Debut EPs are a big milestone for any artist, but for Anaïs, the release of her debut Badgyal EP on Deep In The Jungle last week was something special. Packed with heavy wubs, hearty subs and relentless energy, it’s an EP introducing Anaïs to the world with a fat Juno Download number one-smashing wallop.
That being said, if you’re local to Bristol or familiar with the scene, then you most likely were introduced to Anaïs some time ago. As a resident for Lakota and core member of the Invicta Audio crew, she has been entertaining ravers for a few years now. If you were to come across her at an event, then you’ll know about it. Jungle house blends, 4X4 switch ups, 99BPM madness – you name it, Anaïs has probably warped your mind with it.
But as good of a DJ she is, Anaïs has been battling to make a name for herself in the scene as a music artist. Her debut EP is more than just a release, it’s a statement of intent from an artist who has so much motivation to learn, and it’s a calling to females out there who want to produce but are unsure of their credentials.
On the back of Badgyal’s release, UKF caught up with Anaïs to learn more about an artist destined for big things.
Your debut EP is out! How did you feel when release day came about?
I was very excited but nervous. It was one of those where you work really hard, get knocked down, try many things that don’t work, but the last thing does.
That’s how the best things in life are achieved!
That’s true. I was determined to get it finished. I’ve learnt so much from the whole process. I was at Lakota playing my debut EP set alongside Crossy and I played all of the tunes out. It was amazing. I’m at a point where I want to be good but I’ve still got so much learning to do. For example, two of the EP tunes I put subs in, and the other two I didn’t. Playing the EP on a big sound system, finally, made me say – Anaïs, you need to put a sub in every time! Those tunes went off.
Everyone loves a good sub.
Definitely! I’m learning. Studying at DBS in Bristol has helped me massively, but I also think going to different genre nights that aren’t D&B has helped me a lot as it has refreshed my music palette. At the moment, I feel like I’m surrounded with this one genre, and it’s hard to break out of it, so I find myself going to garage and 140 nights to mix it up.
I can hear that listening to the EP. There’s a sense of free-flowing creativity to it. It’s not formulaic.
I’m a pretty scatty person in general as I have ADHD, and I wanted the music to reflect that. I hate things sounding the same. I wanted to challenge myself with every track. So using different drum patterns, different styles of bass, different vocals, and asking myself how I can make my drums slap. I’m at such an early stage of my music production journey, and I’m so happy this EP is the beginning of it.
So the EP is out on Deep In The Jungle. That’s an awesome first label to release on.
Isn’t it! It all came about when I contacted Hollie-May, who works for Sofa Sound, with Riding West, the Natty D tune. I asked her if I could do anything with it and she said she would send it to DJ Hybrid, who loved it. I was like – holy shit! He asked me to make some more tunes for an EP, so I used that as my fuel to get it done. I finished it in less than a year.
That’s impressive for someone who hasn’t been producing that long.
I think so. I’ve only been producing for around two years since getting Ableton. Initially, I was a bit of scared of it, but then I started uni at DBS. Through learning things in class, it helped me to believe in myself.
Amazing. Up until now, you’ve mainly built your name as a DJ, haven’t you?
Yeah. Most people don’t know that I can make tunes. I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m like a little fish in a massive pond, but I’ve just got to keep making sounds and the progress will come.
People in Bristol definitely know you well. I’m pretty sure you were playing a show every night of the week when events returned…
Between myself and my partner Izzy (who also DJs), we were at about 18 events that week… We slept for two hours each night because her room is like a greenhouse. Combined with drinking every day, at the end of the week I felt horrific! It was so much fun though. The Motion day party was the highlight. It was the second event back and I cried.
You strike me as someone with a real passion for DJing.
I love DJing. Of course, you have those sets that get you down and make you feel like you want to quit, but you also get those golden sets where everyone is loving it. That’s addictive to me. Nothing will compare to the Tokyo World set I played the other month. The sun was shining, it was rammed, I was playing all my ragga stuff and some 4X4, and people were having it.
I’m rating the blend of styles!
