ANOTR Reset for a Brighter Future with their Debut Album

Harry Levin chats with the blossoming Amsterdam-based house duo ANOTR about how long walks through nature and a strong network of musically gifted friends (and family) helped them form their very first album, The Reset.

14 min
ANOTR Beatport Interview
Nov 23, 2022
Harry Levin

“Looking for new ways to approach house music.” That’s the ethos behind this dynamic house duo, Jesse van der Heijden and Oguzhan Guney. Hailing from Amsterdam, they have just released their debut album and have performed at Circoloco at Solid Grooves, and put on their debut No Art Festival.

But the COVID-19 pandemic was a forced reset on humanity. Whether anyone liked it or not, their daily life slowed down during the months of mandated lockdown, and in the case of nearly everyone working in the music industry, like Jesse and Oguzhan of the celebrated pure house project ANOTR, their lives came close to a grinding halt.

Every club and festival was closed for an indefinite period. This, of course, was a huge blow to them financially in addition to disrupting their globe-trotting lifestyle. But it also cost them a source of inspiration. That visceral, immediate reaction from a crowd. The premier indication of what the audience wants from the next record.

Without that consistent signal of what works and what doesn’t, van der Heijden and Guney had but one source of inspiration for the album they had in the works:

“During COVID, instead of having that extrinsic motivation, where it’s just coming from the clubs and what you play in clubs, we went to search close to the heart,” says van der Heijden as he and Guney wait in the airport lounge before heading out to Uruguay for a gig. “What are we now? We’re not the club DJs because we couldn’t play so and we just started making a lot of music.”

And the methods they used to make the music that would become their debut album, The Reset, all fed into a holistic process that burnished their connection as human beings and their connection with the world around them — connections that can be both heard and felt within the LP’s 12 tracks.

Beatportal sat with van der Heijden and Guney to discuss this music-making process, how it connected them to their friends, family, and fans, and how they are moving forward now that the album is available for all to hear.

ANOTR’s debut album The Reset is out now via NO ART. Buy it on Beatport.

ANOTR Beatport 2

You’ve just released your debut album, The Reset, on your celebrated imprint No Art. Given that this is a big culmination of your effort with the label and your own music, how do you feel about it now that it’s all out into the world?

van der Heijden: Now that it’s finally out, it’s a big release. We’ve been working on it for over two years, and people were highly anticipating it. If it’s not out there, you don’t know how other people are gonna react to the whole thing. But now, to see all the reactions, it’s just lifting up our spirits and boosting our confidence as musicians and the direction that we’re going in as well.

Oguzhan: I feel like the album, as it is right now, getting all the reactions from the people, we’re really contributing to people’s lives in a way where our music normally hadn’t done. The music now is a bit different from what we’ve done in the past, whereas it was more meant for the clubs and now we’re focusing on the club and everywhere else. It’s pretty much in every aspect of everyone’s life right now. So it’s exciting to see that, and we’re really happy to see it’s getting picked up this good.

You mentioned how the album is in everybody’s lives right now. At home and in the club. Another layer to that was the album’s artwork, where you asked fans from around the world to send in photos. What were some of your favorite photos that you received?

van der Heijden: Club photos were nice to see, but seeing the mixture of everything from clubs to also nature photos — the only thing that we had were these colors that we gave as a briefing. We thought this color palette is nice.

For blue, you found color in things like the ocean and rivers, and the sky. Red was way more club photos. So just seeing everybody’s take on how these colors can be interpreted, or how they have had a role in their life that was interesting to see.

Oguzhan: For our music, we tried to go back to nature more. More organic-sounding instruments. More organic-sounding samples, and in the album artwork itself, you have like a lot of nature, which is more organic. Then once you go to purple and red, you go to clubs and more artificial lights. You don’t see purple out in nature. Thinking of it now, it’s a nice resemblance of what the album is.

Check out ANOTR’s ‘Time To Smoke’ Beatport chart.
ANOTR Beatport 3

Has nature always been a source of inspiration for the project? Or is that maybe something that came up when you were making the album during COVID because even though the club was closed, people could still go into nature?

van der Heijden: When we went on tour we always would go for walks or climb a volcano, so we really like it. But what happened during COVID is that we started booking these houses in the middle of nowhere or in the forest to disconnect. We’d wake up and then we’d go for a long walk between two and four hours sometimes. We’d talk a lot with each other and with the artists that are involved there.

Then after the long walk, we sit down to start making music. So I think it helped a lot in making music together because if you’re going for a walk and you talk a lot and you listen a lot to each other then sitting down again in the studio to make music you already got this space of listening, really listening to each other.

Oguzhan: Also sampling some of the nature that was there; the wind noises, the rain that was on that day, you can hear it back in all the details in the album as well. So whether or not the influence came from there, nature is in it as well.

That more isolated and holistic approach to making music, along with the global nature of COVID, seems to fit with the album’s title, The Reset. Is there a story behind the title?

van der Heijden: The first time we came up with The Reset was connected to the whole COVID situation. It was a hard reset for us. Going back to who we are, what we want, and how we want to be as artists. So it was a creative reset in that sense.

But then we noticed during these retreats, it was a reset. We turned off the phones, really turned inwards instead of outside. And then we go for these walks, which is also sort of a reset of going back to just being in that in that space with each other.

Oguzhan: Clearing your mind. Resetting your mind in that sense as well.

ANOTR Beatport 1

There are quite a few collaborators on the album, a couple of whom like King Wonder Bread and Abel Balder contributed to multiple songs. Were there any rewarding experiences from your studio sessions that stick out in your mind?

Oguzhan: The whole journey was super rewarding. King Wonder Bread is Jesse’s dad, for instance. Abel Balder is a really good friend of ours we knew already for years. They’ve been part of the whole album-making process since the beginning. You could see us develop, but also them develop throughout the whole process. There was a huge development in us as people but also as artists. So yeah, the whole thing was rewarding to me.

van der Heijden: Working together with all the artists on the album, they would come to these retreats, and it’s a place where you can bond with each other as well. You really take the time to get there, then you really spend a lot of time with each other.

The first houses were really, really small. So you’re really together the whole time from the moment you wake up, even when you go to bed, like you’re still in the same room. So to really bond on that level is great. I think even the bond with my dad has really improved.

You do things that you wouldn’t normally do so often. You don’t [take a walk for four hours] every day with anybody, but then if you do with one of your friends, you really notice that you start to open up to each other emotionally. Talk about more in-depth things, and this also happened with my dad. We smoked a lot of weed at our retreats, and I smoked weed with my dad for the first time as well. All these moments were really rewarding.

You have a big platform now for events and your record label. Are there any new artists out there that you are interested in helping grow their careers?

Oguzhan: Willem Mulder is a really good friend of ours, but also a really good producer. He’s also part of Makez. Insane producer, insane musician, does a lot with Heist Recordings.

van der Heijden: Also Toman who we’ve already been working with for a long time. Then, of course, all the people on the album like Abel Balder. We just really want to see those collaborations go more in-depth and give them more space on the label if they want to as well.

What do you guys have planned both as this year closes out, and looking forward to 2023?

van der Heijden: Some really, really exciting new things. We’re doing the biggest event we’ve done so far as an all-night-long expo show around us in one of the most legendary locations in Amsterdam. So that’s going to be sick. More music 100 percent, and we’re going to do No Art Festival again next year. So that’s going to be super special.

Oguzhan: A big part of it is also an album tour, that we’re starting right now. There’s still a lot of dates to be added to the agenda. Most of them are not even announced yet. So there’s exciting times ahead.

Harry Levin is a freelance journalist, follow him on Twitter.

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