For well over a decade, An-ten-nae and Releece have each cultivated a communal following based in the Bay Area that has long emphasized mindfulness and avant-garde expression over a simplistic party culture. Both artists have synergized their creative intentions by forming Dimond Saints, a musical endeavor that conjures melodic, bass-driven frequencies and “bursts the bubble of mediocrity” commonly present in the electronic genre. I discussed a range of topics with the duo ahead of their performance at Mysteryland Saturday evening, receiving insight on their beginnings in the West Coast culture as well as ideas on improving the culture at large. Check out our conversation below and be sure to keep up with Dimond Saints as they unveil new tunes and tour dates in the coming weeks!
GLC: What’s your normal process for preparing a set and how do you get in the performing mentality?
Adam: We only play our own music so we just consider where we’re at and who we’re playing for and just feel out the energy of the crowd. We break down all the parts of our songs and incorporate samples and remix some of them live.
GLC: Do you guys get any nerves before getting on stage? How do you ease those nerves?
Adam: Last week at Lightning in a Bottle there was a full seven piece band with Trombones and Tubas and Violins and vocalists and drums, and I got nervous cause we’re taking our show to the next level with this futuristic bass music orchestra and I was like wow.
Reece: For me, getting to the venue and all the transportation can be a bit stressful, but once you’re there and able to just chill and ground out for a minute I can chill out. Like we literally just got here after traveling for like 10 hours.
GLC: You guys fly out here?
Adam: Yeah we flew from SF, had to transfer in Minneapolis. Luckily we got on an earlier flight and we made it here just in time.
Reece:Yeah we were preparing our set on the car ride over here.
GLC: Do you guys have a rigid set structure or do you improvise when playing live?
Adam: We improvise a bit, we play some stuff live. We always play our own music and it has a super high resolution to it.
Reece: We always come into it with an ida of what to play but we definitely always play with the crowd, and live remix our art so we can do that.
Adam: Even when we played with an orchestra at LIB with a live band we just jammed out longer and took the songs places we wanted it to go.
Reece: There’s never two sets that are the same. We’re just music fiends. Every week there’s a new song that we’re making like I think we’re at the point where we have our new album ready, there’s like 22 songs and none are even released yet and we’re excited to debut a lot of that stuff here.
GLC: Do you guys notice different receptions to your music with different cities and crowds?
Adam: Definitely see a difference on the west coast, cause we have that west coast hip-hop feel and that scene where Bassnectar took off. There’s a lot of different off shoots and sounds. I feel like it’s easier to go really deep on the west coast. It’s a little harder to have that freedom on the east coast.
Reece: Even when we started, even on the west coast, I felt our sound was unique compared to other artists out there and I feel like people have gotten really into it. Now that we’re getting out to the east coast, we know people aren’t that quite into it like the west coast and it takes a minute for people to get into it. To me that’s everything though, that our sound is unique.
Adam: Yeah we just did a show in Kansas and it was opening for Datsik. It’s a very very hard and heavy form of dubstep and our music is deeper and more musical. So we put on our show and people didn’t know what to do! They couldn’t do their normal jumping or wompy dancing. They actually enjoyed the art and were really receptive towards the end of the set. We wear the masks because we like to be hidden; it’s not about us.
GLC: So is that the idea behind the mask? To take away the ego and personality behind the art?
Adam: It’s to take away the ego, we don’t get on the microphone and just keep it about the music
Reece: Also the name of our album is “Prism in the Dark” which goes hand-in-hand with the mask and how it was conceived.
GLC: So how much progress have you made on the new album?
Adam: We’re pretty much finished right now, we have to figure out a couple singles to release before the album but we’re opening sometime in September to drop the full album along with some singles and remixes.
Reece: We just did a Beats Antique remix that’s coming out later this month too.
GLC: Nice, so tell me what your creative process is like when producing in the studio.
Adam: A lot of the time we’ll come up with a good melody or vibe and we’ll just perfect that sound. We get into a very perfectionist thing where four songs are done and we’ve gone through like 20 different snares or claps. But I definitely have a certain structure and Reece has a very melodic, musical input and so that combo fulfills our little intricacies. We’re like the yin-yang balance.
GLC: How are you able to balance touring and producing?