I like to mess with people’s minds when I mix. I tend to change the BPM with my 4X4 stuff and also go up to 99BPM. I actually play this tune that goes from jungle into house and back into jungle again. It’s hard! I love not playing a full set of D&B because it helps people to feel like they’re on a journey.
That comes back to your motivation of not wanting to fit the mould.
I hate fitting the mould. I hate doing what everyone else is doing. I’ve always been like that. Throughout school I was a little shit. I grew up in Lancaster and I kid you not, I had two mates. I was the weird teenager in school because I did what I wanted. I would scream in the corridor, I’d have teachers chasing me and I’d be in isolation three days a week. I can’t be controlled, and neither can Anton, who runs Invicta Audio. He is a savage when it comes to running the label, I’m so proud of him.
It sounds like you’ve been on quite the journey together!
He’s the one who got me into DJing. He used to rock up to sets in Worcester with his little controller and the promoter used to be like – what are you doing? He inspired me to DJ. That was like four years ago now, so we’ve come a long way since. We originally met in year ten and spent sixth form chasing each other around. When I met him, it was the first time I met anyone who could match my energy levels. It was like being fused together with someone.
When I moved from Lancaster, I was going through a pretty rough time in life. My dad died of cancer and I had no one. But then I met Anton. Through discovering D&B together, it allowed me to go skank and let go of the anger I was holding onto. That’s why D&B means so much to me now, because it started as an outlet for how I felt about losing my dad.
The power of music is amazing! Being a part of Invicta Audio with Anton has clearly done you the world of good.
Definitely. Now we have our Antics alias together, which I love because we represent two minorities in the scene. Me being gay and a woman, and Anton being black. I’ll always remember the time Anton said to me during lockdown “AnaÏs… We’re not just a shitty student brand anymore.” That was a pivotal moment for me when I realised how quickly Invicta was growing.
So was lockdown a turning point for you progression-wise?
Progression-wise, I was playing out as a resident for about a year before lockdown, but lockdown gave me the time to knuckle down with my production and uni. Coming out of lockdown reinvented what I thought of myself and the direction I wanted to go.
Like a clearer picture?
Yeah. It made me take music more seriously. With Invicta doing so well, I felt like I could become an artist, instead of just being a resident. I do love being a resident, but I want to be seen as more. It’s a hard transition to make. Euphonique is a massive inspiration to me. I met her two years ago and told her I wanted to be like her, then a week ago I took her to Tearout and we didn’t leave each other’s side. It’s weird to think someone I looked up to so much is now my mate. I don’t think she realises how much of an influence she has been on me wanting to push myself as an artist.
Love that. The first time UKF spoke to you was when we ran a feature on Concrete Jungyals, and at the time I got the impression the group has been a big influence on your progression too.
I love Conrete Jungyals. They were the first point of contact in Bristol I made when I came here. I remember they invited me onto their 1020 radio show, and I met Emmy, Tiffany and Sasha. I went out for drinks with them afterwards and thought they were amazing. Being run by two extremely strong black women, Concrete Jungyals represents so much as a brand. I wanted to be a part of it straight away.
We need more groups like Concrete Jungyals pushing for inclusion in music.
Definitely. Things have got better, but there’s still a long way to go. It’s important to represent who you are as a person and connect with like-minded people. It helps to grow a community around you. I’m not in the scene for the competition side of things. I just want to meet new people, network and see how far I can push myself.
Experiences like mine show that it isn’t rocket science learning how to make music, and I want more girls to try. If you learn the proper practices early on, then you can do it. I’ve seen very few womxn in D&B release an EP. I want other girls to believe in themselves and go for it.
Amen. So where do you see things progressing for you from here?
I’ll keep pushing myself at the pace I’m going. I’m not in any rush to get anywhere. I don’t want to slip behind in uni because it will provide me with a qualification in electronic music. After uni, I’ll think about doing music full-time, but until then, I’m just going to enjoy where I am and appreciate every moment, instead of wanting the next thing. This EP is a milestone I’m proud of. Even though it’s not perfect, I’m so happy with it and excited for where this could go. Hopefully I can make a career out of music!