London’s scene is full of smaller venues that continue to leave an inimitable mark on the city’s musical fabric. From Star Lane to Dalston Den to The Lion & Lamb, the city is full of influential spots that continue to host its brightest up-and-comers. Ollie & Beal are a duo very much traversing a similar path. Regulars at the aforementioned spots, they’ve even found time recently to play at fabric – generally a sign that you’re onto something great.
Though born in the Midlands, the duo made the familiar journey to London to advance their musical careers, and as you might have noticed, it’s going pretty well. Slowly carving out a niche courtesy of a clued-in sound that incorporates the many sides of discerning house and techno, the boys have been busy recently courtesy of their increasingly excellent Animism podcast, which has already played host to strictly cutting-edge names such as Triptil, WHYT & Ricardo, Zenniv, La Gosse, Josh Guest, MXT and more. Besides this, they’ve also been busy running the label of the same name (with Bexu delivering a killer debut record courtesy of the exceptional FractalDreams EP) and their party, with none other than Silverlining and Cristi Cons joining their recent party at The Lion & Lamb. With so much on the agenda right now and a lot more in the pipeline, we felt it a good time to catch up with the guys to see what’s what….
Let’s start at the beginning. Where did you guys meet? And was it through a shared love of music?
Almost 8 years ago, myself and Jon (Jb) met on the dancefloor through mutual friends at awakenings. We were dancing side by side to one of our favorite trios Apollonia at the time.
Over the last 15 years, both of us have collected and listened to electronic music. Jb was influenced by trance and DnB during his early years. Ibiza is where I first discovered electronic music, and throughout my life, I have been inspired by its hedonism and culture.
As the year progressed, we both became more familiar with the Europoes electronic music festival circuit, dancing at some of our favorite venues such as DC10 (Ibz), Bret Amsterdam, Hoppetosse (Berlin), and the barge in Paris, to name just a few.
It’s also London, that has shaped our musical experiences the most, since arriving 6 years ago, the London electronic scene that gave us both a taste of the underground party scene has been the biggest influence on our music. This is where we first heard minimal in its purest form, that took the biggest turn for us in terms of musical inspiration.
At what stage did you decide to pair up then?
Like all good DJs, we began our journey in the bedroom around 6 years ago with a set of old decks, cultivating our passion for music together and slowly forging our path as a duo to play music together.
JB is the yin to the yang in our relationship. The excitable inner child in me would often take us off to obscure locations to dance for long durations that continued into the early mornings and beyond. In the years that followed, we were fortunate enough to play at some great events and locations across London, that both expanded and pushed us further into developing to what we have today.
What was the midlands like as a place to grow up for electronic music? Did it feel like you were playing second fiddle to cities such as London and Manchester? Or was there enough going on there to feel like it was a vibrant scene.
As a child, I grew up in Hereford, a farming town that was a hub for acid house, hardcore, and breaks in the early 2000s. JB is originally from Redditch, which was only a few miles from the iconic music venues in Birmingham, including the Rainbow and the underground spots in the Digbeth area.
In terms of working together, what do you feel you both bring to the table?
There is no doubt that I am the self-proclaimed creative, the mind wandering, excitable child that remains alive inside me. JB’s mechanical engineering background gives him a keen sense of reasoning and logic. Jb has been fundamental in the creation of Animism records.
Let’s also chat about Animism. You’re doing so much now between the party, the label and the podcast series. What inspired you to start your own label? And what’s the ultimate aim with it all?
The concept of Animism was developed to allow people to use music as a means of expressing their outward emotions through the power of music.
Animism is defined as the alignment of our true selves with nature, aligning with the healing properties of the natural world. Our mission is to bring people together to share the special energy that music creates, especially in the times that we have lost in recent years, bringing everyone together is at the forefront of the Animism vision.
Our goal was to connect and share music through multiple platforms, such as our podcast channel, label, and in-person events.
In creating the label, we wanted to create a journey that was rooted in artists and producers showcasing their gifts. The ultimate goal of the label is to create a pathway for exploration. We have begun with a more ro-minimal feel, with the next releases being more house-inspired, followed by a future of ambient, breaks, and garage.
We are already working on evolving the label to capture new sounds that we believe align with Animism and our overall aim. With Animism, we want to provide a diverse and rounded listening experience for everyone who comes into contact with us.
You’ve quickly been picking up speed in London, and have hosted a number of killer parties, with Silverlining and Cristi Cons playing for you guys recently at The Lion & Lamb. What do you think makes smaller venues such as the Lion & Lamb so special? And how was the party?
We have been extremely fortunate to have met some amazing people in London in the music scene, such as Silverlining who have presented great opportunities for us. This special showcase with Cristi Cons was an event that we will not forget.
The Lion and Lamb is a venue that we have enjoyed during our time in London seeing some legendary artists such as Rhadoo, Mihai Pol and Junki Inoue. Its acoustic sound system and treated room make it a soundscape delight for anyone in the space. The rotary mixer is a rare-to-find in venues in London. The control and precision this offers especially when playing records works in harmony with the well-thought-out Martin Audio soundsystem.
