Published Aug 09, 2019Toronto musician Rita Mikhael, better known as E-Saggila, continuously strives to stretch the boundaries of techno with her hard-driving yet evocative tracks, a tendency that's highlighted on her new album, My World My Way.
"With this record, I wanted to incorporate different genres I wouldn't normally produce and have them be subtle," Mikhael tells Exclaim! in an interview via email. "It's interesting trying to pair together elements from genres like punk and dancehall to make something more eclectic. I want to always try new things and not just make techno that's appropriate for the dancefloor."
As a curator and label-runner in Toronto's DIY electronic scene, Mikhael has nurtured a distinct voice that has since gone global. She co-runs the Summer Isle cassette imprint with Max "Death Kneel" Klebanoff, but My World My Way was released on Northern Electronics, which is based in Sweden. The artist was surprised to be approached by the label yet also felt aligned with their willingness to "release something that people would never expect." For their part, the label in its press release praises E-Saggila's "wicked intensity" and brazenness "that could only be forged in the moment."
Sonically, the album was constructed from recordings of Mikhael's live productions, which are thunderous and, at times, almost brutal. She chalks this up to a desire for the listener to quite literally feel the music.
"I hate the idea of playing a show and having people just hang out and talk while it's happening," she elaborates. "Having the crowd engaged, whether physically or emotionally, is vital to the performance."
This thirst for engagement stands out on many of the LP's tracks, which are alternately hard-driving ("Aziza," "Pattern Obligation"), evocative ("Stars Dying in Succession," "One Last Midnight") and abrasive ("Alia"). Yet Mikhael is also continually growing and enriching her sound with each release.
"Each record is at a different point in my life that correlates to that vision I have for it," she explains. "My World My Way is, to me, my most up-to-date status of everything I've felt, learned, heard, seen."
E-Saggila plans to bring this culmination of experience to the Berlin Atonal festival later this month, where she'll be performing alongside a diverse roster including acts such as Helm, Félicia Atkinson, Roly Porter, Nivhek (Grouper's Liz Harris) and Lee Gamble.
Such a diverse cast of characters is something that the artist affirms is a pleasurable experience, both as a performer and audience member: "It's nice being at a spot where you can either dance or just watch a performance that impacts you. Sometimes I prefer the more ambient/experimental-leaning sets at festivals because they're more impressionable to me."
Mikhael also intends to highlight the gentler aspects of her own sound at the festival, hoping to perhaps soften the impact of the blown-out beats.
"A lot of ambient/sound collage cuts occur in my performances; it really just depends on the mood that I'm trying to set."
My World My Way is out now courtesy of Northern Electronics.