Animistic Beliefs: Linh Luu on the Rotterdam-Den Haag Connection, Fashion, and Modular Synths

Updated: Jun 8, 2019

Animistic Beliefs: Marvin Lalihatu and Linh Luu © Animistic Beliefs official/Facebook

Over the years, a bunch of artists have come from the West Coast of Holland, starting from the Bunker Records scene. “In a way, there’s a scene, but it’s not like any other" explains Danny Wolfers aka Legowelt in a previous documentary. At the same time, there was Djax-Up-Beats, who were pretty active in the Netherlands and had a similar attitude. Holland is historically a key place for the evolution of the electronic sound: a vibrant underground scene that pioneered a whole new sound, and now people are claiming something, people are saying there’s a “Dutch sound”, there's an identity to it — something that in the 90's was very local, but nowadays is international.

Today the torch has been passed to the new young artists who try to push the sound forward, renewing it, experimenting with it, but without forgetting the roots. It’s the Animistic Beliefs case. Two young artists that respond to the new rules of a new scene. A new era, where, for example, electronic music influences fashion. It’s a very moot point for this writer, but something we need to acknowledge, like it or not. But this is also the time where spotlights are trained on that booming-Electro scene and such talented artists like Animistic Beliefs can express themselves freely. Is this not the biggest victory?

Giulia Scrocchi: Hi guys, welcome on Electric Kingdom! Let’s start with the most classic question. Tell us about how you met and how “Animistic Beliefs” was born.

Linh Luu of Animistic Beliefs: Marvin and I actually met in High School! (laughing) So, that is quite some time ago. We started out just for fun. Marvin was already performing ambient on ‘“Noodlebar” Nights. This was actually the first modular synthesizer based music night in The Netherlands. One time he didn’t feel like performing by himself, so he asked me to join him. I brought a TR-606 and a TB-303 clone and the performance turned into a hard acid Techno set (laughing).

A year after that our friend Jacq asked us to host the second room of one of his events called “ISOTOOP”, because he saw us at that first performance and liked our live show. This developed into a residency at their events. Both “Noodlebar” and “ISOTOOP” were perfect places where we could experiment and develop our sound.

You’re members of the new school scene in Holland. Do you feel part of an artistic movement which represents the West Coast?

We definitely have been influenced by the West Coast sound of Holland. We all know and respect each others work, but I do feel like we all operate in clusters: scenes within scenes.

Over there, a lot of great music is coming from the underground. Do you want to talk with us about the Rotterdam-Den Haag connection?

There are great artists, clubs and collectives coming from both cities. The cities are also really well connected, Rotterdam and The Hague are within 20 minutes of each other. A lot of clubs, labels and artists from Den Haag and Rotterdam work together. At the same time I feel like they are both very different cities.

The strength of the Dutch scene is its avant-garde side and being able to renew itself and be a point of reference in Europe. You guys are so young but, what is your bond with the old school?

Just to give an example: Djax-Up-Beats was a real landmark for the rave scene in the 90's, from which many great artists have come out, one very close to you: Frank De Groodt from Ultradyne, with his alias Random XS. We were always into electronic music, but it wasn’t until later in our lives that we realized a lot of classics and cool music was coming from Dutch artists and labels. We were really into labels like Rephlex and Warp, and found out about Clone Records through acts like Dopplereffekt and Drexciya. That really blew our minds back then. After that we started to dive deeper in all the Dutch labels’ catalogues. It also boosted our morale: if they can do it, we could maybe do it too!

We believe fashion and music go hand-in-hand, having a strong mutual influence on each other...

Talk to us about your live set-up. How are the roles divided?

We prefer not to prepare our set in advance; I believe we only did that once or twice.

We really like to make our sounds and everything on the spot during our live set. That way we also get surprised and inspired right then and there, by the machines and each other.

Our roles actually switch up from time to time. So, first I (Linh) was doing the drums, but now Marvin does them and I control the Modular, for example. We like to change it up so we keep ourselves entertained and challenged.

It looks like you’re great synth fans - now, your passion also seems to be focused on Modular Synthesis. What is the most fascinating aspect of this format (Eurorack)?

The most interesting part is that you can make it your own by assembling different modules into the rack. This way you can create your own unique synthesizers. Within this synthesizer there are endless of possibilities by the connections you make through the cables, instead of a already set routing in a regular synthesizer. That makes this format so enticing. Pre-routed synthesizers are of equal importance to us though. They are generally cheaper and way faster to patch.

Tell us about “Audiosport 8”, your collaboration project with Legowelt.

It was very cool to do a collaboration with Danny. We actually never collaborated with other artists to make tracks before. In all honesty we never really liked to collaborate before. We, Marvin and I, met each other and then we started Animistic Beliefs. So, after that it has been years before we did this first collaboration as a duo. With Danny we had a great time. We all really respected each others work (flow). He has an amazing studio and cool gear.

Linh Luu and Marvin Lalihatu before playing at Gucci Rave © Animistic Beliefs official/Facebook

You guys are a bit linked with the fashion-industry. You’ve played at a “Gucci Rave”.

How would you like things evolved in this area?

The link we have with the fashion-industry is that we really are into it. So, when Gucci invited us to play at their rave we were really excited. We really love how Alessandro Michelle is still maintaining the Gucci legacy while trying to innovate. They are supportive of the electronic music scene. You should really check their documentary "Black To Techno". The film explores the roles played by history, technology, geography and race that led to the creation and emergence of Techno as a sound in an industrial birthplace city.

As for evolving in this area; We would really like to work with creative directors and are always open to collaborations within the fashion-industry as long as their work is in line with our own vision and image.

Do you think the fashion industry is a good influence for electronic music?

We believe fashion and music go hand-in-hand, having a strong mutual influence on each other. Most if not all (music) scenes have their own way of self-expression through clothes.

The creative directors of today, like Demna Gvasalia or Gosha Rubchinskiy, seem to have experienced the electronic music scene themselves and fashion brands have embraced electronic music again over the last 5 years. We think it’s great because fashion is really big and it will introduce a lot of people to new/old sounds.

In this period, Rotterdam is having a bad moment. The government has decided to pull the plug on a new venue in development from the team behind BAR. But I suspect there’s something more hiding… Do you want to talk to us about this sad situation?

It’s really sad that BAR is closing, it is truly one of our favourite clubs. A lot of clubs in the city lack ‘soul’, something I feel BAR does have. The local government doesn’t seem to care about nightlife and culture in general. They have stopped renewing licenses and it is getting even harder to get new permits. The recent election has shown that Rotterdam still gives in to populist right wing politicians. A trend I’d like to be over soon. It’s time for people to stick together, be more emphatic and to fight for our rights.

You’ve already reached several goals like your EP on Solar One Music’s Between Places and Cultivated Electronics. What can we expect from the future? We’re planning to release more records and are always looking to broaden our musical horizons. We hope we can keep surprising people with our music. We don’t want to be stuck in a box. We’re always thinking of new ideas about developing our sound. I hope we can release some experimental music in the future. There’s a record coming out around the beginning of autumn!

Thank you guys for your time!