UK rapper, singer and artist GAIKA has released his new album Seguridad. Seguridad is a fusion of dancehall, trap, grime and deconstructed club with Gaika’s urgent, yearning and haunting voice holding the album together as he grapples with love, mortality and fate. The project was created in conjunction with Mexican label NAAFI and a cadre of Mexican producers, TAYHANA, Lao, OMAAR, Wasted Fates, Zutzut and Lechuga Zafiro, who we have contacted for a Director’s Cut feature.
We get the inside scoop on how this album was created by each of the players involved, letting us know how each song made it on the record, the process from demo to finished product, the time crunches and much more. This is a great view behind the scenes into how tracks can go from beats to finished songs with raps and vocals on them from varying perspectives.
I arrived in Mexico, with Mensa, my best friend and we went straight into the studio and started sifting through all of these incredible demos. I'm not normally someone who works like this. I prefer to have a much greater hand in producing the instrumentals I use and never really record over sent in beats. This felt like I was jumping on a set in some mysterious club populated by my friends and was true to how I ever met Lao in the first place, I got hypnotized by it and just went in without a break for a week. Lyrically it's a continuation of a theme I started to explore on Security in 2016 but re contextualized and re examined. All that late night romance and loss it's all very real. We were listening to a lot of Narcocorrido in the studio and that's probably why I'm singing mainly ballads on this record. Maybe we should rename it Mainly Ballads Pt 1 and I hope we can do another installment.
The producers are amazing and this record has been historic, one of the best experiences of my artistic life so far I’m so proud of everyone involved.
On the music: whenever I start a song I start with a concept or a sound that reminds me something or its auxiliary to whatever I’m trying to convey, after I have a particular sound I really like I start to build it from there. For example on “Iron Cut” I started with a sound that processed sounded like a an angry flock of birds, and then it sounded sinister for me so I added a very obscured piano, heavy percussions and so on. The song had many elements and on the mix Imaabs made it work perfectly. The second song is a collab with Debit that we started on one of her many visits to Mexico City, when we collaborate we usually have a lot of fun and its vibrating.
On the vocals: it was amazing being able to record Gaika at the NAAFI studio and see him through the whole process, he selects a song and he pours his spirit on paper, also having the chance to experiment with some recording techniques and build a connection with him was great.
I remembered we were planning this collaboration a long time before it happened. Gaika has been visiting Mexico in the last few years through NAAFI and CEREMONIA Festival so finally after NAAFI’s NYE’s CLUB DE PLAYA Gaika decided to stay to record. We already had most of the beats somehow ready at the moment. This was the first proper recording project we had at our recently opened studio so there was an amazing energy surrounding it, I recorded the vocals for all the tracks in less than a week -- we all knew that there was no time to waste. I remember I was working on the beat for “Kingdom of Slums” as a standalone club track when Fausto Bahía arrived with Gaika to the studio, he liked how it was mysterious yet powerful with this raven vibe so this was the first song we recorded. I bounced the project as it was and just mixed it at the same time the lyrics were written.
After this track I remember we went through all the beats, there was some really memorable moments while recording OMAAR’s “Nine Nights." It was magical I remember how it even made me remember The Cure in a weird special way. Tayhana’s “Of Saints” was also a strong and deep experience, its an intimate track. Lechuga Zafiro’s “Lord Zemel” and OMAAR’s “María” were the club/dance tracks. I wrote the beat for Wolfish on the spot the third day of recording, I remember I wanted some obscure groove and an introspective vibe. I remember each one of the tracks was very special in their own way; each one of them can transport you to the core of the NAAFI aesthetic and vision, the construction of identity through rhythmic/sonic experimentation.
“Ecstatica” was made in a short trip I took to CDMX in 2018 for the shooting of a music video that was never released. It was a tight schedule to shoot and also stressful to make tunes because FOMO: everyone had made several submissions already. In a single session I made a bunch of demos of “Wasted Fates” who were engineering at the time in the NAAFI studio- - Gaika later recorded over it. We tweaked the track a bit the following summer but I never heard about it again until the project was reactivated with imaabs as engineer.
