Bao-Tran Tran known as mobilegirl is a producer who was born in Munich with a background in Media and Computer Science. The genre-defying and Berlin-based producer is party of Staycore Collective and Discwoman known for her restructured R&B mixes infused with dance tracks.
Her debut EP, “Poise”, breaks away from the high energy of her DJ mixes, but maintains the complexity and heavy stylization she is known for. Below, we had a quick chat with Bao on her love for Berlin, producing art for her album, and the inherent politics within the electronic music scene.
While well-aware that your music is quite genre-fluid, could you describe which color/feeling in mood-ring terms would best describe your debut EP in comparison to your mixes?
Originally I had thought the EP would be green, hence the artwork but then I had this strong synesthetic moment while re-listening after I had already finished everything. The colors were a blueish white and a pearly purple, which almost made me scrap the current artwork and make a new one based on that association.
Speaking of your debut EP, “Poise” on Staycore, can you tell us more about it, including the artwork?
"Poise" is the result of a long internal struggle between comfort and expectation. The title comes from finding a stance and keeping a balance. I had long thought about which direction to move musically because I felt a strong dichotomy between what sound I would naturally produce and what I'm known to play as a DJ and feeling stuck in those expectations. My sets were already quickly put into a category that I really soon didn't find appropriate anymore as I developed and changed the sound over the years but certain keywords, genres seemed inescapable. "Eclectic" is the only one I can adopt because it means everything and nothing, yet is a good description of what I like and do. I just like putting a foot into everything. Before I started music, I wrote websites and before that I made graphics. So, I also made the artwork myself because I wanted to have full control of all output. It shows a sculpture of which the main part is a 3D stylization of the Yin Yang symbol, representing the EP title. And the overall aesthetics are borrowed from video games just like the music. I'm heavily influenced by RPG and adventure game soundtracks. They have this really soothing element to them often created by heavy repetition. I tried to recreate that with this EP because I needed to feel this calming sense. The process felt like therapy rather than anything expressive.
Your contribution and participation in collectives such as Discwoman and SISTER, which promote those underrepresented in the underground music scene, is rad! With rising collectives such as these, there still come more nuanced problems within the music scene, often exploiting or tokenizing DJs and producers from underrepresented backgrounds under a guise of “diversity” amongst other things. What unique issues do you find yourself, or your peers, facing today?
It's hard to say what's a unique issue. I guess what you mentioned about tokenization is something that we've only been facing for a few years in a way that is supposed to be properly representative. There's always been that one non-white and/or non-straight character in media that is displayed in an utterly cliched, stereotypical manner. But having brands trying to look 'woke' is rather new and annoying, but also feels a bit necessary. As exploitative it is of a movement, [it is also] exposing and therefore helpful. It normalizes the values of the movement.
Can you tell us more about the music scene in Berlin and what attracted you to the city? Where would you be based right now if not Berlin?
I don't see myself anywhere else right now, it's been such a blessing here. What attracted me the most was a combination between parties like Janus and the people that I've met in Berlin over time. Before it was rare for me to meet people with similar interests and tastes but in Berlin that was so easy and it helped me form a new identity based on the comfort of having like-minded people around you.
The music scene is so vast. Living here you kind of get used to it and stop appreciating it, but I remember envying my friends in Berlin for being able to see all these exciting artists that I couldn’t see.
What’s the process like for creating your mixes? Any rituals?
Coffee is important. That’s all :-)
Last 3 tracks you listened to today?
I just got back from a party so whatever 3 tracks LSDXOXO was playing last.
music/images courtesy of MOBILEGIRL
interview PERWANA NAZIF
More to read