Although Sega Bodega’s provocative aesthetics may initially catch your eye, what keeps your attention is his music. Twisting contemporary pop with dark beats and euphoric melody lines, Salvador Navarrete (his real name) has developed a unique space for himself in electronic music.
Besides work with Nuxxe label mates Shygirl and Coucou Chloe (watch out for their own projects), Bodega has been growing his own catalogue on the low. On February 14th, he presents his self-titled Valentines gift; a debut LP, Salvador, where he’s the focus of the action – and that you can pre-order here.

Those yet to have heard of the Glaswegian-raised artist may be forgiven to think his output hasn’t been that full-on – however, those who have, know he’s been staying busy. 2019 marked a summer of touring culminating in an orchestral arrangement of his works he marshalled at London’s St Pancras Old Church. Big-hitting production credits included Brooke Candy’s Drip and Nuxxe co-owner Shygirl’s BB that featured in many best-of-year lists (Dazed, Fact, The Guardian). Producing for others, he acknowledges, has been to his own catalogue’s detriment. Nevertheless, following this myriad of production credits in 2019, he’s starting the new year in an image of his choosing.

This album is the consolidation of a change in emphasis for Sega Bodega. Having begun the transition of his sound from instrumentals and cinematic beats to fully-fledged songs on his last EP, self*care, Salvador concludes this shift via his characteristically intricate production being accompanied by manipulated vocals on all full-length tracks. Having listened to the album since our interview, Sega Bodega delivers on his promised evolution.

