Synthwave Sunday: A Conversation with Bonggita

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes I discover bands by sifting through Bandcamp. Other times I get recommendations by peers or readers of the site. I also get lots of submissions each week, which makes “discovering” bands very easy. The credit for me hearing Bonggita for the first time lies solely with the URY1350’s The Night Call radio show. They played the Bonggita cover of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart and I was hooked. I immediately purchased the first EP (The Bonggitaria Incident) and newest single (Blending In), and what I heard absolutely floored me.

The Bonggitaria Incident begins with the ominously titled Looming. A storm is brewing, thunder can be heard echoing in the distance over the chatter of forest animals. As the rain begins to fall, the synths welcome you to this fabulous EP. Purple Mist beings with delicate, ethereal synths, but a heavy bass beat breaks the angelic harmony. It’s a hard driving track with excellent distorted moments that keep you paying attention. The higher notes balance out the bass tones extremely well, especially once you hit the halfway point of the song. The synth solos that herald the conclusion are truly inspired stuff. She Devours swallows you into an amazing off-tempo soundscape, where Bonggita shows obvious command of the lower synth registers. But, not to be outdone, the synth harmonies that flow over this beat sit right up there with the best on the market. She Devours offers an amazing one-two punch as a follow up track to Purple Mist.

The title track, The Bonggitaria Incident, is a near 8 minute opus of synth majesty. It is a very progressive track that shows Bonggita is willing to take risks and is making music that is very near and dear, not what the audience is expecting from a run-of-the-mill artist. As the song builds to the halfway point you know things are about to hit the fan, and when the temp changes pace, HOLD ON! The second half of this song is dark wave perfection, with fast paced synth work over and even faster beat. The harmonies that close the song out gave me goosebumps! The song that introduced me to Bonggita, the inspired cover of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart make me yearn for a whole cover album. I didn’t realize how much I wanted this version of the song until I heard it. What I love the most about it is that it isn’t a cookie-cutter interpretation of a well loved classic. A lot of time, work, and reflection obviously went into this. Once the song hits full swing it never fails to bring a smile to my face. Queue up the goosebumps again! Ad Astra Per Aspera (Latin for “Through Hardships to the Stars”) is a hauntingly fitting close to the EP. Vocoder vocals (which are a favorite of mine, as most of you already know) are icing on the cake.

Blending In is a continuation of the events of The Bonggitaria Incident and is also a must purchase release. It’s a more pensive, and guarded song than what you find on the previous EP. There’s a sadness here…but maybe hope as well. It most certainly builds the anticipation for future Bonggita releases!!!

Both The Bonggitaria Incident and Blending In are available on Bandcamp and I implore you to go and check out what Bonggita is doing. There’s a grand scale story here and you’re going to want to be a part of it. This is some of the best music I’ve heard in years and Bonggita is up on the top of my list of MUST WATCH artists.

Now that I’ve given you a full backstory to what Bonggita has on offer, how about we meet the artist behind this musical magic!

For those who don’t know already, who is Bonggita?

First of all, thank you for the invitation to this interview…it is really nice knowing that so many people are interested in the creative processes behind the synthwave phenomenon. It sure is a pleasure to speak about it while not being confined between the walls of your home studio. Back to the question. Bonggita is a derivative of various electronic music genres that was deposited in my head for more than 15 years of trying to produce electronic music. Name came from a candy bar that was very popular throughout the 90’s in Serbia (it’s a mix of honey and grains, really nice and sweet energy bar) That somehow explains the essence of Bonggita, I try to keep everything sweet and energetic while keeping it nostalgic. Only recently I have broken out of my creative shell with Bonggita, all that because I found out that many others are producing similar music out there. Synthwave helped me to open up, music wise. Other than that, I am a real human being.

Your debut EP, The Bonggitaria Incident, and newest single, Blending In, tell a connected story. What can you tell us about it?

