Art, Culture, México
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Photography by Noel Higareda
A Materia Studio Production 


Materia takes a deep dive into the technicolor mystical dreamscape of Orly Anan – a Colombian-Israeli multidisciplinary artist, DJ and set designer currently based out of Mexico City. She is best known for her flamboyant visions that meld folklore and traditions from the different cultures which she has imbibed. 

Orly talks to us about connecting with her roots, the influence of spiritualism on her artistic practice, and her start in South Brooklyn where the rich Latin infused sounds of her youth have come to define an inextricable relationship between her art and music.



MATERIA: What are some cultural influences in your work, being Colombian and Israeli?

Orly Anan: I feel like my love and connection to the Spanish language, being my mother tongue, has opened the space for me to delve into and feel connected with so many other cultures. This is especially true of my connection to Mexico. The five years that I have been living in Mexico have been very grounding for me, and the culture has definitely had a big influence on my work. I of course also draw many references from my Colombian heritage. The themes that underpin my work draw from the ideas of liberation, exploration and transformation. Another big influence on my work comes from my faith in spiritual practices with medicine plants, my judaism roots and now for the past 3 years my interest in Kabbalah, which is for the scientifically minded wanting to master the mysteries of religion and esotericism. It is a long practice which takes decades to fully grasp, so I would say that I am still in process.

M: When and why did you move to Mexico City?

OA: I have always romanticized the idea of living in Mexico for as long as I can remember. I left Latin America when I was 13 and for much of my youth I always dreamed of my connection with the Latin world and being able to speak my language. At 29 when I arrived in Mexico, a confluence of different reasons led me to stay. It felt very organic. I had been living in New York, a city which I still love, but it was during the Trump presidency and it felt like the time to leave. When I arrived in Mexico City there was a sense of calm and connection that I felt to the city and to the people living and creating here. It was the perfect moment to stay.

‘Music is the stimulation that allows me to dive into different frequencies. It is a vehicle of movement, allowing me to be instantly transported to different times, cultures, ideas and places.’


M: What was your first memory in New York as a DJ? 

OA: Music is intrinsic to the fabric of New York. I used to live in South Brooklyn which is a melting pot of Latin culture, mainly influenced by Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, and Cubans. It was a multicultural dream. Music is celebration and human connection. And it is a huge part of the culture in South Brooklyn, with block parties where people gather in the streets. So you could say New York really birthed a deeper curiosity and interest in music. I learned more about the history and roots of different musical forms, its anthropological context, the combination of instruments, and all the stories it told.

I remember going to Carnival in Colombia with my friends, and then returning to the cold New York winter. It was such a juxtaposition. And I wanted to find a way to create a space for people my age, and the Latin community, to experience this musical vibrancy. That is how ‘Saca tu Jaguar’ started, which is the concept of bringing out the wilderness inside you, and just relinquishing your body to dance.

For me, music, dance and art all spring from the same fountain of creation. The process of making music is interconnected with how I perceive and make art. It’s all part of the same journey.

M: How does music influence your creative practice?

OA: Music is an inextricable part of my creative process. It marks the start of my day, and follows me through all the motions of my life. Music is the stimulation that allows me to dive into different frequencies. It is a vehicle of movement, allowing me to be instantly transported to different times, cultures, ideas and places.

M: Describe your musical influences? Any key musicians you pay homage to today?

OA: My influences are really vast and varied. I often answer this question best with where I am at the present moment. I was just in Seattle and I picked up 14 vinyls. Count Basie, Belafonte, Miriam Makeba, Cal Tjader, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller to name a few. Also I love the sound of marimbas – it’s maximal tropical elegance. Miles Davis, ‘Water Babies’, I love that album. And Maman Sani – psychedelic, electronic music from Nigeria. I also love flamenco, salsa, boogaloo, and jazz. It’s hard for me to attach myself to one genre, I am extremely open to many sounds.

M: When you DJ what mood are you hoping to provoke?

Often at parties my playlist is very much influenced by the scene of the crowd. I don’t play prescriptive genres. It really depends on where I am, the vibe of the hour, what people are eating, and therefore it is different each time. What I always hope for is for the power of music to make people feel inspired and free. And of course to dance – which is always my go-to vibe.





M: Do you have any rituals that are important to you in your daily life? 

OA: Rituals are a huge part of my study, art and life. But the practice of rituals really depends on the moment I am living. When I’m in a higher space in life, characterized by joy and abundance, I probably focus less on rituals which are typically more grounding. However when I am more introspective and have more time for myself, I practice rituals that connect me to my inner self, and help align my presence and being. These rituals are mainly around breathing practices, and others that train my brain to connect with my subconscious during sleep. I also have a small shrine that I give offerings to, which has been a part of my life for the past 15 years. But rituals take the form of many things we do. Even cooking or getting dressed. At its heart, rituals are about the power and meaning you assign to your actions. 

M: Where are you right now in your personal journey? What’s the title of this chapter of your life? 

OA: I don’t think I can qualify that. My work, personal relationships, and my personal growth. I’m just in a moment, and this moment is part of many, in my whole process. I do know that I am constantly leaning towards where my life will take me, even when I don’t know where that is. It’s a feeling.

A special thank you to our sponsor Transparent – timeless, modular electronics that are forever upgradeable. 

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