We kick off the New Year with a deeply atmospheric IA MIX from Sa Pa, dredging us through a thick haze of reduced experimental dub techno, composed of field recordings and a mass of unreleased material from the producer’s archives. Listen out for forthcoming music from Sa Pa’s next release on Lamassu. Sit back, put on your headphones and soak up the ambience.
Interview by Tom Durston
"Sa Pa was the catalyst, or moment in time, that brought together a creative process, and the project is a reflection of that"
First off, happy new year! Can you tell us how and where you welcomed 2021?
Under a red halo.
Thank you for recording this mix, it’s rich with atmosphere, field recordings, deconstructed dub and unheard / forthcoming tracks from yourself, making for a deeply adventurous listening experience. Tell us how you pieced together the mix, what it contains, and what atmosphere you have created?
That was the idea, a construction dub as the lexicon would have it.
Where was the mix recorded and did you had any special intentions to achieve with it?
Well, the sum of its parts comes from the world over but it was mixed at home base. I was hoping to express what a voyage to Buyan might sound like.
Let’s delve into the coining and concept of Sa Pa: when did you start to create music under this name, what does the name mean, and what do you seek to portray through the project’s music?
Everything I had made up until a certain point was more or less nameless. Sa Pa was the catalyst, or moment in time, that brought together a creative process, and the project is a reflection of that.
From a previous conversation, you expressed that the Sa Pa project is an expression of liminality — not a person, but an experience. What is the reasoning behind this? How do you seek to achieve it?
Up until this point I’ve always felt comfortable in expressing myself as something like a feeling, or the projection of a memory. Trying to personify that is where the character comes in.
Your music is deeply entrenched in experimental dub techno, displaying a deep appreciation for the sounds of Basic Channel, Maurizio, Vainqueur etc. I’m interested to learn what records, producers and albums have played an acute influence on the Sa Pa project?
Norman Nodge once said, “I am influenced by everything I’ve ever heard and danced to.”
The first ever Sa Pa album ‘風物詩‘ aka ‘Fuubutsushi’ was released via Giegling sub-label Forum in 2015. I am keen to learn more about the meaning contained within the album’s Japanese title, and your affiliation with it.
Everything is a memory, here’s a beautiful word that captures it.
Your second album featured thick layers of field recordings – some salvaged from a recorder lost in Bassiani during the Police raid in 2018. Looking back at that moment, what do you remember feeling at the time, and how did you translate those emotions and thoughts into the album?
The album doesn’t directly translate this experience per se, but its cause and effect goes a long way.
Your music appears to be tied to locations, landscapes and moments – what else plays a pivotal role on your music making process?
Anything else I can capture or grasp. Literally, anything.
Are you the type of producer that can create music on the fly, or do you need to be rooted in a studio?
Deeply rooted preferably.
What is your current production setup, and which instruments are essential to you?
A couple of paper weights, recorders, typewriter, squeaky chair.
How do you think your early music stands up to the present vision of Sa Pa?
I think it stands. Underneath of course there’s an evolution going on.
Tell me about your initial step into music production: what, or who, spurred your interest into the world of electronic music?
Hearing “Oxygen Part II” from a young age had a profound effect on me. It was like a portal into the cosmos. After that it was all about figuring out how to get there myself.
You performed in Tbilisi, Georgia, during the now-famous demonstrations outside the government building – please tell us about that moment, and what you remember feeling when playing?
I remember dj Dustin’s address, people offering food, and a sea of smiling faces.
How have things changed in the city since? Are there still raids on institutions, or did the government accept the people’s voice?
At this time last year it was as peaceful and vibrant as I had ever seen it.
Can you tell us more about the scene in Tbilisi? It seems full of life and variety, and yet also mysterious to those of us who’ve yet to make a trip.
Yes, a vivid placenta of light, warmth and incredible atmosphere.
Your next release, ‘Borders Of The Sun‘ is landing this month via Lamassu – can you tell us about the music you’ve made, where it was composed, and why you are inaugurating Lamassu’s first ever release?
I think to be the first on a new label is a great way to experiment where things can go.
Hackney-based artist Herald Black is responsible for the record’s cover, what do you like about its composition and can you tell us more about your affiliation with Black?
It’s great to be paired with Herald’s work. That connection came directly through Lamassu. A golden touch.
What releases from 2020 kept you going through the year?
Dub techno for life.
‘Borders Of The Sun’ LP is scheduled for release 28 January via Lamassu. Order a copy from Bandcamp.
Photography by Kieran Behen
1. Sa Pa – Unreleased
2. Sa Pa – Unreleased
3. Mokira – Manipulation Musik (Sa Pa Final Descent) [Kontra Musik]
4. Sa Pa – Face West [Lamassu]
5. Sa Pa – Unreleased
6. Sa Pa – Calm & Stormy (Southeasterly) [Lamassu]
7. Sa Pa – Unreleased
8. Sa Pa – Boss Walks [FORUM]
9. Sa Pa – Unreleased
10. Sa Pa – Morocco [MDR]
11. Sa Pa – Hallucingenic [Mana]
12. Sa Pa – Unreleased
13. Sa Pa – Cagean Cramps [FORUM]
14. Sa Pa – Deepwater Reprise [Mana]
15. Sa Pa – Russolo [FORUM]
16. Sa Pa – Recovery [Mana]
17. Sa Pa – Unreleased
18. Sa Pa – Unreleased
19. Sa Pa – Unreleased
20. Sa Pa – Unreleased
21. Sa Pa – Nonsense [Lamassu]
22. Sa Pa – Lovember [Lamassu]
23. Sa Pa – Room With A View [Mana]
24. Sa Pa – Womb [FORUM]
25. Sa Pa – Buyan [Lamassu]