Fresh Blood: Animal Trainer
If you’ve not checked out Animal Trainer yet, then it’s perhaps time that you get your earlobes around this most talented of duos. The Swiss pairing, which comprises of two good friends, Samy and Adrian, have seen their stock soar in recent times, with their many flavoursome and diverse productions – not to mention their work at their label, Hive Audio – perking the ears of some of the scene’s most renowned tastemakers. With their latest LP, the brilliant Wide, having just dropped recently, it’s also very much fair to say that the boys are on something of a roll right now. When their purple patch abates, nobody knows, but while they’re on our radar we’re most definitely going to enjoy the ride. Here’s what happened recently when we dialed up the boys in Switzerland…
So, your new LP is out now on Stil Vor Talent. What’s your involvement like with the label? You’ve known those guys for some time right?
Yeah, it’s been pretty much the last 6 years that we’ve been releasing on Stil Vor Talent and seven that we’ve known Olli! We met him here in Hive, but the Stil Vor Talent connection came about as we handed him our first demo on Thai Break and landed up signing a three year Stil Vor Talent compilation.
And why is SVT the right place for the album? Is it a label that shares a similar ethos and way of working to yourselves?
We have similarities regarding the fact that neither of us think with musical blinkers on and that even after all these years of friendship and releases we see it as an honor to release an album on this label.
And can you talk us though the album a bit? What’s the thinking behind the tracks on it?
Since our expectations of ourselves are broader, the first thought was that we by no means wanted to make a pure dance album. Not that a pure dance album is bad, per se, but that we are interested in music as a whole it was obvious to finally use the opportunity to show our other sides.
So were you relieved when the whole process was finished then? Was producing an album as difficult as you imagined it’d be?
Much much more difficult! There was blood, sweat, tears and lots of fights but without any punches!, and at the end you have a deadline and you have to be satisfied.. AND then the label, the press and the fans have to find it amazing! It’s really hard not to get blocked from the pressure of performing and only listen to your feelings. But we are very happy with it and in hindsight wouldn’t have done it any other way.
And did you finish a lot of tracks that didn’t make it?
Yes, a few! But near the end we found a good way to effectively focus on the tracks that belonged on the album. Some of them we did indeed get to put on the album in the very last moment. We did however start enough tracks for another three albums! Who knows, maybe there will be an Animal Trainer outtakes record…but we are, in fact, sitting with some new stuff.
What did you find about about yourselves and one another – on a musical and personal level – from producing the album?
We have been making music together for the past eight years and have known each other about the same length of time. Of these eight years we have also had exactly eight years of daily contact. We see or hear from each other more than our girlfriends, families or friends…so in the studio there are no surprises.
Going back a bit, where did you guys first meet? Was it through a shared love of music?
We met at club UG presently known as Hive when Samy used to work at the bar and do promos and Adi was the technician and the gofer. At a staff party of a club there are usually some turntables for the ambitious hobby and “wanna be” DJs amongst them. And there we found ourselves playing together for a very long time and noticed that we have the same humor and celebrated the same hits of those times. It must have been about 2002.
Were you both producers beforehand then? Who does what in the studio?
Adi was. Samy is and was actually a trained musician. So we profited from each other’s knowhow right from the very beginning. In the studio one of us will come with a basic idea, sometimes totally rudimentary, sometimes almost finished, and from there we will work together in logic. For the polishing and for details. We also have quite a few analog synths standing around and change some tunes or add in new pieces.
And do you both play back-to-back as DJs or do you play individually too?
When we play together, we always play back 2 back. After 8 years we see ourselves completely blindly. Since about 2 years ago we’ve been doing solo gigs, just because we have much more booking requests. After a couple of solo gigs it’s also really cool playing with each other again as we found ourselves surprising the other with tracks they haven’t heard before.
What do you like most about working as a duo?
Sometimes it’s quite difficult to get two egos under one hat. Can’t imagine how bands handle that [Laughs] but seriously the best part is that we compliment each other, whether it’s in the studio, as organizers or whilst spinning. Both of us have our own strengths and together we produce the optimum. Traveling to countries where no one speaks your language and you don’t know a sole is also much more pleasant with a partner than alone.
You also run Hive Audio. What made you want to set up your own label?
We wanted to offer to young, fresh and talented as well as established artists out of the Hive surroundings and our circle of friends a platform and do everything in our power to get them as far as humanly possible. Other than that we would like to play, to discover new music, to bring undiscovered pearls out into the open and to plan everything from the graphics of the music to the finished release. A small “gang” has emerged and the spirit is super cool with acts such as Benja + Reto Ardour, Jimi Jules, Deneha, Manuel Moreno and just recently Dario D’attis. The last two releases even made it into Beatport’s Top 15!
What do you find is the most challenging aspect of running a label in this day and age?
One has to release damn good music so that you don’t go completely under, but the bulk of it was always huge, even in the early days in the record store there was usually someone who handed out the best pieces and had already sorted out the scraps. Unfortunately in those days there was no such thing as Beatport and one had to look very hard that you don’t go down. But we are well on our way and happy.
What’s next on the agenda for Hive Audio over the next while?
We seem to have accumulated quite a cool clan of artists and try to take each one into consideration. We try to place a release every month.
And finally, if you could train one animal to DJ with you, who would it be and why?
A bear. Just to laugh at his attempts at operating a record player! [Laughs]. Was that a little politically incorrect? No? Right? Whatever!
Their debut LP on Stil Vor Talent is out now. Check it out below: