Get to know: Nicolas Bougaïeff

Bougaïeff returns to the club on 24th November alongside Matrixxman and more... Ahead of the night, we got to know a little more him...

Known as the ‘tough nut son’ of Mute, NovaMute is the sub-label of Daniel Miller’s long-running imprint and has released a number of off-kilter, slightly more unusual tracks from the likes of Charlotte De Witte, ANNA, Terence Fixmer and more since the label’s relaunch last year. 

But it’s the Berlin-based producer Nicolas Bougaïeff who’s made a strong impression on NovaMute’s discography. His ‘Cognitive Resonance’ 12” was the first vinyl release to mark the relaunch and since then, it’s hard to not be drawn into his world of sci-fi inspired and deeply hypotonic techno. 

Bougaïeff returns to the club on 24th November as part of our NovaMute showcase alongside Matrixxman and NovaMute boss Daniel Miller. Ahead of the night, we got to know a little more about Nicolas and his recent projects which delve into fashion, resurfacing older productions and working on live V/A shows… 

We’re curious about your recent live V/A show with Itaru Yasuda. What was the vision behind the project and how did you find it working alongside another artist in the field of visual art? 

The collaboration with Itaru is based first of all on friendship, we've known each other since he moved to Berlin six years ago. He got me into bouldering last year and we started talking about doing an A/V project while climbing. It's been so much fun to develop technological art concepts while doing sports instead of staring at a computer screen! 

The show itself is inspired by numerous science fiction novels that were driving my music productions. We wanted to explore the relentless, overwhelming sensations of paranoid dystopia and far future post-humanity. We started off with small generative animations around the tracks from my last album that was based on 1984. We also looked at early work by Canadian artist Norman McLaren, using a similar approach to tightly match an optical effect to each sound. The goal was to create a cohesive experience that feels like a brutal yet euphoric assault on the senses. 

Speaking of recent projects, you also released an EP on Ellum which is made up of tracks produced back in 2014. How did you approach completing the tracks without tweaking them to a point where they sounded completely different to the initial productions? 

Honestly, I've never been caught up so much with endless tweaking. Some of my best tracks have often been those I produced quickly in a single session, with perhaps only minor changes to the mixdown the next day or so. My release on Ellum definitely falls in that category. I've recently had the experience, several times, of working on a track only to eventually release the first version of the recording. The magic of musical expression is very delicate and very real. 

You’re fairly active outside the world of dance music and recently composed and performed the soundtrack for the 2018 Obectra Fashion Show. The concept behind Obectra’s fashion is quite unique, how did you approach curating the accompanying tracks for this particular event? 

Blaž Čuk, the designer behind Obectra, told me about his vision for the show titled Decomposition. He is working with leather and for this show also with a black plastic material which some of the models eventually tore off their bodies. Blaž explained to me that the Decomposition collection was about death and rebirth, that he wanted the music to be very intimate and close related to the body. So I decided to work with breath and heart beat sounds, the music for the show was composed almost entirely from that. As well as a lot of effects and processing of course, which I performed live at the show. Although I had composed music for fashion shows before, this was my first time performing live next to the catwalk. Many of the models would make eye contact with me as they walked by, I was literally making music to fit their movements and looks as I watched. It was a very special music and art experience. 

You’ll be joining us in the NovaMute floor as part of our show with R&S and Phonica Records on 24th November. What’s your history with NovaMute? Has the label strongly influenced the direction of your career? 

Signing to NovaMute last year was pretty mind blowing. The last year has changed everything, the doors that opened, it feels like I literally did not have a career before. I've known Daniel Miller for a number of years already, but it was only recently that I started sending him my music. I was really into many of the NovaMute acts growing up, people like Juno Reactor and early Plastikman. Speedy J's album Loudboxer made a big impact on me when I was a music student. 

Leave us with a track from NovaMute that’s left a strong impression on you and tell us why? 

Spastik by Plastikman of course. When I was a teenager in my hometown, I remember repeatedly going up to the DJ to ask him to play this track. I didn't know anything about the record besides the fact that I loved the drum pattern and the squiggly guy artwork! 


Get tickets to EGG LDN Pres: Novamute with Matrixxman, R&S Records, Phonica Here