Sega Bodega

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Future-pop savior, “Teenage Dirtbag” Appreciator, and Nuxxe Collective member, Sega Bodega, is Pop’s alien infiltrator in Notion 87!

“Alcohol, alcohol, nudes, X, fictional story about me being murdered, nothing, instrumental,” says Sega Bodega listing off the themes behind each of the 11 tracks on his debut album, Salvador. “That’s about getting into a relationship and having the red flags and being like ‘ah it’s fine’ and then you’re like, ‘shit fuck this is not fine’,” he continues, “That’s about my friend who killed himself. This one’s not really about anything, I just like the lyrics. There you go!”

 

Sega Bodega, real name Salvador Navarrete (his friends call him Salv), is the Nuxxe collective co-founder and future-pop producer come to save us all. He’s mates with Caroline Polachek, Sean Murphy creative directs his live shows and he produces tracks for artists like Cosima. He’s not ecstatic about his name though: “I wish I’d just called myself ‘Salvador’ instead of ‘Sega Bodega’. I thought I would just hold onto it for a couple of months—that was 11 years ago. I hate it.”

 

Landing on Valentine’s day 2020, Salvador, is a raw and ready love letter to his inner demons, that’s unafraid ‘to go there’ emotionally, psychologically and sonically speaking. Less abrasive than previous releases, like 2017’s SS mixtape, Salvador is an intimate experience that was first conceived in 2011 (though none of the original tracks made the final cut) and was previously titled ‘Ferocious’ (which it never sounded, hence the switch to the more personal title). Basically it’s an album about being messed up, disguised as creepy experimental pop bangers, composed of breathy vocoder and pitch-shifted vocals, blunt lyricism and sweet melodies.

 

Born and bred in Ireland—his mum is Irish, his dad’s Chilean—Salv did his growing up in Éire until he was ten years old, before relocating to Glasgow. The move left him with a muddled accent, dropping hints of Irish between flavours of Scottish, resulting in a kind of international American—or a “mess” as Salv himself describes it: “I wish I just had an Irish accent, it’s my favourite accent.”

 

“Because I’m Irish, and I’m Chilean, and I grew up in Scotland—the whole thing of ‘where are you from?’, I don’t even know the answer. When I’m with Irish people I’m Irish, when I’m with Chilean people I’m like ‘oh I’m actually Chilean’, and with Scottish people I’m Scottish,” Salv says. “I don’t even feel like I’m from anywhere. I feel like a test tube baby.”

 

He’d had ambitions of being a legit producer since 2008—having played in bands until then, not yet understanding he could use software to make music solo. “I think back on it now and I wanted that for years,” Salv says, “I wanted just to have a song and it blows up. But then actually I know that if I had I wouldn’t have been able to handle it, I would have fucked everything up.”

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Post high school, Salv did some courses to keep his mum happy—she’s always been supportive, encouragingly saying ‘keep doing it, you’ll be fine’—but they didn’t stick. Instead, he turned to partying hard and DJing. “Glasgow’s got a really good after-party culture because everything closes really early and you can’t buy alcohol past ten, so you end up stocking up,” Salv explains. Finding it hard to keep the party/work balance in check, and struggling to figure where exactly he fit in, Salv felt London calling and moved down south in 2014 to attempt a reset. “I think it’s hard,” he says of Glasgow’s nocturnal temptations, “It’s the same in Berlin, because the partying is so prevalent, balancing out being creative just naturally becomes secondary.”

 

“For the first two years when I got to London, I kind of just partied more, and more, and more. I think I made a bad impression, probably, I was such a mess,” Salv says with brutal honesty. “I was the intense guy who was always drunk. It actually takes a long time to re-establish yourself as not ‘that’ person, once people know ‘oh that guy is a fucking mess’.”

 

All that changed in 2016 when Salv quit hiding anxieties behind the booze and embraced sobriety. “I haven’t had writer’s block since!” he exclaims, “I would always have it, I couldn’t do a single thing… There was eight years prior to that just being miserable, and hating myself, and struggling to be around people, and that constant fear because I didn’t want to do anything else—I still don’t. There’s no plan B.”

