Manual Anós is Psyk. He is also Maan. He is a DJ and a producer, and the man behind the highly successful Non Series Techno label. Hailing from Madrid, Spain, Anós has trod a very individual path through the landscape of Techno over the last decade, walking amongst the giants of the genre like Luke Slater and Len Faki as it rose to newfound popularity.
His proving ground would be on Len Faki’s label, Figure with his first physical release “Throes” garnering the attention of DJs and enthusiasts for its very direct and cogent take on the genre. Sobering metallic stabs at a keyboard, punctuating militant kicks and puncturing nocturnal atmospheres introduced the world to the sounds of Psyk, making a efficacious entry into the world of electronic music.
Anós first stepped into this arena as Psyk, and then as Maan. Where Psyk plundered Maan sauntered and flowed, with a deeper, dub-like take on Techno strewn with influences of House. While Maan helped establish Anós’ Non Series label, Psyk was moonlighting on Mote-Evolver, Drumcode, CLR and Tresor, establishing the moniker in the highest echelons of this electronic music stratosphere.
Through the decade Psyk’s sound would evolve with the artist, but still refrained from pandering to trends. With the help of Luke Slater and Mote Evolver the sounds of Psyk would eventually find its form as the entrancing machine music we know him for today. Records like “Arcade” and “Silent Witness” are prime examples of the Psyk sound today, which carries through right into the present and the most recent release, “Voiceprint” on Non series.
While Psyk has certainly enjoyed an illustrious career, Maan has retreated to the shadows, and only comes out in the guise of a DJ set when the situation calls for it, like the upcoming Triangle Showcase at Jæger this weekend. We caught up with him via email to talk about this set, evolutions and early influences.
What struck me about your history is that you have this very defined Techno alias in Psyk, but behind it all there is a very universal approach to music with everything from IDM to Hip Hop in your record collection. What inspired this approach growing up?
I’ve always listened to a lot of different music genres. My father used to listen to a lot of Jazz, Blues, Rock and he had a huge record collection.
When I was young I was basically listening to just 90s Hip Hop so I grew up with that. Then at the age of 15 I started listening to electronic music and until now, I’ve been discovering lot of different styles, genres and artists.
What else were your parents listening to and was there any radio stations, record stores or clubs in Madrid that made a specific impact on how you as you started DJ and producing?
As I told you before, my father has always been a big music lover. My mother always liked more the traditional spanish music. Radios… I don’t think so… Radio stations were never that supportive of electronic music here in Spain´to be honest, at least that I recall… I used to go to “One” club, Danzoo and Fabrik the most I guess when I started partying young.
The first release that brought to the attention of everybody was Throes on Len Faki’s Figure. What did Throes cement for you that stayed with you as Psyk?
It was a moment when Techno was changing with this “Berghain Hype”. I was playing a lot that kind of stuff by then and I always try to make music I enjoy at the moment.
The idea of Psyk was (and still is) something mental, hypnotic and minimalistic.
A few years after that you premiered your Maan alias for the first time, and in those early Maan records, like Trow I find a lot of similarity with the Psyk stuff from the same time like Distane. How did you draw a line of distinction between them at first?
Yes. Actually, Maan came out after my releases of Track 3 on Enemy and Distane on Mote-Evolver. I felt that that kind of sound was a bit groovier and different than the approach I wanted to reach with the Psyk releases, so I decided to create a different pseudonym for this kind of techno.
Have they evolved on their own since for you?
Psyk def. yes. There is still people asking me why I don’t make more bangers like Arcade, Eclipse, Distane, Lowdown… I mean, for me it doesn’t make sense to stick in the same place for years without any sort of evolution. You have to grow up as an artist, even when people don’t like your actual stuff as much as the previous ones.
There are a lot of producers these days that prefer to grow up as a marketing brand or as social media models rather than as an artist, and I think that is totally killing our scene, or at least the one I used to like.
I think of techno as an art of expression and as a hedonist and freedom movement, and I always try to explore my limits, redefine my music and improve my sound every year…
I found that there was a distinct evolution in your work around the time of Arcade and Eclipse, where those stabbing chords of previous records like Distane made room for more melodic and atmospheric elements. What encouraged your evolutions as Psyk in your opinion?
As I answered previously, I do what I feel or what I like at the moment. Of course, there is a big impact on the equipment I am using right now and the equipment I was using by then (which was basically all software). For the last 5 years I’ve produced everything with hardware synths, or modular and that of course changes your workflow and creativity.
How much influence did the label Mote Evolver and Luke Slater have on you as an artist?
Luke has been one of my biggest influences since I discovered techno and electronic music… Releasing on Mote-Evolver at that time (the label was big by then) was the biggest push in my career. Not just because of the 2 strong Eps we put out, but with the combination between the music, the artist and the label altogether. Luke has always supported my music and I will be always grateful with him for that.
There is also Non Series of course, your label that’s featured a lot of Psyk and Maan’s music in and continues to do so with “Voiceprint”. What are you able to do on there that you can’t really do on other labels?
Well, the difference is basically the freedom that you can have. I’ve always had in mind to create a label to push artists I really liked, but nowadays I want more space on my label to put out my own stuff. I can have my vision of techno there more than anywhere.
While you keep releasing music as Psyk, Maan has remained somewhat reserved in its output. The alias is still going, obviously but where is it at the moment in terms of production?
There is nothing planned yet. The last tracks were released on DVS1´s Mistress label last year, but not an EP in the last 4/5 years. I don’t feel inspired at the moment to make that kind of music, but I am sure in the future I will take the project back and do new stuff with it.
Like Head High (Shed) and Ron Bacardi (Ben Sims), Maan is you, an artist associated with Techno making and playing House music. Why is there this desire as a Techno to also make and play House music from your perspective?
Well, I always liked house music, and me as a DJ and as a producer I need to explore different fields while playing or creating music.
Much like Shed’s Head High alias your productions as Maan tip the scales from House into Techno quite easily. How do you parlay that into a DJ set, especially a 4hr set like this upcoming one at Jæger?
Actually Maan is not 100% house, it has some house vibes inside for sure, but its a point between House and Techno as you mentioned.
To be honest, in my previous Maan sets I’ve always started playing very groovy or deep and ended playing Techno. I guess I feel more comfortable on that field while playing…
For this 4 hours set at Jaeger I will try to cover lot of fields, always between House and Deep Techno. I am really excited to see what is coming up!