The New York producer puts together a house and techno-infused selection that’s strictly ‘big anticipation’ vibes
Listening to Anthony Naples’ latest album, Fog FM, feels like tuning into a late-night broadcast from an alien planet – which is apparently what the New York producer was going for when he began crafting his distant, techno and house-inflected sound. When working on the album (presumably about a world where television hasn’t killed the radio star), he jotted down the loose concept that inspired it on his iPhone: “What would it sound like if you’d never listened to dance music, but then you found a radio station, and there were all these sounds you’d never heard played before, from somewhere you have no idea about, by someone you’ll never know anything about, before you lost the signal to static and it disappeared forever?” It’s an introverted, eyes-closed take on the genre, and a captivating one.
Structured as a radio cycle (tracks include “A.I.R”, “Fog FM”, “Channel 2”, and “Channel 3”), the record swerves between meditative rhythms that hone in on a single pulse, looping sounds of static, and fuzzy modulating lines – the beeps and boops – that recall the meticulous retro-futurism of a 1960s sci-fi film or, at least, sounds from somewhere far, far away. It’s what Naples calls a “daydream kind of place where things are sort of fuzzy and abstract”, or in other words, the fog.
But the 29-year-old’s music hasn’t always been this introspective. His initiation into the scene back in 2012 was a Pharrell-sampling track called “Mad Disrespect”, recorded when Naples was only 22 years old, which quickly became an underground club banger. Meanwhile his 2015 debut album, Body Pill, on Four Tet’s Text Label, was made very much with dancing on the mind. “I don’t really identify with that record much anymore,” he says of “Mad Disrespect” today. “Like most people making music, I don’t really go back and listen to the old stuff, but I’m of course extremely grateful to the response to it.”
With his hype days behind him, Naples has spent the last few years laying low – but that’s not to say he hasn’t been busy. Actually, he’s been living pretty well, by the sounds of it: he’s moved from New York to LA, then to Berlin, fallen in love, made new friends, travelled across Japan for two months, and done the whole “Euro summer tour-style” thing – all the standard stuff you’d expect from a somewhat successful DJ in his twenties.
For now, Naples is back in his native New York (except, this time with his wife, Incienso label co-owner, Jenny), which is appropriate given the moment American house and techno is having: the city’s underground is buzzing, supported by a network of independent labels, club nights, and warehouse raves, with fellow label artists DJ Python and Buttechno also at the heart of this scene. Naples put together our latest Dazed Mix, and we spoke to him about the release of his latest album, moving cities, and what he’s been doing these past four years.
Tell us about this mix!
Anthony Naples: Hi, Dazed! thank you for having me. The mix is just my take on what’s going on in my corner of the music world right now, recorded live and direct at Casa de Haiku. I guess when I make mixes I try to make them for the time between doing basically nothing, and going out to a party. Big anticipation style.
How do you think your music has evolved since you released “Mad Disrespect” seven years ago?
Anthony Naples: Well, I’m still making music in a similar style. I kind of think of dance music as a medium I’m working in, but within that, there’s lots of room to grow. I can’t help the feeling house/techno/disco/dub/etc give me when I’m out at a party, so I’ve always been drawn to that communal aspect of how it’s listened to and enjoyed, and I like to sort of take in the influence and then put stuff back into the world out in my own style. I guess if it’s evolved in any way (I’m not the best to judge), it would be in the ability to translate ideas into emotions and songs a little better. Maybe before I only had two default modes of “fun” or “deep”. But I’m always trying to improve on that front and make the best music I can. It’s a real fun thing to try and dig deep into yourself to find the music that’s laying dormant deep deep down in your mind.
You’ve managed to keep relatively quiet in terms of interviews these last four years, what have you been up to?
Anthony Naples: Well in that time since my last album Body Pill came out, I moved from NYC to LA to Berlin and then back to NYC again, fell in love, made lots of new friends, traveled and partied a lot, moved to Japan for a little bit, then did the whole Euro summer tour-style stuff – all good things, really. I also put out a chill-out album called Take Me With You, in the canon of iconic chill-out albums from the KLF, Space, The Orb, The Irresistible Force, et al, plus a few dance music singles. But you know, it’s ups and downs as always, Dazed. We all have them.
You said you “flopped” as a superstar DJ in Berlin. Can you talk about that?
Anthony Naples: I don’t think I really did. You’d have to be a superstar DJ in the first place. I am only a novice, every day learning more and more about that side of things.
You’re back in New York now! Why did you choose to move back?
Anthony Naples: New York feels like it’s where I’m supposed to be. Los Angeles, Berlin, and even Sunrise, Florida, where I’m from, all felt a little funny to me. I like to walk and stumble into funny situations, so New York is perfect for that sort of thing.
I’ve heard the American house and techno scene’s really blowing up right now – is that true? Can you tell us more?
Anthony Naples: It’s definitely true. There are crews in places like Cleveland, Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami, Philly, and Pittsburgh doing really amazing parties and putting out very inspired music – and that’s not even to mention the more classic places like New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Detroit. I can’t talk about it, though. Come see for yourself!
How is it different to the vibe in Berlin?
Anthony Naples: That’s like comparing Currywurst to Cronuts. They’re both so good in their own ways!
“Try to remember to always have a good time. Also, pay your taxes, and it’s never a bad time to play Kylie Minogue, even if it seems like it could be” – Anthony Naples
Do you think moving back to NY has influenced your sound at all?
Anthony Naples: Definitely. I’m always going out with my friends when I’m home, and we just have so much fun all the time. When we go out, I dance and listen, take in the vibe, and then go home and try to make those sorts of sounds that I hear, but from a sort of daydream sort of place where things are sort of fuzzy and abstract.
Fog FM came out in June this year. At the risk of sounding reductive, what inspired the album?
Anthony Naples: Here’s what I wrote on my iPhone notes: “What would it sound like if you never heard dance music, but then you found a radio station, and there was all these sounds you never heard played from somewhere you had no idea about, but someone you’ll never know anything about before you lost the signal to static and it disappeared forever”.
How do you feel about the album now, two months later?
Anthony Naples: I think it’s so awesome, and I did the thing I wanted to do.
What’s been the most difficult lesson you’ve learned since first starting your career?
Anthony Naples: It’s not all up, and when it’s down, it can go very very down. But then it sort of goes back up again, kinda.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself?
Anthony Naples: Try to remember to always have a good time. Also, pay your taxes, and it’s never a bad time to play Kylie Minogue, even if it seems like it could be.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given by someone else?
Anthony Naples: A friend in Japan once told me, “You can do your best when you’re extremely relaxed.”
What was the last track you heard that made you think, “phwoar”?
Anthony Naples: The first song on my mix – Santi, “Sparky”.