The path between point A and point B is not always an exciting one, but as we get to know Ania Iwinska, better known to the electronic music world as Anii, chasing what moves you and not being afraid to trek the world outside your comfort zone make for a dynamic, maybe bumpy, possibly breathtaking, ride. Shortly after landing a much-coveted spot on Kompakt label’s Total 18 Compilation, and right before the release of her highly-anticipated return on Polymath, the Point Blank alum sits with Torture the Artist in full composure and talks about the past, present, and future, and how she manages to keep her momentum in the ever-changing currents of the music scene. In a world with very little room for error, Anii challenges the concept of ‘wrong’, and by staying true to her roots, and following her intuition – her fears and desire – establishes an artistic aura, style and equilibrium that seem to be able to stand the test of time. Catch Torture the Artist attempt to let the Polish-born Londoner take some heat, and watch her graceful execution, from tackling some hard questions with no sweat to waltzing her way out into the other side of ‘Fear’ by way of smooth strings cosseted in a labyrinth of synergetic percussions: the exclusive premiere of ‘Desire.’
Torture the Artist: Hello Anii! Or do you prefer to be called Ania? Can you tell us where you are sitting as we chat, and how your day has gone so far. How did you start your day and is this a typical Tuesday?
Anii: Anii is doing well thanks. I am at my house at the moment and just finished up my morning yoga, so my day has started well and the right way. I always make sure that I do some sort of exercise every morning to boost energy levels and it’s also very important for mental and physical health.
Torture the Artist: Can you tell us about the last gig you played? In which club and how were the vibes?
Anii: Hmm the last gig I played was in London, and it was an amazing club which had very much a warehouse vibe and atmosphere called Studio 9295. It’s always really nice to be able to play in the city that I call home, and London still has one of the best underground scenes. There are a lot of new venues popping up, including this one.
Torture the Artist: Speaking of gigs, do you often find that they teach you anything to enhance your skills as an artist. What was one of the most eye-opening DJ sets you played?
Anii: Every single set is different and its always a new experience for me. I think so far, one of the best that I had was a festival in Georgia called ‘4 GB’ – the vibe of the people there actually changed the way I look at parties. So far there has been nothing like that one in terms of the vibe, and atmosphere. The venue was epic, an old UFO research facility – kinda crazy when I talk about it now! But it was just out of this world.
Torture the Artist: Your recent release on Kompakt, ‘Korzenie’ exposes your Polish roots, and beautifully so we must say. Can you tell us a little bit about your hometown and how you found your way into music growing up in it?
Anii: I’m from city called Bydgoszczy, which is very industrial and really doesn’t have a lot to do. When they first opened up a club there I used to sneak out and go behind my parents back. I soon got dragged into the whole clubbing culture very easily and I loved it. Besides that, the scene was so small there, but we enjoyed what we had and made the most of it. I cant really say what it’s like now, as I haven’t been back for a while, but I am sure there have been positive changes to its nightlife.
I used to play all his old cassette tapes and dance mad around the house when no one was watching.
Torture the Artist: At what age did you realize that you and music are in it for the long haul? How did your family feel about it? Were they generally supportive of your passion?
Anii: It was from a young age. My dad loves music, and always has. I used to play all his old cassette tapes and dance mad around the house when no one was watching. I also learned the little piano and keyboard when I was younger and was continuously surrounded by music. My family is supportive with the career that I have chosen, and that makes me happy.
Torture the Artist: Can you name a track that best depicts the vibe in your hometown? What are some of your favorite meals in Bydgoszcz?
Anii: I haven’t been back in a long time, so it’s hard to choose a track as things change and it’s been a while. But as for meals, that I can suggest! I would have to say you need to get a cake from a local bakery called ‘Sowa’, it’s based in Bydgoszcz and they make the best cakes in the world! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
I struggled to fit in Poland and wanted to go to a professional music school.
Torture the Artist: You now live in London, when did you decide to move to the UK? Did you feel that this move was necessary for you to build your career in music? What was the last straw in pushing you to go for it?
Anii: I moved to London when I was about 18/19 – I guess you can say that maybe was the time that I also decided to pursue music more seriously as a career. It was the best decision I ever made, and I really love it here. I struggled to fit in Poland and wanted to go to a professional music school. At that time, I only had 3 countries that were teaching production and London was the most appealing to me. I packed my stuff and left. I am a very spur of the moment person and if I want to do something, I just go for it. So, I just took off and now London has become my home.
It’s always hard to adapt to a new city and anenvironment, but you just have to keep pushing for what you want and what you think feels right, and keep your head high.
Torture the Artist: It seems like you have made your way well into your new home, was it hard to adapt to your new environment as an individual? As an artist? What do you miss most about your hometown?
Anii: London is my home town, has been for many years now. It’s actually the opposite way round, so when I go back home to Poland, I miss London! It’s always hard to adapt to a new city and anenvironment, but you just have to keep pushing for what you want and what you think feels right, and keep your head high. It worked out for me, and I am happy.
Torture the Artist: Are there certain things you wish you knew about the UK prior to moving? How do you manage to maintain a strong bond with your roots in a country that is quite different from where you grew up?
Anii: Not really. As I said you want something bad enough, you’ll make it work. There are always hurdles when you move countries. Yes, England is expensive, more than Poland, but that was something I was prepared for. Meeting new people was sometimes hard, but again, you have to get yourself out there and everything happens for you eventually. I actually even consider myself quite British now as I have been here for a while, and my Kompakt EP was actually all about me re-discovering my roots in Poland, so that was nice to explore musically.
