PLAYLIST: Pride 2020

With no marching, no gatherings and no physical prides this year, it’s more important than ever to remember why Pride started. Remember the lengths the LGBTQIA+ communities have come, but more importantly, how far we still have to go. The LGBTQIA+ communities and their allies need to stand strong and united with each other, but especially the black and transgender and gender non-conforming communities.

This period of lockdown has been, and is an incredibly difficult time for everyone, with increasing levels of anxiety, isolation and loneliness. Switchboard LGBT+ Helpline, where I am Co-Chair, has seen a 40% increase in contacts to their services, and a 42% increase in people who are transgender and gender-non conforming getting in touch. People have been reaching out for support all across the LGTBQIA+ communities, from young people feeling the pressures of the closure of schools, to trans people self-isolating within transphobic families, to the elderly – an already isolated group – who felt they may not see a friendly face for a very long time.

The lockdown has had an unimaginable impact on all of us, especially folx from marginalised communities – magnifying any existing situation people may be in from domestic violence to transphobia, biphobia, homophobia but especially loneliness and isolation. Something members of the LGBTQIA+ communities have been battling heavily against for a while now.

What Pride means to everyone within the LGBTQIA+ communities will be different, but as a queer person I stand and I protest for every single one of those people’s rights. For LGBTQIA+ rights, for anti-racism, for black people, for people of colour, for transgender and gender non-conforming people and every intersectionality in-between. We have to learn from our history and we have to work together where we support the human rights of each and every one of us. People should be free to live without fear of judgement or discrimination. People should not have to fear for their lives because of their sexuality, gender identity, race, socio-economic class, disability or religion.

If your pride flag doesn’t include black and brown stripes, it’s outdated. If your pride flag doesn’t include the transgender flag, it’s outdated. So wherever you are, at whatever Pride you are supporting, spread the word and make it known – equality is for everyone, but most importantly, black lives matter, trans lives matter, black trans lives matter.
Tash Walker (Co-Founder of GIHE & Co-Chair of Switchboard)

 

The GIHE grrrls have put together a playlist full of their favourite LGBTQIA+ artists to help celebrate Pride 2020. Read about their choices below and scroll down to the end of the post to listen to the playlist on Spotify

Janelle Monae – ‘Pynk’
A brash celebration of creation. Self love. Sexuality. And p-ssy power! Need I say more. (Tash Walker)

Amaroun – ‘Perish’ 
Amaroun talks about the themes she evokes in her music which consistently touch on her journey of being a black queer woman, overcoming struggles with sexuality, and the importance of emotional honesty in music. In Amaroun’s words, “this track is an autobiographical reintroduction of myself”. It’s one of my faves. (TW)

Foxgluvv – ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’
A sparkling, sultry tune inspired by the 1985 film of the same name, ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ is another example of Foxgluvv’s natural ability to create “hungover pop” tracks that celebrate her queer identity. We’re big fans here at GIHE. (Kate Crudgington)

TABS – ‘Love Like This’
We had the pleasure of having TABS on our radio show back in 2019, where she sang the original of ‘Love Like This’ and we savoured every moment. Whilst signed to major labels (Polydor, BMG) TABS felt misunderstood. As a club promoter of Butch, Please! – an amazing lesbian club night which we love – she connected with butch lesbians all over the world and began the journey of making her EP of the same name. Seeking authenticity, she self-released this EP with the support of her queer community, and we are so glad she did. (TW) 

Lido Pimienta – ‘Eso Que Tu Haces’
When I interviewed Lido Pimienta earlier this year, she described herself as “the grey area” in Colombian culture – “but very gay, very queer, very feminist.” I’ve been captivated by her music and her artistic vision since listening to her second album Miss Colombia, and feel that no-one else makes electronic music sound as warm and meaningful as she does. (KC)

Arlo Parks –  ‘Black Dog’ 
I cannot get enough of Arlo Parks and her mesmerising music, so full of emotion I get lost in every second. Her latest release ‘Black Dog’ is no different, a frank, heartbreaking insight into the the darkness of depression. Mental health awareness within the LGTBQIA+ communities is so important, especially with rising levels of isolation and loneliness. From talking, to supporting, to asking and reaching out for help is so important and totally OK to do. The more we can look out for each other, the more we can encourage and show people that asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness, the more we can combat these rising numbers. (TW)

