Animalia: The Wavelength Interview

Purveyor of: Howling, explosive vocals coupled with electronic beats
File next to: Bjork, Portishead, Amanda Palmer
Playing: Saturday November 8 at Geary Lane

It takes a brave person to start a life in a different hemisphere, especially a career in music. But that’s exactly what Australian artist Jill Krasnicki did when she moved to Toronto and began her solo project, Animalia. Animalia has since released the EPs, To the Waking, the Shaking and the Volatile (2012) and A Wave to Wash the World Away (2013).

On her debut full-length album, Mouth Full of Teeth (2014), Animalia has stepped away from guitar-based tunes, further immersing herself in the universe of electronica. We’re glad she did. Mouth Full of Teeth is entirely surprising, at times dark but always honest and utterly captivating. Lucky for us, Animalia is playing quite regularly in and near Toronto.

Come out to Geary Lane and see why NOW Magazine gave Animalia’s album 4 stars, describing it as “fearless and edgy, both lyrically and sonically.”

You’re from Tasmania, I read. What was it that appealed to you so much about Canada that you decided to unpack here and stick around?

I don’t really know, to be honest. I never imagined myself in Canada, but when I got here everything just felt right. It felt as if I slipped into a life that had always been waiting for me. I’ve been here for six years now and things continue to run smoothly. I keep meeting cool people and life keeps getting more interesting. And I’m slowly coming to terms with the winter!

You first started in music as a bass player when you were 17. How has your career transitioned from that to your current work in electronic-based music?

I played bass for a really long time. I started performing when I was 17 in covers bands and then moved to Melbourne with an indie band for a few years. I traveled a bunch playing shows, but when I got to Toronto my band fell apart and I was forced to look at other ways to make music. Eventually I went to acoustic guitar and started Animalia in 2012 as a dark folk act. But I only ever wanted to make electronic music. I just had to work out how to do it. So I dabbled with it at home for a while and finally bit the bullet and took it to the stage.

I’m very interested in different artists’ songwriting techniques. How has your relationship to songwriting or your songwriting practice changed as you’ve matured?

While I was playing bass, I wrote very little. It wasn’t until I went solo that writing got serious for me. In that time I’ve learned not to sit down and try to write, but instead wait for it to hit me. That’s when all the best stuff happens.

How do your ideas for songs usually start?

Song ideas usually start when I’m walking around the city or washing up. If I’m doing something physically mundane then my brain starts writing music. It can start with a bass line or a vocal melody or even a beat, then I map out the chord changes on a piano and then it goes from there.

How do you get out of songwriting ruts or patterns that you seem to default to?

If I’m stuck in a loop or a rut, I just walk away from it. Nothing good has come from me picking away endlessly at something. I wait until some inspiration refreshes me, then I usually start from scratch.

What was it about your guitar sound that made you restart your newest album?

I never wanted to be a guitarist. I became a guitarist because I didn’t know how else to be solo. When I realized I could perform electronically, I threw all my guitar songs away, focused on writing a bunch of electronic stuff and was so incredibly happy with the decision.

As an artist, would you say you are a pack animal or more of a lone wolf?

I’m definitely a lone wolf. Music’s weird in that respect. You’re required to get out there and network and make friends, but most musicians aren’t wired that way.

Have you had any surprises regarding the reception of your newest album?

Some people have shocked me by how weird they think it is. It makes me wonder what kind of music they listen to.

Right now there’s a lot of press about how difficult it is to make a living as an artist, such as Iggy Pop saying that he can no longer live off his music royalties. Has this changed any of your plans or the way you approach your career?

To be honest, I’m kind of sick of this conversation. It doesn’t change how I feel about my own music and what I’m doing with my life.

I’m really happy to hear that. For me, this isn’t anything new. Artists have been struggling to make a living off their craft forever.

What’s your favourite compliment you’ve ever received from a fan?

“Woah. That was heavy.”

Your bio talks about your “aggressively energetic performance.” I love the sounds of that. What’s your favourite thing about live performance?

I like to scream and thrash about on stage. There are not many opportunities out there in the world where doing that sort of thing is OK.

If you could tour with any other band in the world, who would it be?

Young Fathers

What’s next for Animalia?

Just recorded the vocals for my new album! Aiming for a Spring release.

– Interview by Shannon Roszell

Photo by Jenny Bundock