The PC Music experimentalist drops an unhinged set and talks to us about their unique and unusual live shows and creating an ‘extreme sense of unreality’ with their music
felicita has always been one of the toughest members of the PC Music family to pin down. Like many of the producers on that label, felicita shares a fascination with bright, colourful, clean sounds, helium balloon synths, and ASMR vocals, but unlike those producers, felicita tends to eschew pop songwriting in favour of something far more unusual. 2014’s frenemies EP was a strange mixture of toybox noises and skipped rhythms, while last year’s a new family upped the ante, often filled with cutting, abrasive, hi-tech noise.
The latter EP held one major surprise at the end of its run – a delicate piano piece unassumingly titled “Track 6”. As it turns out, that track was a hint of things to come, as felicita’s latest EP, ecco homo, takes a similar tack, for the most part made up of gentle pianos underscored by felicita’s (admittedly still very unconventional) electronic production – the only hint of the producer’s louder tendencies comes in the form of the punishing “Shook”.
felicita is celebrating the EP release with a new live show, taking place at London’s Courtyard Theatre on April 7, with a special PC Music guest joining them on the night. No two felicita live shows are ever the same, and they tend to be more visually spectacular than your average DJ-in-a-dark-room setup, so prepare to be surprised. Before that date, felicita put together a new mix titled Post Tenebras Lux, which features a remix of Danny L Harle and Carly Rae Jepsen’s pop hyperbanger “Super Natural”, a new felicita track with PC Music honcho A. G. Cook and Kero Kero Bonito rapper-singer Sarah Bonito, and a Polish folk poem about cannibal sugar dolls.
Listen below, and read on for a Q&A with felicita about the mix.
Tell us about Ecce Homo. It’s obviously a little different to what a lot of people might expect from you.
felicita: Ecce Homo is a new piece of music and a live show based around the piano. I decided on it as a kind of specific project. During writing, I limited myself to one instrument, excluded vocal melodies, lyrics, sound design. I intentionally broke a lot of previous felicita rules. The live show will stage Ecce Homo in real life. I’ve started to call felicita live shows ‘theatrical experiments’ and give each a number in a series. This has allowed me to sidestep the conventional format of the ‘live show’ and start from scratch, treating each show as a unique event with its own design, desires, feel, look, hearing.
What sort of ideas fed into the EP?
felicita: As in my previous two EPs, I aimed to make something discrete and defined, like the character ‘Pingu’ or ‘that tree over there’ (points to a tree). I’ve always been uneasy about the term ‘world-building’ in music – it feels cartoony and false – I prefer to think of felicita records as magical-realist environments, where a basic and recognisable object like the piano is destabilised, thrown into a new and alien situation. I’m always pushing for an extreme sense of unreality... maybe this is a reflection of how I often feel myself, I’m not sure. If I was honest, I’d just admit that I’m trying to make a 21st century version of the Rites of Spring, or the ultimate piece of theatre, like a Little Mix video.
“I’m always pushing for an extreme sense of unreality” – felicita
Last year you collaborated with a traditional Polish dance ensemble at Unsound. Can you tell us about that experience?
felicita: I spent a week in a small village called Koszecin, rehearsing with Slask, one of Poland’s most famous traditional folk dance groups. The kind that might turn up at Carnegie Hall or the Southbank Centre every few years, and only the Polish diaspora will know about it and go. For a while I’d wanted to work with dance more specifically, outside of the club. A lot of club music approaches dance and rhythm in quite conservative ways, assumes the same thing of its audience. So my aim was to combine folk dance and abstraction, music that doesn’t imply a regular rhythm, and find a way it could be danced to faithfully. The result is a kind of irregular spectacle, like listening to bassline on the beach, or Bulgarian choral music walking around central London. I liked how the show went in the end. There’s currently talk of presenting it elsewhere... I’d love to take it around Eastern Europe.
Every time I’ve seen you live it’s been a totally different experience. What should we expect from your Courtyard show?
felicita: Here are three clues. The instrument featured throughout Ecce Homo will appear IRL. The Deliveroo Warrior, who we met in the lift of W Hotel whilst shooting the video for ‘a new family’, and then appeared during the felicita set at Heaven last November, is back – he’s sad, and he’s discovered vaping. There’ll be a special performance by a guest revealed on the day, though the venue has quite a low ceiling, so they might have trouble getting through the door (they’re really tall).
The mix features a Polish children’s song. Can you tell us what it’s about?
felicita: The song is called ‘There was a King’ and it’s the story of a group of a King, a Queen, and a Pageboy who sacrifice and eat each other. In the last verse you discover they were all made of sugar.
Why were you drawn to it?
felicita: The lyrics are a cute metaphor for felicita.
“I’m trying to make a 21st century version of the Rites of Spring, or the ultimate piece of theatre, like a Little Mix video” – felicita
What else is going on in this mix?
felicita: A felicita remix of ‘Supernatural’ by Danny L Harle featuring Carly Rae Jepsen, which should have been released last summer but was caught up in a major label dispute. A song I made with A. G. Cook and Sarah Bonito (from Kero Kero Bonito) in about an hour sometime last year. It’s about eating bananas on a rollercoaster, or something. An excerpt from a soundtrack I made for a feature film called DRIB that just premiered. It’s from my favourite scene where they try a new synthetic drug called hibiscus. An edit of a track I really like called ‘Rot to This’ by a producer called Terribilis. And some Lord Narf acapellas, ‘cos I love her.
What else have you got coming up?
felicita: felicita theatrical experiment no.3, when it’s ready... and my Depop account.
01. felicita – “Post Tenebras Lux”
02. Danny L Harle feat. Carly Rae Jepsen – “Supernatural” (felicita remix)
03. Byl Sobie Krol (Polish Children’s song about Sugar Dolls that Eat Each Other)
04. A. G. Cook & felicita & Sarah Bonito – “Round and Round and Round”
05. Lord Narf – “On My Tab” (acapella)
06. Terribilis – “Rot to This” (felicita edit)
07. felicita – “Hibiscus” (DRIB OST)
08. felicita – “Shook”
09. Lord Narf – “Quit It” (acapella)
10. felicita – “Let It Go”
11. Patel Pretal – “Byl Sobie Krol” (cover)
12. felicita – “Track 6” (organ version)
felicita plays The Courtyard Theatre, London on April 7 with a mystery PC Music guest