Sismo en Bucarest is a one-man project from Lima in Peru. Using intricate sound collages with different textures, the project manages...

Sismo en Bucarest: Harsh and captivating electronics from Peru

Sismo en Bucarest is a one-man project from Lima in Peru. Using intricate sound collages with different textures, the project manages to compel the listener to embark on a cinematic trip that can be chaotic and ultimately challenging.

With varied and eclectic influences, Sismo en Bucarest gives us a new narrative in the way we perceive and understand music. Harsh electronics, intriguing samples and haunting atmosphere provide a different but captivating dancefloor for our minds and/or bodies.

- What is the story behind Sismo en Bucarest? How did it start and what inspired you? 
Not an interesting one honestly. It was just me playing with music makers online until my interest got bigger and I got a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to actually try and make some tunes. At the time, I went into music making wanting to convey some frenzy creativity with anything I could find in my music files or internet, pushed by heavy inspiration from bands and artists like Nigel Godrich, Burial, Oneohtrix Point Never, Jlin, Bjork, Nicolas Jaar, Amon Tobin and even The Mars Volta. Eventually I would spend a lot more time into this hobby as I found that using this medium for expression made me feel pretty great, so I keep doing it to this day. 

- Sismo en Bucarest is a peculiar and intriguing name for a project. How did it come up? 
I find cities’ names to sound cool. Also when I had to come up with a name for the project I was thinking about the bands Viva Belgrado or Nueva Vulcano of which I’m not a fan but I loved how their names sounded when pronounced so I tried to come up with something with a similar flow. There’s no other meaning beyond that. 

- Your music can be considered plunderphonics, a combination and collage of sounds. It is by reconstructing that you create something new and interesting. What inspires you the most in this type of composing? 
Primarily because I don’t have the resources to record, but I don’t think that traditional music recording is completely necessary for the music I actually wanted to make so I keep this style. What I love about making sound collage is that it gives me a wide range of possibilities from a lot of sources to make unique sounding loops or to corrupt the songs in a way that it transmits the feelings I want them to transmit. 

- In Indigentes, your latest release, there is a feeling of chaos that is somewhat organized and creates expansive melodies. How was the recording of the album? Was it home recorded and how did it happen? 
Probably the only thing that I recorded was my voice for a song, but other than that this album and everything that I released was made entirely with samples from packs, Youtube or even songs that already exist. All the chaos occurs on my laptop. 

- How is life in Lima and do you have contact with other musicians that have your musical affinities? 
Life in this capital is pretty melancholic and frenetic in some way. Routines accompanied by gray skies, traffic congestion, street vendors, fear of delinquents, insecure passers-by, comfy neighbourhoods, dangerous corners, nostalgic views and sudden chunks of tranquil joy. About other musicians, I do have contact with a small growing movement of experimental musicians that leans more into drone, dark ambient or noise (genres of which I am very interested in experimenting with). 

- The samples you use are very eclectic and surprising, they add elements to your music that makes it sound new and fresh. How is the foraging for samples? 
Usually it’s pretty random at the beginning. When making a song from the scratch I start toying with some aleatory samples I already have and if I’m not satisfied I go lurking through the internet for sounds depending of what I’m in the mood to express in that particular moment. Most of the times it is anxiety or hysteria, so I have in mind stuff like riots or busy streets but I don’t exactly go looking for these specific sounds, instead I search for sounds that I can mesh together to build the feeling of a riot or a busy street through these artificial bits of audio. I also give a lot of emphasis to the drums so I look for some nice sounding percussion I can exploit. 

- For me, your music is very visual as well, because of the layers and textures of the themes. Do you feel inspired by cinema at all? 
You got it right. One of my biggest inspirations in anything ever is the work of Emmanuel Lubezki, especially in Iñárritu and Cuarón films, as they also tend to express that latin-american feeling sometimes. What I love a lot about his style is how well it achieves immersion and that’s something I try to aim for in my music. I go for the immersive experience more than the “catchiness”. Also, I get inspiration from great maximalist movies where a lot of things happen. I get quite some cool abstract ideas from stuff like Why Don’t You Play In Hell? by Sion Sono or Southland Tales by Richard Kelly as well as movies from the Safdie Bros., Harmony Korine or those that contain the anxious camerawork of César Charlone like City of God and American Made. 

- How have you been living and working in this complicated situation with the pandemia? And how has been the general situation in your country? 
I think we are the 8th country with more covid cases so yeah, we are pretty screwed. I feel like most people are not taking this seriously enough and they are just waiting for the president to say when they can go out or do certain stuff as if he controlled the virus. Personally, I’ve been doing ok, I guess. I do graphic design, so I still get something to do for money without having to go out. As for the music, I wasn’t able to continue it as much as I wanted because some good earphones I used to have suddenly stopped working and the new ones I recently bought sound notably worse to the point of not trusting them at the moment of mixing my stuff. 

- How did you choose the cover art for Indigentes? Did you make it yourself and what did you wish to convey? 
It’s an edited pic of a tapada limeña. The tapadas were women from the viceroyal Lima that covered themselves with a big blanket and just left an eye uncovered. I think they used this fashion to anonymously induce desire and fascination as well as complement their act of seduction or gossip spreading. I had this picture saved for a long time with the plans of using it for an album cover some time. I used it for Indigentes because it represented pretty well what I wanted to achieve with the album which is giving a small peak into what Lima is about, just like how much the tapadas insinuated with only showing one eye. 

- Do you have any plans or projects set to 2020 that you want to share? 
I’m actually in the process of distributing a short EP and, if things go as expected, it should be coming out at the end of the month. Also, the new album is almost complete, I just need to finish mixing some things and hopefully I can release it sometime late this year.

Text & Interview: Cláudia Zafre
Band: Sismo en Bucarest