Animatist: The WL Interview

Purveyors of: non-4/4 rhythms, progressive, jazzy math-rock

File next to: Zazen Boys, Jaga Jazzist, Tortoise, Black Midi, The Mars Volta

Playing: Wavelength Winter Festival, March 2nd, 2024 @ St. Anne’s Parish Hall (651 Dufferin St.). More info here.

Animatist is a four piece experimental rock band from Toronto, Ontario led by guitarist Brent O’Toole. The rhythm section, comprised of Steve Cook on bass and Ian Hinds on drums, form the driving foundation, underscoring the angular melodies and ambient textures of saxophonist/synth player, Danielle Fernandes. Together they create polyrhythmic sonic mazes that explore equal parts math, post, and progressive rock.

Wavelength chatted with Animatist about their upcoming LP, our Winter Festival, and their musical inspirations.

Editor’s note*: This interview has been edited for clarity

WL: How does the band feel about performing at the Wavelength Winter Festival?

Animatist: We’ve recently taken a short break from live shows to wrap up our upcoming record so it’s exciting to be back on stage after a little hibernation. We’re also good friends with the members of Kali Horse and it’s our first time playing alongside them. It’s always great to share the stage with friends, it makes us work harder.

WL: How would you describe Animatist’s sound  in three words?

Animatist: Dirty Space Tension.

WL: Who are some of the band’s influences/inspirations?

Animatist: The Mars Volta was a huge influence on the starting of this group, as they’re progressive rock without a lot of the hangups. Their music is complicated, but it has this explosive, unhinged nature to it. Tortoise is another band we admire as we strive to embody instrumental music that’s equally cerebral, cinematic and groovy.

Fet.Nat has always loomed large in our heads as their music really feels like it isn’t bound to any time period. It could be from the year 3000. Video game soundtracks like Earthbound and The Legend of Zelda also lay the groundwork for a lot of our atmospheres and riffs. It’s hard to convey emotion and story without lyrics, but video game soundtracks accomplish this all the time. Those are some of the big names, but we’re always listening, so even the rhythmic sounds of an escalator can inspire us.

WL: Can you tell us anything about the upcoming LP?

Animatist: It’s currently in the mixing stage and it really feels like our most representative and accomplished work. Our last album Inverted felt rushed, so we’re taking our time on making this album the best it can be. We recorded with Alex Fuchs at Wychwood Sound with some overdubs done at our rehearsal space, Lost Tonic, that’s run by Sam Selci. It should be rearing its ugly prog head by the end of this year.

WL: Can you walk us through the song process of Animatist?

Animatist: Our songwriting process has been in a gradual evolution since we started writing in 2015. Our guitarist used to come in with more finished structures and we’d hash out separate parts for everyone. It’s a lot more collaborative now where every member is actively and directly involved in how the music is created from start to finish.

Our songs always push the limits of our musicianship, so there’s a lot of repetitive drilling of parts before a song is debuted live. Ideas usually start small, like a single riff or drum pattern, and we wacky stack a bunch of ideas on top until you’re left with an Animatist song.

Don’t miss Animatist on March 2nd at St. Anne’s Parish Hall as part of Wavelength Winter Festival 2024. Get tickets here!

Interview by Tara Hejazi