Dance music is very often referred to as body music for reasons that are intuitive. In the most literal sense, it moves you, but there's a potential for more, something beyond the sights and smells of the darkened dancefloor. On the cover of the debut LP by the Vancouver techno duo Minimal Violence is an all caps couplet that outlines this whole philosophy: THE BODY IS MEAT / THE MIND IS UNLIMITED. Their album is called InDreams, and its built around the hallucinatory energy that comes from hardware electronics firing fast and heavy. You want to move, but there's something ascendant about it too.
Other producers and DJs have explained this metaphysical rave experience as a way of communing with the divine, but Minimal Violence have it right, comparing it to the world of dreams. Utilizing a "haphazard" collection of hardware, they're able to create pieces with surreal logics, interlocking and interacting in ways that shouldn't make sense, linking distant worlds and creating new ones. It's best evidenced on tracks like "June Anthem," which employ melodies catchy enough for pop structures, but twist them around this impossibly fast drum programming. It takes something that feels familiar and turns it into something otherworldly—electronic music as a way of seeing past the mundanity of the physical world.
InDreams is one of the best techno full-lengths in recent memory, so it's exciting that the duo—made up of the producers Ashlee Luk and Lida P.—were able to celebrate it with this week's Noisey Mix. The set they put together is a little different than the record; it's a little slower, a little slinkier. But it's no less transcendent as they transition from the slow motorik of some workmanlike techno, through brutalist EBM, and off-kilter post-punk. It's all heady and heavy, exactly the sort of stuff that'll help you move beyond this meatspace and embrace your psychic destiny. Listen below alongside a conversation with the duo about the philosophies behind their record.
Noisey: How are we meant to enjoy the mix? What's the perfect setting.
Minimal Violence: We’re currently sitting in a cabin at the foot of a ridge in Joshua Tree at sundown listening back to this mix and it feels like the perfect setting. I feel like whenever we are making music or a mix we are thinking about night drives down quiet stretches of roadway, or running. This is not a running mix.
Was there any specific concept to the mix?
I find that we have a habit of sourcing new tracks for every mix / DJ set as opposed to going through our archives.
Rekordbox was giving us technical difficulties so we started digging through our usb's for tracks that fit a mood we were trying to conjure, slower tracks that we hadn't fit into mixes before and picking through some records. We always try to pay homage to Vancouver’s musical history, aside from that we ended up with an interesting combination of some new stuff alongside some dark post-punk jams next to some untitled break-driven test pressings.
Do you have a favorite moment on this mix?
There is this perfect moment at 35:20 of the mix when the tail of Chaos Engine lets out in a scream and the first kick of Oazis comes in that is particularly satisfying.
Is synesthesia a real thing? If so, what color is this mix?
We had a sound art class once with a girl with synesthesia, she talked about it a lot. Apparently it's real. I can't say either of us are tuned into that, but if we were then I’m heading towards the feeling that this mix would be purple.
Your record is called InDreams, can you talk a bit about the power that dreams hold for you either in your lived experience or as a metaphor? Have you had any dreams recently that enlightened you about waking life?
At a young age we were both obsessed with the idea of lucid dreaming as a form of escape. I actually recently came across a book I had found as a child titled Dream Power, that delved into these ideas. I think the commonality of our interest in these experiences with lucid dreaming brought us towards this concept.
We both have had dreams recently where the emotional experience within the dreamworld transcended into waking life. I feel like it’s in moments like this where the potential for fluidity between the two worlds most clearly exists.
There's such a bruising energy to much of this record, what draws you to fast tempos and minimal melodies? What feelings or themes does something like "June Anthem" allow you to access. Or are you even thinking about it on that level?
I think we’re drawn to faster tempos because it allows the potential to be more impulsive and visceral when playing live. There’s a more immediate feeling to how people are experiencing the music and you kind of feed off of it. The interest in melodies ties in with the feelings that are generated by tracks like "June Anthem." I feel like there is a certain anthemic quality that we are drawn to— unapologetic melodic leaning that borders on earworm in its ideal state. Melodies help connect you to a time and place, I feel like a lot of dance music lacks this. There is no connection to the psychic/emotional, only the physical.
The cover of the record draws a distinction between physical reality and psychic reality. In what ways is your music invested in exploring that idea? I think it's funny in some ways that techno gets called a kind of "body music" but people also talk about it in mystic terms.
I think this distinction is something we will attempt to focus on in future works. Right now let’s just say that we’re thinking of, say, the immediate bodily effect of a heavy and steady kick versus the melody that contains a nostalgic quality that might carry you to the first time you ever heard a track. I guess the “body” aspect of techno music is focused on the literal, whereas the “mystic” refers to the transcendental experience many encounter on the dancefloor.
Both of you made music in other projects before Minimal Violence—what do you feel excited about in the music you make together that you haven't been able to capture elsewhere?
This project allows us to explore another side of our connection to one another and I feel like that is something that neither of us could ever do within any other projects. There’s a certain kind of brutal honesty that occurs when working creatively with your partner that spares no feelings and pushes you both beyond your comfort zone.