Passionate and idealistic lover. Those are the first words that might spring to mind when we visualise Romeo, as a Shakespearean concept. It’s also the name of a lunar crater; a rocky island in the South Shetland Islands, in Antarctica; a state airport in Michigan; and the letter R of the NATO phonetic alphabet. But Romeo also brings us to today, the release of Sega Bodega’s new album. And it’s a great great one, the follow up to Salvador (2020) shows the development and consolidation of an artist in all his dimensions
The concept is a story of a joyous relationship between Sega Bodega and a mythical girlfriend made entirely of light, Luci. Romeo channels the whirlwind of emotions in early love through masterful break-beat and experimental electronica production, interwoven with ethereal synths and harmonising choral vocals. Drumbeats, glitch and industrial sounds form a sonic structure to provide us with a wide expanse of emotions and affection in an album where every song slaps.

The 10-track journey is fun, intense and bangerful. The opener Effeminacy sets the tone of a tale where Salvador Navarrete’s voice is the tunnel we drive into; his narration doesn’t just stand out because of this new deeper emotional level in his songwriting, but by the way we musically discover his voice as an instrument-synth. It's a craft that reinforces his unique style and authenticity.

Angel On My Shoulder is a beautiful testament to his friendships, All Of Your Friends Think I’m Too Young For You and Only Seeing God When I Come unravel the enfant terrible of his cinematic ambiguously fiction or non-fiction tale. Luci is both an enigmatic and addictive closure.

