Amaluna is the double act of FlibbertiGibbet and Malpka. Following a hugely successful back-to-back set in 2017 the duo decided they had so much fun they should make it a project and Amaluna was born. Since then they’ve gone on to sign with Free-Spirit Records and play sets at some of the most renowned psy trance parties in London. On Saturday 12th March one half of Amaluna - FlibbertiGibbet - will be playing at the Audio Addictz party to celebrate International Women’s Day! We decided now seemed like the perfect time to check in with Amaluna and find out how it’s all going.
Firstly, talk us through how Amaluna came together? You both had separate acts; what inspired you to work together?
Wendy: My solo Mudstompin Munkee project started around eight years ago with regular shows on Bassport FM. I debuted at Astral Circus in 2014, then I was offered my own monthly glitch hop show on Bassport FM, Mudstompin Menagerie. This led me to Freedom Festival in Portugal where I got to play a sunrise set as well as a second set at a cocktail bar on the beach for around 7 hours! Mudstompin Munkee has now evolved into Malpka.
Tara: I started playing solo as FlibbertiGibbet, and talked my Astral Circus co-promoters into letting me play my first set at Astral Circus in November 2013. Until then I’d been running the door at Astral Circus and getting increasingly frustrated that people would walk in and walk out again as they didn’t like the music in the warm-up sets at 10pm on a Friday night. So, I took it upon myself to put together the perfect warm-up set, and nearly a decade later I’m still trying, hehe.
Wendy: What inspired us to work together? Our mutual love of rebelliousness and breaking the musical rules brought us together. Together we felt we could really have some fun stretching the boundaries of psy trance and bringing experimental sounds to the dancefloor, sounds we thought were missing and waiting for us to blast this sh1t from every corner!
Tara: We first played together when Abhi from Shattered Barriers asked us to do a back-to-back set at one of his epic events. He’d seen us chatting about music online and thought we’d make a good match. The first set was great fun, even though we were sh1tting ourselves playing after psy trance queen Michele Adamson, and I think one of our heroes Rinkadink was playing in the main room at the same time.
Anyway we managed to shatter more than a few barriers and decided to play our Amaluna debut at the next Astral Circus at Electrowerkz, which was also the launch party for Free-Spirit Records boss Journey OM’s third album, Limitless. Jay saw some of our set and booked us for the next Tribal Village, ultimately leading to us getting signed by Jay and producing our compilation, Lunar Phase, which came out at the end of 2019.
Writing this, I’m realising there’s a load of people we should thank for their support along the way, including Abhi, my Astral Circus co-promoters Nikki, Andy and Murray and of course Jay, for believing in us enough to produce and master our compilation, Lunar Phase. It definitely broke the mould by featuring our usual mash up of genres from some of our favourite producers, such as Bahar Canca & Sas Darvish, DM-Theory, Halfred & Tryptich, Hedflux, Nick Sentience and of course Omsphere aka Journey OM, while championing up-and-coming artists like Duburban, Khromata, Kubes, Liquid Soma and Psydwards.
What can people expect from an Amaluna set?
Wendy: We just want to f**k up the psy trance paradigm by shattering the barriers and breaking the rules, shining a light on the artists who wouldn’t usually be heard. For us, it’s all about the music. We really don’t care about the Beatport top 10; we want to bring something fresh to every set, always bringing some sort of surprise, unreleased track or classic, as we believe eclecticism is the way forward and keeps people on their toes and bouncing around the dancefloor.
We’re about mixing it up and bouncing around the BPMs, so we don’t stick to the rules. We enjoy breaking the status quo as we don’t want to sound the same as everyone else. We like to do something different and if we offend people, then that’s what we do. For us, it’s about showcasing artists from all different walks of life and genres and not about the set sounding exactly the same. We’re not confined to one genre; that’s what we base our sets on.
Tara: Yes what she said. Our sets are definitely inspired by the music of different producers and pure and simple good music. We’re motivated by many unique sounds and genres.
Tell us about your musical backgrounds – when did music become a passion more than a hobby for you?
Wendy: It wasn’t a passion growing up, it was forced on me! At some point I tried to give up as I hated it, but my Dad said, “Life skills…” I wanted to learn some jazz, but there was only classical in my town in Zim. I just wanted to learn something a bit funkier, so I went to Australia and joined the high school jazz band and it was quite something. I was in the Marimba band (an African xylophone made of bits of barks and trees) in Zim. It’s very African and very cool. It makes a very nice sound. But we didn’t see anything like jazz bands in Zim so it was very cool to suddenly be in a jazz band in Australia!
From there it became much more than a chore and certainly more enjoyable and spontaneous. With jazz comes improvisation and creativity, with that comes experimentation, and then comes the unknown… You become curious once you step out of the habit of what you should do and what has always been done, you drop the boundaries and are free to explore your creativity and experiment with things that are not the norm. You create what you want to play. You decide what you want to listen to; it doesn’t have to follow any rules; you make your own rules! Your ears are open to different sounds and you become more open to new ways of doing things and new ways of expressing yourself musically!
Tara: I prefer Marimba to jazz! As a child I was considered tone deaf so I never learned a musical instrument. At one house we lived in, we had this out of tune piano in the lounge and my parents had the idea that if one of us was musically inclined we’d sort it out and start playing Chopin. This led to me being very confused as a child as to what tonality even was. So, if there are any parents reading this, please get your pianos tuned! To try and answer the question, I guess I’ve always considered music as a passion and a hobby!
Do you feel your childhoods influenced you as artists today?
Tara: Well I don’t consider myself as an artist, I’m a part-timer lol.
Wendy: But we’re still creating something right? We’re collaborating to make something audibly and visually entertaining. So let’s not write ourselves off as artists completely as there’s a certain amount of creativity that goes into it all!
Wendy: A large part of my musical journey and learning music was performance. It wasn’t an option: we had to perform in front of an audience. So not only did we have the examinations to grade us, which were painful, but part of the experience was getting on the stage of the Robert Simpson Hall. It was a great big acoustically designed hall where all of the orchestras performed. Perhaps this was character building to a point – but it was terrifying as f**k!
There wasn’t really much music played in our house other than Elton John or Diana Ross, my Dad’s favourite. I remember occasionally listening to the radio and recording tunes…
Tara: I did that!
Wendy: And I used to pretend I was the radio presenter! At least your mum was into new music. My house was quiet and I wasn’t allowed to make any noise.
Tara: Yes even though I was actively discouraged from inflicting my own atonal sounds on anyone, my Mum worked at a radio station for a few years when I was a kid. She was a frustrated DJ because they wouldn’t let her be a presenter as her s’s hissed. Instead she worked there, first in ad sales and then in the archive, but she always had her eye on what new music was coming out. I can still remember the excitement of her bringing home new vinyl promos from the radio station that weren’t in our friend’s local record shop yet!
Growing up in New Zealand we initially had just two music TV programmes, Ready to Roll, which counted down the top 20 on a Saturday evening, and Radio with Pictures, which was on Sunday nights and played more alternative stuff. I remember seeing some of the first music videos from the likes of The Cure and Sinead O’Conner, plus New Zealand had some awesome bands back in the day that I actively followed. I was an avid reader of every music mag I could get my hands on, with New Zealand having some great music journalism to support its thriving scene. Later, as a student in Dunedin, one of my favourite part-time jobs was working in our student bar so I got paid to see the bands that played at events such as orientations and student balls. This crazy thing called electronic music was in its infancy and just starting to kick off, and I got to see early sets from Kiwi legends like Salmonella Dub alongside all of the epic Dunedin sound bands. They were exciting times!
What has been one of your most memorable performances together?
Wendy: The most memorable would have to be getting a shoulder massage from Grouch before we opened the Liquid Stage for the Zenon Records Saturday takeover at Noisily 2018 before Breger, and then got to play again before Evil Oil Man. I’d asked Grouch how he would feel if we played one of his tunes and he said he’d love it! The unexpected extra set on Bassport FM’s Bass Lab stage made our night, so we actually played three sets.
Tara: I’d also have to include our very professional performance at our compilation launch party at Tribal Village in January 2020 on the top of the list. We’d been multitasking on the door all night, so we were definitely ready to celebrate!
Wendy: Anthropos Festival is definitely up there. We had to play after Mouldy Soul’s drum & bass set, he was annoyed we were on after him so he blasted it out, but by the end of our set everyone was dancing! Anthropos was definitely a major highlight as we got to blast some of our favourite tunes into the open air of the Oak Stage where music always sounds better! It’s like music has an upgrade when you play outside and our performance was amplified in the Oak Stage with music bouncing off the trees and an incredible vibe.
Tara: Also when we opened Tribal Village on the main floor before our label manager Jay OM at the Steel Yard and of course, Planet Shroom in Bristol where we opened the main floor for M-Theory. I loved how we turned our nerves about Anthropos into a fun set as we took bubble guns to break the ice!
Wendy: We always remember we’re there to send a fun vibe to the dancefloor, so we thought we would do this by sending bubbles of joy at the people in the mud! We just care that people are having as much fun as we are; that’s what it’s about!
How have you both coped through this whole horrible pandemic?
Wendy: A lot of wine, plus we’ve spent time learning how to live stream.
Tara: Yes definitely with lots of wine! And we’ve also had fun pre-recording sets and working with some amazing visual artists who we’d never have had the opportunity to collaborate with otherwise. PsyTwins, vj baby k and Seliminal all added their own layer of 3D depth and delicious visuals to our online sets!
Are there any pitfalls to working as a duo?
Tara: Well they said it could never be done, as I still play CDs and Wendy is on her laptop.
Wendy: We tend to get a bit too unprofessional as we talk too much and look like we’re having too much fun.
Tara: Technically it can be a bit of a pain as we have twice as much kit to set up – but the benefits always outweigh the cons.
Wendy: And Tara always saves the day when my laptop has a meltdown.
You’re playing at a couple of outdoor festivals this summer. What ideas do you have for your sets? Are festival gigs different to club gigs for you?
Wendy: Whatever the gig, we’re always going to give it our all, perform to our best and go in with everything we have. We are 100% Amaluna-factor!
At outdoor festivals there’s often a lot more power behind the sound, pushed out by rigs like the Opus. These systems provide incredible crystal-clear sound that we feel we don’t always get at indoor clubs due to the reverb of the room.
The quality of the music we play is a better fit for festivals, for example with Kalya Scintilla or Merkaba tracks, some of the sounds get lost in a club. But in the festival, you hear all of the crispness and freshness of the sounds. When you’re working at a festival, you also know they are employing the best sound quality you can get.
We have a soft spot and real fondness for cheeky bass lines which in a club setting just ends up shaking the glasses on the bar instead of the arses on the dancefloor! But a club experience can also be more intimate.
Unfortunately Tribal Village has been moved to next May 2023, but we're very much looking forward to playing PSYMERA at the end of May and very excited about Anthropos Festival over the second weekend of September.
You’re playing for the AudioAddictz Live Presents International Womens’ Day Celebration this coming Saturday 12th March. Tell us about the event and why you feel it’s important to celebrate IWD.
Tara: I’m flying solo at this one as FlibbertiGibbet, as the event is also part of the Psy-Sisters 10 Year Anniversary celebrations, and I’m one of the founding members of Psy-Sisters. The brainchild of the multi-talented Rena aka Psibindi, Psy-Sisters has created a platform for countless female artists over the years, as well as producing and promoting some fantastic events.
I first met Angela, Lee and Michael from AudioAddictz at the Black Pearl parties in Wales and was really happy that one of my first post-pandemic nights out was their awesome Halloween party last October where we had a lot of fun. Wendy and I also recorded a downtempo mix for their online International Women’s Day Celebration last March, which was very inspiring, so I’m excited to be playing for them as my first gig out in just over two years!
As for why it’s important to celebrate IWD, well I’ll try not to get on my soapbox and get my rant on. As much as it pains me to say this in 2022, on so many levels it is still very much a man’s world, and we don’t seem to be evolving as quickly as I thought we would have by now. You just need to look at data like the appalling stats for rape convictions, the levels of violence against women, unequal pay, or how most festival line-ups are still male-dominated, to see how far we still need to go before we can be considered truly equal.
Around the time of last year’s IWD, I was trying to record my mix for the Faerie Pirates Spring Equinox online event, and woke up to the news that the police had broken up the vigil for Sarah Everard (the London woman who was been kidnapped and murdered by a cop) and violently arrested protesters. It was Mother's Day in the UK but my newsfeed and the media were full of misogynistic crap about how the women shouldn't have had the vigil in the first place.
I was raging and all the new fluffy proggy springtime tunes I'd bought went out the window in favour of some classics, including tunes with a strong female influence. I procrastinated all day while stupidly keeping an eye on the media, then had to record it in one hit after my neighbours had got home from church, so the levels are a bit low.
But to focus on the positive, events like AudioAddictz are a welcome reminder that there are so many talented female producers and DJs around and IWD is definitely something worth celebrating! Continuing the Psy-Sisters 10 Year Anniversary celebrations with this fantastic IWD event and line-up that Angela and Lee have put together, including their OpusAddictz rig and lasers, and decor from Psyhigh Designs, are all going to make for a magical occasion you really don’t want to miss! I'm looking forward to dancing my little socks off to sets from Psibindi, Lorraine and Ellen and of course Mutated Pony and AudioAddictz Live!
Getting to play up north in Manchester for the first time is also very special to me, as my maternal grandmother was a Scouse from Liverpool who had to leave school at an early age to work in a wool mill to earn money to support her family. She had won a scholarship to study music but was forced to turn it down to work so her brothers could go to university – so it's definitely symbolic for me that I'm going to be DJing at an IWD event in Manchester all these years later, and a sign that things have most definitely progressed and changed for the better within a couple of generations.
Do you have any ‘guilty pleasures’?
Wendy: I have no guilt, only pleasure. And drum & bass.
Tara: Well I guess after putting on a ton of weight during the pandemic I would have to say wine and cheese.
If you could have one super-power for a day what would it be and why?
Wendy: My super-power would be controlling the weather, so that wherever there is an outdoor festival forecast for rain, I would simply change it to sun so there would be no rain and mud. It would completely alter thousands of people’s experience of festivals!
Tara: My super-power is a totally selfish one… I’d have a doppelganger who could cover for me at work on Mondays – or in fact, cover for me at work in general – so I could spend more time doing the things I love, like music.