The transhuman experiment – An interview with Born in Flamez

How do you interview a transhuman experiment? How will it interpret a question and will we be able to decipher its response in our pre-transcended state? I was happy to find that a human being was in fact behind the Born in Flamez project and although the only allusion to his/her identity was the very ambiguous, James we were still able to make this interview come together over email. After a successful launch on Modeselektion Vol 3, Born In Flamez is back with a debut EP on Unreal Audio. Polymorphous is an EP that takes delight in finding even ground between the human ephemeral state and the synthetic textures of electronic music. The mysterious artist displays a mastery in his/her work that supersedes a debut and the connection with Berlin is evident in tracks like Coming Insurrection in their unpretentious predisposition towards the experimental. The vocal element is the defining character of Born in Flamez and re-establishes the ambitious project in the domain of our human dimension. It is evident why collaborators Phon.o and Perera Elsewhere resonate so effortlessly with the project. ‘James’ communicates the ideas behind BIF with an eloquent ease through our email exchange and brings into focus the primary objective of the transhuman experiment.

Your bio claims that Born in Flamez is a transhuman experiment. How do you translate this concept into music?

“There are no boundaries to sound. Especially with electronic music the question of authorship is much harder to resolve than when it comes to literature. You hear something, you react to it; you record a digital glitch, a system failure; you record a software synthesizer that has the algorithm set to “random”. The ‘I’ who presses the record button itself is a collective of ideas and personas, of marks that others have left on it. Music is always ‘transhuman’”.

What was the original catalyst for the experiment?

“It was something the I in BIF had been wanting to do for a long while. All my collected experiences, skills and memories at this one particular point in time came together in a way they hadn’t come together before: the Bach chorals, the time spent in Berlin´s techno clubs, the love for hip hop and grime and the work that John Cage and Gertrude Stein made together. “

The title, Polymorphous suggests that your new EP doesn’t really settle on a particular form.

“The title ‘Polymorphous’ actually refers to the form of BIF rather than to the form of the format of the record.”

The first thing that struck me was that the press release refers the audience to a birth date for this EP. How does the music on this EP constitute an independent living entity?

“If you listen to something, I believe you’re listening to music, rather than to a person or some kind of persona. I don’t think that anything is actually made by one entity, but rather a lot of entities and their surroundings. You can easily adopt the concept of inter-textuality to how music works. Each output in its particular form marks a form of birth – conceived by the sum of all pre-existing musical forms.“

That date corresponds to its release date, and not the date at which it was conceived. When and how did the ideas behind Polymorphous come to be?

“Some of the ideas have been around for quite a while. I wrote “easier like that” and “the coming insurrection” back in 2013. The title track however crystallised after a DJ set at Berlin´s infamous “Gegen” Parties. These parties are “poly”- something in every way and definitely poly-sexual. After I played there, I wanted to keep something from the beautiful experience that I had there, so I translated the atmosphere, I was exposed to there, into sound.

The same vocalist fronts much of the music. It constitutes an integral part to Born in Flamez especially in a song like Dreams where it makes up much of the central theme. The humanity appears to be accurately represented in the transhuman state on this EP.

“The fragility of the human voice is something that I am very interested in. Words are very stale, they always define, but they are also so limited and limiting – but the tone, the act of speaking or singing and the method supporting it, can add different dimensions to the implicit meaning, it can crack the surface of the word and get closer to the im – mediate, which, I believe, is transhuman.”

What was your intention with contrasting the human effect of the voice with synthesised (robotic) textures for the album?

“The inter – state of being is something that I am fascinated with. The human drive for perfection and the simultaneous fear of technology are constants in our society. Even though art and technology have always been intrinsically linked, they are still often viewed as contradictions. The greek word for art “τέχνη” entails both of them. Robots are human creations but they are also our masters, capable of subjugating us. In this context the Hegelian dialogue of master /slave has been transgressed and transposed to a whole different dimension. It’s like a circle inside of a circle inside of a circle. It’s amazing.”

The lyrics float between dystopian futures and dream-like states, as if this being you’ve created is still trying to come to terms with what it is. What exactly is the narrative that the lyrics try to convey?

“A single narrative doesn’t exist. The lyrics for BIF tend to have multiple narratives that are going on simultaneously. Polymorphous is a song about sex but also about the idea of “the void”, dystopia is never far off in any of my songs. Dreams on the other hand is addressing the craving for a simpler life in this over-stimulating world and a tendency of some of my fantasies addressing an abandoning urban society and choosing to live somewhere off the grid. Which is also a concept I partially condemn, because I believe that it is in some ways proto fascist in its roots. “

Perera Elsewhere features on the EP and you’ve worked with the likes of Phon.o in the past. What do you take from these collaborations into your own work?

“I love collaborating. Whether you work with other people directly or not, you are always collaborating in some way. Ideas are seldom conceived by hermits, in isolated log cabins, who have never seen other people or read books or heard any music. the way perera elsewhere writes her songs is very different to how I write, and phon.o also has his unique approach. Collaborating means evolving.”

I assume these collaborations a result of the Berlin connection?

“Yes, we attend the same bikram yoga class (just kidding).”

The opening lyrics of the EP mark there’s “something strange to come” and I wonder what form will this strange thing take in the next Born in Flamez project?

I hope many!