Over the past two years DJ, producer and Tresor resident Ana Zaragozá aka Dinamite and visual artist Efrèn Mur have been collaborating as A1E5, an audio-visual project dealing with the ambiguities and tensions between dualities such as fiction and reality, darkness and light, chaos and purity, old and new. The project is curated by Marianella Baladàn, and is a reflection on our 21st century civilization and where it might be going, informed by philosophical theories as, for instance, Nick Bostrom’s simulation hypothesis, which suggests that we could be living in a computer-generated simulation built by an advanced civilization. Dinamite has earlier released her hypnotic and enveloping techno productions through labels Affin, Planet Rhythm, Detroit Underground and Newrhythmic Records. Within the A1E5 project she has a more experimental approach, building mysterious sonic worlds in dialogue with Efrèn Mur’s visual environments. March 30 sees the release of A1E5’s first EP, which comes in an audio-visual format. A presentation in 4D sound is also on the horizon. We met the two Spaniards in Berlin over a cup of tea to learn more about their vision.   

When did you get the impulse to start collaborating?

Ana Zaragozá: I think it was on a summer day in 2018 at Efren’s house. He did a video for a track I made, just a spontaneous sketch. We liked the idea, and decided to develop it a bit more. I was making some music – more experimental, some drones, atmospheres, short versions. I would send these to him, and he would respond with a visual. A kind of “game” developed, and step by step we were building a concept.

Efrèn Mur: I’m always looking for music to make videos to. I have a lot of friends who make music, so that’s how it started, just for fun without any pretensions.

AZ: Now the project has matured and can be presented in two formats. As an audio-visual set, or as an installation in an exhibition.

For what kind of space do you have the installation in mind?

EM: Whereas the live set is more dynamic and strong, for us the concept for the installation is more about finding a place where we can project the visuals and the music in a very raw space, where you can concentrate better on the visuals.

AZ: In February we had an artist in residency at Monom in Funkhaus, where we adapted the piece to the 4D sound system there. This one became like a hybrid of both an audio-visual set and installation. The sounds and the visuals are moving around the space in synchronisation. The opportunities of the 4D sound are endless. You can let every sound move around the room, or ,for instance, the kick just going in the four corners, or the hi-hats or snares going up and down. Once the audio is prepared, Efrèn can jump in to adapt the visuals to the sound.

Your material is also going to be released in an audio-visual format. Besides the digital music release, there’s going to be a DVD. Quite exotic in the age of YouTube.  

AZ: Yes, it’s something new. The label, Detroit Underground, even offered us to release it on VHS, which would have been cool. But who would have really played it on VHS? So we decided it’s better to have it as a DVD to make it more accessible.

What does A1E5 mean?

AZ: A1E5 is supposed to be a new planet, a metaphor of life, in which you can find answers to existence or what is happening in the world these days. To find a door to escape from all of that. But the meaning of “A1E5” itself is simple, nothing special at all.

EM: It is the first letters of our names with the number in the alphabet. As exoplanets normally have names with numbers and letters it was a good fit for our concept.

Where does your fascination of the philosophy about simulated reality come from?

EM: We are talking a lot about these things…

AZ: Exactly. We try to find all the answers (laughs).

EM: Where do we come from? Where are we going?

AZ: The five tracks of the release tell a story. The first one, “Futura”, is about imagining chaos coming to earth. Then “2030” is like a land with nothing after the catastrophe. “What now? Is there life here or not?” We call it 2030, because it’s the year when there’s supposed to be no way back in terms of the global warming. With the third track, “ESC”, we wanted to express the sensation of movement.

Escaping to the new planet?

AZ: Exactly. And you can start imagining that there is new life developing.

The visuals also look a bit like a cell.

AZ: Indeed. At the end there is also a humanoid figure, which can give you the option to imagine another breed, an alien or humans mixed with other beings.

EF: It can also be a new mentality, something more pure.

AZ: The next one again is more abstract, it reminds me of something really alien, the time of a mix, creating something new, a new species or new mentality. And finally the last one, “A1E5”, which is the name of the new planet.  

The sound and visuals are quite dark. What is your personal perspective on where we are going?

AZ: I always make that kind of music…   

EM: She’s on the dark side (laughs).

AZ: Yes, you too. But you also bring many colours through the visuals, otherwise it would be hell.

EM: I add colour in a very pure way, because I imagine the world could be more pure, without all these dark things.

AZ: Even though it’s dark I also invite people to see that there is hope. I think there is hope. On another planet, in another dimension, another mentality…

Dark music can also give a lot of positive energy. There’s this cliché of death metal fans being the kindest and softest persons.

AZ: Because you can also find peace in darkness.

EM: In the end that’s the point, darkness can be happiness.

AZ: Definitely for me. I also listen to happy music, but only in the morning (laughs). I love the winter here in Berlin for making music. I really get in a very productive mood and I like that it’s getting dark early.

What is your approach to music production?

AZ: I made my first important release in 2015 and in the beginning, I started solely with Ableton. Slowly, I was getting more into machines and now I changed my set-up because I wanted to make it more analogue. I have an analogue rhythm drum machine, a tetra synthesizer and Ableton. I realized that I wanted to have more fun making music, not only being on the computer, sequencing everything with the mouse. I wanted to have more of this feeling of flow.

And what about you with the visuals?

EM: My background is in post-production of digital videos for commercials and things like that. There, I work with a lot of footage. In this project I have a much more minimalistic approach. I start with only one or two static pictures and then begin to develop the colours, shapes, and everything from there in real time.   

Finally, what are your future plans for the project?

AZ: Right now we’re really looking forward to present it in Monom. Of course it would be a dream to perform at important audio-visual festivals, but we live in the present. Now we have this and let’s see what it brings. And we are already working on new tracks, we have a lot of ideas. For the tracks for this EP I was working with techno in 120 bpm, but for the future I have all of these ideas, maybe I will play with dubstep or highstep or something like that. And let’s see what happens when we arrive on planet A1E5!