Interview with Animal Collective


Creating, living and growing is only possible between sounds.

In 1999 David Portner (Avey Tare), Noah Lennox (Panda Bear), Josh Dibb (Deakin) and Brian Weitz (geologist) began what would become one of the most emblematic projects of experimentation of the new millennium. Animal Collective It marked a before and after for the indie Y2K and garage revival sounds of the time, propelled by noise intentions, art folk and psych electronics.

After the launch of Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished (2000) the group would remain in the recording movement with nine LPs during the following years, added to multiple live performances and an exceptional development of personal projects. Before the arrival of confinement, the Baltimore natives met in a cabin on the outskirts of Nashville to regroup musically, sessions that gave rise to the following two materials: Time Skiffs (2022) and Isn’t It Now? in September of this year.

With this in mind we sat down to talk about the recent launch with Brian Weitzwho told us about the new take of experimentation within the album, reflections on the creative act and a look at all the years shared, musically and personally, within the quartet.

“It was strange, like two realities happening at the same time,” this is the phrase with which the musician opens when asked about the distance between the composition and materialization of the new LP. The confinement, coupled with the new intra-industry forms, forced Animal Collective to dose the songs composed until their release almost four years later. While live performance and solo tours helped take the focus off the artistic gap, the feeling was prevalent among Americans.

Musically we have drastically different things in mind, even as we spend our days talking to the press and reliving the process of this material. I think it is a reminder to not let ourselves be diluted between the past and the future. Our center is not exactly in these songs, but we continue to inhabit them in everyday life,” he shares. geologist.

With more than 20 years of experience – 30 if we are strict with their youthful years – looking back on past materials is not really new, but the spirit of each album seems to differentiate the experience in one way or another. In the case of material co-produced by Russell Elevado The red dot marks the sensitive capture. In the words of the member.

“I think we captured, better than at any other point in our career, the sound of our feeling of being together, playing in the same room.”

Weitz and company seem to keep this self-examination to a minimum, rarely returning to past cuts, which places the rigor with which they approach their creative present in an even more spatial place. Without this interfering with the identity, voluntary or accidental, that the project has formed since those first meetings at the Waldorf School of Baltimore.

Perhaps time has relaxed us, we have accepted that there will inevitably be certain signifiers, ideas to which we instinctively resort as Animal Collective, we no longer fight against that. But we take very seriously the intention of not repeating ourselves, of doing something new, of wanting to surprise ourselves,” he remarks. Weitz.

At the same time, contextualizing this pressure away from the anxiety that the process can represent (resigned for years) appears more than necessary for the group. Those who consider that “(…) the creative act does not have to be part of a progression. You don’t have to improve or get to any point, just be present and follow what inspires you at that moment.” A more than satisfactory resolution if you intend to stay within the musical field with experimentation as a flag.

Isn’t It Now? It presents us with a new format regarding the inventiveness of the project, prioritizing the material approach over the theoretical one. The members became familiar with new instruments, inspired by the approach experienced during the training sessions. Weitz next to John Cale.

“When the four of us approach these kinds of ideas, without much thought or discussion, we end up in completely new places.”

With Portner on the electric bass, dibb on the piano, Lennox in on the saucers and Weitz on synthesizers Animal Collective It turned the experimental process on its head, placing the creative risk far from the route expected by its audience. Those who have come to classify the last two releases as a bit far-fetched; sonically perhaps, but the process imposes a different crystal on the nine tracks.

All this freshness and novelty of creating with such unfamiliar instruments is transmitted to the way we relate. After twenty years of playing together I recognize the strum of Josh on the guitar, but hearing it as a keyboardist is a drastically different experience,” shares the musician.

This approach to music (professional at this point) seems supported by a personal philosophy on the part of Weitzwho seems to have found a sweet spot between optimistic nihilism and an unstoppable sensitive impulse, crossed at every point by those around him.

I think I’m just trying to open up more and more, without expecting anything. At the same time, I don’t think I can begin to describe how lucky it makes me feel to be able to spend time with my best friends, making music a way of life to support my family.”

With such a fruitful career behind him, Animal Collective catalogs the pressure for the coming years into two large groups: the monetary (due to changes in the dynamics of musical consumption) and the creative (where the only truth is one’s own).

As an almost simultaneous resolution, the musician decides on sensitive movement, presentism and the firm conviction that has united him all these years to his creative work.

The only purpose I have is to keep trying, keep making things happen and be as aware of it as I possibly can.”

Our interview closed with a geologist completely anchored in the spheres that seem to have made it evolve during all these years: family, friends and sound. Excited for what is to come, denying any possibility of an easy way out, with surprise loaded in every phalanx and on every instrument that falls into the jungle of the project.

I usually don’t stop to think about the things I would have done differently, but when I do, I discover that they are rarely musical. It’s about our friendship, moments when I could have been more empathetic with someone in the band, expressed myself better in a conversation, etc. I think it is one of the few places where it doesn’t bother me to feel part of a linearity, I want to move forward sensibly. It’s what has kept the band together all these years, what has allowed us to create together, travel together, live together; grow”.


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.