Up this week in our podcast series, NY-based producer Bergsonist delivers a vibrant mix of wide-sweeping electronics, lushly forested by her all-consuming appetite for all types of music; melodic and harsh, groovy and gloom-mongering, happy and anxiogenic.
Purposely shrouded in opaqueness and secrecy, Bergsonist is nevertheless set for a buoyant future into the light. Born in Morocco but now based out of the sleepless New York, the mysterious wonder lady was undoubtedly one of the breakthrough artists of 2016 with her top-notch solo debut for Always Human Tapes, a track on Mélodies Souterraines’ ‘W/X‘ and a fantastic split EP alongside Isabella for Swedish imprint Börft, more recently followed by a couple solid contributions to Dawn Records’ VA #1 and Physical Therapy’s anti-Trump compilation ‘Physically Sick‘.
Expert in abrasive and thunderous off-kilter electronics, by turns leaning towards industrial, electro, acid and a more modular-friendly breed of techno experimentations, the maturity of Selwa’s sound proves no short of astonishing – listen after listen, record after record. It is with great pleasure that we get to share with you this Bergsonist mix today, lushly forested by her all-consuming appetite for all types of music; melodic and harsh, groovy and gloom-mongering, happy and anxiogenic.
Interview by Baptiste Girou Photography by Greg Zifcak & Selwa Abd
"This mix was concocted a few weeks ago out of a strong egotistical desire/impulse to create an endearing sonic voyage (for outdoor activities)."
It’s a great mix that spans a fair lot of styles. Please tell us more about it? When and how was it recorded?
Thanks. This mix was concocted a few weeks ago out of a strong egotistical desire/impulse to create an endearing sonic voyage (for outdoor activities).
It features tracks that I’ve been really into lately, a lot of early Detroit, electro cuts, old school floating house vibes, as well as experimental music ranging from DJ Stingray, Anthony Rother, Gerald Donald, Senyawa, MuslimGauze to more recent tracks – mostly unreleased from friends – Börft (DJ Sotofett) and Styles Upon Styles (forthcoming EP).
Does your moniker have anything to do with Bergson’s philosophy?
Yes. Bergsonist is derived from a book that Deleuze wrote about Bergson’s philosophy called ‘Le Bergsonisme‘ (‘Bergsonism’). It’s funny I chose this name by accident and mysteriously it happened to describe exactly how I produce music; I’m always trying to use ‘intuition’ as the leading force in my creative process and trying to detach myself from preconceived thoughts that I have about the machine I’m using.
Thanks. I’m very grateful that my first releases happened to be with labels that I admire and respect. Releasing on Börft with Isabella was surreal! I’m still so appreciative for all the amazing people who have been/are receptive and supportive to my music. Being able to share it to more people is always a pure blessing.
Following, I have my first EP 12″ coming up this summer on Styles Upon Styles. I couldn’t be much happier again to release on a label that I respect; SUS is also giving me “carte blanche” for the art direction, which is an honor! This EP, like the Börft split reflects well my dualistic style.
I’m always trapped in between a binary dilemma, industrial/experimental vs housey techno, rhythmically oriented… I hate to chose because they both reflect two ways of dealing with my reality.
"I’m always trapped in between a binary dilemma, industrial/experimental vs housey techno, rhythmically oriented."
How’s your creative process in the studio? Do you like to jam with instruments and machines freely and see what comes out of it, or do you have a more focused approach?
I don’t have a studio. I guess the studio is my head. I always pick up a few machines and challenge myself to get the most juice out of them. I think freedom will never really occur as the machine always sets up limitations that you can’t escape. It’s sadist but I love the feeling of being slaved to the machine and the concept of following an intuitive path. It’s always so rejuvenating to encounter happy or sad accidents.
What machines do you own?
At the moment I’m using my Analog Rytm, ER1 and iPad for samples (from my personal sonic archive and max experiments).
Any piece of gear you’d never get rid of, no matter what?
ER1, first piece I got by accident. I will never sell it. It’s such a direct and intuitive machine, I’m always surprised by its multiple facets.
What was your first incursion in the realms of electronic music?
First through Listening. Then, when I got my first computer through surfing the realms of the NET and downloading open source softwares. The Internet is insane.
"It’s sadist but I love the feeling of being slaved to the machine and the concept of following an intuitive path. It's always so rejuvenating to encounter happy or sad accidents."
I guess being Moroccan in the US isn’t the easiest thing right now. Do you feel Trump’s election has changed something in the way some people perceive/treat you in and out of the music world?
I hope not. Most of the people I’ve met/know are very receptive to the Moroccan culture. Morocco is very rich not only culinary speaking but also musically. Growing up in Casablanca and Marrakech influenced me tremendously in the way I sense and create rhythms. Unfortunately the media are relentlessly brainwashing people about different cultures especially from the Middle East and amplifying this ridiculous fear of the other.
Have you felt being a woman closed some doors to you in the “industry”?
Virtually not really as I’ve always kept Bergsonist mysterious, genderless. But in real life, I must say a little, when people meet you in person they don’t take you seriously but then, as soon as they listen to your music, their perception starts to shift…
Doing the split with Isabella was so amazing, as we, two women, were for the first time represented by a legendary male dominant label. Happily for many people gender is not a barrier but the sound itself. Playing also for the Brooklyn collective Discwoman’s 3rd anniversary and their Boiler Room take Over with Octo Octa and Via App was exciting and empowering as a femme.
"I’m always trying to use 'intuition' as the leading force in my creative process and trying to detach myself from preconceived thoughts that I have about the machine I’m using."
What are your favourite places to hang out in New York? Where do you usually listen to music, buy records, have a drink, simply go out for a walk…?
The Cloisters, Anthology film archives, Control and few art galleries… Always in flux. I listen to music everyday while walking. I don’t usually buy records but if I do it’s from friends or from the wild wild internet.
What’s the last record store you visited and what did you bag there?
Halcyon, it was for the Börft In store event that Isabella and i organised to celebrate the release of our split.
What’s your schedule like for the coming weeks?
Since my euro tour is canceled, I would say schizophrenic schedule.
Discover more about Bergsonist on Inverted Audio.