From start to finish, the event was high-energy. JB and I warmed up before handing over to Animism resident Trixie. To close out the night, Silverlining and Cristi performed an extended set before an impromptu back-to-back to send us all home smiling from cheek to cheek.
What’s the most challenging aspect of running a party do you think? Do you understand now why other promoters are quick to point out that it’s far from a glamorous job?
Event planning is challenging in London. The weekly RA schedule can be difficult to compete against. We have tried to create intimate spaces where people can feel part of a family and community, where the music is the sound that binds us all together.
Location hopping is the norm in London, long-term residences rarely exist. The instant gratification factor from London club and venue owners makes it difficult for anyone to create momentum unless your budget is adequate enough to support it.
We have explored warehouses, boats, and some of London’s most iconic venues which have been great, not without all presenting challenges.
One of our favorite venues has been Starlane pizza bar in Canning Town which was founded by Half baked creator Bruno Cabral and Keep on going creator Leandro so the musical energy behind the space has always been well constructed. The sound system and space have been perfectly designed for intimate gatherings.
Throughout the past few years, we have been collaborating with other like-minded collectives. Recent collaborations include Leftback Records with Triptil, who made the journey over from Romania. Our latest event with Leftovers in Brighton at the Tempest Inn was one of our favourite events to date. The culture in Brighton is humbling, high energy and friendly crowds.
Is music a full-time thing for you both now? How do you maintain balance between your music world and your more 9-5 world?
Music for us both is very much a healthy passion that is nonprofit-related. Our fields of expertise typically involve wellness and health for the human programme, an educational and empowering lifestyle programme, and we hope to combine both of our passions one day. Music is a therapeutic tool for health. One day we would love to create a space that showcased music and health practices under the umbrella of Animism.
We also have to ask about fabric – a bit of a dream come true playing there, right? Did you prepare for that one any differently? Did you music sound different on such a large soundsystem? Did the quality of the sound even take you by surprise?
Fabric was indeed a dream come true. When Max Frisna from Breadandbutter London messaged us we were both delighted. We have been fans of Max and his label for years, a true testament to consistency and passion across his label and events.
We played warm-up. Over the years we have played at different points in the night’s schedule, and we have always loved warming up. There is no doubt that the warm-up set is the most important set of the night because it sets the tone, creates the atmosphere, and invites people to connect gradually to the space and music.
We played a selection of the Animism unreleased music from Triptil, Modebaku, and some more warm sounds to bring the room together. The room’s new layout and sound fit in Fabric is exceptional, room 2 has a low Boothe which invites people closer and creates a better connection between the Dj and the dancefloor.
In terms of where you go from here, what’s the next steps? Where do you want to bring the party and the label?
For us, the next steps are unknown, since we prefer not to create rigid structures, allowing flow and what to happen is important for us. On the event side, we are planning a privately hosted event at the Goose London on September 10th for our community for a special 16-hour showcase. The invite is open, simply reach out to us on our socials for more information. We have put together a really special line up for this event, a blend between London and Midlands based artists.
The label has recently been bought to life with the Bexu release. We have around 16 tracks to be released in the upcoming year or so. From local heroes Tred Benedict, Trixie, Tommy Vicari Jnr, Silverling, Modebaku, Sfetan and WHYT with more to follow.
We are really excited for our second release with Triptil with his renowned catchy basslines and groovy tempo to accompany our first release.
In terms of influences, what parties, artists and collectives have inspired you over the years? What do you think made them so great?
Over the years we have been inspired by the likes of Half baked, Keep on going, VBX, Yoyaku, ADE, and Perlon to name a few.
The biggest takeaway from these has been the need to put music first, to create experiences that facilitate a welcoming environment and consistency in very unique settings. Pushing the boundaries of what is possible in electronic music.
Is the ultimate aim with Animism to go down a similar path? Where would you ultimately like to bring it?
Our long-term vision for Animism is to create a multifaceted space, that would connect like-minded people in a safe and welcoming space. The space would be a hybrid between a well-being space, record store, coffee, and hang-out spot with records being spun most days. It’s a dream, but you have to dream, right? The space would not just be ours, we would look to collaborate with other communities to come together to share and grow together.
The art direction is quite distinctive. Is this something you’re quite conscious of? And who’s responsible for all this?
In line with Animism’s spiritual philosophy, the artwork depicts how all life is one, that despite the division of humanity we are all inherently connected, from the ground up, between nature and each other. Jb was behind the name Animism, which derives from Sapiens by Yuval Noah. A great read for anyone interested in the history of humans.
Animism embodies the spiritual connection of everything around us, with music at the heart of this.
What are your plans for the rest of the summer then? And music aside, what’s keeping you busy at the moment?
Our plans for the remainder of the year are to keep developing Animism and the community around this. Aside from our passion for health and helping others.
The majority of my leisure time is spent skateboarding, which is painful but a great learning experience for me. Since the beginning of the year, JB has been picking up logic and working on his production skills.
You can also listen the mix recorded by Ollie & Beal exclusively for us on the link below.