If you’re looking for something different to fall in love with check out Bonnie Li. I’m envious of everyone that’s known about this otherworldly French Duo longer than I have. The musical world created by these “dark trip hop abstract electro creatures” is some kind of magical mixture of vintage gothic industrial trip hop with stellar noiresque visuals. It’s not an act. This is who they are. It reflects in the body of work they’ve created even before they started working together.
Currently based in Berlin, Bonnie Li and Elia M, have vast musical histories in various projects before meeting in 2013. Both of their bios reveal impressive precursors that may have led to the present but should not be ignored as an intricate part of their very core. In the mix of the two bios are words like bilingual, voodoo doll, global underground electro scene, founder of Techno Label Sycomor, powerful and bewitching, groove box, free party movement, psychedelic sonorities, industrial goth, plus a lot more you can check out on their official website.
The latest single, Mallory, is based on a chance encounter with a “then forsaken by existence girl” in a “creepy bar in Paris“. Still friends today, the song reflects on the sacrifices, highs and lows, and society induced chaos of Mallory’s life prior to overcoming everything and rising above it all. The visuals are so well executed you feel like you are there. The vocals and music are haunting, sinister, and innocent at the same time.
The story that started in a “creepy bar in Paris” made me wonder what other real life creepy experiences might be lurking in the shadows. Bonnie Li and Elia were very generously willing to share their top 5.
*Bonnie –Graduation year, suburbs of San Francisco/Lost in the ghetto/backseat of a police car: My friend Lindsay and I went to see Wu Tang Clan perform in a sort of industrial warehouse venue lost in the ghetto of the Bay Area suburbs. We had parked the car nearby but obviously after the show around 1am, the weed helping, we found ourselves wandering in the streets, impossible to find the car. A police car pulled over and ordered us to hop inside as ‘two 17year old girls have nothin’ to do on those streets at 2am”. The thought of getting inside a police car freaked me out, but it looked like he wasn’t giving us the choice. Good part is that we found the car in 10min, but 10min in the backseat of a police car, looking at the officer through the wire fence that was separating us, tryin’ to relax when seats are made of hard plastic and both the space between the legs and the backrest are bulged, wondering if he’s gonna ask to empty my weed full pockets, weren’t the best 10min of my life.
-Highway 89, parking lot of a crooked motel between Montreal & Boston:
Back when I was living in Montreal, my roommate decides to go on a 1 night road trip to Boston with her bipolar beau of the time to go see a show. I’m 18 years old, never been to Boston, I hop on the car. 4 hours of cat fighting between them later, we finally park on the most creepiest highway motel we find, and we rent a room to get some rest. I can sleep anywhere anytime, and I crashed on the pee smelling couch. A few hours later, I’m waken up by loud banging on the door. I have no idea of the time, it’s raining cats and dogs, the room is empty, and I open to a short and chubby very angry little man screaming that it’s past check out time and that I have to pay and free the room. My friends were nowhere to be found, I had obviously forgotten my bag in the backseat of their car, didn’t have a quarter to place a call, so I waited on the parking lot, escorted by the concierge’s nephews that kept on chain-smoking cigarettes. After what I’m guessing a good hour had passed, a truck driver approaches and waves to 1 of the nephews. They start to chat in lower voices, giving me sidelong looks, while I’m thinking of ways to escape my future kidnapping. Taking down my hair, I hide my bobby pins in my left palm, convincing myself they would make a good weapon if the situation turns nasty. It’s still raining, there’s no one around and I’m starting to seriously freak out. The moment the truck driver turns to face me, I’m squeezing so hard on the hairpins that I feel my hand becoming numb, and I’m so lost in my paranoia that it takes me a few seconds to realize that my roommate is standing right next to me, handing me a cup of coffee: -“Bonnie! What’s up with you? You look like you’re gonna get sick you’re all green! It took us 30min to find a gas station, here’s your Coffee with a drop of milk and brown sugar my Love, let’s go back home Andrew is waiting for us.”
