DJ, producer and radio host Bakläxa (Tash Todd) has unveiled her debut solo EP, Swordfish EP. She plays a mix of left-field bass, hard drum, grime, dancehall and percussion-driven dance music. Her ‘Learning Curves’ show on THFRadio aims to explore projects that are running in and around the city of Berlin that are working in the sectors of social change, activism and cultural awareness. She has released productions on compilations including Ecke Records’ ‘F.O.E.’ Series and Paloma‘s ‘Paloma Vs. Virus 005’. Alongside these she has also released a ravey two track EP CiV / VIC on ClubQu as Neutralised – a cybernetic DJ Duo formed with

Hi Bakläxa, thanks for taking the time to talk with us here at FOUR FOUR, for those who may
be unfamiliar with yourself as an artist could you please share with us a brief background of
your journey in music?

I’ve always been into music and digging for tunes since I was a kid, curating music playlists was a childhood hobby as was making ‘albums’ with my siblings. (Actually technically this release is my second as I have an album tape collecting dust somewhere that me and my brother produced when I was eight). I first started dabbling in electronic music production though when I got a cracked version of Ableton after moving to Berlin in 2011. I would compose pretty cinematic influenced tunes which made sense after just finishing a film making degree that year but nothing ever left my hard drive. Wasn’t for another eight years until I started releasing, firstly in a pop, r&b duo called TONI&MASH and then as a ravey, breaky project called Neutralised. I’ve been playing out (DJing) since 2017 and released a couple of solo singles on VA’s but this is my first full EP under my own solo alias.

You have a new EP entitled Swordfish coming up on Ecke Records based out Berlin which you also call home, could you tell us a little about this project, its sonic aesthetic and how it came together?

I started to get into a good habit of producing and finishing tracks regularly during the first lockdown of 2020. Super grateful for this albeit heavy pause in many of our lives but it gave me a lot of time and space to make producing a regular part of my routine. ‘smh’ was sketched together during that period followed by ‘swordfish’ which I made on a train in Sicily after I’d been on a boat tour looking for whales. No whales that day but instead saw some hunting swordfish shooting out of the water and felt inspired by the experience. I was traveling for three weeks to and around Italy by train and often making Ableton sketches during that trip, after a while there was a body of tunes to put together. I’ve known the Ecke records crew for a while and sent them through the tunes and we built a tracklist together that is now this EP.

You’re quite prolific in the world of underground electronic music, operating as a producer, DJ,
party promoter and radio host. Could you break down all of your numerous activities for us so
we can dive deeper into your musical world?

Throwing parties has been a core part of how I enjoy music and connect with people ever since I used to throw house parties when my mum was out of town as a teenager. It made sense to move into promoter territory when most of the people I knew in Berlin were involved in the music scene in some way or another. I had connections to both people running interesting spaces and people who were sick selectors, and have just made a regular habit of putting those things together on and off over the past decade. I feel like the dancefloor is a super political space and also a sketchbook for testing out concepts to grow and learn from, albeit whilst trying to ensure everyone is safe and their wellbeing is considered whilst having fun. I also think as a promoter I’m in constant conversation with artists and venues in a way that allows me to try to contribute something to my community which has held me so dearly through moments of both struggle and celebration in the past, being able to potentially offer something like that back to others is super valuable. I do also feel my neurodivergence is at play when it comes to curating nights, I can struggle sometimes in a club environment with the amount of people or intensity of the lights or the way the system sounds, but when you’re the promoter you’re in a position to control all of those things to your taste. Getting to dip in and out of the dancefloor, making sure there’s enough fog from the machine, taking care of the artists is all super important to me. There’s also of course the side of booking which I love, to be able to give people a platform to come and share what they’ve got, I find the most beautiful exchange. Those opportunities were and still are so valuable in my confidence and development as a performer.

Radio has also been a crucial part of how I express myself since a young age. My dad used to run a pirate radio station with his mates in the 80s that then led to me and my brother recording ‘shows’ on cassettes in our bunk beds during primary school years. It’s something that’s kinda always been there. There was a lot of disconnect from this side of myself through feelings of imposters’ syndrome and also the issue with gender representation which was different even back in 2017, I’m super happy to see shifting for new artists today.

The development of my podcast show ‘Learning Curves’ happened during the pandemic and after four years of my ‘Feels’ show at Noods Radio came to an end. As much as I valued the connection to my UK roots that my Noods show brought me, I felt like the community was predominantly online and I was longing to connect with my physical community in my immediate environment. Engaging deliberately away from a music show and stepping into a talk show format on socio-economic topics in and around Berlin allowed me to explore the stories and help elevate voices from groups and individuals across different communities; which is super important to me.

The press release says your new EP can ‘’be best described as being in the middle-ether between three pillars: deconstructed UK Bass, cinematic sound-design pieces & soul-filled pop-driven UK Techno tools’’, that’s quite an amalgam, are there any specific things you would cite as influences of this project, specific artists you’ve followed or scenes that correlate to your output?

I think for me I want to finally put out a body of tunes that feel like they’ve been sitting unheard behind the scenes for time. This EP is a good collection of the different sounds I’ve been working on as a kinda serving platter of the different genres I’ve been exploring. I’m hoping this cute packaged EP will be the start of many releases to follow after just not having the confidence to put solo stuff out until now. Big ups to Jonny from Ecke who really supported me with the pep talk to get this music out.

The release is coming on a cassette tape, a format that’s seen a resurgence in recent years, possibly due to the dauntingly high costs of vinyl productions these days, however it also bring it’s own characteristics and lo-fi quality with is favourable to your music I would say, was this your decision or that of the label’s to produce this tape release rather than simply drop it digital?

I think both me and the label were keen to produce something physical, and the concept of the fishing computer worked very well with the assets needed for a cassette so it all kinda just came together. It was a bit of a no-brainer moment when we were chatting about how the release would come out. Not sure who shot the idea first but we were all on the same page with it from the get go.

Could you talk us through the retro computer game-like artwork which accompanies the EP?

So I was using the ‘bassmate’ tag on socials and soundcloud for a while as a lil wink to my UK-ness. There’s a lot to be said about identities after prolonged periods of time away from where you were brought up or spent time as a young adult. The ‘mate’ bit for me was a cheeky thing for me to feel connected to where I came from. The ‘bass’ links to the predominant music direction of my sets. There was someone in my community who back in 2020 sent me a link to the fishing computer’s artwork and I got heart in my eyes when I saw it! It’s such a nice visual and says right there on the original computer ‘bassmate’ so I started using this visual for Bakläxa. I also had the idea when I produced ‘swordfish’ to switch out the fish from a bass to a swordfish for the artwork and the rest just fell into place.

What’s next for you after this EP comes out?

We have an EP release party happening with a mighty line up in Berlin on December 16th so come through those who are in town and have been enjoying the sounds. Otherwise hopefully more releases! I’m chatting with a Bristol label about another EP that will hopefully come out next year. I’m also regularly collaborating with as Neutralised, we have a party at sameheads happening early 2024 and also looking to release some new music soon. I’d also like to start developing a solo live set. I haven’t played live since TONI&MASH broke up and would like to develop that side of performing again in a new and interesting way.

And lastly, could you please recommend us something to check out that’s been a highlight for
you recently, it could be a new record you’ve discovered but also something completely outside
of music, maybe a book you’re ready, a move you’ve been, a place you’ve been or something
you ate in the perfect setting…?

Never not reading Nono Gigsta’s newsletter
Listening to ãssia ghendir’s aftercare EP
And mentoring on the ‘Error Music: don’t delete project has and always will be such a treat.

Follow Bakläxa:

SpotifyApple Music InstagramBandcamp