Words by:
Photography: Aidan Zamiri

For his latest album Dennis, Sega Bodega enlisted friend and collaborator Aidan Zamiri to reimagine its vivid, uncanny world with equally unsettling visuals. Looking back on the process, they discuss the value of long-term collaboration, why perfection is boring, and how they almost crossed paths approaching Björk in a club in 2015

Sega Bodega’s third album Dennis, released earlier this summer, opens with an eerie, undulating siren. Without warning, as first track Coma Dennis folds into Adulter8 just under a minute in, it blends into a different kind of alarm — a peppy, abrasive digital pattern demanding we sharpen up and lurch into action.

The album never lets us, though, leaving the listener stranded in a place that feels like slowly emerging from a deep sleep unsettled, unsure if the uneasy feeling has seeped through from a dream or the prospect of facing reality.

This half-lucid space between consciousness and sleep is a theme that runs throughout the project, whether Bodega is inspired by insomnia, disassociated days, the surreal logic of dreams or, eventually, the peace of REM on final song Coma Salv. Dennis disorients us constantly, shifting dramatically through sounds and speeds as its 11 tracks veer between trance, acoustic guitar and glitchy, club-ready pop. Often enveloped by gauzy synths or delivered in muffled whispers and chants, his ambiguous lyrics feel unrestrained and sometimes nonsensical — most memorably, on the outro to Dirt, Miranda July recites “my water bottle is bird transition” like the jumbled truths our minds believe when we’re half-awake.

From Luca Guadagnino’s sprawling horror Suspiria to swans, deer teeth and ancient symbolism, Bodega’s wider references made space for a rich visual interpretation of the album, which was executed by director and photographer Aidan Zamiri. Having both grown up in Glasgow and later crossed paths in London, the longtime collaborators created a series of images that reflect not just the music, but their shared influences and the kind of unspoken language only friends can hold.

Reflecting on the process after the album’s release, they discuss the value of creative intimacy and long-term collaboration, trusting ideas intuitively, and why art that feels incomplete is always more interesting.

Aidan Zamiri: I just scrolled through our WhatsApp to jog my mind about where we started on the album. In everything we’ve worked on together, we don’t actually talk too much at length because we’re weirdly synchronised. For example, I was like, ‘Who’s Dennis, by the way?’ and you said ‘Me, duh!’. Then I went, ‘Dennis is Salv when he’s sleeping’.

Sega Bodega: You figured it out. In dreams, you’re always you but you’re not you. They’re your friends but they look like someone else. It’s like everyone’s a complete fib you’ve assigned to that person.

A: Symbolic stuff is the most tangible. You’re not even thinking of it as a metaphor; it actually is the other thing.

S: Your dream is basically telling you how you feel lately. Like, ‘You feel stressed? Look at this stressful film’.



A: For me, the most interesting part of waking up from a dream is the minute you’re out of it. It’s like going down a drain. This is something I was thinking about when I was listening to your album. Something can be so vivid in your mind and so present, and then suddenly fall out of your grasp. A visual representation is like sand going through your fingers. I felt something like that with the images we were making. When we were coming up with ideas, it was like we were just hanging onto things and not necessarily trying to interrogate everything too much. 

S: That’s why I liked the concept. It was so loose. Did you feel confident [interpreting it]?

A: I feel confident when you send me something quite abstract that what springs to my mind initially is probably what you’ll respond to . Maybe it’s because our frame of references are similar. We both grew up in Glasgow. This is no shade to Glasgow – I love Glasgow – but we’re into stuff that feels a bit dingy or sad or forgotten.

S: I never thought of it like that, but you’re probably right. Maybe it’s a comfort thing, the fact that Glasgow is not a very dazzling-looking place.


A: Colour-wise, there’s a lot of greys, browns, sandstones and greens. A lot of what we do lives in that colour palette. The light is a little grey all the time. And texturally, a lot of buildings are covered in soot and grime.

S: I also grew up in that. The first couple of houses we lived in when I was a kid my mum would build in the countryside from nothing. I would live on a construction site. 

A: I think what you associate with early memories is what you find really engaging. I always gravitate towards stuff that triggers this indescribable familiar feeling. That’s what we’ve always done with any imagery we’ve shot together. It feels like some kind of lost memory, like something familiar yet unseen. It’s new and it’s different to us, but there’s some trace of something you know in it. 

S: I like things that don’t sound complete. Things that are perfectly clean are so boring because I know exactly how you did it. I know exactly why you did it. When I listen to something and the mix is bad or the image is kind of fucked up, I’m like, ‘You knew that was happening and you let it happen. Why?’. I’m curious as to why you made these decisions. I have to be questioning the person whose work I am looking at to actually feel interested. 




