The swiss magazine Neue Grafik only released 17 issues throughout the 50s and 60s, and was known for using a design grid that allowed for the simultaneous placement of texts in three languages (German, English and French). It’s this aspect (alongside the eponymous title) that is shared between the long defunct publication and French producer and DJ Fred Bwelle—a musician whose diverse interests and talent yield similarly simultaneous placements of divergent but complimentary sounds ranging from across the globe. A self-proclaimed fan of strains ranging from Brazilian Jazz, to Animal Collective, Etta James to Flava D; it’s no wonder why Neue Grafik (soundcloud) already has EPs out with labels such as Beat X Changers, Wolf Music, and 22A.
Thanks for sitting down with us Neue Grafik; how’s your day going so far?
Nice, just woke up, washed dishes, and now taking the time to answer your questions!
Your work comes across as a masterful blend of strands from all over the spectrum: acid, soul, lofi, funk, jazz, UK bass, hip-hop……the list of boxes goes on. How do you manage to keep each of your projects focused having so many disparate influences to pull from? It seems having an overarching concept for each is very important…
In my opinion, in music, the most important is to keep your mind (and your ears) open and try to do what you want to do. When I make music my purpose is to be close to a feeling, an emotion. Sometimes an idea or a title can inspire me, sometimes I finish a beat or a song and the name comes from a moment I’ve lived, a focus on our society, a thought or whatever. I guess the consistency of my work comes from my own vision of the world. Trying to embrace the movement, the struggles of our world, our inner struggles and our personal journey on earth.
It’s hard to ignore the polyrhythms and free-spirited synthesis in your music that, in reading about of your influences, must’ve drawn from the prolific and fertile territory that labels like Hessle and Hotflush were mapping out back at the turn of the 2010s. What about that scene sparked your curiosity to the point of no return? Seems from the press you’re a massive James Blake fan—i caught him DJ in a bathrobe once.
Hahaha props to Mister Blake. Honestly any rhythm can be a big inspiration for me. When you think about it, I truly believe you can create a new genre when you create a new kind of rhythmic signature associated with a sonority or a specific sound. James Blake kinda did it and changed my way to think and make music. I felt a lot of influences in his music but that was his taste, his sensibility, his love for silence and accuracy of melodic ideas that totally blew my mind from the very beginning (the first time I heared CMYK on Youtube with a friend in a weird after party, 8 years ago, I freaked out). It was after this big slap in my face that I started playing my first chords on a piano! At this period I discovered a lot of different things in the electronic music from DMZ to No Hats No Hoods passing by Planet Mu, People or Mainsqueeze and obviously Ramadanman/Pearson Sound and Hessle Audio and Hemlock. All that scene perpetually challenged rhythm in the electronic music world, like few grime artists (Crazy Titch, Wiley, Ruff Sqwad, Maxsta, Wariko, Skepta, Newham Generals and too many others). I was obsessed by that. Back in 2010, I was in a experimental pop band, and I didn’t expect to discover this new world.
What about the Beat X Changers crew attracted you to release a 2 of a planned 3-EP series with them? I became familiar with Beat X Changers when I heard Leon Vynehall play a track off X_1’s first EP for the label and was swayed immediately by the wholeness of the atmosphere and rhythms they were putting out.
I became familiar with Beat X Changers, and all the community of DJs/dancers/producers around the label back in 2013. At that time (and it’s still the case), I was obsessed by the concept of movement in dance music. I explored and rediscovered house music with dancers, in particular, at a big party called Tap Water Jam. When you see the dancers vibing on a track, you can understand the trance and repetition. They use it like a shape to build their own score or improvisation and variations. Around that time, I met two producers who were at the core of this new incredible and simple energy: X_1 and Monomite. We discovered how to structure and make our own house style tracks at the same period (their Pulkone duo is one of the most intense electronic live in Paris). It was just about vibes, positive energy and people who loves to practice their art. The first release from Beat X was actually from X_1, he killed it. That track called “Du Souffle” is a real gem. My « Pris » EP came out a little after as the label’s second release. And then « Roy » in 2016. Shout out to all the peeps behind this amazing label DJ Rafiki, Matthieu Weber, Mab’ish, Fred Gie and many others, thanks for being alive. Bless.
I’m actually working as we speak. It’s about the Replicants in the original Blade Runner movie. The first record was about the replicant Pris, the second one on the son who killed his father/creator Roy, and the last will be on Rachael.
As for the Rhythm Section release, it represents a period of doubt, and the back and forth between two really important cities for me (Paris and London). It represents love and hate, the observation of what surrounds us. A period of Brexit and French elections… Back in early 2017, I rent a house for few days at Brockley with my girlfriend and we used take the bus to Peckham Rye or the overground to Dalston, we loved it. This release is like a picture of my first real physical connection with these two countries. It’s also the next step after the “Soul Conspiracy” release on 22a.
It seems that more than ever, labels that started as regional affairs are turning to talent outside their backyards (Innervision, your looming release for Rhythm Section case in point); what effects have this heighted cooperation across borders had on your productions and career?
Honestly I’ve worked with UK-based label from the very beginning. My first release under the name NG was actually on Slime Recordings (a label from Bristol) back in 2013. Nowadays, the big difference for me is just my way to grow up and digest different influences. I think you can definitely hear the impact London has on my music. But for me this release is more a collaboration with a good friend and incredible tastemaker/DJ Bradley Zero, and folks behind this lovely RS label: Mali, Anu, Emily… I’m really glad to see people can work together, whatever their roots are or where they are based.Nowadays you’re not just making music, but releasing it as well under the VERTV label; how is that endeavor getting along as 2018 gets well underway?
I started this label in 2016 with 2 other friends, Hybu and Ev4ns. As my schedule is getting a bit hectic, I don’t have time to do things properly anymore. That’s why I’m going to let them lead the whole thing this year, after our VA, Icone #1.
Noting that your creativity is impacted by all forms of media (fellow One Punch Man fan reporting for duty), what’s peaking your creative interests outside the world of dance music these days?
Wow man a ton of things! But let’s try to be simple. Outside the dance music world, well, obviously, the new UK jazz scene: Nubya Garcia, Joe Armon Jones, The Colour That Rise, Ruby Rushton, Emma Jean F*CK*** Thackray, Vels Trio, Comet Is Coming, Shabaka… Outside that music world, artists from other areas, like plasticians, painters, writers, the Japanese and Brazilian cultures, Angela Davis, James Baldwin, Daniela Johannes (the incredible artist who made the artwork of my Roy EP)… I’m also a big fan of Etienne Klein, a French scientist specialized in physics and philosophy. Oh and and yes, the « Flat Earth », the fake news and more than that the questions of conspiracy, lies, truth and manipulations, I find all that quite fascinating creative wise.
And now the requisite opposite question—any peers you’d like to turn our amazing reader’s attentions toward?
The renew of the broken beat scene of course! IG Culture is one of my big heroes in music, and so glad to see him recruiting new team, with new inspirations and the wicked Alex Phountzi who helps him. Wonky Logic, Danvers, EVM, James Rudie, Cengiz… And my big partner Entek! So glad to see this genre going on in 2018, take proper time to listen Selectors Assemble Vol. Two! And obviously keep an eye on Total Refreshment Centre, the Dalston venue and the label. Bless my dudes who run this beautiful thing, Lexus Blondin and Fabrice Bourgelle in particular.
Interview by Dan