Sebastian Carlos takes his production name from the Basenji, a barkless Congolese hunting dog. It’s a name that echoes the playful innocence of his work – bass tracks redolent with pitched percussion, pentatonic scales, reverb, and the odd barroo. SHAUN THOMAS COWE and ZOE KILBOURN catch up with Sebastion before his national tour, which brings him to Welcome To The Valley on Saturday, October 25.
Basenji, whose Soundcloud bio is limited to his affection for almonds and bicycles, is having a great time at Auckland airport. “I snuck bread from breakfast into my jacket pocket and I’ll probably eat it if the food on the plane isn’t enough,” he says. “This morning I did some sightseeing and learnt what a Gannet is, but now it is time to go home to work on new music.”
Joie de vivre doesn’t even begin to describe it. Sebastian’s outlook is overwhelmingly positive – as it should be. Heirloom, one of Basenji’s first tracks with Future Classic, recently dropped as a free download to enormously positive reception (“It’s only been about a fortnight! I think today plays might hit 300, 000”).
“Heirloom is quite an old track actually,” he says. “I had a playable demo close to the start of the year. I made it not that long after I made Dawn, which is why there are certain similarities in the instrumentation and overall style. I don’t really stick to a formula when it comes to making my music, but there are general techniques in song writing or production that I often keep coming back to. I try to keep my music upbeat and I like working with more organic sounds – I think that’s what creates a certain thematic consistency to my work.”
“I have felt for a long time that heavier, darker dance music takes up too much space in the electronic music scene,” Sebastian explains. “Although I do enjoy it, I find it really over saturated. I think in some ways my music is a response to that. I like making songs that don’t really make sense in clubs, songs that don’t take themselves too seriously. I shamelessly like songs that are upbeat, cute and clichéd. If I’m working on a song and I’m not having fun, I will usually scrap it.”
In that case, is there anything Sebastian feels he can’t make under the Basenji name?
“I don’t turn down anything,” he says. “There are so many songs I continue to work on even if they don’t resemble “Basenji” tracks in any way. There are dozens of songs I will never show to anyone. I think it is really important to try to make all kinds of music, challenging yourself is the best way to stay inspired. Just because something doesn’t fit a specific project, doesn’t mean it has to be forgotten.
“I think a lot of what I have learnt about production I have learnt since I started the Basenji project. I get pretty attached to sounds and ideas, so it takes me a while to incorporate new content into my work and keep the balance right. I think stylistically my music won’t change dramatically or suddenly, but there are a lot of tiny changes going on.”
Basenji plays the Oktoberfest-style Welcome To The Valley festival – a lot of chilling, a lot of beer.
“I’m not exactly sure how that gig happened, but I am really excited to be back in Perth. I always have a lot of fun on the We$t Coa$t.” (Sebastian requested the stylised $es.) “I’m not a massive beer drinker, but I’m keen to get involved!”