-Summer 2012: wild camping spot on the coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It’s my birthday. On holiday with my t-boy of the time, we decide to take a road trip to Vegas, using the pacific coast highway to enjoy the beautiful view, but we obviously leave late in the afternoon and after a few hours of drive, the sun is coming down so we decide to stop at the only local shop we find along the road to ask where we could camp overnight. The shop owner is a very dodgy thin old man whose voice is so low I don’t understand a thing he says. The man looks annoyed and calls his daughter for help. We hear dishes breaking on the floor from the back of the shop, and after a few minutes, a deformed girl in a white tank top and underwear comes in. I feel like I’m thrown into Sheitan, a movie by Kim Chapiron, where the main characters find themselves in the grip of an exclusively white, creepy and stupid by cause of intermarriage population. The girl draws a sketchy map on a piece of paper to the location of our camping spot. We thank them and leave. My guts tell me “no way we’re sleeping there”, but my partner is tired (I didn’t have my driving licence at the time), the night is rising, and we start driving uphill to the spot in order to install the tent before it’s dark. We find it easily, and as soon as the tent is settled, a heavy fog starts scattering all around us, impossible to see anything 2meters ahead, we have, of course, forgotten the flash lamps in the car and our phones have no network. I start to think that they sent us there on purpose to kill us, so I pick up a wood stick and a rock and rush inside our ridiculous shelter. I remember we were listening to The Gossip as Beth Ditto’s voice has always cheered me up. Maybe 10min later, we start hearing steps with loud deep growls approaching us. Then nothing. We stop the music. The growls start again but coming from an other direction. Then more steps. I was mortified. I yell “who the fuck is there? I have a gun!” Yes, really, I said that. Then, It’s all quiet and we put the music back on. My partner smokes a big joint and quickly falls asleep. Yes, Incredible. 10 minutes later deep bestial growls resound so close to the tent that I remember telling myself “I‘m gonna get murdered on my birthday because I’ve been so stupid to trust the freaks at the shop”.
I was so petrified I couldn’t scream, like in those nightmares where a monster is getting at you and you can’t move or make a sound. But then it was all quiet. I stayed awake all night, having my stick and rock as a continuity of my arms, ready to kill the monsters. But the only sounds that kept on rocking my dreadful night were the snorings of my partner.
*Elia: –Columbia, suburbs of Cartagena, 2006, clandestine rooster fight bar:
On a trip to Columbia with Audrey, my girlfriend of the time, we get to Cartagena in the morning and enter a jewel shop where we meet 2 locals that invite us that same night to go for drinks in a bar. We were quite suspicious but we went anyway. We found ourselves in a crowded clandestine bar, in the middle of a rooster fight. It was very loud, players and drinkers were obviously high judging by their over excited / on edge behaviours, the overall vibe was quite nasty, so we decided to leave. But the guys refused to let us go, and instead insisted that my girlfriend dance on the table.
After a good half hour of negotiations, 2 liters of sweat and 400,000 pesos less in my pocket, we finally succeed to escape the bar and we left Cartagena the following day.
-Marocco, Tiflit. Local police street arrest:
During my 1st trip to Marocco, I was invited to a friend whose family was living in Tiflit, a quite badass city, about 100km from Sidi Slimane. While we were both walking in the street, the cops came to control my id papers. They were intrigued as there are very few tourists in this town. I didn’t have my passport on me, so they took us to the police station for an id check. During the ride, the police truck suddenly stops, 3 officers sitting next to me inside the truck grab long wood sticks, and all 3 jump outside. I realize it’s the best moment for me to hide my piece of hashish inside a hole of the truck under my feet. The 3 cops open the truck’s back doors and a poor guy bleeding from the head is thrown inside. they had obviously seriously beat him up, I started to not feel so reassured while we continued our ride to the police station. There, they screamed and tried to impress my friend for a good hour, telling him I had nothing to do in this town, trying to find the reasons of my stay, while they refused to allow me to come in the office with him. I was seeing my friend getting more and more stressed and I could feel the drops of sweat dripping slowly on my forehead. After what seemed like an eternity, they escorted my friend outside the office to meet with me, and to my relief the whole thing ended by leaving 100 dirams to one of the cops and he let us free.
You can find Bonnie Li on all social media platforms and music outlets. They even have an App. Everyone is eagerly awaiting the next single to drop sometime in August with October bringing us the full EP release via Icons Creating Evil Art.