I Need Nothing From You is the third single of the album, and on this take we found Sega Bodega’s hanging on from his most intimate side. The one-take music video made by Actual Objects focuses on his look to the camera, and shows vulnerability and resistance (see the exclusive behind the scenes shots*).
Salvador Navarrete, born in Galway, Ireland, 1992, and raised in Glasgow, and he largely taught himself to produce music using online tutorials at 16 years old. He belongs to a generation of artists that are creators - singers, musicians and producers who make music from anywhere in the world using their computers. The way they get to collaborate with one another is a sea change in contemporary pop music. Imogen Heap’s Speak For Yourself did really set a precedent. And Bodega’s work has the immense ability to live and breathe today's underground pop music moment is; no matter some little retro and necessary tweaks, his new album sounds fresh, gleaming and contemporary. Like a modern shrine to this moment.
The icing on the cake for the record comes with two massive features. Charlotte Gainsbourg duets with Sega Bodega to sing the contra-freudian suggestive anthem Naturepathe. Cicada is my favourite track in which Arca and Bodega are two ditzy brainiacs of our time. Like a laptop screen, there’s a shining and vibrant light that Luci, both the character and the concept, pours in the album cover shot by Aidan Zamiri. And we get to visit the softer part to them in the final tracks Romeo and Um Um, that go through Salvador's UK garage style to materialise R&B or vocal ballads all whilst staying true to his own voice.
Oklou, Shygirl, Brooke Candy, Caroline Polachek, Donna Missal, FKA Twigs and Slowthai are some of the names of the endless list of artists Sega Bodega has worked with. It’s impossible not to see a generational movement in the sound of these artists and the way they approach their careers and, most importantly, their sound and songwriting. As in every important movement in different eras of history, Sega is building his own monuments. Time will tell if they’ll remain symbolic but Romeo definitely represents the importance of an artist that keeps growing and kindly giving us records like this; a true craft of its own.
Hello Salvador! Thank you for finding time to speak to METAL, especially this week when your new album is about to be released; congratulations on this new one! After this past year and a half in this global weird situation, how are you feeling with the launch of Romeo?
I'm very very happy. Everything felt like it was the best version of what it could be, from the music to the collaborators, visuals, artwork. I'm very proud of this one.
Your new single I Need Nothing From You stands out as minimalistic statement in the middle of the album. It sounds like a poem set to music that speaks about self-forgiveness. The video makes us think that you’re hanging upside down like a pendulum, in discomfort with gravity dragging on you, but you are focused. How did this song come about and is the video by Actual Objects a faithful representation of the concept?
I wanted the song to feel simple and painful, just those two things. When speaking about what a visual would look like it really just had to be simple and painful too. Actual Objects told me their idea and instantly I knew it would be a perfect match, they absolutely nailed it.
The first thing we got to hear from Romeo is the beautiful first single Only Seeing God When I Come. It feels like the whole album is a step-further-take on your emotional expression. “Heaven is a place you belong, I don’t know even know where I’m from” is one of the highlighted lyrical moments; it feels like the whole record talks about feeling lost and belonging. When you announced Romeo you said it is “the album you always wanted to make”; assuming it was creating during the pandemic what makes it so important for you?
I think it was having the every piece of the puzzle coming out exactly how I’d hoped. The story of Luci through the imagery felt complete - thank you Aidan Zamiri - and quite easy to ingest, as well as the music [that] I think also does the same. I’m always trying to walk the line of experimental and pop. It’s not the easiest to straddle though.
There are quite interesting collaborations on Romeo, but one I didn’t see coming is Naturopathe featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg. It sounds brilliant, this is a classic Sega Bodega construction but it embraces Charlotte’s style as well and both your voices intertwine perfectly. How was the process of working with her as a feature on the song not being just the producer of one of her songs?
It was a dream to work together. We met in Paris last year for 3 days of sessions and after 3 we were like: let’s do two more? Then we were like: let’s do another week? It was just a really productive and creative space to try anything. She’s lovely to work with.
Cicada is the other track in which you have a guest. Arca and you in a song feels logical and makes sense for many reasons; we also recently saw both of you DJ together in London. The song is so big but there’s containment in it and not only makes one of the great moments of the album - preluding another one Romeo the song - but it also seems like you had a lot of fun working together as two artists and producers of the same generation. What is Cicada about and how did it become the core of your collaboration?
We’ve been putting together little ideas over the last couple years with no real intention of ever placing them anywhere, always knowing that one would be the right thing to share and I brought this forward with the hopes it would be on the record and everything pretty quickly fell into place. It’s so special to have her on this cause she’s an artist who’s meant a great deal to me over the years.
To understand movements and landmarks in contemporary pop music it is sometimes inevitable to see the bigger picture in which artists who are alike find moments together and give context. For many of us, this picture is The last supper of hyperpop, synth and electronica, and it was immortalized on your Instagram a week ago. It shows what it looks like: a fun encounter of young musicians who are changing the game and don’t get enough credit for it. Mura Masa, Caroline Polachek, Paolina Russo, Danny L. Harle, Aidan Zamari, Yeule and you. It made me think of Woodstock, a historic moment of artists coming together. How did it feel to get together with your friends and colleagues after this last chapter of life in which we all have been separated from each other?
It’s always a spiritual experience to be surrounded by the people you love.
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You released a series of covers sung by you and other artists during quarantine. Reestablishing connection is a piece worthy of being exhibited in a museum, not only because its an incredible heartfelt manifestation of a whole generation of young musicians who make music with computers and did the best thing they could in those times: reach out to each other. But it is also a testament to our time in a wider perspective; the fact that you’re singing on facetime and using autotune to humanise songs with technology is significant. There has been quite a lot of backlash for this tool that in this case took songs that were dehumanised and worn out by radio play and brought them into a new life in times of uncertainty, and gave us pure and raw emotion. What can you tell us about this experience?
Everybody’s tours had just been cancelled, or release dates postponed so I really just took advantage of everybody's desire to do something creative. Truth be told I did hate doing that project because the way in which I get that ‘vocoder’ (it’s not a vocoder) effect is just extremely time consuming and by the end of it I was so bored of the process, but the reaction to it was really lovely to see and it sort of feels like a time capsule of that very odd moment in 2020.
It seems like critics, music journalism and other institutions that tend to legitimize musical genres have always had a hard time giving credit to the group of artists who make electronic beats in this last decade. At the beginning of the year we sadly lost SOPHIE, a frontrunner on her own that seems to have been embraced and appreciated most by the general public only after she's no longer with us. Producer Jaime Brooks mentioned the other day that the system - white rich men - decides which thing is pop or punk depending on how they want to position and credit it. Why is it so difficult to understand that pop music can come from the underground? How does someone like you who comes from being in grindcore bands interpret this?
Just let artists decide what their work is and write about it if they so please. The dynamic between artists and journalists is a tense one because 90% of the time the take away feeling is that journalists are misrepresenting artists because they don’t have a clue what they’re talking about and are just guessing or assuming a lot. I want to see more sit downs between artists to talk about their work with each other.
In an interview from 2020 you mentioned how telling tales and fictional stories through your music triggers you. Romeo tells the story of a joyous relationship between Sega Bodega and a mythical girlfriend, Luci, made entirely of light. What is this story about and why was it important for you to tell it?
I can say what it’s about but the interpretations of what people think it means have been so much more interesting to read, I’ll keep my interpretation as much to myself as I can as not to sway others.
Finally, we really thank you for your time and the opportunity to talk to you and we wish you the best with this new album, which is fantastic. Before we go; which song would you recommend us to wake up to every day in order to face these weird and crazy times?
I’ve been listening to this song so much, it’s wild. Miu by Marina Herlop.
Romeo (NUXXE, 2021) is out Friday 12th of November and you can buy or stream it now.
Romeo tour starts on February 2022 in Dublin, Ireland. 
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