In early 2013, Max Wheeler from soulful Dance/Pop duo Anushka recorded a mix for Hyponik that showcased his tastes as an already experienced Producer and DJ and gave us a glimpse of a newly formed project alongside fellow Brighton resident and singer/songwriter Victoria Port. With Gilles Peterson championing them from the off, their debut EP was released by his Brownswood label and saw Wheeler’s fractured, sub-low House experiments shift into sunnier climates when under the influence of Port’s sugarcoated vocal chords.
Fast-forward a short while to Monday 7th July 2014 and Anushka have just released their debut album ‘Broken Circuit’, again on Brownswood. And with the 2014 festival season firmly underway their couldn’t be a more perfect time for this record to drop. Although ‘Broken Circuit’ features many a Dancey-Pop, tears-of-joy-on-the-dancefloor type moments, it’s important to note that these guys are about much more than this proven formula. Whilst Port’s emotive songwriting touches upon heartbreak, disillusionment, relocation, joy and longing, Wheeler’s beats are well-crafted and informed by sounds such as Juke, Detroit Hip-Hop, Jungle and Broken Beat, as well as the more present influence of House and UK Garage. This has resulted in one the most likeable and unpretentious hybrid Dance-Pop records you’re likely to hear this year.
To commemorate their dazzling release, Max Wheeler from Anushka takes us on an insightful journey through ‘Broken Circuit’ – the influences, emotions, places and moments in life that shaped their debut album…
This one came together quite late on – sort of Detroit Hip-Hop influenced ballad, about expectations and the havoc they wreak. Felt like going back to my roots a bit working at this tempo & programming Hip-Hop drums.
02. ‘Never Can Decide’
Came together very quickly – a re-edit of a song that just clicked as soon as Victoria wrote the new chorus. Pretty blown away by all the support it’s had & its really amazing to hear people in the crowd singing it back at all the shows.
A really beautiful positive song about the effect of previous relationships on your outlook in life. Tried out some kind of uber-swung MPC drums on it and it sort of fell in to place. Maybe a bit sweet for some but I still love the happy little vocal chop at the end.
04. ‘Atom Bombs’
One of Victoria’s most beautiful & most misunderstood songs. Not about a boy, more about being an artist. Always a real highlight at our shows, and one of my favourite bits of production too – definitely brought a few different sounds together. Gilles Peterson had a real input on this one – the original demo was at 140bpm, but we were tinkering with a slower version. He liked the original demo’s energy and it made it on the record that way.
One great thing with making the record has been Victoria’s songwriting pushing me into new territory. Such a beautiful track, and as soon as I heard the song I knew it was going to have to be 160bpm Juke-Pop. Lol. I was listening to the Drake album a lot when I made the beat and my mate Pat told me it was great but the hi hats were shit. So I did redid the hi hats that eventually made it onto the record – just to show him I had stepped up my hi hat game. This one really bangs on a rig and also works on its own, just a really lovely song, so I suppose it kind of sums up what we’re trying to do.
06. ‘Broken Circuit’
A real turning point for us – the start of writing tracks which strayed a bit from the more expected House/Club stuff. Made in a very crazy way in a series of temporary studios, which I suppose makes sense when you think that Victoria’s song is kind of about relocation. Really amazing to perform this at Worldwide festival last week.
07. ‘Down In Flames’
Made quite early on so we’ve had this one for a while. Always loved the chorus and just the overall vibe. Looking forward to this finally being out in the world.
08. ‘I Have Love 4 You’
This started from a story a friend told me about a relationship she was in. I gave the beat to victoria with the concept and a little idea of a hook and she came back with one of the most perfectly formed songs i’d ever heard. I remember that being a real moment when I realised what an incredible songwriter she was. I think the lyrics really resonate with a lot of people. Someone at a show recently told us that it was an anti love song, but I’m not sure it’s that. I think love is just a bit more complicated in 2014.
09. ‘These Things’
One of my favourites on the record. We listened back to the master for the first time at a soundcheck in Vienna and it was a really emotional moment. I was going through a lot when I made the track, and wrote the idea for the hook, and Victoria wrote the song when she had just come back from a tour doing vocals with Bilal. I think that influenced the amazing harmonies she wrote. We played this at a show in Amsterdam recently and it was amazing to see that it actually worked in a rave too. Real slow builder.
10. ‘This Time’
Just an incredible song. Pretty self explanatory and I think one of Victoria’s real standout performances. 11. ‘Mansions’ We played a show with Troy Gunner in Manchester at Antwerp Mansions, this sort of dilapidated 1960 Rolling Stones hangout. We loved his set and both came home thinking we needed something like his sound – kind of grimier. I made the beat in a bout 20 minutes at another temporary set up at my kitchen table. Vic wrote the song in like half an hour and sent it back. We came up with the hook in a studio in London and laid it all down. A soon as we started playing it out we realised it was definitely one for the rave. And David Cameron.
12. ‘Fire To Me’
The last track we made for the album and possibly my favourite. Kind of analogue Disco. Really loved-up cosmic kind of jam. Put my Juno 6 though its paces and Vic just destroyed it with the song. Can’t wait for people to hear it. Also someone really amazing who we respect a lot has just asked if they can remix it so look out for that.
‘Broken Circuit’ is out now, head HERE to pick up your copy.