A: We didn’t meet in Glasgow, but there is something interesting about how we lived parallel to each other. We moved to London at similar times, and we almost met each other in that bar…

S: That is a funny story. This is the memory I didn’t even realise I had of meeting you. [It was] the first time I technically ‘met’ Björk too, at a PC Music night in 2015. I was caught off guard so I said the stupidest: ‘Are you… Björk?’. She went ‘Nope!’ and turned around, and I remember instantly being like ‘Why did I say that?’. Immediately after that, somebody else went up to her and was like ‘Scottish Independence!’ and she was like ‘Woo!’, all excited. It was a how to do it right versus how to do it wrong moment. But then, in Iceland [this year], you started telling me about a PC Music party you went to in 2015… Where you met Björk… And said ‘Scottish Independence!’ to her. All this time that other person was you.

A: So funny. That was our unofficial first meeting, which was cool as Björk basically introduced us. But I’ve always felt very confident about our collaboration and I don’t feel nervous about showing you new ideas because we’re on the same page a lot of the time. I always feel really confident that it’s going to be used in the right context. Like when we talked about the album cover. Originally, we had Mayah [Alkhateri], who is the other half of Kiss Facility, in the image.

S: I wanted to recreate a scene from a film called Kanawa (The Iron Crown), which is a really hard film to find, where this couple gets walked in on and they both look at the camera. It just didn’t really work. 

A: It would have made sense as a Kiss Facility album cover, but it didn’t necessarily fit with all the other images where you’re alone. You’re so isolated and the only other characters are animals or objects.

S: Also, Kepko came out about two years before the album, and [the video depicts] walking through this theatre. This felt like such a good bridge. 



A: There was something so cool about the empty theatre. I always thought that the platform you’re lying on is almost like an operating theatre.

S: It ended up being a perfect symbolisation of two different dreams that are so common: dreams where you can fly and dreams where you’re on stage.

A: There’s something so heartbreaking and truly awful about the swan – this silent, majestic creature that’s kind of dirty and broken. Symbolically, there’s enough in there that it’s open to interpretation and people can pull their own meaning from it. Changing the album cover to that made a lot of sense, and I like that there’s a lost album cover, which is the one with you and all the deer teeth. I was also thinking about all the animals involved in the album shoot. Is there anything specific about the animals being referenced that’s important to you?

S: It never was a ‘thing’. Sometimes a seed will just present itself and you have to run with it. If something pops up twice even, that’s the thing. Just do that. I don’t think you come up with ideas; I think ideas are up there somewhere, and at one point they will land in you at the right time. It’s the same with songs. You work on songs for ten years, and one day something just happens and you’re like ‘OK, that’s it’.



A: I completely agree. I think there’s something about staying open to the things you’re initially drawn to. That was the case for almost every image we shot. The image was immediately interesting to us and a theme presented itself afterward. It all felt related to a state of being half-awake or in a transitional point. I don’t think we planned for that.

S: The advice I would give to everyone who wants to make stuff is that sometimes it is just about sitting around and waiting for it to come to you. When people want to work together, let’s just be in the same space and see what happens. 

A: Do you find that specifically for music?

S: That’s how me and Mayah, and me and Shy, started making music together. We were just hanging out. Sometimes you get lucky, but I’ve never found so much luck in booking a studio, paying for the hour, ‘Let’s make an idea’. That’s stressful. You can’t put ‘make a hit’ into Google Calendar. That’s why I think a lot of pop music is failing; the intention has become so much about making hits. I honestly don’t think there have been that many hits lately. It feels like everyone’s just got their eyes on a prize and that prize is success. No one is just enjoying their personal life and jamming. It’s in those times that the best music is made. I wish people would relax with the output. Just take your time.


A: All the stuff I feel the most confident in is with artists I spend a lot of time with. Making anything relating to an album is to live in someone else’s brain for a bit. I don’t think you can make imagery for an artist in the same way you can for commercials or fashion, because the story you’re telling is in context. It’s so much easier to get there when you’re friends with someone and you’ve got that time to talk and send each other voice notes at different periods in time. You sent me the first voice note on the first track ages ago at the end of 2022. And then, slowly, ideas would present themselves. That must have been similar to how the music was made.

S: That’s why I struggle with music videos. One of my favourite videos is Kepko because it was filmed over a long period of time. But this thing of like ‘OK, we need to have a video out in three weeks, what do you want to do?’, it’s not going to connect the same way because it doesn’t mean that much. In a dream world, I’d take six months to make a music video.

A: Maybe we’ll do that. Is there anyone you still want to work with you haven’t yet?

S: Yeah, but I can’t say because he’s hated.

A: You can tell me offline.

S: Who do you want to work with?

A: I feel really satisfied. Genuinely, everyone that I’ve worked with or am actively working with are people I’m a fan of. My favourite collaborations are the ones where you feel really connected and involved with the story of that artist. That’s how I felt working with you or Caroline or Charli. And who knows, maybe that would happen if I worked with Lana Del Rey.

S: There’s the answer.

A: What feels the most fulfilling is being able to spend that time and brew something together rather than – as you said is often the case – coming in and doing something really quickly.

Dennis is out now on Ambient Tweets