And of course, my mum texts me nearly every day, so she makes sure I am not forgetting where I am from!
Torture the Artist: You started off your music production career using your birth name. Describe your transition into your Anii moniker. How much did your artistic style change, are there certain aspects of the past you wish to weave into the future?
Anii: Yes, I did, but I felt that after a while it was time to change and I was looking for a new challenge, and a way of finding myself in a deeper musical flow. When I met my now best friend Joe (Third Son) – he encouraged me to start fresh over with a more honest and close approach to the music I liked. So now it’s been 3 years since I have been producing and playing under Anii and I have never looked back. (It was good advice!)
Torture the Artist: Pick a track of yours that best describes you when you are in an upbeat mood and one which resonates with you when you are most melancholic.
Anii: Hmm for the upbeat mood I really like ‘Magic’ my unreleased track which will be coming out later this year on Aeon. Sorry to choose a track which you can’t hear, but really it’s my go to for a good mood right now.
Melanchonic is an easy choice, that would be ‘Children Of The Trees‘.
Torture the Artist: Name some of your greatest artistic inspirations and how you have let them influence your music. Upon moving to London, was there a particular new sound or style that most intrigued you?
Anii: My move to London was such a long time ago, and there was so much happening in my life at that period I don’t really remember much in terms of music that really was inspiring me at the time. It was quite an emotional and also testing period of my life. However, generally speaking over the years and through the music my parents introduced me to, I have always been a huge Michael Jackson and Pink Floyd fan.
Torture the Artist: What is your idea of timeless music? What ingredients do you feel are most crucial to creating it?
Anii: Timeless to me, means that a track you can play on repeat, never get sick of it, and no matter what year it is released, it somehow continues to be relevant many years later, when played alongside tracks that have come out 20 years later. There are few tracks like this, but I think I would have to choose the whole Pink Floyd album ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’.
Torture the Artist: You’ve released on some of the most prominent labels in the underground electronic music scene. How does it feel hearing your own productions through the loudspeakers? Where did you first hear your track played on air (radio/club)?
Anii: Thanks – it’s a bit weird hearing them out loud, and even more so when someone else is playing your track and not you. The first time I heard it was at a rave in Tulum in Mexico, it was a really epic feeling and I was proud.
I’ve never had it easy as an artist.
Torture the Artist: KOM380 was very well received, with all three tracks played by some of the biggest DJs out there. Delighting the ears of the label’s head honchos who are industry mainstays is not an easy task either. How did you react when you signed on the label? How much did this milestone accelerate your momentum as an artist?
Anii: Kompakt as I am sure you know, is a dream come true for me to release on. I am so happy that they took me on and believed in me and my music. When I got the news, I actually got a bottle of Prosecco out to celebrate and I kept the cork form as a reminder of this stage of my life. I think it’s nice to keep things in memory of special life events and moments. I’ve never had it easy as an artist, so I believe that the release on Kompakt was the break that I needed.
Torture the Artist: Up next: Polymath, an fast-rising label. How did you get pulled into this project?
Anii: Well Joe, as I mentioned is my best friend. We met about 3 years ago and ever since we have been close friends. I fully support him, and he supports me back. So, that for obvious reasons led me to release on his label. But I have been a fan of the releases on Polymath, so am proud to be a part of the family. It was an easy choice as the music they put out, is amazing. Keep an eye on the label, I hear there is a lot of exciting things in the pipeline!
Torture the Artist: ‘Desire’ and ‘Fear’ are two very personal themes, do you feel a deep connection with this new EP? Did you ever feel vulnerable during the production process?
Anii: I would find it really hard for anyone to not feeling connected to either of the words ‘Fear’ and ‘Desire’ – I think they are things which no matter what you do for work or in your life, you can connect and relate to. They are also two things which drive a lot of people. So yes, this was a very personal EP for me in many ways. I feel very vulnerable during all stages of my production in a way. But who doesn’t? At the end of the day, you never know if people will get the message of the music and see what your trying to achieve.
Torture the Artist: Low creativity doesn’t seem to be a problem for you, your production so far have been innovative and flavorful. Can you share some tips on how to maintain your energy and stimulus when making music?
Anii: Ha ha ha well I am naturally hyper active, but I also exercise a lot and do yoga every day which helps me to balance my day and energy. I can recommend anyone to incorporate exercise and health into their daily lives, it changes you for the better.
Torture the Artist: What was the longest time you had to break away from a particular piece? Have you always managed to pick up and drive it back home or were there projects you had to leave behind?
Anii: Every track is different, sometimes it’s done quick and other times I need to step away from it, take a break and do something totally different before I come back to it. Sometimes that can be weeks or even months on any one specific project, until I feel I am ready to get back to it. For example, my release for Aeon coming later this year, is one of those tracks took 2 years to get to its finish point!
Torture the Artist: Do you have any collaborations in the horizon? Is there a particular artist you wish to remix your track and vice versa?
Anii: Yes, actually I am starting to work on a collaboration with Third Son, and it will be an interesting collaboration with 2 tracks. One track I will start and he’ll finish and then other he will start and then hand over to me. I am excited to see how this one turns out.
Anii: Don’t worry, being different doesn’t mean you are wrong.
Interview by Marie J. Floro