On the eve of her 22nd birthday, Anna-Marie Odubote begged her parents for a Native Instruments drum pad. They came through, but for a year she didn’t even touch it.
“I don’t know what happened,” the now 27-year-old artist admits, “I think I was scared. I opened it, looked at it, then slowly closed it and put it on my shelf for ages.”Eventually, she unboxed the rig and conquered her intimidation – so much so that in 2017, as Anz, she won the crown at Red Bull’s Riddim Rally, a competition where the best and brightest of UK beatmakers go head-to-head to churn out three tracks in three hours.
Her April release ‘Invitation 2 Dance’, released on sub-label 2 B REAL by Finn & Local Action Records, is also proof of how far she’s come. The record is a love letter to Manchester, where she says haunts like Soup Kitchen and The White Hotel, plus club crews Chow Down and Strange Riddims made her. Its romping basslines, energetic handclaps, and garage vocals brim with confidence, while cherry-picking from some of the UK’s most beloved electronic genres.
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Despite her strong Manchester associations (she was inaccurately titled a ‘hometown hero’ on her recent Bass & Percs Boiler Room stream), Anz was born in London. Although neither of her parents were very musical, she fondly recalls ‘cleaning day records’ that her mum would blast throughout the entire house – a “right, today is Earth Wind And Fire, get the fuck out of bed and tidy this flat kind of thing”, as she puts it.
After her first SoundCloud uploads came the booking requests. “Still to this day I wonder how people found me,” Anz admits. “Did you misspell something and I was there instead?” She quickly learned “the other side of the musical coin” was open to her and began practicing to DJ on an old mixer, with “books and books and books of burned CDs”. A typical Anz set is, as she describes it, “a testament to my indecisiveness” and contains anything from garage, UK funky, breakbeat, hardcore and jungle to global club’s tried and true: footwork, gqom, baile funk, Baltimore club and afrobeats, “with some liberal pitch-fader use.”
Three years on and Anz is no longer just holding it down up north. She’s brought the heat to Lovebox London; touched down in Krakow for an Unsound silent disco; and offloaded classic UK bass cuts at Berlin’s Panorama Bar for Monkeytown Records’ 10-year anniversary.
That last event took a bit of time to fully wrap her mind around. “I didn’t understand how significant it was until two days after,” Anz jokes. “I was just sat in the hotel eating chips or something and it was just like, ‘Wait, wait, wait a second… what happened there?!” The same disbelief applies to her Boiler Rooms: “I didn’t think I’d be able to even do point-five of one, let alone two!” she says.
Even though Anz is accustomed to fuelling the night, her sweet spot is in the pre-party ritual. “First of all, I need my lotions and my potions, and my journey through the music,” she says. ‘Invitation 2 Dance’ is dedicated to this “key moment of the night out experience”. Invitation accepted.
Anz plays SWITCH at Peckham’s Bussey Building, September 27
Whitney Wei is a Berlin-based visual artist and writer, follow her on Twitter
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