Following a restructuring of the project and having recently been signed to independent Detroit label FiXT, electronic rock artist The Anix has been hard at work.
Having released his debut FiXT track ‘Fight The Future’ last April, front man Brandon Smith has since contributed to the likes of the upcoming Circle of Dust remix album alt Machines, announced sixth studio effort Shadow Movement, and recently released his second single – the hard-hitting electronic rock anthem ‘This Machine’ (see link below!).
While busy following up fifth studio effort, Ephemeral, Brandon Smith was kind enough to take some time out to chat with us here at AltWire, here’s what he had to say:
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Hi Brandon, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions! To kick things off, for those not yet familiar with your music, would you mind first introducing yourself to our readers and tell us a little about The Anix?
Brandon Smith: Hi everyone! The Anix is a big art project I have been working on since around 2001. When I first started, I was doing this Electronic/Rock hybrid thing that was pretty confusing to a lot of people because it was still fairly uncommon at the time. Most of the inspiration behind starting the project was taken from other bands who were fusing those genres such as Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails etc. I grew up in the 90’s so I always had a big grunge influence which comes through in the rock sections of my songs and the electronic portions were inspired largely by The Prodigy and Depeche Mode. Nearly 20 years later I am still doing the same type of songs which I am quite proud of because I feel like I have survived the storm of people not getting it and stayed true to the style of music I like the most.
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Having been first established in 2001, where would you say it all began for The Anix?
Brandon Smith: It began in garage bands in the 90’s, then once I discovered multi-track recording, I kind of went nuts and started recording hundreds of demos a year in my room. I always needed a creative outlet as I am big into graphic design, art, apparel design, and video/photography so I used The Anix as the main centerpiece for realizing my creative visions. I always had extremely specific ideas for the sounds we used, the visual aesthetic, the colors, the videos and overall world I wanted to create with this brand. Everything was and still is focused on futurism, but not the over the top space ship and lasers type of future, but more of a realistic vision as to what it would be like if I was a musician 100 years from now. How would we dress, what would we sound like, what would the videos look like etc.
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: When writing, would you mind describing the process you go through from the initial idea to what eventually becomes a track for The Anix?
Brandon Smith: It always starts with a synthesizer. I prefer sketching out ideas using a synth so I can play a bass part and lead part simultaneously. Once I hear something worth investing in, I will then lay down the rough synth idea, then switch over to the drums to start getting the backbone together. The song will then only progress to the next stage if I hear a chorus vocal for the song and if I don’t, the song gets shelved. If I do, however, I will finalize the music then do the vocals last. I am not a natural vocalist – it’s actually my least favorite of all of the “instruments” I play so I really need to work at it to be good!
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Are there any specific influences musically that you would say possibly played their part in shaping some of The Anix’s music?
Brandon Smith: Tons! The core hidden behind just about every song I do is Depeche Mode and Nine Inch Nails. There are other influences that come into play for certain elements, for example I might find inspiration for guitars from The Cure, or inspiration for a beat from Moderat or Jon Hopkins, bass from The Prodigy, or vocals from Failure. Really all over the place! My day to day listening mainly consists of techno or darker melodic house from guys like Maceo Plex and Several Definitions as I find this music great for driving and thinking.
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: After touring extensively for so long, what would you say first sparked the initial desire to reinvent the project and spend more time in studio?
Brandon Smith: I think I am just a control freak with this project, that’s what it comes down to. This project is a reflection of who I am down to my deepest core, so it’s very important that every single thing is exactly how I envision it. When we toured, you lose so much control over the sound since we never had budgets to have our own sound engineer travel with us. We would play these shows and be at the complete mercy of some house sound engineer who has never heard us and has no understanding of the genre or our sound. It was a complete nightmare just about every time we played – soul destroying! We would spend so much time in the studio rehearsing and getting things perfect, then go play a show and it ends up being a disaster. Nowadays I would rather focus my energy on things I can control such as making as much music as possible. For live shows I still want to do this, but in a new way, like live-streaming from a studio or doing a 360 VR experience. Our fans are spread out around the world so rather than playing a show for 300 fans in one city, I’d rather do an online event for 5000.
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Joining the FiXT family must be an exciting new step in The Anix’s journey. How would you say being a part of FiXT has so far contributed to your approach in creating music?
Brandon Smith: FiXT is an incredible step in the right direction for me. We are on the same wavelength on so many things so it makes doing business effortless. FiXT has created an ecosystem of fans and artists in the same or similar genres – all centered around this electronic hybrid which makes it a natural fit. They are also big into the gaming scene, comics, anime etc. so it’s just a pure win all around. I am used to being an outsider so it’s really cool to have a team of people behind you that understand my weirdness and crazy ideas!
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: I really enjoyed your take on Circle of Dust’s ‘Hive Mind’ for the upcoming alt_Machines album. Would you mind talking a little about the journey you went through while remixing the track and possibly what inspired you to take it in the direction you did?
Brandon Smith: Thank you! The original was pretty heavy so I did not see the point in making another heavy version. I took inspiration from a group I love called Moderat from Berlin. I wanted to do something that would reach a new audience for them and not just cater to the current listeners. I thought it was interesting to take a heavy song and vocal and try to transform it through different instrument and sound choices. I also used a different time signature than the swing 3/4 it was in the original which definitely makes it sound different.
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Both ‘Fight The Future’ and the upcoming ‘This Machine’ have both been really great new examples of The Anix’s atmospheric electronic rock style. How would you say your newest material differs from the likes of former releases, such as Ephemeral?
Brandon Smith: Ephemeral was a much needed departure from the Sleepwalker album as I wanted to show everyone that I can do other styles of music while still staying within the “Electronic” genre. Some of it was very well received but I did get a fair amount of hate mail for going so hard on the electronic side. Still, I would not change a single thing on that album. The new album set to release later this year will be a full melting pot of all of the sub-genres I admire. Some of the songs will be heavier with our classic formula of electronic verse, and anthemic rock chorus, and some will be closer in line with the song ‘Mask’ from the Ephemeral album. Now that rock seems to be fading away in favor of this electro pop stuff, I wanted to bring it back and pull influence from where I started which was in the 90’s grunge world. Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Bush, Failure, Sonic Youth, Sound Garden etc.
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Your newest material with FiXT has so far been an exciting new chapter for The Anix, can I ask what may be coming next for the project?
Brandon Smith: So far I have 6 finished songs for the album, all with their own personality and style. My goal is to not fall into a stereotype but for each song to have its own unique thing going on. I am really trying to focus on excellent lyrics and extremely high quality productions this time around vs. the raw and rough style of Sleepwalker. The songs are designed to maximize the range of a speaker, so I am mixing the songs more like how a producer would mix a techno track. I want the full frequency spectrum to be tapped into so the songs really hit hard.
AltWire [Mark Stoneman]: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us here at AltWire! On a final note, was there anything else you would like to add, either to fans of The Anix or to our readers?
Brandon Smith: Thank you, Mark. Just wanted to say that I am extremely grateful to have you guys at AltWire take an interest in small artists such as myself. I can’t thank you enough for that! I am also very interested in what fans have to say about the new songs as they release. I am constantly posting new stuff and clips of demos on Instagram @theanix so please follow and hit me up with any ideas you have – I will always listen!
Check out The Anix’s latest single, ‘This Machine’!:
Missed ‘Fight The Future’? Listen here!: