If you haven’t been to Seltzer, the experimentally-minded queer rave that London-born, Philadelphia-based DJ Bearcat throws regularly along with fellow Philly DJ Precolumbian in their home city, or even at her monthly residency at Brooklyn club Nowadays, then maybe you’ve come across the music she made for Chromat on Soundcloud. To this day, Bearcat says her runway soundtrack for Fall 2016 still gets comments from fans—she sometimes gets booked off the strength of that one mix alone. Listening to that music now, Bearcat is struck by how much she’s changed as an artist since. That mix stays between the range of 108 to 120 BPM as opposed to the high energy soundtrack she created for Chromat’s 10th anniversary show in New York yesterday.
Bearcat is an essential member of the Chromat family, from playing afterparties to scoring Chromat: Body Electric, a documentary on the fashion brand which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2016. The first 10 seconds of Bearcat’s mix for the show last night actually incorporated the intro to the documentary score—Bearcat plays the role of a flight attendant ushering us all for lift off, a fitting starting point given designer Becca McCharen-Tran’s NASA inspiration for this new show (astronauts train in underwater facilities in Houston). “Honestly, the Chromat score from 2016 was the first real job that I did in terms of music production and scoring, so I have a little bit of sentimental value,” Bearcat says over the phone from Philly a few days before the show. “Things always come full circle. I feel like working with Chromat has definitely been something that has made me focus and given me opportunities to really showcase what I can do.”
Given the breadth of the collection, Bearcat’s mix this season, which is almost entirely comprised of her own personal edits, is just about doubles the standard 12 or so minute soundtrack. Within these 25 minutes, Bearcat runs the gamut, as do most of her sets: working with McCharen-Tran as guidance for the first few minutes, Bearcat goes straight into a drumline sound, kicking off the sort of pep rally vibe that she maintains at the beginning. “Becca and I are in our early 30s, so there’s lots of No Limit and all these kind of power housey, pump up the volume, ‘Pump Up the Jam’ kind of vibes, the sort of songs I would be freaking out to as a kid,” Bearcat says. From there, Bearcat takes you into space—there’s some eerie, alien-like synth noises that start to ring out in the center of the mix, and by the time McCharen-Tran’s LED-lined cage skirts and headpieces start going down the runway, Bearcat’s gone in a much more industrial place. “The energy goes up 10 times more and then it starts to sound a bit more like my sets—a little bit more industrial, a little bit more heavy, and a little bit darker than at the beginning of the show.”