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At times plan A has left him on the breadline, taking paid opportunities where they presented themselves. Like the time Boiler Room assumed he was a Blade Runner fanboy and asked him to talk about his presumed love of the film and its iconic soundtrack: “I watched it the night before,” Salv smiles. “They were like ‘so when did you first see Blade Runner?’ I just lied through my teeth. I had to, I was so broke. They were like ‘we’ll give you a thousand pounds to talk about Blade Runner in your living room’. I just thought it was weird they just assumed I was a big fan, they never asked… If someone was like ‘so I know you love Barbie, I’m going to give you a thousand pounds to talk about it’, you’d be like ‘yeah I love Barbie’.”

 

Salv finally found his people when he connected with fellow Nuxxe co-founders and sonic renegades, Coucou Chloe, Shygirl and Oklou. He’d first met Shygirl back in 2013 and, after initially connecting via Instagram, became IRL friends with Chloe when she dropped out of a prestigious art school to move from Paris to London.

 

The trio decided to simultaneously put releases out during the same month under the Nuxxe banner, and the label/collective was birthed. They’ve since become creative soul mates who have each other’s backs and call each other out on the bullshit the way besties should. Later Oklou joined the family after Salv and Chloe were touring as their side project Y1640 and started hearing Lou’s music every night. They became “obsessed” and asked if they could release it through Nuxxe.

 

“It was at that point that I stopped hating everything I did and felt I knew how to approach this now… That’s when I feel like I started being happy with everything,” Salv says. Where his original compositions were filed under ‘experimental’ productions, writing the track “Salv Goes to Hollywood” was a revelation that found him evolving from instrumental producer to the producer slash songwriter-vocalist he’d envisaged being.

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“More and more I stopped being able to write instrumental songs. I still do sometimes, but I’m trying to write lyrics now and that’s fun,” he explains. “‘Salv Goes to Hollywood’ is a bit vague, that was because I’d never written lyrics before. It worked for the song, but for who I wanna be, I like music to be really direct… ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ is my favourite song in the world, well one of my favourite. ‘U Suck’ is completely referencing ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ with the way the vocal switches to a girl at the end, replying to the song—I loved that.”

 

For the most part, Salv’s writing process involves actively trying to make something “unconventional”. Take “Raising Hell”, a track that was the direct result of attempting to make a song that was at the lowest bit rate with low-quality drums. “It always comes from trying to not make an accessible thing, but it always ends up more accessible than intended,” Salv says contemplating, “I wonder what it’d sound like if I just tried to make something accessible?”

 

Not that he’s deliberately being difficult—on the contrary. “Everything needs to be better than the last thing,” says Salv of the Nuxxe work ethos, before correcting himself. “Everything needs to be significantly better than the last thing—that’s important.” Salv himself likes to keep things simple, using Logic and Iris (it’s like Microsoft Paint for sound and allows you to ‘draw’ frequencies) to make music. This dedication to directness and love of pop music, are key to the Sega Bodega sound. In fact, Slav says making pop music is the goal: “I would love if in ten years time the music that I make now without any compromise became pop music—I’d love if that was the radio.”

The thing that irks him most is lazy labelling—more specifically the misuse of ‘experimental electronic music’ as a term. For Sale the entire point of electronic music, experimentation and creativity in general, is that they should have no boundaries. In this way he appreciates pop music as a space that experimental people infiltrate and are able to play in—take Arca or Sophie’s forays into and influence on the mainstream, working with Kanye and Rihanna. “That’s the exciting thing about it,” Salv declares, “You look at a pop star, and look at their team, and you’ll be like ‘that guy used to make noise music’ and you’re like ‘cool’!”

 

“I see the same thing in cartoons,” he says drawing a parallel between his frustrations with experimentation in electronic music and cartoons. “Rick and Morty is my favourite cartoon because they’ve taken advantage of the fact that anything is possible. The Simpsons—they have iPhones! You’re a cartoon, you can make up anything, you can do anything. I get The Simpsons is a comment on society, so is South Park, they both reference the world, but as a cartoon you should be doing anything.”

 

“That’s the same as electronic music—it’s almost an insult to the form if you’re an experimental thing. Experimental music starts to become a genre and it starts to sound the same—that’s weird. People think my music sounds ‘experimental’ because the music that it fits into, it’s not meant to sound like that, so it sounds ‘experimental’. Where does that end? There should be no limits.”

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