IN CONVERSATION WITH MIND AGAINST
interview by TIMOTEJ LETONJA & THORE DAMWERTH
Mind Against has grown to be one of the most talked about DJ duos of the contemporary electronic music scene. Blending IMD, house and techno with 80’s influences, they are creating full experiences using not only their music but also unforgettable visuals.
In terms of upcoming events in Amsterdam, a bit ago you played a ten-hour set at Thuishaven. Were you excited? What are the experiences that come with such a long set?
We were definitely excited. It wasn’t the longest set we’ve ever played, but it’s one of the longest for sure. We did something similar at Kompass in Ghent and Caos and Warung in Brazil, and at the time we played for pretty much 10-11 hours. It’s been a while since the time we did it but we were really looking forward to it. When playing for so long, we can dig into different kinds of music, we have more space to differentiate, and of course, it was in Thuishaven. I think overall the vibe was amazing!
Onto the next and quite important topic of HABITAT and the release of your compilation of Metaflora. What does this compilation mean to you?
It’s the first release of our label, so it’s obviously quite important for us. We wanted to showcase the different direction we want to take with the label moving forward, so it’s about focusing on more than just one genre. Of course, within the range of our work, our taste, and style, but it unveils different shades of what’s going to be the musical direction we want to take in terms of collaborative music. You could also see that on the EXPLORER Mix. We played one track after the other on the compilation in the order we believed made more sense to tell a story, and it really totally fit.
Many talented emerging artists are featured on Metaflora. How did you approach the creation of it? What was the most important thing you looked for?
Obviously the music, but it was a very organic and spontaneous process. Sometimes we asked for music, and sometimes we kind of followed the same talents and shaped it or helped to shape their sound. Those are the artists we will launch with the label, we will focus on and bring to parties because we see their talent. We had always in mind the idea of launching a label, but that happened when we started selecting tracks for the Fabric Mixer, which we released last year. Basically, we ended up with much more music than what we needed, much more GREAT music. We did a first selection and then everything that didn’t make the cut for one reason or another ended up inspiring us to launch the label. At one point we started requesting music from the artists we like. Some could deliver and some others couldn’t. But for now, with most of the stuff we receive, we always believe that the music is, what it is all about. When it comes to music selection, it doesn’t matter who does the music, where they are coming from, or anything like that because that’s all secondary.
That’s a really good approach to have. Plus, I’m sure that now when you have your label, you receive a lot more music as well.
Yeah, we have a lot of DMs to go through!
When do you find the time, especially now you’re touring all the time?
We’re struggling a bit since we usually play around 20 shows each month of the summer. At some point we went through a bunch the other day, we will do more the next few days on the plane or whatever, it’s all going on in our free time.
Tell me about your track, CRESEIDE, which is the first single from the compilation. What is the story behind the creation of this track and its significance?
That was actually a track from Sideral. There was an early version, it was all old, and then we decided to finish it together. He sent a rough mix of two tracks, which were almost unrecognizable compared to what is now. There was a main idea and we developed it together. We made a better arrangement and produced it properly. I want to say this is the most significant track we have. As I said before, every track in a compilation is significant, in terms of importance to showcase, but this one may be just the strongest. And honestly, it’s also what people expect and want the most probably. We have been playing it, promoting it in a positive way, doing everything during this past year. It has a meaning for us and it will have an even deeper meaning when a little bit of the catalog for the label is done, so in the next few months people can see that we are taking a broader direction, in terms of music selection.
Your sets are not only musical, but also a visual feast. How do you approach the combination of visuals and your sound when creating these immersive experiences, artworks and videos?
We always try to be different. For example, the whole approach for HABITAT was based on trying to create a concept before dropping nice visuals just for the sake of it. It was a lot of work, which involved an amazing artist called Aujik, originally from Sweden, but living in Japan. Together we created the concept of the Metaflora by using A.I. that generates these cyber trees — a hypothetical future where artificial intelligence decides to emulate the natural rather than emulating my being, which is what most of the movies and dystopian novels are about. I think this setting in general will fit perfectly with the musical direction. It is dark but full of hope, in a way. We’re happy about how it feels and there’s much more to come.
