Introducing: Anetha

France’s Anetha is one of techno’s most exciting new figures. Martin Guttridge-Hewitt learns more about her history and her newly launched imprint, Mama Told Ya. 

Visceral, uncompromising and utterly disinterested in taking prisoners. If any DJ defines the sound of Parisian warehouse raves, it’s Anetha.

The Bordeaux-born emergent is capable of shaking buildings to their foundations. Just ask anyone on the floor for one of her storming sets at techno bastions like Berghain, Under Bron, Bassiani, De School or the sorely-missed Concrete — places where dancers are indoctrinated to her sound in sweat-soaked, maniacal throngs, fists clenched to euphoric yet unforgiving soundtracks.

Her studio output to date matches her ferocity. Debuting via Spencer Parker’s Work Them Records in 2015, what she’s lacked in quantity has been compensated by quality: her ACID SCIENCE EP with Cadency on Oaks, outings on Blocaus Series — the imprint born out of the eponymous artist collective she co-founded — and most recently the collaborations with Sugar and ABSL, wich kick off her newly-launched Mama Told Ya label. Not a bad oeuvre for five year’s work.

FULL-Anetha-Press-Pic-2-©-Julien-Bernard
Photos by Julien Bernard

Informed by EBM, trance, electro and full-throttle ‘90s techno, archetypal Anetha is playful yet intense, nails tough but warm and inviting; happy to invoke hands-in-the-air mainroom scenes that are twisted and tweaked with a muscular, punchy filter. Her background in this world stretches back far longer than all this suggests, spanning half a lifetime.

“I first heard electronic music at home with my parents, who were loving this music and listening to a lot of New Wave. I had my first turntables around 16 and began to train in my room for hours at a time,” Anetha says of her upbringing. “Before my 18th, I had the chance to play in a small city bar in Bordeaux, it was really funny and a great spot to start.”

Unsurprisingly, given her hometown’s small scene, it was only after relocating to the French capital — where she earned a Masters Degree in Architecture — that her reputation really began to spread. Perhaps it’s tenuous to suggest academic endeavours reflect an appreciation for solid, complex structures built with precision detail, but Anetha’s music offers decent evidence, albeit anecdotally.

“My first ‘real gigs’ were for my collective, Blocaus, and for the great 75021 team in Paris,” Anetha explains. Alongside Concrete, club 75021 — named for an area of the city — was pivotal in re-establishing Paris as a go-to electronic Mecca. “When I got my architecture degree at 24 I was already playing music, and doing some gigs around here. I practiced one year in an agency, designing buildings in the week, and playing clubs during weekends. It was cool, but a bit exhausting. So I finally decided to take a year off and try to live from music,” she says.

It was a leap of faith, but one in keeping with a sonic attitude that hurls caution to the wind. “I had only two or three gigs a month, and was doing little jobs to have enough money. Little by little, it worked.”

ABSL. Photo by Leila Belangeon.
ABSL. Photo by Leila Belangeon.
Sugar. Photo by Daniel-Hjorth.
Sugar. Photo by Daniel-Hjorth.

In the years between then and now, Anetha’s career has been on an upward trajectory, while the sound she’s associated with has experienced a meteoric rise to prominence. It’s a trend that has since spread from Paris to cities across the continent and beyond.

“The fact Paris has a lot of warehouse spots has contributed to the expansion of this new, upbeat techno,” she says. “Paris influences me because it’s a very cosmopolitan city, full of paradoxes and effervescence. It is at the same time modern and old, with different buildings and styles of architecture from different eras. This is something we can find in my music.”

Despite the bubbling warehouse scene, Parisian raving isn’t immune from the existential problems facing many other cities, as France’s proposed Draconian ‘anti-rave laws’ go to show. “The scene is in good health right now, yes, but policies are still defiant about rave parties and clubs. We need to strengthen our scene and our positions.”

As much as time and place have influenced Anetha, her perspective is also informed by techno’s inherent escapist qualities. I pose the theory that the popularity of harder, less forgiving tones reveals some of the anger, discontent and unrest omnipresent across much of the world right now. While agreeing to some extent, she’s less than fully committed to the idea.

“Techno music is about dancing, forgetting oneself, and reuniting people — whatever the social and economic background, age, gender or sexual orientation. And, in the end, we must not try to always want to find an explanation for everything. Techno is also successful because it is a temporary way out, where you can only dance and party, and simply get lost from a world where we are precisely trying to overthink and find explanations for everything.”

As if to prove that mindset, the idea of music removing people from their everyday lives is a central concept behind Anetha’s latest venture. “Mama Told Ya is a new label focused on sharing and collaboration as a creative engine, designed as a platform for research and experimentation. The ambition is to get each artist out of their comfort zone — me included — and confront our universes and methods of production. I am not interested in any fame, but only in sharing and collaborating with artists that I like. The rule is simple: each EP comes with two artists, one on each side. They can express themselves freely and individually.”

Launched in October, the label’s ethos — opening production possibilities through the destruction of stylistic boundaries — resonates in an era when many imprints often feel trapped within their own barriers. A party series of the same name is also set to start next year, and it’s hard not to feel excited about where the concept might go, and where the woman in charge is headed next.

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