A booting computer’s interface grids upon Bapari’s face in their new music video for Interlude & Daybreak. Numbers and letters are synced together to formulate a a digital world. A world familiar to the musician Bapari whose industrial and heavy-dance sensibilities finds true partnership in the abstracted yet hyper-structured realities created by the internet. Their latest EP’ Daybreak‘ illustrates a dystopian plight of a city devastated by a flood. The tracks are alert and focused; they are reliant on heavy combinations of percussion often invoking the sense of running or acceleration of speed; the tracks veer in and out various genres from vogue, hard-dance, techno, and jungle. The accompanying video for Interlude & Daybreak directed by Alima Lee posits the DJ dismorphed and enmeshed within the digital. Scenes of Bapari on train tracks and underneath their civic architecture are layered in heat-vision filters and other mass surveillance technology emphasizing the tainted core of civic infrastructure of tracking, identifying, and the accounting of things and people. It’s a type of paranoia or awareness Bapari finds generative as they author a torrential catharsis on Daybreak’ EP.
Earlier this year LAND’s Associate Curator Hugo Cervantes sat down with Bapari to discuss their debut EP Daybreak, their time as a LAND x Air resident, their musical process, and to speculate on what the music of the future will sound like.
When did you begin to work on the EP?
Two years ago around this time, I was realizing that I was Djing a lot and doing radio stuff but one thing that caught my attention was even if I was producing for people or producing in general I didn’t necessarily have a project of my own that I had made and put out. I needed something to play at my own performances so that was something I began to consider. I had been producing for a while and I thought it’s time to give it a go and figure out my own personal sound. Two years ago I started just thinking about what that would sound like, an electronic club, because of the music I was into and was performing. I ended up revisiting a lot of these tracks and changing them up until January 2021. It’s been a process.
The title tracks describe a dystopian sunken city and metaphorically reflect how Los Angeles is becoming more difficult to live in while also carrying a drowsy sense of optimism. Did the city inform the EP?
I kept tweaking the tracks and this aquatic-rebirth theme emerged as I started thinking more critically of what I was making and the message I was trying to convey. It was what I was feeling at the time. The EP starts with the track The Flood and Daybreak is like the optimism after a crazy day. The Interlude is a sonic meditation. There wasn’t a specific city I had in mind while working on the EP. For the most part I was living in New York and then moved to Los Angeles in 2019. My experiences with cities are just in Los Angeles and New York City. When the first lockdown happened everything felt dystopian, I was living in New York at the time and we could not leave our apartments. The city was completely desolate and I believe that was around the time I made the song The Flood and the Interlude. Whereas Daybreak and Sunken City were from before that time. Those two songs (Daybreak & Sunken City) were made in LA and the other two (The Flood & Interlude) were made in New York. It’s interesting to think how those two cities collide in the EP. I think there is a reason why those four songs are the ones that made it on the EP and other songs didn’t. These four songs felt the most authentic in a different way the other songs didn’t.
There’s adrenaline throughout the EP. Where did that come from?
I think that comes from the music that I listen to and DJ like hard dance, hard club or experimental music. Even the Interlude which doesn’t have a percussive pace but has these more hard elements spread throughout the song. When you listen to the EP it should feel like you are running or sprinting away from something like a flood. There’s an urgency, the visual should be like endless roaming, it should be endless running.
The sequencing of the EP has a narrative with the final track promising a kind of arrival — a daybreak.
When you listen to it should feel like you’re running around, sprinting away from something like a flood! Instead of endless roaming you’re endlessly sprinting around. This flood is coming. It submerges everything. The Interlude is figuring things out. Daybreak is the next day when the sun comes up and Sunken City is like imagining yourself on a hill looking back at the city and it’s completely submerged.
How would you describe your music?
It’s definitely drifting into hard dance themes, it’s intentionally cinematic, to tell a story. I try to make everything I am working on very visual so I think there is a lot of curation in the noises I’m selecting whether that be percussion or instruments or what I’m using to create the melody. There’s a lot of intention behind it like most music. I’ll start with a theme or an idea and then I see where it goes.
For Daybreak, I’d describe it as cinematic, hard dance, it doesn’t neatly fit into any club genres so I think that was the point. I listen to so many types of club music from vogue to jungle, techno, club, or afro-caribbean music, footwork, or whatever, I feel like a lot of those genes have been embedded in my head subconsciously. I feel like there’s so many elements from some of those genres that made it into this EP or informed it.
The blending of different genres reminds me of what Kelman Duran has said about the future of music sounding like a circle or drums or it being purely percussive. What do you think music will sound like in the future?
It’s interesting Kelman is thinking of percussion because music definitely started with percussion, it’s a full circle moment.
When I think about music in the future I think of a huge blending of genres. When I think of popular music or pop music in general, you see how much it draws from electronic music. I feel that’s the trajectory of where pop music is going like other genres of music. I don’t know if I have a specific idea of what sound will sound like but I do know technology plays a huge role in shaping the sound, production software does help facilitate electronic genres. You can create an entire song, symphony, whatever, on your computer literally through your keyboard. You don’t need anything outside from your laptop and the software to technically create an entire body of work. That’s a huge influence on what music sounds like moving forward because you don’t need to rely on a recording studio and assembling all these professionally trained musicians. Music today can really come from a place of experimentation and sampling and digitally warping instruments, home recording, and smaller and smaller devices. In a way I don’t know what music will sound like as it could go anywhere.
Collaborating with your friends and peers is an anchor to your practice. How does friendship play in your creative process?