Adam: We try not to tour as much through the week, like we prefer to play on a Friday or Saturday. We don’t like to play all the time, we’d rather focus on our music and our health and not hustle playing every city we can.
Reece: We both feel like performing music gives us inspiration to write music, so like at LIB we were pumped, it was an amazing set-
Adam: We made like two songs after that weekend-
Reese: Yeah you channel that energy when you see people vibing out to your music; their hearts are really open and going back into the studio is the best inspiration. Like I’m a producer first and performer second. So to me I love making music and just being in the zone in the studio.
Adam: For us too, a lot of artists you’ll see them touring in the same cities. It’s a little different for us. Every time we play a set we reflect on it and we know what can be better and morphed. Our super fans who see us all the time always reflect on something new that’s added into our shows.
Reece: Especially when we’re playing our own music too, it’s like realizing we want to keep creating our sound too and when you play your own music we keep it fresh for ourselves too and be excited about our next project or song and just bring that energy to life. We constantly test out things live that we’ve been working on in the studio; we’ll see how it goes off then return to the studio and fine tune it.
GLC: So you mostly fine tune your tracks when they’re tested out live?
Adam: It’s a symbiotic thing. Sometimes when you’re in the studio you get stuck in a little bubble. When you play it out for someone they can chime in on parts that could maybe be improved.
Reece: For us, it’s all about creating something that happens spontaneously in the moment. We never want something to be exactly repeated ever again. We never record our sets we don’t want to do that. If people want to record them that’s great but for us it’s so unique and in-the-moment that we want to keep that novelty alive.
GLC: How does the Dimond Saints project allow you to explore new creative boundaries rather than just working solo?
Adam: Well I do my own project as An-ten-nae and Reece has Releese so we have those seperate things. When I do An-ten-nae it’s just me but when working with someone else it’s a give and take. Our best songs are the ones where we both give and take on it.
Reece: I feel like when you’re working with other people and collaborate, the music takes on a bigger voice. Our solo project it’s a completely different experience; it’s beautiful but when you’re sharing with someone I feel like your voice strengthens. It’s just the communal sound of people coming together and creating something you’ve never done before.
GLC: Can you summarize your upbringing in music and how you discovered your artistic passions?
Adam: I grew up in New York and living in a world of hip-hop and punk to all kinds of music. I remember being young and going to clubs and falling in love with all types of records. From a young age the power of music to bring people together has always inspired me and I feel that music has such a power to heal people.
Reece: That’s how I came into music too, growing up on west coast hip-hop music. Growing up in So-Cal I listened to a lot of Dr. Dre and initially I was inspired to make hip-hop beats and instrumentals; it wasn’t necessarily about playing for people or making dance music but just making a trance-y hip-hop beat and creating an environment of positivity.
Adam: The thing that makes us work really well is the varying influences of where we came from.
Reece: I think learning Ableton too changed my whole experience with production. Growing up in the era of digital production, Ableton changed the game for making music and how easy and flow it is to produce.
GLC: Did you both start out as DJs then transition into producing later on?
Adam: I started out as Djing. I came in as a DJ with vinyl and I have a good feel for the mechanics of songs and what works for the dancefloor-
Reece: Yeah and I sit on a lot of music on my computer and Adam brought me out of my shell as a performer and producer.
GLC: Did your early years of DJs get started by joining artist collectives?
Adam: Yeah I came up with group of friends on the West Coast, I used to work as music director for 1015 Folsom, one of the staple clubs in SF, which brought up Glitch Mob, Bassnectar, Beats Antique, Rusko. Diplo started for $200 in the front room.
Reece: One of our first shows was at 1015 Folsom.
Adam: As a DJ I’m never satisfied with what the status quo is. What I want is to push it and to take the sum of our experiences and synergize our output. I notice on the West Coast that the community is just as big a draw as the artist, whereas out here it’s a bit more leaning towards the artist.
GLC: How do you think those music communities are built and maintained?
Adam: Well I think it comes down to artists and events facilitating community-building workshops, classes, yoga and speakers.
Reece: There also needs to be a form of activism and a culture of acceptance where everyone is welcomed.
GLC: So lastly tell me about your upcoming plans with Dimond Saints.
Adam: We’re working on some possible tour with EOTO later this year and working on our new full-length album which will contain all originals and really shape our unique sound.
GLC: Can’t wait to hear it! Thanks for chatting guys.