Words by Manal Aziz
Atlas Electronic Podcast 009: REALM – a mystical concoction of distorted bass drums, oriental noise, and industrial breakbeats. A two-hour dive into a clearly untamed mind, inaugurating another series of much-anticipated mixes.
We’re kicking off our podcast year with a two-hour Alice-like trip by Moroccan homegrown talent REALM. After an intermezzo of several years in which he’s studied and lived in France, REALM is back in the motherland pursuing his musical career. A diverse artist with an equally versatile source of inspiration, REALM is anything but monosonic. Being all about merging the rough edges of the industrial DIY scene with the dubby side of electronic music, he’s already managed to create a proper signature sound. We’re happy to have caught a minute to talk about anything from Hardcore Punk to frontside flip to backside-crooked nosegrinds on a ledge. Listen to his podcast below and find out more about the man behind REALM by reading along.
Thanks for taking the time to have a quick chat with me. After listening to your trippy podcast, I tried scavenging the internet for information, but you’re a hard-to-find artist online. So, for those who don’t know who you are, could you give us a short introduction to the artist REALM?
Hi and huge thanks for having me for this interview! First things first. I was born and raised in Casablanca where I spent my entire childhood. When I finished high school at 17 I decided to pursue my studies in France. Now that my studies have recently ended, I had to come back to Morocco once and for all. Musically, it all started for me in that transitioning period between Africa and Europe. In late 2011, I began making shitty rough drafts mimicking early UK Dubstep à la Digital Mystikz using solely Ableton stock sounds. Then, a few years later, after I saw Jacques Greene play at Pitchfork Paris, it became an obvious step for me to get behind the decks. That caused some sort of domino effect that led me to discover more experimental club-oriented labels such as Night Slugs, The Trilogy Tapes, L.I.E.S., and Berceuse Héroïque.
When it comes to REALM: it’s simply an anagram of a few letters from my last name I’m using as my go-to moniker for DJing and producing. As opposed to other aliases I might use later on for specific purposes, this alias REALM is about broadcasting a wide variety of music.
About that diversity in your music. Industrial/post-punk DIY isn’t the first thing I’d associate with Morocco. However, this is a big part of what makes your signature style. When did this influential development occur and what place do your Casaoui roots still have within your music?
I’m not sure if being from Casablanca had any major role in shaping my music taste since there isn’t a specific sound defining Moroccan music in the modern spectrum. But I guess, back then, it was pretty common here for teenagers to listen to old Rock and Hardcore Punk. So that was the starting point for me into discovering a lot of psychedelic rock, Kraütrock, Post-Punk and also some entry level New Wave. However, Industrial music wasn’t really an obvious influence in the beginning. I only realized its influence in hindsight. After I started listening to some early Throbbing Gristle, I recognized that the same leftfield, rough sounding, provocative components that shaped their music were omnipresent in what I’ve always enjoyed. That’s where I became very reminiscent of my old non-electronic influences and began merging it with the contemporary music I currently listen to.
I have listened to your podcast countless times already and what a treat. No matter how often I play it, I keep discovering new layers. Every other track is equally surprising and the weirdness is mesmerizing. What was the setting or mood that set off the inspirational train for this podcast?
Thanks, I appreciate it a lot! It was actually recorded in pretty laidback circumstances at my girlfriend’s flat. We were just chilling with her roommates, all of us getting properly baked. At the beginning, there weren’t any particular guidelines. I just approached it like all my previous mixes by starting off really slow and increasing the energy throughout the entirety of the podcast, thus creating a certain narrative. Also, I just gradually and carefully started picking tracks all over the place. Mainly focusing on the most underrated ones, I combined them step by step in the most coherent way I could.
Okay okay, last question. I read a huge inspiration source is the soundtracks of old skateboarding videos. Are you a skateboarder yourself? And if so, what is the gnarliest trick you’ve managed to land or you wish to one day be able to land?
Hahahahaha! I actually did use to skate my whole teenage years, then I stopped gradually right after I left Casablanca. But honestly, I ridiculously sucked at it because of my weak legs. I was also way too self-conscious and insecure about skating in crowded areas, so I would simply cruise around doing no-complies and failing 90% of my kickflips. The gnarliest trick I landed was a 360 pop shove-it. But that only happened once and that was the end of it. Other than that, I usually picture myself doing a frontside flip to backside-crooked nosegrind on a ledge, but I guess that will forever remain a fantasy.
Shokran! And without further ado… Please enjoy these two hours of indescribable sounds from the present future by the talented legend in the making: REALM.
[podcast + tracklist]
The Atlas Electronic Podcast series has been created for the sole purpose of sonic education and entertainment. Get to know the people behind the artists and learn about the creation process. Find tracklists to elaborate your music library or simply expand your musical horizon. Got to SoundCloud for the full extent of our auditory archive.