It’s huge! Whether it means working on a track with people, sharing ideas with people, if I send demos to a friend who makes music or friends who don’t make music too but if I try to get production tips from a musician friend who also happens to be in the similar phase of making something and we give each other feedback. “What would you do here? I’m stuck here too.” Collaborations could be a huge help, it brings a new life and perspective into the project. Collaborations bring in new ideas that you would’ve never thought of your own. It’s a mutual inspiration where I’m listening to my peer’s music music and they’re listening to mine, the constant back and forth with friends, alongside DJing, listening to sets, or playing radio. Those activities keep me inspired and bring in new ideas.
What’s your approach for composing scores meant for performance scores versus mixes or sets?
I love creating audio-visual compositions for film, fashion shows, or a dance performance, it’s something that I am coming into and something I really enjoy making because it’s a hybrid between DJing sets which is in a long format/recording of music and producing songs which is more original material but tend to be shorter in comparison. So doing this in between formats where someone is giving me a prompt or project idea and they are expecting me to provide a sound element to bring a different kind of idea to life. I think it’s been eye opening for me because I always approach music from a visual way. I’ve always envisioned the story I’m telling and created music for things like film/performances, that visual element is fixed and tangible and I have to work with it, in comparison to when I make a song I have to imagine it. The film exists and I can look at the film and think of the sounds from the thing I am watching.
As a member of Fuck You Pay Us (FUPU) as a drummer, what is the difference between playing in a band and working solo as a DJ?
Being in a band is a different experience. I think there’s one thing to be said about performing something literally live, there’s something about rehearsing as a band. For example, when I’m producing a song I am every single instrument. When you’re in a band you have to know your part in relation to every other part. You are a component of a whole to create this other experience, you’re a piece of the pie and so there’s something different and beautiful about it. When you are in sync with multiple people at the same time on stage or in rehearsal there’s something exhilarating that can’t be replicated when you are doing music in a different way.
I played drums a little bit before, Jasmine Nyende and Uhuru invited me to join FUPU to play drums as other musicians have also played drums for FUPU. It’s definitely a lot, learning someone else’s music and learning drums and percussion in a different way as it was something I never really did outside of drum lessons in college.
How has punk or the spirit of FUPU carried on into Bapari?
It was my first time participating in the world of punk in that way.. It was a huge learning experience, collaborating and being insync with four people playing at the same time with one song being played at a time. There’s something unique even to this day I miss playing in a band, missing that type of collaboration because it’s a very unique and specific way of making music.
After the EP what do you think you will do next?
I’m working on a video for Daybreak and Interlude with Alima Lee for the EP. The video is going to be dystopian, aquatic, and looking into the future. We’ve been collaborating on this and it should be done soon as I was able to shoot during my time as a resident with LAND and Werkartz. I’ll have song on Mollyhouse records in a compilation album that’ll be out in 2022. It’ll be a trance, hard-dance track. I’ve been listening to a lot of trance and hard-dance and I wanted to pay homage to that. Then working on a soundscape for a NAVEL LA project. Then there’s one project that has a butterfly theme, I think it’ll be a follow up to the EP, similar but more experimental and different. It’ll be about rebirth and nature.
What’s the perfect sound/song to you?
I don’t think any song is perfect ever. One thing I know with my music is when I’m ready to let a song go. If I’ve been working for something in a time when I reach that point — it sounds blaze but when it’s sounds good that’s when I stop myself because I spend hours tweaking levels by like percentage points and almost being hyper-perfect about it. At some point you have to let it be. One thing when I feel something is perfect is when I want to hear it again. When it gets to the end and it’s ready to start over and I hit the loop button that’s when I know I’m done.
Join LAND at The Lash for LANDxAIR ’21 Artist in Residence Bapari’s video release for Interlude & Daybreak off their EP Daybreak! The screening will be followed by DJ sets by: 699, Dangerous Rose, Bianca Oblivion, Venganza, and Buckmonster. Hosted by: Skullsqwat, Hex Hudosh, and Saturn Rising
Bapari (aka Arielle Baptiste) is a Haitian-American musician, producer and DJ. They have released music with Popcan Records, Mollyhouse Records, Chroma NY, XXIII and Internet Friends. In addition to producing for a number of recording artists, their debut solo EP will be releasing this March. Bapari has created soundtracks and scores that have been featured at Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, Redbull Music x Compose LA, as well as New York Fashion Week. They’ve headlined Boiler Room LA, played Melting Point & Papi Juice in New York, as well as numerous parties across the USA. Bapari DJs and hosts the monthly show Puffy on NTS radio and last year served as the tour DJ for Steve Lacy. Their musical style explores electronic experimentation to create anywhere from unique underground club tracks to genre-bending sonic landscapes. Most recently Bapari was selected for the LANDxAIR artist residency program hosted by Los Angeles Nomadic Division and Werkärtz and last year they were accepted into a two-year residency program by NAVEL, the artist collective and performance space in downtown Los Angeles. They formerly played drums in the punk band F U Pay Us, as well as soccer for the Haitian national team.
Frame Rate is LAND’s screening series, presenting film, video, and moving image works in site-specific contexts. Reflecting the diverse ways contemporary artists engage with visual culture, Frame Rate allows audiences intimate access to artists’ works and creative process. Unlike conventional formats, Frame Rate invites artists to propose and present new work, works-in-progress or ideas that comprise the multifaceted influences informing their creative practice.
LAND’s 2021 exhibitions are made possible with lead support from the Offield Family Foundation and the Jerry and Terry Kohl Foundation. Additional support is provided by the the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, the California Community Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Trust Foundation, Fran and Ray Stark Foundation, the Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation, the Poncher Family Foundation, Brenda Potter, and LAND’s Nomadic Council.