Animalia, a.k.a. Jill Krasnicki, is on a journey. When the Tasmanian ex-pat’s Ireland work visa expired a few years ago, she found a new home, and a new sound, in Canada. Setting aside her bass guitar for an electronic palette, Krasnicki found a new context for her explosive vocals, and energetic stage presence on her debut full-length, Mouth Full Of Teeth. With a new single, and a new album on the horizon, it looks like the journey has only just begun.
We caught up with Animalia to chat about how she ended up in Toronto, embracing darkness, and sexism in the electronic music world.
Animalia is performing on Thursday, December 10th in Toronto at Sneaky Dee’s as part of Red Bull Sound Select, alongside U.S. Girls, Bad Channels, and Elliott Vincent Jones.
Why the move to Toronto? Why not go to a bigger American market like New York, or LA?
I had been living in Ireland and when my visa ran out there, I looked for the easiest country to apply to, which happened to be Canada. All I knew of Canada was what South Park had taught me. I looked up “Canada music” and “Toronto” popped up. I Google image searched “Toronto” and sent off my visa application. I had no plans, and really no intention of staying, but I fell in love with the city as soon as I arrived.
How does the Canadian music scene differ from that of Australia?
When I lived and performed in Australia I was in my early 20s and I honestly don’t think I even scratched the surface of the Australian music scene, so it’s hard for me to compare. Right now, there’s a lot of great music coming out of both countries and I think that comes down to the support of emerging artists, which both places do really well.
Does being a bass player inform your approach to music production?
I think the only reason I can write the music I write today is because I was a bass player for so long first. Most of my song ideas start with the bass line and I build everything else around that.
When people talk about your music, Bjork and The Knife seem to come up a lot. Is that a valid comparison, in your mind?
If people have to group my music into something they know, then yeah, I can see the comparison and I understand it. But my music is as much like Bjork and The Knife as much as The Knife is like Bjork, you know? There are similarities, but they are ultimately different.
Like Bjork and The Knife, I think it’s pretty safe to say you enjoy exploring dark subject matter with this project. Is Animalia therapeutic?
Definitely. Especially songwriting. I go months and months without writing anything and then one day it’ll all come pouring out, and I’ll write an album in a month or two. It’s a really intense process.
What has changed since Mouth Full Of Teeth?
Mouth Full Of Teeth was my first electronic album, and although the next album is in a similar vein, the sounds and emotion feel more thought-out in my new recordings.
What can you tell us about "Little Earth"?
“Little Earth” is the first single off my upcoming album, (dissonance). It’s about becoming too focused on the sadness in the world and refusing to see anything positive that isn’t overshadowed by the negative. And how that itself is so incredibly sad and a complete waste of a free life—It’s a bit of a wake-up call.
How important is live performance to what you do?
I think live is when the true emotion and intent of a song can really be communicated, so to me that’s very important.
Right. So how do you make electronic music engaging in a live situation?
The reason I took so long to go to purely electronic music was this very question. But now I understand that, at least in my case, I am a musician at home when I am writing and recording the songs and when I am on stage, I am an entertainer. That meant making Animalia a bit of an alter-ego. On stage she’s loud and aggressively engaging. It becomes about good vocals and intensity. Add a couple of extra bodies up there on stage, it’s a whole big show.
You've said before that a lot of people assume that you've got a male producer who does your beats, and you're just a vocalist. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Yeah, it’s really insulting. It’s especially weird when I’ve just performed solo and someone asks me that. I write all my music—beat for beat, note for note—and I am very particular about it. I then, however, send my music to my good friend, Remy Perrin, who mixes it, adds sweet effects and makes it sound like heaven. Back when we first started, I always called him “my producer” because he honestly puts so much work into it—but people took the word “producer” too far and assumed he was also writing it. Someone told me “engineer” was more likely the right term for Remy’s involvement. I didn’t think it would be such a big deal.
Growing up, did you find you had any female role models who influenced what you do with Animalia?
Not particularly. I always loved music and I just naturally fell into it. I never have really separated the boys from the girls as far as people achieving things, so if I saw a guy doing something, I never felt like I couldn’t do it just because I am female. For whatever reason my brain is wired to think “oh yeah, I could probably do that.”
Does the fact that you could be that role model, for a woman with an interest in music production, ever enter your mind?
Can’t say it has crossed my mind. I mean, it’d be cool if I could influence anyone to pick up practicing music! Making stuff is very rewarding, even if you’re the only one who listens to it.