HRFQ : Can you tell us more about the Ananda Project? How has it evolved since ‘Cascades of Colour’?

Chris Brann: It originally started as no concept, I never thought of turning it into an actual project. I originally had ‘Cascades of Colour’ on a cassette demo with a whole bunch of tracks and I gave it to the A&R at King Street and didn’t think anything of it. They heard ‘Cascades of Colour’ and said we should put it out, and the ball got rolling unexpectedly from that to where we’re at now, where it became a more conceptualized stylistic thing that we’ve honed in on a certain sound and I think have rarefied it and kinda reached…I’m not gonna say perfection, cause nothing is every perfect, but really established what that style is, and I think this album reflects it.

HRFQ : It’s been called a band, how much is this true? Or is it you featuring artists?

Chris Brann: Well it is and it isn’t. I think idealistically I’d like for it to be a band like “Elements of Life” [Louie Vega] or something. However, the practicality of things is like let’s do this, let’s cut these vocals, let’s get this person in. We don’t really think in terms of all being in the same room at the same time, which is a luxury these days. With computers and instant messengers is just like here’s a track see what you can do. Things are very spread out and not as community oriented as I would really like, and of course when we do shows it’s expensive to bring a ten person band so we have to economize and present the music the best way we know how, but maybe compromise a little too. Like I’d love to have the bass player on stage.

HRFQ : On ‘Fireworks’, ‘Let Love Fly’ and all the other vocal tracks, which comes first the beat or vocals? Are they made together?

Chris Brann: It can go either way. Generally speaking, like with Terrence’s song ‘Fireworks’ for example, the track was done, it was complete and another person we work with had already written a song to it. I had demo’d it, and was like it’s cool but we weren’t quite happy with it, so I gave the track to Terrence and he immediately understood when he heard the track what needed to happen, intuitively, this is the way I need to sing and write to make this track be great. Once he did that, and he knew in his mind, it came very effortlessly. That’s just the best thing when that magic happens, and you don’t have to work, it just like here it is. I love it.

HRFQ : You may be tired of speaking about Wamdue Project but could ‘Fireflower’, or a single off this, be the next generations ‘King of My Castle’?

Chris Brann: I always look at ‘King of My Castle’ as a total, bizarre thing that happened in my life personally because I never expected that. At the time when it came out I was very much “I’m underground, I’m deep house, I hate commercial music”, and then that thing starts selling 200 million across the world and it really blew my mind as far as how I felt about myself, and how I saw myself as an artist and felt really bad about it. Then I had a nervous breakdown essentially because it sold so well and I was like this goes against my philosophy of being true to the music. Anyway, I’ve now integrated that awareness and that experience of my life, because I’m so artistically driven on the other side that now I think the commercial end and the artistic end can peacefully co-exist much better for me now. So now I think the door is open, spiritually and mentally, for me to think that anything is possible. I think that a song like ‘Fireworks’ could be really big and totally unexpected like “where did this come from”. You always have to have that door open I think.

HRFQ : You stated “The music I’d like to make is technically beyond my capabilities” is this still true today?

Chris Brann: I always think that technically I’m amazed at production, the people I hear, other producers and other musicians, I am just blown away on how they do that, how they make it sound so good, and the mix, all the technical specifications that go into making music sound that way. I’m very impressed with a lot of people. So yes in that sense I feel somewhat like I’m lacking, but I feel on another level that I make up for that in creating a certain kind of space that is very personally to me and what we do as a group of people that has our own specific imprint. And that’s sometimes more important than the technical.

Ananda Project Interview

HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : You went on to say “the music I do make I don’t enjoy”, do you still feel the same?

Chris Brann: That’s when I was having a nervous breakdown! I’ve learnt to enjoy life a lot better now, thus music, relationships, and just hanging out. Things have changed.

HRFQ : What can we expect from yourself and the Ananda Project in the future?

Chris Brann: We have an essentially new album, that no one has heard yet and I’m not sure if it’s good or not, I’m not sure if we need to go back and do a whole helluva lot more work to it, or if it’s something that I should be like “Ok, it’s done with, we’re moving on again”. In addition to that, developing Terrence Down’s (solo) material, which incorporated elements from the Ananda style but is also Hip-Hop, R&B, Soul oriented. It’s very diverse. And then I have a new Wamdue Project out, it’s the first album I’ve done in seven years for that.

End of the interview

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