With beats so off the wall they just might be (like Salvador’s ingenious door slam beat), lyrics that can make you both laugh and cry, and delicate piano melodies of an inspired source, Salvador offers striking moments that set the standard for the new decade and continue to re-write conceptions of pop music. Over Skype, we talk serial killers, mental health in the public eye and the hidden treasures buried into his imminent debut.
You’ve grown a lot as an artist this past decade, honing your craft over your own and others’ releases. Six years on from when you originally planned to release your debut, then titled Ferocious, how does it feel to have your first LP – Salvador – coming out in a matter of days?
If I had done it in a short amount of time, it would have been more like, woah! But it’s been so slow that it was like, yeah, of course this was going to happen now. I think it’s a better time than any to do it. If you hit yourself with something sharp instantly, it's painful; but if it's slowly pressed down, you can get used to it over time.
You’ve sort of grown accustomed to it.
Yeah. It’s really slow, and I’ve had to teach myself a lot of patience. I just have so much patience for this stuff now, it’s great.
And I suppose the release takes a long time from when you’ve actually recorded the album as well?
Not really, we handed in the masters last week.
Wow, quick turnover.
In the right ways, yeah. There’s something coming out in a few days for instance, and I just changed a bit of it two nights ago. So that’s nice.
And that gives you more connection with the tracks, I suppose?
Yeah. I like to be able to fuck with it right until the second it’s out.
We’re yet to hear all the tracks, obviously, but a title that caught my eye below a lot of other visceral, metal-esque track names was Kuvasz In Snow. You’ve had some interesting track names related to serial killer victims before, but this conjures a romantic image of a future Salvador walking his dog in the Alps. Is this what the outro’s about?
So the line in the song is, ‘Run fast don’t say where you go, hidden in plain sight like Kuvasz in Snow’. Kuvasz is a big white dog, and I wanted an idea of like, ok, what is hidden in plain sight? And if you had a white dog in the snow, you wouldn’t be able to see it. Well, you’d be able to see it, but it would be right in front of you. It was just a nice description of the line before it… I would love a dog; I really want a dog. I just don’t have the schedule to be a dad.
Talking about serial killers, it’s a big Netflix trend in the current era. Are you still interested?
Yes, I am, but I don’t watch any of them – it makes me quite sick. They make me feel really uneasy, I don’t know why. I’ve not seen that cats one yet.
Oh yeah, I’ve heard it’s horrific.
Yes, because I read up on that case when it came out. And the video was online and stuff, and I didn’t even watch that. I think reading about it, you can’t really imagine it and it’s sort of fascinating. But I don’t want to have to see that ever, it’s just unnecessary.
As I alluded to, in the last few years, you’ve slowly emerged from behind the laptop, so to speak, as you’ve increasingly put yourself front and centre to projects. Not only aesthetically speaking – with videos and covers –, but you seem to have a more distinct and hard-hitting production alongside vocal additions that highlight your more tongue-in-cheek lyricism and wit your Twitter followers are well aware of. In an age when we are all more aware of the importance of mental health, has it been a difficult process to put yourself out there as an important centre piece to your music? Especially singing, which is quite a personal thing.
Kind of. I’ve just realised that the more you do that, the more people will say horrible shit about you. And I see that – I search myself on Twitter. I can’t not do it. Sometimes, I’ll go a week without doing it. And you see shit. So I think that the more and more stuff you give, the more people have to work with if they want to make you feel like shit.
I suppose you open yourself up a bit more.
Yeah. I see a lot of artists – or those similar to me –, and I don’t see them get nearly the amount… Actually, I see null. Because people don’t know anything about them. I don’t intentionally put shit about my life up in a way to as a brand thing, I naturally just do it. But I don’t know if I want to keep doing it, actually. I feel like it makes me want to go back into myself and be a bit more reserved. And only talk about things in songs – I really like that [idea]. I would love to only ever address a topic in a song and to be able to articulate that, but I’m still doing otherwise.
I suppose it’s as good a place as any to put your thoughts and sentiments out there.
Yeah, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business.
On production, when did you first make the iconic timpani rise?
Years ago. You know those kind of… [performs a whirring up pre-drop sound].
Like before a drop.
I just hated that but I liked the purpose it served. I know in twenty years time, I’ll listen back to songs that have that noise and I’ll be like, ough! But I don’t think I’ll listen back to timpani rise and… It’s just so old, such an old form of bridging a gap. So I don’t think it will age in any way.
Let’s talk about your creative process. In the first half of the last decade, you seemed to have a much harder time finishing projects – with a six-month move to Barcelona being too distracting away from Glasgow’s familiar comforts. Currently, your creative output is maximized; your saying, ‘yes to every single session’ with other artists, whilst your own tracks like U Suck are only taking you thirty minutes from start to finish. Given you’re now living in one of the most distraction-filled locations, what do you attribute your current focus and efficiency in production and process to?
I don’t go out. I don’t do much, I’m quite introverted actually, and I don’t drink. I stopped drinking, and drinking was something that was ruining my life in almost every single way. And through a job in music where no one else is telling me what to do, it resulted in zero productivity, I guess. So, I don’t do that anymore.
Yeah, I suppose when you are your own boss.
Yeah. Well, now, me and my manager have got a really good relationship and he’s kind of a boss. Like, he is my boss.
On the topic of alcohol, you’ve said a lot is written from that perspective.
There are about four things, yeah, four or five – which is half of it.
So now sober for almost four years, if you don’t mind answering, what helped you transition out of alcoholism?
Just telling everybody I knew that I didn’t want to do it. And then, they were like, I’ll take this seriously if you’re going to take this seriously.
Making people aware and helping each other out.
Yeah. It’s showing people that I didn’t want to do it. Because everyone says it.
Yeah, especially as it’s quite an active part of the scene.
Definitely, of course. It’s just so in your face all the time.
At the same time as your current move to centre stage, you’ve also embarked on various creative pathways not directly about music – including bespoke stage and lighting setups for live shows and even releasing a tracksuit with your Sportswear EP. Now you’ve prepared live audiovisuals (AV) for your Sónar Barcelona festival performance this summer. Who’s behind the AV for your upcoming shows and what can we expect?
I’m not sure, we’re still talking about it now. Shaun Murphy helps do all that and he’s the best person to work with. He’s done some of my favourite shows of other people (Tnght, Lorenzo Senni, Lanark Artefax), and to work with that puts me into a place of complete comfort. But I don’t know what the plan for Sónar is just yet – still trying to think of something special.
Whilst you weren’t necessarily interested in the aesthetic side of music previously, one part that has remained throughout your life is the love of the music video; from your death metal band, Execution Chamber’s first music video aged 12, to the creative storylines under the Sega Bodega name … including self*care’s plot lines & Salv Goes To Hollywood’s. Is a movie-like narrative in your music videos, and perhaps the music itself, important for you in their creation?
No. It’s definitely the last thing I think about. They’ve all come together really quick. All three videos for the album have taken about two weeks – start the conversation, and then the videos are done. So they’ve all been quite last minute.
Do you tend to have an idea in mind and execute that with a director?
It’s different every time. If I have an idea, I’d like to do that, but sometimes, I don’t have one, so I find someone that does have good ideas and let them do what they want.
Further than this, you have a love of film soundtracks – scoring a short film (Viral Bodies), exhibits, creating two excellent EPs and NTS shows surrounding the very topic. Firstly, can you describe What is it about Zbigniew Preisner film scores that you love?
Do you know that guy Nardwaur?
Similar feeling in the research here. But I just really like him. My mum showed it to me when I was very young, and whenever she’d show me something… I’m a big fan of my mum, so anything she showed me, I sort of wanted to like it. So she just showed me more, and more, and more of this. It was just someone who makes equally as good things over a long period of time – and that’s something I have a real kink for.
And what sort of feature film genre would you love to provide a score to?
I’ve also heard you had a collapsed lung at age 16; tell me more.
Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone that.
How did this happen?
It’s like a thing boys get – some boys can get it when they have a growth spurt and their lungs just pop. ;y mum didn’t believe me for three days or so – she thought I was just being dramatic –, but it felt like I was having a slow heart attack.
Relatedly, what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your gigs?
Korea always has weird people – nothing in particular –, but Koreans always have really high energy. There have been so many people crying – it’s quite nice.
You’ve worked with a lot of collaborators, particularly over the last year. Who are you admiring right now that you’d love to make something with?
I don’t know. I think the people I thought it would be really nice to work with are people like Placebo and stuff. And other childhood bands. But there’s no one in particular I’m dying to work with right now.
Finally, you’ve said you like to initiate treasure hunts in your work by adding little Easter eggs and nods to the music nerds out there. For instance, you stated that when adding the minutes and seconds of your EP, Song Dynasty, it equals 34 – the name of your first EP. Are there any hidden messages in your first LP or is that something I’ve got to find out by myself?
There is some stuff. Some meanings of songs change depending on whether you’re listening in stereo or mono. That’s all I’ll say.