Salvador Navarrete, aka Sega Bodega, is taking his dog for a walk and talking about Obama.
“I’ve asked him about featuring on a track and I think he’s feeling it, but he’s probably a bit busy,” the DJ/producer says, when we call him up for a chat. “But actually, if I wanted to I could potentially go home and mail him, and he might see it. That’s pretty cool.”
He’s making a mental list of rappers he’d like to get onto his forthcoming debut album, ‘Ferocious’. “I think New York rap(pers), like Mykki Blanco, Zebra Katz. What I’m really sick of, in hip-hop, is hearing the same kind of shit… all ego. Even on the new Jay Z album, he’s talking about crack cocaine and being in the streets, but he’s one of the most successful men on the planet. Le1f and Zebra Katz, they talk about ego but in a whole different kind of way – flamboyant, sometimes.”
Having just named a handful of fierce personalities, the Glaswegian explains how he got into producing through an attack of creative tunnel vision.
“When everyone my age now was younger, bands were very much the big thing,” he begins. “I don’t think you’d ever see a dance track in the charts back in 2001. Well you might, but it was Kings Of Leon or The Killers that were taking over the world.”
Salvador quickly grew tired of being the central cog in his own band’s machine. “My friends would learn instruments just to play other people’s songs, but I was learning instruments to write music. I was making sure that everyone else was free for something that I just wanted to do.”
Initially operating as Peace – a moniker which he retired as soon as a certain indie band rose to fame – his outlet of choice was DJing and production: “I like to have control…” he ponders. “I think that’s why I decided to DJ.”
There’s something about Glasgow that seems to spawn delectably melodic, icicle-coated electronics. The Ireland-raised half Chilean pinpoints his influences as LuckyMe and Warp – in particular Rustie and Hudson Mohawke. Which, geographically, makes a lot of sense given his relocation to the Scottish city.
You can easily spot the frenetic maximalism of such beatsmiths – for instance, HudMo’s Pharoahe Monch horns booming throughout his rework of ‘National Anthem’. A third, perhaps more unexpected influence is Sony subsidiary Windham Hill Records, an outlet for folk and New Age music.
This dichotomy points to a rift in his work – something he elaborates on when talking about his latest ‘Song Dynasty’ four-tracker.
“I wouldn’t really consider this EP an actual EP. I don’t like when people start EPs straight away – I like intros and outros, and this one doesn’t have that. It’s more just for people to dance to, really.”
‘34’, released earlier this year, conformed more to his definition of the extended play, in that opener ‘Konerak’ (video below) warbles a quavering opening line and closing cut ‘Luxor Quest – I & II’ pulls the tempo dramatically towards the end. His work doesn’t just revolve around the club but often draws in a larger, sweeping dramatism that is cinematic in its essence.
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When asked, he admits that he would love to produce film scores, fascinated by the puppet-like control you have over people’s emotions while watching a movie.
“You know that scene from Psycho? The shower scene? That was supposed to have no music,” he says. “And Alfred Hitchcock was like, there’s no chance we’re having any music behind this. Bernard Herrmann, who made the music, asked if he could just try one thing, at least.”
Which was, of course, when those iconic string stabs came in, making an indelible impression in the minds of audiences worldwide. “Apparently [Herrmann] doubled his whole salary when he did the music for that film,” says Salvador. “But it’s the simplest thing.”
It may be tailor-made for the dancefloor, but ‘Song Dynasty’ is nonetheless a discerning pack of club weapons. ‘Security’ (below) grabs the pitch-bent vocal from T2’s ‘Heartbroken’ and throws it over grandiose string arrangements, while ‘Glamorous’ chops up Fergie for a skittering slice of mayhem, and ‘Work’ flips Ciara and Missy’s vocals.
“Actually, everything off this EP I did back in 2010. But I didn’t have an understanding of the technical shit and they did sound really bad,” Salvador divulges. After refining and polishing these tracks that he found on an old hard drive, they’ve now found their way onto limited vinyl via Week Of Wonders as a white label outing.
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Being judgmental is perhaps not something you’d hurry to admit to, but Sega Bodega’s critical eye reflects his perfectionism.
“I’m pretty quick to make up my mind about something – to the point where I look at a track and think, eurgh, this might not be good. But that’s literally judging a book by its cover,” he says of his decision to give the tracks on his ‘34’ EP thought-provoking names. Not just any old titles, two of his cuts are named after a couple of renowned serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims: Konerak Sinthasomphone and Steven Tuomi.
Much like a murder mystery, Salvador wants his tracks to initiate miniature treasure hunts; like the Easter eggs that Disney hide in their movies.
“In Toy Story they had characters from the films that weren’t even finished yet lying around the room. And in Monsters Inc., that little girl picks up a toy and it’s Nemo,” he explains. “So it’s stuff like that that I think is really cool.”
So he reveals that if you add up all the minutes and seconds in ‘Song Dynasty’, it comes to 34. “I think Radiohead released an album recently, and if you play the first song off that and the first off the second album, they’ll blend in together – the whole thing will merge into one. But only complete geeks would find that out.”
You’d have to play around with it for so long to figure that out though, wonders Clash. “Or they’d just say it in an interview and spoil it,” he laughs.
Where music has, of course, crept from the physical realm into the digital, it still has a permanent staying power that is a source of concern for Sega Bodega.
“It’s ‘cos [the tracks] will be around forever,” he explains. “Unless the Internet stops becoming a thing, or the world ends, in 6,000 years someone could find it, so I want to make it perfect.”
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Words: Felicity Martin (@facilitymartin)
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