In Conversation with Neue Grafik

Neue Grafik first appeared on the Melodic Distraction radar back in 2016, with his stunning 5-track Ukiyo EP on WOLF Music. Much to our discredit, we quickly realised that we had slept on one of the most exciting electronic music artists to come out of Paris in recent years – one whose sound was both resolutely global and strikingly confident, it seemed that Neue Grafik had established himself as one to watch in the space of just a small handful of releases reaching back to 2013.

With EPs out on acclaimed labels the likes of; Beat X Changers, Slime Recordings and S3A Records – we waited with baited breath once we heard that the Parisian would be releasing on Tenderlonious’ fiercely unique label, 22a, back in 2017. With Neue Grafik’s 6-tracker, Soul Conspiracy, 22a ventured away from their decidedly London-based roster…and with good reason. The release saw Neue Grafik (real name Fred Bwelle) extend his sound with live instrumentation, warm Fender Rhodes keys and the now-obligatory collaboration with Berlin-based vocalist, Wayne Snow. 

Neue Grafik now returns to the London scene with Innervision, a release on one of the UK’s most forward-thinking and intoxicatingly-homegrown labels, Rhythm Section International. Based out of Peckham, South London, the much-loved label, party and radio show is the brain child of Boiler Room and NTS Radio affiliate, Bradley Zero. Now a global traveller, the Rhythm Section founder has begun sourcing music from across the world, including a recent release from Melbourne-based 5-piece 30/70. It was no surprise then to hear that Neue Grafik and Bradley Zero first met at a party abroad.

Bradley Zero travels a lot, I met him for the first time in Paris back in 2016, when he was playing at Djoon for the Beat X Changers fam. We’ve been in touch since then. We had the chance to link up during many shows across the world after that. I sent him some beats and at one point it became obvious to release some of them on what would later become Innervision.

With releases spanning from the likes of jazz and broken beat prodigy, Henry Wu to Australian group 30/70, Rhythm Section has blossomed over recent years into an eclectically-minded body of work – whilst always maintaining a continuous sound, rooted in the heritage of South London’s unique electronic music scene.

Some releases from this scene influenced me quite a lot. It was also the case for “Soul Conspiracy”, the record I released on 22a. There are a few cuts from these two labels that are in my personal collection actually (Jeen Bassa, Tenderlonious, Al Dobson Jr, 30/70…) But at the end of the day, I’m not trying to produce or reproduce a type of music in particular, I’m just trying to make my own music by injecting all the sounds that have been influencing me over the years.

Having now released on a number of UK and London-based labels like WOLF Music, 22a and now Rhythm Section, it’s clear that Neue Grafik finds inspiration not only in Paris, but the Big Smoke too…

What draws me to London mostly is the open mindedness. It’s easier for me to share my music in London and I feel naturally close to the vision of other musicians out there. London has always been present in my own stuff. But obviously I don’t want to let Paris aside because it has always been there too. Ideally the best for me would be to keep bridging and mixing these two parts of my taste and personality.

“UK Garage made in France” is how Neue Grafik once described his productions, but as an artist he has evolved into new realms, experimenting with broken beat, house, jazz and funk…to name but a few. Whilst a garage feel still does simmer through some of his productions, we asked the Parisian whether this description was still fitting of such a diverse artist:

Hahahaha, as a matter of fact, that’s definitely an old description…When I look at it, the evolution of my sound is quite obvious (at least to me). I want to hear multiple genres in my music. I don’t want to stick to house music only for example. My main goal is to propose a wide range of colours and be able to navigate between them according to the specific themes of each track I’m making. I guess it has been my motto since 2014: to avoid being pigeonholed, to stay focused on the vibes, pictures and stories evoked by things that happened around me.

Talking us through his production process on this latest release, Neue Grafik tells us that his instrumentation  included:

A few percussions, an MPC1000, a JX 8P, an Arp Oddysey, a Nord Electro and my laptop. I’ve tested a few tracks in clubs, ‘Dance To Yemanja’ and ‘To Peckham Rye’ in particular. In my process, it depends on the type of beats I’m making. My favorite process is to clean-up my house or do something else which get my attention and let the music play in the background.

Having released a number of EPs across a spectrum of different labels, Neue Grafik is now experimenting with more live instrumentation than ever before. Touching on the move towards this sound, he tells us that:

Honestly, it’s just a matter of taste. I always take some proper time to listen and play jazz music (by the way, I just started to give piano lessons) and sometimes I need to hear real drums, jam or share compositions with other musicians. So the move towards live instruments came pretty organically. Actually, I just started a new live project called Neue Grafik Ensemble with some amazing musicians. We played at Total Refreshment Centre, London (big up Lexus Blondin and Fabrice Bourgelle) last November and we just did La Petite Halle in Paris.

Looking forward into 2018, Neue Grafik has a number of different live, DJ and production projects ready to release into the world:

I’m going to keep working on the Neue Grafik Ensemble project with Total Refreshment Centre, and close the triptych I started with Beat X Changers back in the day. I’ll also be releasing the last one on the Blade Runner mythology. You can also catch me touring a lot – My next UK show will be at Corsica Studios for the release of the Innervision EP with the Rhythm Section fam on April 1st. Come join us!

With a rich blend of worldwide influences, Innervision presents Neue Grafik’s most creative and open-minded project to date. Be sure to check out our Melodic Distraction Review and then head over to Bandcamp and pre-order your copy on 12″ vinyl or digital download.

Listen to “Dance to Yemanja” | Purchase Innervision | Connect with Neue Grafik | Rhythm Section Intl. Bandcamp