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AN21 Wants to Play in a Warehouse Near You

AN21 says connection is not about the number of cakes you throw into the crowd.
April 28, 2014, 7:30pm

Photograph courtesy of Visualbass Photography 

SIZE Records is taking over North America to honor a decade of making music and managing artists with four of their leading masters Qulinez, Third Party, Max Vangeli, and AN21. THUMP sat down with producer and label A&R, AN21 before his performance in Toronto at The Guvernment. He spoke about his relationship with his brother and the rest of the SIZE crew, the future of dance music, and why he loves Toronto.

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THUMP: In one of the SIZE TV Episodes you mentioned you didn't even know how to DJ for the first gig you ever agreed to play, and Steve said it was a stupid idea. What is he saying to you now?

AN21: I forgot about that. We are brothers but we never really talk about what we have accomplished together or individually because everything has been very natural and organic. The first time we actually sat down and really looked back at what we'd done was after our #Decade show in Miami and we were like "fuck it's been ten years." We have artists here relying on us and that's an amazing feeling. Other than that, we don't really look at the past but more to the future.

Do you ever feel like you have some big shoes to fill?

100 percent. But it's not like we are competing. I love working with my brother, which we do a lot and I would never work against him.

The venues you play in are getting bigger and crazier as time passes, is there anything you miss about playing in smaller venues?

All things like visual effects don't really matter to me. It's good for the show but the main element of a party is still the connection between the DJ and the crowd, and that's never going to change no matter the production or how many cakes you throw into the crowd. It's still about that connection and the vibe that you are looking for. I still love to do smaller venues, I like when it's really intimate and sweaty. It's just you and the crowd and nothing else is going on.

What do you look for when bringing an artist to the label?

It's not everyday when I listen to a song that makes me feel anything other than just jumping around or dancing, it's something that actually puts a feeling in my heart and gives me goose bumps. I feel like that doesn't happen as much as it used to. Whatever you want to call it, soul or heart, something other than wanting to be in a nightclub drinking with my friends.

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You and Max have done a lot of work together. When did you guys make the decision to branch off and work on your own stuff?

Everything just happens naturally. When we decided to get really deep with our album, we didn't really know what we were about to jump into. At the beginning we were just making a bunch of records really quickly, and we were like "fuck it, lets make an album." But then both of our careers just exploded and Max was touring on one side of the world and I was touring on the other side and we were thinking "how to fuck are we going to figure this album out." That took two years. After all the headaches, sweat, tears and frustrations, we realized we're just two different people who wanted to explore our own identities. Not departing—we are still in the studio together once in a while making music together. But we live on different sides of the world and why not make solo music. I feel like you have to explore your own sound and inspiration and figure yourself out sometimes.

Photograph courtesy of Visualbass Photography

SIZE is more like a brotherhood than a label. Tell us a bit about your values within the dance music scene.

I'm pretty sure that we are the only major independent label out there right now in the EDM world that has its own artists that we actually went out and found. When we found Third Party we put out their first release, same with Qulinez, and most of the other guys. We sit down together once in a while, and if anyone needs any help in one way or another, even outside of the business side of things, we are all here to help each other.

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You guys are frequent guests here in Toronto and have such a huge yet blossoming fan base, what do you love most about playing in Toronto?

One of my first major shows in North America was in Toronto. It reminds me a little of Europe. I love the people, the vibe. It feels real here and everything isn't always like that. I remember looking back at my earlier career and checking back to where my following was, Toronto was the first city in North America that I had a following in, on Facebook and Twitter. So I have a real connection with the city.

What do you guys think about Toronto banning dance music events in Toronto venues, particularly ones you have played before?

That has been happening since the early '90s. That's how our industry started and I don't see a reason why the concern shouldn't happen now. I understand that there are a lot of drugs at our shows, but they also exist in all of the other genres outside dance music. I don't think that it's really going to change what we're doing. Maybe it will be for the better. We can go old school and do cool warehouses and explore more underground venues, rather than doing a big stadium. If you look at Holland for example, they don't ban drugs, they try to control it in a real positive way. They help kids understand what it is, why it's dangerous and I think that is important. It's just the media blowing it up because it's EDM, and they want to create headlines. I don't think it will affect us in the long run.

Follow Nicole on Twitter: @DownTwoMars

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