When it comes to your music, you’re blending IDM, house, and techno with synths, but also influences from the eighties soundtracks and modern dance music. Could you elaborate on how you merge these diverse genres and what techniques and creative approaches you employ to create such a distinctive and powerful sound in your productions and DJ sets?
We grew up with a lot of different music. Our father was always playing music at home because he was working in the industry. So we had access to a lot of even promos back then, which were CD-ROMs or compact discs, not files. And we’ve always been passionate about different types of music. From Rock’n’Roll, the eighties to even Italian rap or American rap. So what shaped our sound is definitely the early 2000s and the nineties IDM, which you can still hear in some of our productions. We never really stick to a genre. Instead we always try to differentiate, and then we go to the studio with no expectation and just go with the flow and make the music. Often we feel inspired in a particular moment by everything that’s surrounding us, which could be a movie, a book, or even just a person who we met the day before.
You have become one of the highest in-demand DJ duos of today’s electronic music industry, playing at all leading clubs and festivals like Awakenings, and all around the world. How does it feel to have achieved such recognition and success in your career?
Of course, we are grateful for everything that’s happened so far. It’s unbelievable and we want to thank everyone that has been supporting us during the years. But we also feel a lot is yet to happen. We’re very ambitious. We’ve always been very demanding from ourselves and we still wake up with the same hunger. We’re still not even halfway on the path of our career, and we just want more. We want to deliver more. We want to give more. We want for fans and to explore the world. The best is yet to come, but we feel great about everything that’s happened so far. Absolutely.
I wonder, obviously, as you are a duo, how do you perceive the dynamic and energy between the two of you while producing music, but also particularly during your DJ sets?
We are brothers. We are more than one on one. Things just happen because we know and understand each other very well. And probably answering your question, we’re musicians but not performers, which means that we don’t go to a studio just jam. So we try to start things separately and then merge the studio ideas and finalize the projects together.
Are you mostly producing when you’re back in Italy or are you also producing when you’re traveling?
Actually we live in Lisbon now, and that’s where we have our studios. We used to be based in Berlin and still have strong connection with the city and loads of friends, so we’re between Lisbon, Milan and Berlin. But sometimes, we also produce on the plane, thanks to laptops and being able to have everything on them.
Throughout such a busy schedule, how do you manage to take care of your mental and physical well-being while continuously traveling, performing, and also creating music?
Sometimes we don’t. The problem is that sometimes it’s just too much. We have to catch a flight, we have to do an interview, we have to deliver music, we have to DJ. And sometimes we need just like an hour for ourselves. We’re trying to be more balanced now and this is just something that we’ve realized in the past few months that we need to do more for ourselves, take care more of ourselves. Because what we’ve achieved won’t make sense in the future, if we don’t take care of our mental and physical health. Balance is what we are aiming for and we are actively working on.
Is there a specific goal that you want to achieve within the next five years of your career, something that you’re aiming for?
Yeah, there definitely is. As we said before, we’re very ambitious and we’re aiming to deliver more. But we’re not talking about being the best DJs or playing at the best festivals or whatever. It’s not about that. It’s more about delivering something that feels even more special and something that could be more meaningful for us and our fans. We’re aiming for new collaborations, new things happening. We have just launched our label and we have more ideas and plans for the label, and maybe something else will come after that. So let’s keep that a little bit secret for now.
The last question, which is not really a question but more of an opportunity, is there something that you want to share or talk about that I haven’t asked you?
We would just like to say thank you to our fans. Thank you for the amazing support. We really feel like a big family and that’s something that we really love. And we love to hear that people are excited about what we do and they are waiting for our next music to come out. Just stay tuned because we have a lot of surprises and a lot of new music and new projects coming out soon. Thank you!