A Chat with Minimal Animal (08.06.2020)

Brixton-based Minimal Animal is back with his lo-fi piano and organ drenched track ‘Landlocked’. The project is the first new music from Screaming Maldini’s Nicholas Alexander. We sat down with Minimal Animal (MA) to talk about the new single, his music and much more!

OSR: What drew you to the music industry?

MA: Just a love of music really and a desire to in some way eek a living out of creating.

OSR: Has your carbon-neutral tour plan been shelved or will you still do it once the pandemic has passed?

MA: I had quite a few shows booked for summer 2020 around the UK and planned to do the tour by bicycle with a lightweight set up, and hella carbs. For now, the plan and the shows have been shelved, but I’m definitely keen to do it in the future. I have done a fair amount of touring over the years both as an artist and as crew, and more and more it’s become apparent that the way the industry currently works is, long-term, unsustainable. Air travel is such a huge contributor to global warming and if the recent pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that the planet needs to heal, it needs protecting. I don’t think we can, with a clear conscience, continue to travel indiscriminately.

My plan for carbon-neutral touring is to show that it can be done differently. Creatives are invariably left-leaning, environmentally conscious types and I feel it’s too much of a cognitive dissonance to write and record music, to then contribute to the destruction of the world while performing it. Yes, I’m not exactly Ed Sheeran embarking on a sold-out world tour, but I think artists at every level can help make a difference and try to lead by example.

On another note, I’ve been a keen road cyclist for years now, and adore exploring London and its surrounding countryside by bike. The recent pandemic lockdown freed up the roads. It was as if London, having been slowly suffocating for decades, it’s arterial roads constantly clogged up by largely unnecessary journeys, it’s inhabitants literally coughing up soot and dust, could finally breathe. You could hear wildlife again, the air smelt clean, walking/cycling for daily exercise felt safe. I hoped it would maybe mark a sea of change in people’s attitude to travel around the city. But no. It’s been heartbreaking to see the sudden reversion back to gridlocked roads and palpable anger since lockdown has been lifted.

OSR: It is unusual to have two releases in such as short space of time, how do you do it?

MA: For me, releasing music is largely cathartic, and I like to keep busy and keep things moving. A large part of what I’m doing at the moment is trying to build up the fanbase, I think regular releasing and engagement with fans is key to keeping things building. As playing live isn’t possible, I’ve recently been creating walkthrough videos of my cubase and Ableton projects for the songs, to show a bit of the creative process behind the scenes. You can see these on my Facebook page. Come and say hi at Facebook.com/hello.minimal.animal

OSR: What is the most useless talent you have?

MA: I’m pretty good at throwing things into containers from a distance (I’m talking 6 feet to 12 feet. No further. I’m not a super-being). I’m talking socks into a sock draw, I’m talking empty oat milk cartons into the recycling, I’m talking a patch lead into a spares box from across the room. I know, I know, it’s sexy, exciting stuff. I’m not going to deny it, but I don’t like to shout about it too much. It’s just something I do, another string to the bow. If I could work out a way to monetise it, I would, and then maybe I could finally knock this music career on the head. If your readers have any ideas, I’m all ears.

OSR: Which famous musicians do you admire?

MA: I’m a huge fan of Flume at the moment. What I admire most about him is the way he manages to find new sounds on each record. It’s almost as though he’s not writing music, he’s inventing music. I love listening and not being able to work out how the heck he’s done something. What a musician.

OSR: Is there any personal meaning to ‘Landlocked’?

MA: “I used to be what you wanted/you used to need what I had” Landlocked is definitely quite a personal record. It’s about the way a long-term relationship can change over the years, and in particular, is about a time a while ago when I went through a temporary separation.

The very ending “we’re landlocked/tongue-tied as we clock watch/you’re black jeans, I’m odd socks” is kind of a description of the quiet contentment you can reach with a partner where you don’t need words or anything really to enjoy each other’s company. It could also be read as a place of settling acceptance.

The first two choruses are three-bar phrases, with quite an uncertain lilt to the harmonic sequence. This transforms into a four-bar phrase and a more assured chord sequence for the final chorus to reflect the protagonist’s acceptance of what’s going on. Or something like that anyway.

OSR: Do you have other plans for ‘Landlocked’ such as online shows and videos?

MA: I love finding old archive footage that’s in the public domain and chopping it to a track. I’ve created a video for landlocked, cut together from a 1957 advert for a White Goods sale. It features two dancers intertwined around various fridges and cookers. I loved the weird juxtaposition of the fluid moving beauty of the dancers and the static straight lines of the appliances. I felt that the way the dancers interacted with standard boring stuff you’d find in a house, represents something about long-term relationships, especially where you are cohabiting. So it seemed like a good accompaniment to the song and one of the aforementioned walkthrough vids is on this project.

OSR: If it was not for your music career, what would you be doing now?

MA: If I wasn’t making music, I think I’d be living off-grid somewhere in the peak district in England, riding my bike every day. Or cycling around the world on a shoestring, or working in an office, 9-5, coming home and watching Netflix, going to the pub once, maybe twice a week to shoot the shit and distract myself. One of those things.

OSR: What would you like listeners to take away from ‘Landlocked’?

MA: I hope that listeners can lose themselves in its woozy beat and noisy organs and pianos, and be taken on a journey. While not being too triggered by the cough near the start and have the chorus on repeat in their heads indefinitely (ideally the three-bar phrases, not the four-bar phrases – that way, they’ll loop in a slightly weirder way, and become a more satisfying/irritating (delete as appropriate) ear-worm).

OSR: Do you have any further releases planned for this year?

MA: There’s currently a banging Synth-pop remix of my tune ‘Happy Here’ by Berlin-based producer Pinthus which you can find on Spotify. I also remix and have a couple of remixes coming out in the next couple of months for a couple of artists. The first one to be released will be a song called ‘Stand’ by upcoming feminist powerhouse and BBC 6Music darlings, Before Breakfast. As well as the audio, I’ve also remixed the videos of the original songs too. It’s been a really interesting project, trying to create a whole new sonic and visual artistic experience out of pre-existing material. Also, Gina from the band has an absolutely great voice and is an amazing writer.

OSR: If you could give a young aspiring musician one bit of advice, what would it be?

MA: It’s the classics. Work hard. Spend all the time you need to find your voice. Make sure your stuff is good, but don’t rely on the old adage that if you just work hard enough and keep following your dreams, it’ll happen. Yes, for sure, this is something every successful person has in common, everyone who has reached the top has just worked hard and followed their dreams, but they make up an infinitesimally small percentage of everyone who has worked hard and followed their dreams. Most people do exactly that but never reach that top level of success. So don’t place all your hopes of happiness on that. Have some other shit going on. Read books, watch films, make friends, visit places, work hard. Treat the people closest to you nicely, because if you don’t you’ll feel like arsehole forever. Create for creation’s sake, write to please yourself. If you like what you make, chances are some other folk might too.

Thanks to Minimal Animal for chatting with us! You can find more about him on his Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.

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