• Gaika / The Babylon Hole

    In conversation with Gaika.

Gaika Tavares has established himself as one of the most groundbreaking voices in the contemporary British music and art scene. A career dedicated to sound experimentation, producer and writer who grew up in Brixton, Gaika’s art transcends the world of music to tell fragments of a contemporary reality and a multifaceted, ever-changing London.

We can refer to you as an extremely eclectic and multidisciplinary artist, can you tell us about your recent collaboration with Ben Cullen William? Where did the ROUTINE project come from?

ROUTINE came from conversations Ben and I were having about navigating the built environment when it’s purpose changes. I think the pandemic forced us to view cities differently. For me such an extraordinary time caused the formerly mundane to become super ritualised generative and almost machine like in memory. I wanted to find a way to represent that.

Your artistic memory is steeped in subcultures, on several occasions you have spoken about the influence growing up in the club and nightlife environment had on your work. In a letter featured in the book Sacred Spaces you gave the reader these words, ‘Clubland has been my laboratory, my training ground, my home and my prison”. Can you tell us more about this synergistic relationship you’ve formed with nightlife over the years?

My practise was born in clubland 100%. It is not studied nor considered beyond what I think about. Those thoughts and the interactions that inspire them are in many ways inspired by the years I spent running venues. I feel like clubland is a microcosm or alternate reality in which people both hide everything and tell the absolute truth of beings simultaneously and all the time and that’s intense. For me the club was space to think without mediation but also work, a transportation from normal activity for most that was my normal economic activity and that seemed so spacious until it didn’t. I think a lot of my work is simply based on the congregation of people for collective philosophy through experience of tensions like this.

Your music carries with it an important experimental thrust, ranging between dancehall influences and R&B-influenced songs, and pushing into radical political commentary on racial, economic, and social inequalities in the UK and abroad. Considering the complexity of the topics condensed in your musical production, how would you describe your creative process?

Yeah I think my process is pretty simple, I’m have a technical background so I like to understand what I see as for tools of various levels of complexity. I like to play with them to try and build what I can hear or see in my mind. For me the fun is in making the thing and watching people use whatever I’ve made.

Your artistic production is very connected to the life of your city, telling us about an ever-changing London that seems to exist as two parallel universes: the city and the underground. It seems that the second one is what inspires your work, and your music seems to act as its soundtrack; how will you describe the role of music in today’s and tomorrow’s society?

Yeah your are absolutely right, my work is really a representation of the architecture of that second city – which is often temporal in its reality. I guess a lot of my work across mediums is about reconstructing those moments or the memories of them so the second city stays alive and it’s value is recognised. I think music and musical rituals are the foundation of this second city or parallel world. Sound is so emotive and music is to me beyond normal economic or political activity. It is older and more visceral then the laws we write or the customs we observe. as such musical ritual can inform idealised codes of political activity by linking all of us to our true selves.

In the art and music scene, is there any artist that particularly inspires you, or that you feel is akin to your sensibility? And if you had the opportunity to collaborate on a project, who would you be most interested in working with?

I think I’ve been really lucky to work with so many amazing people. I’d love to work with goodie someday.

Finally, is there anything you feel like sharing with us about what you are working on for the upcoming future? Are you focusing on any particular project?

I have a lot of new music and installation work coming out this year so I think it’s gonna be pretty intense. I’ve been away for a while, I’m coming back to set the pace !

Gaika / The Babylon Hole


Artist: Gaika / @gaikasees
Editor: Maria Abramenko / @mariabramenko
Interview: Alisia Marcacci / @miabrowe

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