An-Ten-Nae: Finding the Space Beneath The Light
How many DJs or producers discovered their musical purpose while serving as a Recon Marine? Probably not many, but there’s at least one — An-Ten-Nae, the highly respected West-coast bass producer and modern tastemaker whose catalog boasts more than 100 official releases over the past 20 years.
A veteran in both the EDM community and U.S. Marines, An-Ten-Nae, whose real name is Adam Ohana, has always had a strong spiritual connection to music. However, it wasn’t until one desolate afternoon in Iraq that Ohana realized his life’s purpose — and that certainly didn’t involve war.
“I had an eye-opening experience in a far-off land where the thick smoke blocked out the sun, and I realized that what we were fighting for was simply oil, nothing more and nothing less,” Ohana said in an exclusive interview with MP3 Mag. “We were there to protect corporate interests. It was these experiences that made me wake up and want to use music as a way to bring change and awareness to people.”
Considering Ohana’s extensive discography, which dates back to 2008’s Acid Crunk EP, it seems like he’s done a good job. It’s rare that such a niche sound finds longevity spanning multiple decades in the EDM industry, but Ohana’s firm status as a west-coast bass pioneer is well deserved. His secret? Evolving with the times and letting his experiences shape his creative evolution.
“Every new song I create represents the culmination of my experiences up to that point, making it an ever-evolving practice,” Ohana explained.
Ohana’s January single, “I’m a Warrior,” is a perfect example. The track, which was released on Liquid Stranger’s SSKWAN’s inaugural compilation album last month, is the sound of perseverance; it’s a soundtrack to overcoming adversity and embracing growth amidst turbulent times. “‘I’m a Warrior’’s roots are grounded in an old self that was lost in a different world, during my time as a Marine in a highly trained Recon unit,” Ohana explained. “It’s about pushing through the darkness and finding my way into the light.”
An-Ten-Nae’s newest project, The Space Beneath the Light, set to release on April 14, will follow a similar narrative to “I’m a Warrior,” although the musicality has a slightly different focus — one of open space and sonic disintegration.
According to Ohana, “The Space Beneath the Light was inspired by the feeling of emptiness, but also the hope and light that can be found within it. It represents the border between the dark and the light.” In many ways, it’s Ohana’s Warrior journey. A gladiator on his spiritual expedition; a prophet isolated in the woods for 40 days and 40 nights on the search for inner peace. It turns out, music was the answer the whole time.
Whether Ohana is working on new material for An-Ten-Nae or collaborating with Releece for their Dimond Saints project, his intention remains the same — to create music that heals the world. He hopes that his music acts as a guided meditation toward enlightenment and revolution of the soul.
His sound is designed to provide a safe space for spiritual mitigation, which Ohana himself has found in music since his youth. “Music has been a source of deep healing in my life,” Ohana said. “It’s my medicine and my meditation.”
Unfortunately, the modern music industry has a different agenda.
EDM and rave culture have permeated the mainstream music industry in a huge way throughout the last two decades. For example, even the most moderate music fan has probably heard a snippet or two from Skrillex’s new album or seen a viral video of his performance with Fred again.. inside a bus in the middle of Time Square. Not to mention a selling-out Madison Square Garden in a matter of minutes, a milestone traditionally reserved for pop stars and A-list celebrities. It’s clear EDM has reached new heights in America and beyond.
To the untrained eye, it may seem like this relatively new recognition is a great thing for artists and fans alike. The music is finally being taken seriously and reaching a massive audience, which means more resources for artists and, perhaps, a diminished barrier to entry. However, Ohana believes this newfound popularity is more complicated than that.
“To be blunt, I’m feeling disheartened by the current state of the music scene,” Ohana said. “The homogenization of the industry, with power being consolidated by a few agencies like Live Nation and other mega-corporations, is leading to an increasingly artificial world of music based solely on numbers. While there is still a healthy underground scene if you know where to look, I’m noticing a concerning trend of carbon copies being rewarded while original expression is drowned out all too often.”
This sentiment is nothing new, but it seems to apply to EDM music more and more each day. Thankfully, artists have begun to take control back for themselves by launching their own record labels where creativity and innovation can thrive — including Ohana’s Medicine label. Liquid Stranger’s WAKAAN and SSKWAN, Zeds Dead’s Dead Beats and Mersiv’s MorFlo Records are also great examples.
Ohana’s contribution doesn’t stop with his label, though. He was also music director for San Francisco’s 1015 Folsom and Creative Director for The North Warehouse in Portland, where he prides himself in supporting evolutionary artists and illuminating the underground. At the heart of his mission as a promoter is one core concept: diversity.
“As both an artist and event producer, I prioritize inclusivity and aim to welcome all members of the community,” Ohana said. “I believe that the more diverse the community, the more brilliant the outcome as a whole.”