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Basic Instinct with The Acid

By Vanessa Krystin Wong

Composition is everything when it comes to The Acid. Whether it be the hounding minimal rhymths or the trembling croons, their work is otherworldly – taking you into a dream state filled with textural sounds and recorded mishaps. And in creating their vision full circle, The Acid’s visual aesthetics are intertwined to their live performance, generating an unabashed moment of nowness.

We caught up with Adam Freeland and Steve Nalepa to dicuss their music, vision and live performance.

Liminal takes on a very strong voice and aesthetic, both musically and creatively. What were some of your inspirations on this?

A: Everything ever. Everything you’ll ever do and experience.

S: For this body of work, I think one of the things that really informed it was Adam, Ry and I getting to know each other in the studio during the first week or so. We sharedmusic we were super inspired by, visual art and various artists and different thinkers. I think we kind of connected on stuff that we were passionate about. It wasn’t so much a particular band or artists as much as it was ideas and concepts. It was very open.

The whole identity was very cohesive, dark and alluring.

S: That was intentional. It was very much this idea of keeping a very held center while exploring these really intense sounds. The idea that everything gets crazy around you but you’ve kept calm.

You’ve all said that most songs were done in the first cut. Individually, are your methods the same way? Or was it just harmonious when all three of you worked together?

A: We came up with a rule fairly quickly into it that if two of us agreed or disagreed on something, that’s what went. I personally tend to flap around and spend ages on things on my own so we definitely worked together. Steve’s more efficient then I am. We definitely work differently as a trio then when we’re together.

What were the first steps in releasing the EP anonymously? And how did it feel having a clean slate to grow The Acid?

A: We all felt that we’ve got back stories. Something I’ve learned in the past is that what you’re known to be doing, people tend to connect that to something new. It kind of taints how they hear new work. We just wanted it to be heard for what it was rather then who’s behind it. They’ll listen to it with different ears. We knew it was good and we felt strongly about it, so we thought it’d be better off not telling anyone so that it could just exist on it’s own merit rather than something it’s suppose to be.

S: It was never something either, where we got together and decided, “We’re going to make an anonymous project.” I think it was more of a realization that we had this powerful body of work and we wanted it to stand on it’s own. Once that was established, we realized, “Okay, people are going to figure this out,” so we did the reveal intentionally. It wasn’t like we were trying to do something like Burial, where we were going to be a mystery for years and years. We wanted the music to be perceived on it’s own merit.

So how did you do go about doing this?

A: We put it on Soundcloud and let it breathe through there.

S: We actually made a pact with each other that we weren’t going to tell anybody that we were involved in making it. We wanted people to find it on their own. And that actually kind of happened which was pretty interesting. There were moments where we were changing where we were from on Soundcloud, different exotic countries around the world. We were all sitting together in Los Angeles and someone hit us up and asked us, “What would it take for us to play in LA?” and it was pretty funny because that’s where we were. I think they thought we were in Zimbabwe, Mosambiek or Norway or one of the different places we said we were from.

The whole visual package of The Acid is amazing as well, how did come about?

S: We had an idea of what we wanted to do. The three of us got together really early on and started brainstorming visual concepts. With this project, we really had a vision for both the audio and visual aspects. Our friend Coco did this amazing video for Animals early on, collaborating with a friend of his. They did it very low budget but it really set the aesthetic for everything that would follow. We reached out to a couple friends of ours to spearhead the process: Giani Fabricio who is an amazing visual technologist who’s been touring with The Who and Kate Genevieve who’s done TED talks and is very interested this intersection of science, art and technology. The two of them rallied up a whole team of artists to create all original content to tell the story of what we were trying to do with our visuals. It came from ideas we collectively discussed. It happened very organically and it was a great process.

Your performances are seen more as an overall visual experience as oppose to a regular concert. What do you want your audience to take away from that?

S: When we first started talking about performing this live, we really spent a good deal of time conceptualizing and discussing what some of our favourite live shows were and what elements caused such an impact. One of the things we talked about was the idea that the artist on stage has the opportunity to inspire the audience, and they go through this transformation themselves every night. Those are the moments that we found were important: when you go to a concert and you really feel this impact, you feel this transformation, almost in a shamanic way. When the artist has a great set, there going through some sort of transformation. We wanted to set our performance up in a way that every night we would present ourselves with this challenge of doing this hard work, creating an enviroment where they can have this experience. We decided early on that we didn’t want to play back stems from the record. We wanted to do it completely live, even though there was only three of us. We wanted to bring in a drummer so that were wouldn’t just be DJing and playing on top of it. I’ve been to shows where you see that and it’s just so obvious that there are all these parts being played and no one’s playing them. And on top of that, we wanted to create a synesthetic visual experience where what we were doing on stage would really correspond with what was happening with the visuals so that they would be intimately tied together. The visual aspect of things has always been very important to us and will continue to be.

Catch The Acid live at Fortune Sound Club on September 22nd.

By Vanessa Krystin Wong

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