Bassvictim Is London's Rising Underground Act

Charlie Clateman sits down with his identical twin, and one-half of Bassvictim, Ike, to talk about his Golden Kiss Theory, Wes Anderson, and Bassvictim's latest EP, Basspunk, but not without some brotherly banter.

Photos by Aurelia McGlynn-Richon


Ike Clateman is a producer and one half of the electronic music duo Bassvictim, with singer and songwriting partner Maria Manow. Ike and Maria met in Berlin in the summer of 2022 and immediately disliked each other. Four months later, they met again outside a party in London and decided to start a band. At that time, there were no parties that they wanted to play, so they invented one. They called it I was a victim of the bass (VOTB for short). It was the birth of a whole scene that I witnessed from afar, mostly through their tantalizing flyers and promo videos, all designed by Ike and Maria themselves. They’ve come a long way since then. Bassvictim now plays secret shows with Two Shell, have an EP out called Basspunk, and just did a European tour. Ike has a solo project called RIP wowaka, and he’s working on collaborations with Evanora Unlimited and The Hellp.

Ike is also my identical twin brother. We used to make music together and even live in the same city, but now we live across the ocean from one another and make different kinds of art. He lives in London, I live in New York. I write fiction, he writes pop songs. Yet, we’ve never really been apart. An uninterrupted dialogue has flowed through our entire lives. To interview your identical twin is like dipping a bottle into a river. We have a very strong WhatsApp rapport, so we decided to do the interview the same. I spent a day lounging in the sun on Brighton Beach, eating salmon blinis, and later strolling through Prospect Park, messaging my brother all the while.

Charlie: Tell us the epic Bassvictim origin story.

Ike: I was in a dark booth in a basement club called Peckham Audio and all the sub bass was being filtered into that booth, and I could feel it in my chest and throat. I wrote this note in my iPhone:


Then I went outside because it was too intense, and Maria was standing there. She’d just got back from Poland. I said, “Do you wanna be in a bass house project called Bassvictim where I produce and you do vocals.” And she was like yea. And I said, cool let’s try it out. And I did this beat with my mouth, and she started toasting over it and we were like, alright, this will work. There’s actually a recording of it that one day the world will be ready for. The next day we made our first song, “Air On a G-String.”

Charlie: So should we talk about how you make songs? Or is that boring.

Ike: Kinda boring.

Charlie: Mid content.

Ike: There’s a finite number of things you can say about making pop music. Just know that our process is nothing like yours. The way we do it is, like, way more mystical and skillful than whatever you can think of.

Charlie: What are you doing right now?

Ike: Just finished the Bassvictim mixes.

Charlie: Mixes for what?

Ike: For the EP. It’s called Basspunk. It’s what we call our genre of music. But it’s very metaphysical. I don’t think we sound like punk. And neither of us listen to punk music.

Charlie: Is Bassvictim uppercase B or lowercase? What’s the official verdict?

Ike: I think we’re capitalizing now, for posterity. We don’t want to be part of the all lowercase trend. But it looks good on flyers and stuff.

“There’s a finite number of things you can say about making pop music. Just know that our process is nothing like yours.”

Charlie: Where are you right now?

Ike: Ngahere’s house. He’s making an awesome beat right now, sampling “Cherry” by Chromatics. Ngahere Wafer – artist to watch. Look out for a song about Margiela Futures, we all own a pair of them.

Charlie: Is that the best shoe?

Ike: It’s a good sneaker.

Charlie: I checked, and our Yeezy Pods still haven’t even shipped. It’s been two months now.

Ike: I had the most enlightening talk about Mr. West with someone recently.

Charlie: The new album is great, very satisfyingly dark and intense and brief, like Yeezus. I call his whole style of music now “Celebrity Goth,” and I think he’s probably the inventor and sole practitioner of it.

Ike: He seems like such a free person. I’d love to meet him.

Charlie: Who else would you like to meet right now?

Ike: John Frusciante. I love this man. I love his fried, beach bum, Jimi Hendrix, avant tape rock.

Charlie: The heart of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The switch they pulled is crazy. Before and after Frusciante is just two completely different bands.

Ike: They were nothing without him, and he was just a huge fan before he joined. He thought they were the coolest band in the scene. He made them superstars, and then he quit ‘cause he was like this is really not my vibe. So cool.

Charlie: I love his name. It sounds like it would be the Italian word for fresh fruit served in a glass of ice water, like fragole Frusciante. Although I just looked it up and it actually comes from the word for “rustling,” which is also good. Every time I think of him, I imagine him blissed out, eyes closed, hair blowing in the wind, forever twenty-eight.

Ike: That’s him. He has the Golden Kiss.

Charlie: What’s the Golden Kiss?

Ike: The Golden Kiss of melody. Me and Aidan [from Mitsubishi Suicide] always talk about it. It’s basically just a good melodic ear, but it’s unteachable. Some people have it, and it comes from God. There’s technicians who are trained or practiced enough to write something nice-sounding. But those with the golden melodies require no training. I think Maria has the Golden Kiss, and she writes pretty much all of our vocal melodies.

Charlie: George Harrison doesn’t have the Golden Kiss.

Ike: Nope. I think John was the only Beatle who had it.

Charlie: Maria’s melodies do remind me of John Lennon sometimes.

Ike: Golden.

Charlie: Do any of the classical composers have it? Or is it a pop music thing?

Ike: Oh, certainly some of them do. I think Mozart and Beethoven, at least.