Yes, it is. After a lot of thinking about what should I do next, I’ve decided that it would be best if the story just continues. Blending In is a scene between the first EP and the next album. In order to rescue Bonggitaria, She, our main character, completely destroyed it. Now forced to find refuge on Earth, new problems arise. She is not used to socializing, or even familiar with what human behavior on Earth is like. That’s why the structure of the song Blending In is unstable, not perfect, incoherent. Sound will slowly change as She gets to know her new environment. The new album is all about her trying to deal with tough times, experiencing some new sensations, perhaps even true love. Fun times, eh. I will write a detailed story before the release of the album for a complete immersion.

What is your writing process?

Utter chaos! I always make a mental note before jumping into writing “stick to the story you’ve made, try not to go too much off road, stay focused, it’s just a song’’ half an hour in a recording session it all becomes havoc! As I mentioned earlier, Bonggita is a story, this story has chapters (album, ep) and a song is a scene. I imagine the scene, with the main character, ambient (visual and sound wise), texture, weather, the feeling in the guts of the main character when he finds himself in a given situation, and then I unfold every element and transfer it to music. Chaos steps in. Many producers know this feeling, but if you are on to something good, you either leave it like that and say “hey, this is it!’’ or produce it further and witness how bad overthinking can be. Overthinking, that process ruins lives, not just good songs. But when I get in terms with my self, after countless hours, days, months, of re-listening and going back to the smallest bits in the project, I go over to some of my friends who don’t listen to synthwave and ask them for an opinion because I might have lost some objectivity during the writing process and just want to have a second opinion about everything. My 12 year old nephew is also a good critic, because of his incorruptibility.

What do you use to record?

I am a FL Studio veteran, been around since version 1.3.3. I’ve tried everything man, Cubase, Nuendo, Ableton, you name it, Fl Studio just suits me. Still figuring out what to do about the analog synths, looking to acquire some vintage gear this year, until that happen it’s midi controller, Korg Legacy Collection and a fantastic little vst from Tweakbench called Peach, it’s a NES synthesizer, lovely noise. Now implementing vocals in the new album, and there will be some guitars with moderate drive, nothing to shabby. (Boston Style)

The first Bonggita song I heard was your amazing cover of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Why choose that song?

I had a feeling that She, the main character in “The Bonggitaria Incident’’ would love that song. She is kind of a post punk girl, lost in a distant world with a purpose she doesn’t need and at the same tome not knowing where she belongs, but still highly functional and present with her spirit and strength. The other thing is, Bonggitaria is destroyed, She did that because it would be too much for her to see how someone else is corrupting it and slowly sucking out the life out of it, She loved it that much…

How important are outlets like URY1350’s The Night Call (where I heard your cover) in getting your music to more people?

It is as important as it is fascinating! Nightcall, the 80’s guy, TL80s, NRW, Echosynthetic, etc. are the basis of synthwave as we know it. But, the internet is a huge space with an immense deal of distractions. An artist must try and give his best to reach out and promote his music in the right way, and that includes a bit of luck to be honest. Everyone should first put themselves in position to get lucky. Skill and talent may be there, but being in the right place at the right time is also important. These outlets are providing us with a chance for a breakthrough, but you must be involved and present in order to give others the chance to make you lucky.

What do you do when you aren’t writing music?

I usually read about psychology or sing in my other band, Siempre Peligroso

What kind of music do you listen to?

Lately I listen a lot of 90’s death metal (Death, Carcass, Opeth, Morbid Angel, etc). I enjoy all sorts of metal music (except the Finnish metal scene, can’t stand their music for some reason) When I want to unwind I put on some Carbon Based Lifeforms, Aphex Twin (the less crazy stuff) Shpongle, OTT and such. Do I need to mention Synthwave?

If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?

Bjork & Richard D. James

What does the rest of 2017 hold for you?

I plan to release a full length album somewhere around August, get to know more great people in the synthwave world, become a psychologist in the meantime, and treat myself with a nice piece of hardware analog synth :0)

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or shout out?

I’d like to give a shout out to all the great people in the synthwave community for being so supportive, humble and unique.

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