Brown Belt – ‘Lamplight’
Brown Belt self-described as the non-binary boi band of your dreams, and we couldn’t agree more. I’ve only just come across them with their latest release ‘Lamplight’ a super catchy number, with a rad video to accompany it. Looking forward to hearing more from this trio, certainly ones to watch. (TW)

Personal Best – ‘This Is What We Look Like’
Headliners at one of our last Finsbury gigs, Personal Best perfectly brand themselves as “classic rock for tragic lesbians”. Closing their set for us in December, front person Katie dedicated this track to the queer community. As a sea of buoyant voices joined in with “I wanna kiss you in the street / where everyone can see /’cause this is what we look like”, the poignancy of the lyrics in these uncertain times was overwhelming, and an empowering sense of unity took hold as the crowd danced and sang in solidarity. A perfect anthem for love between anyone and everyone. (Mari Lane)

Bitch Hunt – ‘Spaceman’
Since first meeting at Roller Derby, London based all queer/non-binary band Bitch Hunt formed at First Timers Fest, and have been going from strength to strength ever since. Filled with catchy, scuzzy hooks, a subtle tongue-in-cheek wit and the gritty deadpan vocals of front person Sian, ‘Spaceman’ is an observational and relatable slice of punk-pop. A spot-on reflection on the sickening arrogance of all those cis male ‘splainers and ‘spreaders we so often have to endure in our day to day lives. An uplifting raging anthem inspiring us all to take those men down a peg (or four). (ML)

Kermes – ‘Time To Shut Him Up’
Self proclaimed “anxious rock for the gay agenda”, Leicester band Kermes were due to headline for us at The Finsbury in August, and I’m desperately hoping we can get this rescheduled for as soon as it is safe to do so! Addressing issues such as gender dysphoria, sexism and dysfunctional relationships, their infectious emotion-strewn punk-pop oozes a raw, angst-driven energy and scuzzy shimmering power. ‘Time to Shut Him Up’ is taken from Kermes’ 2018 album, We Choose Pretty Names. (ML)

Ms Mohammed – ‘Pandora’
‘Pandora’ and its rolling, rumbling drums – such a tune by Ms Mohammed who we had a total blast with in the Get In Her Ears studio last year. As well as being an artist in her own right, Ms Mohammed founded the Clit Rock movement in 2013 as a way of speaking out against female genital mutilation. As a champion of cross-cultural tolerance and an out queer artist who advocates for LGBTQIA+ rights and visibility, Ms Mohammed is challenging prejudice through her music and we stand by her every step of the way! (TW)

Le Tigre – ‘Hot Topic’
Pioneers of queer culture and ultimate faves, Le Tigre’s ‘Hot Topic’ is a celebratory ode to those who’ve inspired us. Paying homage to some queer feminist champions of the ‘90s and earlier, it’s an empowering and joy-filled protest in the face of adversity. (ML)

Planningtorock – ‘Non Binary Femme’
This track is take from one of my favourite albums of all time, Planningtorock’s Powerhouse. Unarguably paving the way for not only a better understanding of what those words mean, but also leading in acceptance for transgender and gender non-conforming people. Planningtorock and their music, has unquestionably helped me on my own gender identity journey and I’m sure many others. (TW)

Bishi – ‘Who Has Seen the Wind’
Last year as part of the Southbank Centre’s 2019 Meltdown Festival, Kate and I had the privilege of meeting Bishi. An incredibly talented singer, electronic rock-sitarist, producer and performer born in London of Bengali heritage. She is also the co-founder of WITCiH: The Women in Technology Creative Industries Hub, a platform elevating Women & Non-Binary in tech through commissions, performances & panels. (TW)

Blonde Maze – ‘Hold On To Me’
NY based GIHE fave Blonde Maze consistently writes heartfelt shimmering electro-pop reflecting on life and love. Taken from last year’s EP Hold On, ‘Hold On To Me’ is an example of the utterly enchanting euphoric soundscapes Blonde Maze is capable of creating. I listen to Blonde Maze whenever I need to feel calm; I just can’t get enough of the iridescent hooks and blissful, emotion-filled romanticism. The perfect soundtrack if you need to take a break this Pride to stop and refuel before continuing to protest, organise and celebrate. (ML)