I didn't have access to the files and only glimpses of memory of how the track went, so I let go of all technical details. I just thought there was value to the rawness of the sound and sentiment of / felt it was worth fighting for. It did not readily fit in the mix/master concept that was being developed and in fact a version of the EP was sent out to the press without my track in it. After team hustle and major energy the track made it to the EP. Frankly I knew all along this was going to be a major release and even though I missed the first wave of promo I’m at least going down in history with it.
I think the process and the vibe of this track started when I first met Gaika in Puerto Escondido Oaxaca for NAAFI Club de Playa back in 2016, I showed him an official unreleased remix I did for L-Vis 1990 featuring him and Mista Silva and he really loved the vibes. When we went back to CDMX, we stayed at the same place and a friend let us work at his studio (Finesse Records) that's where we worked the first idea. I really don’t work much with vocalists and sometimes is hard for me, but working with Gaika was super natural.
The post production process with my colleagues from NAAFI was a little bit messy because it was a project with many pauses so the files got mixed and etc, the final process was at distance with Imaabs and Tycho from Modos Estudio in Santiago de Chile and I think they probably hate me because we had to send back and forward many files, because I was not convinced with the final version, but thank to my friend Imaabs patience we made it
I did that instrumental three years ago. While looking for different idiophones I came across with the beautiful Pat Waing Burmese instrument, that was the main inspiration for this instrumental. I fell in love with its thick aura, but I wanted to bring it closer to my world. So I just played with the pads and some one shots to build a beat. What came out felt loosely inspired by rhythm cadences developed in the Argentinian territory (Cumbia DJ culture from 2010 to the present day, Chacarera). But when Gaika sang on top the whole vibe changed completely and it gave every sound a different meaning, and that's what I love with collabs like these. If anyone feels curious about where these Argentinian rhythms come from I recommend listening to: Rompe Diskotekas / Dj Alan Gomez / Bombo legüero y chacarera
My experience was a bit particular, I was not present in CDMX when they recorded the album but when they asked me if I wanted to send beats, I did not hesitate and sent the only two I had. They were probably the first two beats I had ever done; I had barely started to produce around that time. It was a surprise when I heard the first thing GAIKA recorded on one of my beats, which would become "Of Saints," the album's single. I had never collaborated with singers until then, I still feel very lucky for the result of this first experience, which in addition to being a super romantic track that I am glad to hear represents a lot to me because of the trust the crew had in me.
The track was liked so much that it is also part of the soundtrack of a movie, it was a kind of beginner's luck perhaps, added to the risk I took when cheering up and not being afraid to show my ideas despite my non-existence.
Better to be daring, I think it is the most important factor in my creative process.
I'm OMAAR and I'm going to tell you a little bit about the creative process behind my musical productions. All the music I've done is introspective -- everything has to do with what I reflect about myself, and my state of mind, my experiences and experiences that I have had throughout my life. These can be talks I have with my family and friends, meeting new people, going partying and seeing people dancing especially when it's my turn to put music on.
The music of my friends and colleagues gives me feedback and inspires me to make music. Other things that inspire me are when I read a book, what I read on the internet and of science and technology documentaries. I also really like to see documentaries about design and technology in automobiles and all its engineering.
When I produce music I feel like I design a car and that feeling excites me, something that in the end it will be a good product that satisfies me and that people like it too.
The two tracks with which I participated in the new album Seguridad were part of my repertoire. I remember when GAIKA came to Mexico for the first time to give a show to Puerto Escondido (Oaxaca) at the New Year's Party by NAAFI in 2017. Once we returned to Mexico City we met at Lauro's studio (LAO) Alejandro (ZutZut), Octavio (Wasted fates) and of course GAIKA was also present, we were organizing to produce some tracks for a new album, Lauro (LAO), knowing that there was little time and that GAIKA would return to his country the next day, he showed him some other tracks from my colleagues and in that list was a track of mine that was named "My Angel" that was intended to be released as a single in NAAFI but "GAIKA" liked and recorded some vowels about her and everything got there!
On his second visit to Mexico GAIKA asked to listen to more tracks to complete the album and record. My colleague Lauro (LAO) asked me for another project. I sent him a track that he had made in order to play it. At some upcoming party it had no name and it was unpublished no one had heard it, it seemed a good idea to send it. I did a kind of "afrobeat" in four quarters somewhat accelerated because it was directed to the dance floor. Fortunately GAIKA also liked me and was selected for her album. This track is called "Maria” and is the second of the album Seguridad.