Bitter Babe: Speed of Life

Words by:
Photography: Tereza Mundilová
Photography Assistant: Louis Headlam
Digi Tech: Sebastian Haas
Stylist: Olive Duran
Hair & Makeup: Marvin Glißmann
Set Design: Sandro de Mauro
Set Design Assistant: David Diniz
Producer: Rachael Bigelow

Bogotá-born DJ and producer Bitter Babe is bending the sounds of the Latin diaspora into new and unusual shapes as she creates future-facing club music for a connected world.

Let’s set the scene. We’re in a club – though the exact geographical location could be anywhere, really – and there’s a DJ in the booth: dark hair, dark clothes and a slight, confident smile. There’s a push and pull between complex, coiling rhythms and bass, which reverberates around the room, moving through you. The selections are switchy and eclectic, cycling through genres as disparate as raptor house, breakbeat, techno, guaracha and dembow, but there’s also a fluidity to the mix. It seems effortless. This is Bitter Babe: someone who doesn’t need to shout to be heard. 

The DJ and producer, real name Laura Solarte, originally hails from Bogotá and is currently based in Berlin, where her profile soared as part of the city’s experimental club scene. Over the past few years, she’s played two well-received Boiler Rooms; toured the US, Europe, Australia, Asia and Latin America; dropped two EPs with frequent collaborator Nick León; and featured on compilations for the likes of Air Texture. To say she has been busy is an understatement, but it is this relentless forward motion that has positioned her as one of the most exciting selectors of the mid 2020s.

BITTER BABE wears Diesel Vert watch


When I speak to Solarte over Zoom, she’s coming off the back of a characteristically frenetic few days. Careening from airport to airport, she jumped behind the decks at clubs in Madrid, Bristol and Barcelona from Thursday to Saturday, before returning home to Berlin for her Crack shoot. (“Very eclipse energy,” she says, wryly, in reference to her “very intense” commute). Bare-faced yet brandishing flawless, 3D-embellished acrylic nails, Solarte is enjoying a rare moment of respite in her apartment – alone except for her cat, whose grey tail occasionally flicks into view from the edges of her laptop screen. 

The musician is dressed, typically for her, in monochrome – wearing an oversized, black-and-white Selena T-shirt. “I’m a Scorpio. When I dress up, I’ve always felt more comfortable in darker shades; feminine, sexy, a bit Tumblr vibes – the stuff that made me confident in that 2014 era,” she remarks. Now she’s finally able to take a breath, one thing is top of mind for Solarte: finding new headphones. “I kind of need them, like, right now,” she laughs. With a free weekend on the horizon, her old pair breaking has thwarted plans to throw herself into the production side of her practice – specifically, a delayed EP for Colombian label TraTraTrax.


BITTER BABE wears Diesel Streamline watch


You only have to catch a snippet of one of Solarte’s sets to see her natural talent for DJing – from the way she dances with each track, to her propensity for laying down unexpected grooves like Nina Sky’s Move Ya Body or a mutant Overmono remix. But after a relentless touring schedule, she’s excited about the opportunity to immerse herself in her artist project. She welcomes the concentration that production necessitates; the opportunity to escape the day-to-day – the laundry piling up, the mounting admin and bureaucracy to take care of – and build new sonic worlds from her laptop. “It gives me a lot of excitement to work on music when I have the time and I can focus,” she says. “It brings a different energy.” 

Solarte’s relationship with TraTraTrax is long-running and symbiotic, making the label the natural home for the producer’s forthcoming EP. Founded in 2020 by Colombian artists Nyksan (Nicolás Sánchez), Verraco (JP López) and DJ Lomalinda (Daniel Uribe), TraTraTrax has grown into a movement – one Solarte is proudly part of. Platforming amorphous, diverse and ever-evolving sounds from Latin America and its diaspora, the label’s reach sprawls across boundaries and genres, just like the DJ-producer herself. She’s released with the label twice already, most recently contributing the propulsive Nadie lo puede parar to their first No pare, sigue sigue compilation in 2022. Before that, she dropped the industrial-tinged, post-reggaeton EP, Fuego Clandestino, with Nick León, which announced the duo’s future-facing take on club music.

“I definitely don’t want to feel like I’m boxing myself into a style, or into a sound. If I get bored, I’m gonna hate it”

BITTER BABE wears Diesel Streamline watch


However, as Solarte explains, her contributions to the TraTraTrax world aren’t just as a producer but as part of the community. “Me and Verraco have been close friends for a long time, we’ve always supported each other,” she says. “Verraco and the other two founders also liked the sound of combining Latin sounds with club music, pushing it forward. That’s when they created the label, without high expectations, but just to have a space for people to do this.” For Solarte, working with a crew was a no-brainer. “I was in Miami and JP [López] asked me who I thought they should release on the next EP,” she recalls. “I was like, ‘Well, me!’ I also wanted to invite Nick [León] on the EP, because they didn’t know him, and to make a link between Colombia and Miami, the places that I feel most inspired writing music.” 

As an artist working within the open-ended, collaborative TraTraTrax roster, she was able to help influence the label’s creative DNA as it began to establish itself, and give it access to scenes in Miami and Europe. “Even though I’m not officially part of the label, it’s always felt like my home and a place where I can give my opinion. At the beginning, I had a part in guiding the sound and helping them to find new artists,” she says. “JP told me they wanted to start working with remixes from more established artists and that Simo Cell would be a dream. I was like, ‘I get it, let me talk to him,’ and when we spoke to him, he was super down.”


BITTER BABE wears Diesel Vert watch

“Reggaeton, dembow – these things are massive in the world right now. I want to explore [these genres] within club music, and take it to a different level”

Now, Solarte is ready to continue building infrastructure and community for artists bending reggaeton, dembow and the sounds of the Latin diaspora into new and unusual shapes within the club space. Indeed, the musician is readying the launch of her very own party: Anhell. Taking a portmanteau of the Spanish and English words “ángel” and “hell” for its name, the club night touches down at London’s Night Tales in early May, with Nick León, Surusinghe and Solarte herself already tapped to play. As the self-described “cult leader” of the party, she’s excited for the opportunity to curate a night that represents her tastes and vision. “The idea is to do it in different cities around the world and to curate line-ups that feel close to what I do and the people I’m inspired by,” she explains.

This kind of international ambition comes naturally to Solarte. Even when she is static in one place, crafting tracks from her home in Berlin, her creative boundaries remain porous – always ready to absorb new inspirations and perspectives. It’s fitting, then, that when asked about the direction she wants to cultivate as an artist, she admits her journey is always in flux. “I’m not one hundred percent sure, just in the way I haven’t ever been in my life,” she laughs. “I’m always like, ‘OK, I like this, but now I want to adapt it.’ I definitely don’t want to feel like I’m boxing myself into a style, or into a sound. If I get bored, I’m gonna hate it.”

BITTER BABE wears Diesel Streamline watch


Solarte is unambiguous about one thing, though: she’s embracing the challenge of stretching her project into new, more accessible spaces. Just don’t call it “commercial”. “I hate the word, but after this EP I want to work with producers who can help bring my music to a bigger audience,” she says. “I want to take my music out of the underground but still be myself, still portray who I am, without selling myself.”

Solarte isn’t in the business of undermining her integrity. Rather, she’s ready to ask for the recognition she knows her sound deserves. “Reggaeton, dembow – these things are massive in the world right now,” she says. “I want to explore [these genres] within club music, and take it to a different level.”

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