Nesreen a multi-talented young woman (singer, writer and much more!) wrote this wonderful report on Ant Dakini for Musician Spotlight Independent Project. Please check Nesreen’s wonderful voice at http://www.myspace.com/nesreenmmehdi
Musician Spotlight: Ant Dakini
Ant Dakini is an unconventional woman, who nourishes her soul through the innovative pursuit of the passions in her life. Through her musical endeavors as well as outside of them, Ant has also shown compassion in her surrounding community on both a local and universal level. Ant is the creator and other half of AntiQuark, a San Diego electronic band. Their music is hard to pin into just one category. It is an independent departure from mainstream, with roots to many techno and other forms of music world-wide but mainly European, specifically the large electronic movement in England and Germany. Each song experiments with different sounds ranging from Tahitian tribal drums providing a strong beat to Italian military chants spliced into a dance track, giving the music a sense of diversity and ingenuity. Born and raised in Italy, Ant showed early signs of musical talent.
At an intuitive age of 4, she found herself learning to read music by ear, without direction. By the age of 10, she had begun classical piano lessons. She went on to study piano for the next four years at the Italian Conservatorio in Torino and although Ant enjoyed this type of music she was not solely satisfied with the confinement of recreating and repeating the works of others (Ant Dakini Biography). She was more interested in creating her own music and not in rigorously training as a career classical musician. Ant decided instead, to pursue another academic passion and chose to study marine biology. She received her Master’s degree in this subject and went on to a career as a marine scientist specializing in sharks. Meanwhile, she joined a cover band as a teen then an all female radical punk band in 1992 before she moved to San Diego in 1997. She started her current band, AntiQuark as a solo project in 2001 with Sergio joining in 2006 (AntiQuark on MySpace). From 2002 to 2006 she completed a degree in sound engineering and recording art and has been working with Sergio to produce their recent album and has toured worldwide.
When Ant describes her influences, they are varied and timely. She explains how classical music has been an underlying influence because of her training as well as pop, punk, metal, experimental and noise genres in the 80’s. The next decade would bring the influence of electronic music as well as bands such as Alice in Chains and Simple Mind. Her current band’s music falls into the electronic genre as well as pop, experimental and dance. Her audiences, just as her sound, are eclectic and diverse. AntiQuark has entertained fans of all ages, races and of all musical tastes. AntiQuark’s repertoire is all self written music and lyrics, recording only one cover for a compilation album, Ant describes, “We don’t like doing covers because we like to be creative and do our own thing.” Ant Dakini is the composer and producer of the band and plays the keyboard while Sergio writes and sings vocals. At shows, they usually play songs off of their most recent album, “SkyDancer” and occasionally play songs off of past albums Ant produced before Sergio’s addition. Ant is featured n many compilation and her songs have also been frequently remixed .The instruments that Ant uses are the keyboard and computers and musical software programs. Through this she is able to create an infinite number of sounds and combinations to fit each song. The band also occasionally uses electric guitars and live percussion.
Tracks from ‘SkyDancer’ are brimming with energy, having both a haunting and uplifting feel at the same time. The mixture of elements transcends popular music and creates a distinctive profound quality. One of my favorite tracks, ‘Planet X’, does just this as the voice samples, fluid beat, futuristic and rough effects and smooth vocals bring forth the imminent crisis of the world’s obsession with consumption. Another song titled, ‘La Fine’ is a beautiful and lively intermingling of drums and nature sounds, and in my opinion, is a tribute to wildlife. Whether it is through the mood of the music or the lyrics themselves, messages like these need to be communicated through music since it is such an influential medium.
Ant aspires to write more music and continue to release her creativity in the future. This is an important objective in the conception of her music yet she also has a goal that relates to the connection with her audience. She aims to communicate and reach people at a deeper level of understanding and share a part of herself through her music. She would like for people to truly enjoy her performances, feeling as though it was a meaningful experience.
Keeping with the common theme of variety, the shows Ant plays are also diversified. Venues range from discos or clubs to bars and even large festivals. She describes that there have been shows at dive bars with only five people present and huge festivals in Europe housing over 2000 people. One show that she remembers fondly was at the Social Center in East Germany. She describes her European shows as more exciting since the electronic music scene carries more momentum there. The show in Germany shares a certain quality with many European shows in that they are often held in abandoned warehouses, entertain an independent art crowd and are at the edge of legality. At their shows, Ant uses some prerecorded material as it would be impossible to play all the parts herself. She must stay on beat but does have the liberty to make changes if she chooses. It all goes through a PA system and is apparently relatively simple to set up. Ant describes their shows and explains that she is somewhat physically restricted to be behind the keyboard but that Sergio does engage the audience uses the stage area while singing. She also explains her ambitions for forthcoming shows. She includes a visual component in every show, displaying clips and images that compliment the music and add to the experience, creating more energy.
In addition to AntiQuark, Ant also composes music for films and works as a freelance audio engineer. She has scored many films including, ‘Litorra’, ‘The Second Movement’, ‘The Wetlands’ and ‘In the Dark’. Ant Dakini was honored for her talents and won the first prize in the 2005 Media Arts Award Competition – Audio Category (composer, engineer and producer) for the album Neon H. The award was sponsored by the Multimedia and Entertainment Initiative of the California Colleges’ Economic and Workforce Development Program (Ant Dakini on MySpace).
Ant describes her association and experiences with two types of communities. First, she laments that although she enjoys San Diego, the community within musicians has been discouraging. She has tried to reach out and unite other electronic artists and has not had been satisfied with the outcome. The music community here, in comparison with Europe is much more private and not as social. This can be a detrimental quality as social networking can lead to unique opportunities and synergy, and the case of activism through music, the voices of many versus one can make more of an impact. Next, she describes her involvement with the general community. AntiQuark has played many charity shows advocating several causes such as women’s rights, gay pride, and animal rights. Aside from her musical statements and support projects, Ant is furthermore committed to the conservation of the marine animals, especially sharks. A friend of animals, she also works as a volunteer for a rescue association in San Diego (Ant Dakini Biography).
Ant Dakini’s determination and motivation are a great inspiration to many women and are even more sincere because they root from intrinsic sources. It is clear that she enjoys what she does, whether it is in her career life or in her free time. She has utilized her talent without degrading the content and her creativity which is a feat in itself. To many, this is what constitutes true art.