Photography by Hanro Havenga

The Emotional Electronica of Rose Bonica

Rose Bonica is a relatively new name on the 4/4 dancefloor but one that is steadily building, beat after beat, layer after layer. She hasn’t had much press (until now) but she’s been put on by artists who know their shit, like Jumping Back Slash, and has put out some enchanting and hypnotic releases worthy of your time (One of which is the live mix she did for JBS). I got to Skype the producer/quite-a-few-things just after she returned from the from the Wet Dreams compilation launch in Jozi (in association with this fine publication). “It was a cool turn out, the bar didn’t have a card machine though.” She jokingly nitpicks when I ask how it went.

Rose Bonica, real name Natalie Rose Perel, is a bit of a perfectionist and comes across as hyper-aware, but also candid and open. She’s dabbled in a few things, like, she has her honours in video editing and learned to code so she could work on her dad’s company’s website, but it’s with music that she’s finding a way to express herself. “I’m an emotional person,” she explains, “But only in the last 2 years have I really been a bit more open. Although I’m emotional, I’m very, you know, just put a smile on my face and move on. I guess not a lot of people very close to me know what I’m feeling, but music’s helping me with that.”

Personally, I find it harder to connect emotionally with house and techno music, but Rose explained how she expresses herself through sampling,”I think it’s the sampling aspect of music, how you can use samples and how that can be your story. I always found in editing, what always carried a film or a video or anything was the music behind it. You could change the mood by changing the music behind it. When I was watching Montle make music, which is what made me want to try, he’s also very expressive, the way he makes his songs is storytelling. Chopping samples together you can literally show someone who you are, and I think that that’s what I want from Rose Bonica.”

Montle aka Big Space is Rose’s boyfriend and watching him create music is what sparked her interest in music. “I didn’t even really listen to music before I started making it,” she says jokingly, but not as a joke. Montle is also the reason why she has had some doors open for her. “I definitely was lucky in that I had a jump start being with Montle and having access to his connections that he already had. Nepotism, for once, has actually worked in my favour. But I do know that the people who have been backing me and what I’ve been doing- most of them are 40 year old men who, if they didn’t like something, wouldn’t support it.”

The thing is, whilst Montle has helped open some doors, others have closed because some people think Montle is making Rose’s music. “I know a lot of people, at least in Cape Town, think Montle is my ghostwriter, which kinda blows my mind seeing as I’ve used computers all my life. It’s not actually that hard, most electronic “musicians”, producers, aren’t musicians, they’re not trained, like, at all. I think that could be something else. It’s quite a common thing I think, with women, is men are always waiting for you to be exposed by playing premixes.”

Now I can’t tell if Rose is making her own music all the way from my flat in Umbilo, but if she got booked to play live more, she could show what she’s made of. “I was booked over woman’s day week,” she tells me when I ask if she plays live much. “That sounds like tokenism,” I reply. She laughs, “And by female bookers. So I played 3 gigs in 1 week, it was quite amazing, it was really fun, I would love to play again.”

It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for Rose since she’s started making music. Whilst jaded 40-year-olds are putting her on, cynical youth are blocking her from making moves. That just means that Rose will have to find ways to change things and put herself on, which, after the Wet Dreams launch, is exactly what she plans on doing “I’m thinking of actually trying to make a change  because I know in life that you can’t expect things to change unless you change them yourself.”

Rose shared a premier of her latest release with us for you to enjoy, a moody number that feels like it could be the soundtrack to a horror film in space. Put in your earphones, close your eyes, click play, and don’t look back.

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