Interview: Morenceli

The geothermal bass frequencies, the throbs of oncoming terror, the synths that skirt the surface like fog. The music of Moscow’s Natasha Morenceli generates the sensation of imminent, apocalyptic change. For a debut EP (released on Blackwater Label last year), Stigmatization carries a remarkable conviction in its own prophecy, using restraint to paint a much bleaker picture in implication than could ever be cast in the mould of present tense. Below, Natasha and I discuss artistic intuition, live performance and sharing one’s nightmares with close friends.

In your initial email to me, you mentioned that this new EP “reflects on social stigma of personality disorders. Disorder ≠ disease”. How have you seen this social stigma manifest, and what led you to want to contemplate this subject through music?

Struggling with stigmatization all my life, now I see some profits (for example, the music I release). But I don’t want to tell you about troubling childhood and so on. I’m not a sissy pants (already!), haha.

I think most of the real artists are psycho, suffer from several mental illnesses or shock people by weirdness and deviations in behaviour. Ordinary people are used to thinking about the disorders positively while only these artists are well-known and “big”. In any case, we create by our own, and they have nothing better than to consume our products. I see no real way to fight against stigmatization except to create extremely good and authentic pieces of art. And I want to say this: FUCK ALL THE HATERS, SUCK MY SYNTHS.

Your use of bass frequencies feels very exact and sculpted. They loiter beneath tracks like “Narcissistic Nature” but they don’t overpower it; there’s a sense of a terrible fate in waiting, or something dangerous threatening to push up from the ground beneath. What draws you to use bass frequencies in this way?

“Narcissistic Nature” is my one and only track I can imagine visually like a reminiscence: a picture from the book I read in early childhood — sacred battlefield, bloody ground, the flying crows and the figure of a Celtic goddess of war called Morrigan. My bass frequencies express the primitive vibrations of the Earth which has created unreasonable creatures devouring its flesh. Hatred of alienated creator to his creation. Pure air of a purified world.

From my perspective as a listener, there’s no cathartic relief to this record. “Exalted” lifts the burdening dread and replaces it with a lingering misery instead. I never feel formally released from the unease of the listening experience, and I still feel it for a long while after the record comes to a close. How does this compare to your experience as the composer? Do you feel lighter or emotionally alleviated through the creation of this music?

I like to re-listen my tracks when I am damaged. It brings me the power to struggle through daily hardship and preserve the will to live. “Exalted” is about totality and irreversibility. Nothingness and grandiosity. Life and death. All that things included.

I never use any ideas, concepts, book, films or other people’s arts to be “inspired” in my music. I create my own intuitively. When I create, I feel less personal in me…just the sacred light passing through my reflection and transforming into sound effects.

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Dorian Gray’s interpretation of “Caligula Statue” brings an energy and urgency to the record’s conclusion. How did this remix come about, and how do you think it compliments or reframes the atmosphere of Stigmatization?

I wrote to Dorian about the remix after being impressed by his current interpretations. He suggested me an idea to record a vocal part and then made couple of versions. In the end I chose this one, because I found it radically different from the techno I usually DJ and listen to. His own “classic techno” vision of my track works good on a dancefloor, feeding drugged people’s euphoria.

Is there a particular environment (location, mental disposition, time of day etc.) that works best for the creation of your music?

I’ve never tried to record sounds being tired or bored. Co-working with a close friend sometimes rules. You are not alone with your unfinished nightmares (but people usually are annoying for me).

Locations and daytime doesn’t matter when I catch this “sign”. It can be anything that fires me up – random authentic noise recorded few minutes ago, “composer’s mood”, sublimation of negative reflection or synesthesia in altered states etc.

How does your approach to recording differ from your approach to playing live? It seems that the live environment brings with it a more visceral approach to your music (at least, according to the videos I’ve seen). Is that the case?

Actually, performing live I try to combine structured compositions with chaotic noise improvisation, profounding effects on body and consciousness. I realise that my live acts can cause distress to some individuals, but that turns me on, haha. The use of vocals introduces a dysphoric self-expression of being “naked” on the stage. Unfortunately, most of the live performers I’ve seen, in my experience seemed somewhat like poseurs (although I can’t deny that arts are demonstrative by its nature). Being strongly affected by this kind of exhibitionism while I look too dramatic and untrue for listeners, for now I want to be more associated with music than with the practice of performance.

I understand that you’re currently preparing material for a new EP on VENT. At this stage, do you have any idea how this new material will compare to Stigmatization?

Now I feel that my skills are more developed as a composer. I can see my devilishness in the details and my ambition grows bigger each day. By the way, I see my new material as more crushing, creepy and too deep to most of the listeners, that is quite different than Stigmatization. I’m looking forward to seeing what it will be for my personal supply and for your ears.

What music have you been listening to recently?

My recent favourites are avant-garde as well: Holly Herndon, Joshua Eustis (Second Woman), Valerio Tricoli, Donato Epiro, Andrew Liles and others. 

What’s next for you and your music?

First of all, I have a wish to create an avant-garde, deep and emotional music. I’m also interested in trying to make more dance stuff (that seems to be difficult for my actual maximalist tensions, haha).

I am still searching my unique way to compose electronic music and find inspiration in the depth of drum ‘n’ bass, multi-elementarism of dark psy-trance and pop-music compression.

Stigmatization on Bandcamp – blackwaterlabel.bandcamp.com/album/stigmatization
Morenceli on Facebook – facebook.com/morencelimusic