Charlie: Beethoven’s melodies are ridiculously simple.

Ike: Golden melodies don’t go out of their way to hook you in.

Charlie: Who is the highest-rated yet Kissless melodist? You’ve already implied Paul McCartney, although I don’t really agree with you.

Ike: No, Paul does have the kiss. Maybe Bjork doesn’t though.

Charlie: And who is the gold standard?

Ike: The greatest Golden Kiss?

Charlie: Yes.

Ike: I think that comes down to personal taste.

Charlie: C'mon.

Ike: Definitely Alex G and Elliot Smith. Julian Casablancas. When I was reading his Byline interview I was like damn, he rejects his own Kiss. It seems like some part of him resents his own facility with simple and beautiful melodies. He wants to be like Radiohead or something.

Charlie: We always take for granted what comes most easily to us.

Ike: I said exactly that to Maria yesterday.

Charlie: Except you don’t do that. You’ve pretty much always hated doing anything that doesn’t come easily to you.

Ike: Pretty much.

Charlie: You quit hiking Mount Elbert only an hour from the peak because your socks started bunching up uncomfortably. I went on alone but then got terrifyingly lost on the way back. Maybe there is something symbolic in this.

Ike: I did have a brief period, my first two years at Goldsmiths, where I tried doing things that were hard for me. I stopped making music and went to symphonies and tried to learn oil painting and classical draftsmanship. Didn’t get me anywhere. I’m glad I read a bunch of books though.

Charlie: What books did you read?

Ike: Anna Karenina, Ulysses, Madame Bovary. All the books in Nabokov’s Lectures on Literature and the lectures on them, too. Lolita.

Charlie: And now you don’t read anymore.

Ike: I can’t seem to. It seems damn near impossible, and I blame the music industry. How can you read with so much noise? I’m producing, writing, performing, and managing two different projects. There’s just always something else to take care of. I also have a texting problem.

Charlie: What books do you imagine yourself reading?

Ike: Knausgaard, Houellebecq, Proust. I wanna read the Brothers Karamazov. The Darjeeling Limited gave me a craving for a brothers story. Have you seen that movie?

Charlie: No.

Ike: Early Wes Anderson is so good. The characters were always so vivid; the stories had such a classic feeling. So twee in the best way. He made the Rolling Stones sound like an indie band. And he’s a virtuoso. You almost don’t even notice that behind the tweeness is Scorsese level movie muscle.

Charlie: Have you seen the commercial he did?

Ike: What commercial?

Charlie: The American Express one. That made me see Wes Anderson as a mighty director for the first time.

Ike: I’m watching it now. Wow this is awesome.

Charlie: I’ve watched it so many times. I think he should make a whole movie like this, an epic autofictional film about a filmmaker, starring himself. That I would love to see.

Ike: I can’t stop watching the AmEx commercial. He’s so swag. What could be more swag than being a movie director?

Charlie: Who are you most excited about right now?

Ike: Music?

Charlie: Yeah.

Ike: I like a lot of new stuff lately. Cooper B. Handy’s PROD I.V. album, some of The Hellp’s upcoming stuff is really cool. Nettspend is probably the youngest, most swag person to have lived. I like this guy Nate Sib, he’s like 2016 Bieber vocally but with fresh production tricks. Thrilliam Angels from Latvia is crazy, he makes all his music with samples in Audacity. And I think I’m into Snow Strippers now.

Charlie: Snow Strippers’ new music video is awesome.

Ike: Yeah it’s amazing. I will admit I wasn’t sold on the project until that video but now I’m a massive fan. It’s like a new kind of goth, Onlyfans goth. Hot girls in a random mansion vibe. It seems so obvious, but I don’t think anyone else is doing it.

Charlie: Who else is cool?

Ike: I don’t know. Drain Gang.

Charlie: Still?

Ike: I think Drain might be forever. People are always talking about “When is Drain gonna die?” but I think It can’t happen. They are the Grateful Dead of our generation, though they’re probably more refined in most ways. They’re marching to their own drum. They’re kind of the voice of our generation.

Charlie: Yeah, like the first totally online generation. I think they’ll always represent that, just like the Grateful Dead and their progeny will always represent the hippy movement, even for latecomers.

Ike: Most people who hate on Drain Gang probably found some part of themselves through it.

Charlie: Is there anywhere you wish you were right now?

Ike: Maybe Asia, or Thailand. Or a mountain somewhere.

Charlie: I mean like a major capital city.

Ike: I don’t know. I do love London. I love how it looks. Where it’s antiquarian, it’s antiquarian in a Disneyland fairy castle way, and the new builds look like a sci-fi movie set; they’re so campy. This is kind of what our song “Canary Wharf” is about. It’s beautiful, but it’s so big and spread out that people can’t centralize and cultivate a neighborly social life.

Charlie: New York is great for that.

Ike: Yeah. But LA has all the musical talent. LA has real studio talent, New York has the writerly community. But London has a very strong developing underground. And a few very chic contemporary artists.

Charlie: Would you ever move to New York (the city)?

Ike: I guess we’ll see. A year ago I would have said never in a million years, but now I don’t know.

Charlie: What do New York people need to understand about making music?

Ike: That it’s not a popularity contest, even though it is. Don’t make music to get famous, get famous to keep making music. And remember that the industry doesn’t know anything about music or style. Business decisions are also creative decisions, and if you’re taking too much guidance from people on the business side you may have lost the path.

The Basspunk EP is out now and streaming on all platforms.

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