Edmonton’s electronic pop pair ANZU doesn’t mind being on the outside

Monday 31st, August 2015 / 15:24
By Colin Gallant
ANZU is an electronic music duo as well as a fictional figurehead. Illustration: Olivia Forsyth

ANZU is an electronic music duo as well as a fictional figurehead.
Illustration: Olivia Forsyth

CALGARY — Edmontonian electronic music duo ANZU has just released their second label-backed single in the last year ahead of an appearance as part of their city’s cred-heavy shindig Bermuda Fest. What exactly have they been up to in this time? What sets them aside from their numerous, fertile contemporaries in the city? Let’s take a look.

BeatRoute spoke with co-producer and sometimes punk drummer Jessie Silkie on the eve of the release of “All U Need,” a disco song out on Stardust Records which follows a more deep house-leaning cut offered to the world via Sleazy Deep in 2014.

One’s first impression of the duo is the kawaii visage of their fictional figurehead, ANZU herself. As Silkie says, “ANZU, it means Apricot in Japanese and ANZU is also a really popular name for Japanese girls… But it’s also a way for us not to have our ugly mugs on posters.”

In contrast to Silkie’s self-deprecating assessment of his band’s physical appearance, the music of ANZU is bright, pretty and inviting. Something of an eponymous single, last year’s “Apricot” reverberates blissful pulses and features tastefully saccharine male—female vocals.

While accessible in sound, the group has proved itself to be something of an outsider among a city rich in unified crews like Night Vision and Manicure Records.

“As far as just me and Simon [Belanger, the other half of ANZU] goes, yeah… I don’t want to say we don’t fit in anywhere, but our goals at first haven’t really been trying to belong. We just make what we want and we just want to go from there. Sometimes it works in our favour and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s hard to get shows when you’re not super definable,” he says.

Belanger and Silkie have been friends from their earliest memories. While they previously split along different paths (Belanger studied audio engineering while Silkie toured with grindcore bands), their difference in experience has proved to be an essential component of ANZU’s realized whole.

“We complement each other. I’ve learned a lot from him and he’s learned a lot from me because we both really bring different kinds of things to the table, but we both very, very much have the same musical vision and the same end game. We’re on the same page about what we want ANZU to sound like, but to get there, Simon brings his side and I bring my side,” says Silkie.

The thread of disparity between Silkie’s training and Belanger’s stretches all the way to their live presence. The rewarding synthesis of far flung pairings isn’t lost on Silkie, who says of his forthcoming show with sex-pop act Mark Mills, indie popster Doug Hoyer and digi-rock act Viking Fell at Bermuda, “That’s a very mixed bill and honestly, those are the bills we want to play. We like people who don’t fit in with us genre-wise, or we don’t fit in with them genre-wise… I like not fitting in because you have something to prove. You have to bring your A-game a little more.”

Catch ANZU as part of Bermuda Fest at Buddy’s Nightclub in Edmonton on September 11th.

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