Meet No Plexus, Rewire's Young Artist in Residence for 2023 and 2024: the Amsterdam based duo are quickly making a name for themselves in the experimental electronic music scene with a truly unique combination of complex sound design, non-traditional song forms and storytelling. Their music and performances can be described as genre-queer; as the duo carefully combines elements of a wide variety of modern electronic music genres to express complex concepts and emotions such as millennial dread and queer joy. Rewire spoke with No Plexus, consisting of vocalist and composer Brechtje van Dijk (Bec Plexus) and producer Allison Wright (No Compliments), in the weeks following their seminal performance at Rewire 2023.
First of all, after killing the show at Paard 2. How long did the high last? Are you still on cloud 9?
Bec - I guess the high has different layers. That super glow right after the show lasted a week. Just walking around with massive grins on our faces. Pinching each other, revisiting the amazing vibe in Paard 2 over and over again. But now, some months later, that super glow has transformed in a high that’s filled with anticipation. Slowly requests in response to the Rewire show are coming in. It feels like we won’t be leaving the clouds for quite a while.
The show was a first benchmark performance after months of hard work as Rewire’s Young Artist in Residence. How did the collaboration between No Plexus and Rewire come about?
Allison - Our relationship with Rewire began in 2020 when we were supposed to perform at that year’s edition with Bec’s solo project. We thought that the pandemic ruined our chances of ever playing there, but thankfully we were asked again for the following year. Rewire 2021 was an online edition, so Bec and I took it as an opportunity to work on something completely different. We made a 30 minute music video shot entirely with drones called Manicurism. The team at Rewire really liked what we made, so we looked for ways to collaborate further. Bec and I found a grant initiated by the Dutch Performing Arts Fund called Nieuwe Makers, which is a really special development grant that artists can apply for if they can find a nationally respected arts institution to mentor them. We asked Rewire if they would be interested in taking on that role, and thankfully they were. So we spent about half a year preparing the application and crossing all of our fingers and toes. We received the results when Bec and I were in separate countries and timezones, so I ended up opening a bottle of champagne at around 10 in the morning.
In what way has the residency with Rewire positively impacted your development as artists? (This can be anything from more practical matters to more creative ones).
B - Funnily enough, I think this residency has allowed us to really figure out how to collaborate with each other. Before this residency, we had only worked on a few project together. Now we get to focus on No Plexus every day all day. In the beginning of the residency, that put quite a lot of pressure on both our artistic and private relationship. Going through that and finding a flow was massive. More practically speaking, I feel like we’ve already fulfilled several of the goals that we had for this residency, while we’re only halfway! Signed with a label (The Platform), finishing an album, designing a stage show, booking shows in other countries, being invited for more residencies, collaborating with choreographers, video makers and fashion designers… Damn, I’m already pre-grieving for when this journey comes to an end. But hopefully we can sustain it by ourselves then!
In the run-up to the festival performance we also saw a feature in the renowned Metal Magazine, with the exclusive premiere of your video. What did it feel like, seeing such an extensive feature on your work on such a platform?
Allison- It’s pretty surreal to see your own face next to some of your heroes. That’s what happened when the Metal article came out. It was us and Shygirl side-by-side on their IG feed. But for real, this was the first time we had been asked really substantial questions about the record - not just the usual ‘how do you describe your sound’ or ‘what artists inspire you’ kinds of questions. We ended up going very existential and philosophical into the themes of the record and what it means to be an artist in a late-stage capitalist hellscape haha. Surprised they didn’t edit it more actually. It was quite a scroll, but we’re super grateful.
Do you feel like the residency has given you the opportunity to discover new artistic grounds?
B - Definitely. The biggest exploration was working with light and stage designer Emmanuel Biard. While we did have some experience with programming lights, he showed us a whole other level of engaging with light. Emmanuel pushed us to think in bigger gestures, and came up with the idea of working with holo displays. For me personally, physical performance has also been a big exploration. It’s been exciting to work with choreographer Maggie Madfox for our music videos. Movement is such a natural way to extend the ways we can communicate the rhythms and arcs we want to express. It was exciting to embed some of these new findings in our live show too.
Musically, I feel the next year will really be wild. We’ve figured out a solid setup of gear to use in a live setting, to perform the songs of our debut album. But now we can go back to the drawing board, and explore what other millions of things we could possibly do with that setup. The next album is just waiting to be written. Some things we want to start to explore or go deeper into are textless singing, eco-synthesis and “direct music”. The last meaning: as our debut album is drenched in concept, we’re curious what would happen if we try to make some music that is the most direct it could possibly get.
What are some of your personal highlights in these last few months under the Rewire residency programme? (Apart from the show at the festival).
B - An unexpected twist was that we started DJ’ing this year. I wouldn’t have believed you if you had told me that a few years ago. But it’s been a highlight to find out that it actually makes a lot of sense. To me, DJ’ing feels like a macro composition. Something you can meticulously prepare beforehand, but also need to deliver with spontaneity and fire once it’s your turn in the club. It’s been a highlight to find myself daydreaming of tracks I’d like to share next time.
The album Rite of Passage is coming out in October. How are you preparing yourselves for the release?
Allison - Well thankfully the hardest part is done - the music has been complete for nearly a year now. We’re still working on two more music videos to join ‘Butterfly’ (our first single and video, which came out in March), and we’re also going to drop some remixes in the summer to get people amped for the album adventure. It’s all going to culminate in a release show here in Amsterdam hosted by our label ‘The Platform’. It’s going to be an interdisciplinary club-night with parallel programming in different spaces, super queer, super futuristic. We didn’t just want to perform for 45 min and then everyone goes home. We’re working with the team at The Platform to make it something people won’t forget. Date to be announced soon.
What will be the next step in the coming months?
Allison - We’re about to take the show to Genoa and Berlin in a few weeks. Which will be our first international appearances as No Plexus actually. We’ll spend almost two weeks here in Amsterdam tweaking the show before we leave, in a kind of micro-residency at Rewind Studios in Amsterdam. And when we get back, we’ll be filming the last remaining music video.
The residency programme will culminate in a final performance at Rewire 2025. What is one thing you would like to try before the residency ends?
B - Making our sophomore album is going to be the biggest challenge. But aside from that, we want to give the touring life a real go. Try playing shows in another country, in a different town each night. It would also be cool to try expanding our team a little - perhaps a tour manager, or a booker? It will be special to trust someone else with some of the responsibilities we carry all by ourselves now. And of course - looking back at how we’ve developed so far, we’ll probably continue to keep trying to go deeper, bigger and more peculiar with anything we make. Trying things is the spice of life!
If people want to relive the Rewire performance, where do they have to be? Are there any gigs lined-up in the coming weeks or months?
Allison - If you happen to live in Genoa in Italy, you can see us play at Electropark Festival on the 15th of July. Or we perform in Berlin on the 10th of August at A L’ARME! Festival. On the 18th of November, we will play in Nantes at Carte Blanche to Rewire. Watch our Instagram page (@noplexus) for updates on the album release show in Amsterdam, which will happen most in October or November. You can also catch us dj’ing around Amsterdam. We post about shows regularly on our stories.