In the 70’s, Be Here Now was the counter-culture bible, a bestselling book on personal spirituality by Western-born yogi Ram Dass. Today, it’s the name of the first EP by Boston band ANIMA! Fittingly, producer Vicente Epsi and singer-songwriter Arielle Vakni took inspiration from Dass’ ideas to create their EP.

Vicente and Arielle met while living in Boston and found that their musical views meshed well. Their songs have African-esque rhythms (see: the opening beats of “Breathe”), which stems from Vicente’s South African roots. Interlacing those percussions and acoustics with electronics and strong female lead vocals, ANIMA!’s sound delves into the genreless likes of Sylvan Esso and tUnE-yArDs—both bands that Arielle introduced to Vicente.

“I might come up with some sort of idea and bring it to Arielle to shape, sort of like a rough piece of wood I found on the beach that I thought was interesting,” Vicente said. “Arielle will be like, ‘That’s pretty cool. We could totally turn that into this.’ We refine each other’s ideas continuously.”

ANIMA! is all about equilibrium.  The term “anima,” coined by famed psychotherapist Carl Jung, describes the female psychological qualities inside of the male. To Vicente, Arielle is anima that he balances out with his animus (the male inside the female). In Latin, the word means “breathe” and “soul,” which the band liked for its quality of lightness.

“The name ANIMA! pretty much sums us up perfectly. One of my friends discovered the word, and we were like, ‘Well, that’s it!’” Vicente said.

Arielle explained that Be Here Now puts music to many of Dass’ spiritual teachings. “The idea behind it is basically that we are too worried about planning for the future and dwelling in the past, and we should be more conscious in the present moment. I wanted to delve into that music somehow.” Vicente elaborated, “We don’t belong to any religious sect. We just have a sense of spirituality—a greater whatever.”

Perhaps this sense of spirituality is the reason the band has achieved so much attention online, having been featured on music sites like Hillydilly.com and 8tracks. Vicente believes that the Internet creates a “currency of attention” that fuels artists, and that listeners are increasingly funding ANIMA! through those numbers.

At the moment, Vicente is back in South Africa while Arielle lives here in Boston. Although they can’t collaborate in person, the two are still working together and even planning a show in Boston that will bring a more interactive and visual component to their performances. Details are currently being kept hush hush. “There should be a prototype soon,” Vicente said.

Find a free version of “Breathe” on iTunes until Feb. 10.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.