Husk – ‘Below The Neck’
“I would never change being trans. I would never change being a trans musician. And the industry should support us. Book us. Play us. Listen to us. We have so much to offer.” A poignant sentiment this Pride from Trans, Non-Binary artist Husk, who combines ’80s synth-pop nostalgia with fresh leftfield pop to create their signature sound. A colourful, high-energy offering, recent single ‘Below The Neck’ is the perfect danceable anthem for any Pride party – though, for now, sadly, dancing around your bedroom/living room to it will have to do. (ML)

Bronski Beat – ‘Smalltown Boy’
This track was released in 1984 at the beginning of the AIDS crisis by openly gay Bronski Beat, ‘Smalltown Boy’ is a heartbreaking story given an empowering beat. In 2020 it may feel like we have come so far from the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 80s and 90s but those lost will never be forgotten, and we, the LGBTQIA+ communities still live with the impact today. (TW)

Lady Gaga – ‘Born This Way’
I know I add this Gaga track to our GIHE Pride playlist every year, but it’s such a BANGER and so fun to dance to. She’s always celebrating being the best version of yourself, and for that reason, I can’t leave Gaga out! (KC)

Hercules & Love Affair – ‘Blind’
Taken from their self-titled album released in 2008, the same year I attended London Pride for the first time, this is without a doubt the theme tune to me fully embracing my sexuality, feeling proud of who I was and strong enough to come out happily in all aspects of my life. (TW)

Princess Nokia – ‘Sugar Honey Iced Tea’
Openly queer rapper and all round inspiration, Destiny Nicole Frasqueri – aka Princess Nokia – writes powerful, feminist anthems promoting self love and body positivity. A strong advocate of intersectional feminism, having founded the Smart Girl Club with Milah Libin, a podcast where she discusses healthy living and urban feminism, Princess Nokia offers a hopeful and empowering presence in these times when pushing for change is so important. (ML)

Lotic – ‘Burn A Print’
Born in Houston USA but now a familiar face on the Berlin underground club and electronic music scene, Lotic (aka J’Kerian Morgan) shared her debut album, Power, in 2018. The record showcased her vocal and songwriting abilities for the first time, consolidating her skills into a coherent message about transforming fear in to fierce autonomy. ‘Burn a Print’ continues this narrative, as Lotic explains: “to burn your print into this Earth, because when you go, you need to remind the future bitches that you was here.” (KC)

Mykki Blanco (feat. Devendra Banhart) – ‘You Will Find It’
Queer pioneer and musician/rapper extraordinaire, Mykki Blanco has been an inspiration for the GIHE team for quite some time, and their voice is more poignant now than ever. ‘You Will Find It’, their latest offering, oozes a glistening, soulful splendour as shimmering hooks and swirling atmospherics provide the backdrop for Blanco’s trademark gritty power. Replacing their usual glitchy energy with a soothing aura, they have created a perfect tranquil interlude; an alluring soundscape to immerse yourself in and find blissful cathartic release. (ML)

kate can wait – ‘to be alone with you’
Molly Kate Rodriguez – aka kate can wait – is a collective member of Grimalkin Records, a US-based benefit label and queer artist collective. Rodriguez lives in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico and she crafts dark, haunting folk sounds. She’s not on Spotify, but you can listen to ‘to be alone with you’ via bandcamp. (KC)

Phantómódel – ‘Passing Through’
Another band on Grimalkin Records‘ roster, Phantómódel are a post-punk three-piece who explore the internal struggles of gender dysphoria and body image, systemic oppression and mental health through their dark sounds. Phantómódel describe themselves as a “TRANS GOTH POWERHOUSE of darkness dismantling white supremacy at every turn. We are phantoms of the night, goblins who lurk in the shadows, and demons of chaos and magic, here to enchant everyone we meet.” (KC)

Gordian Stimm – ‘Miscellaneous Body Parts’
The solo project of Maeve Westall of itoldyouiwouldeatyou, Gordian Stimm’s sound is visceral, distorted, yet at times totally dance-able. They remind me a little of early Passion Pit or Crystal Castles, and I recommend listening to their debut album, Your Body In On Itself, released via Amateur Pop earlier this year. (KC)

Perfume Genius – ‘Jason’
Having been a huge fan of Perfume Genius for many years now, it’s been wonderful immersing myself in his poignant latest album, Set My Heart On Fire Immediately. Reflecting on a one night stand he had with a straight man over fifteen years ago, ‘Jason’ resonates with its twinkling musicality, nostalgic lyrical story-telling and the raw emotion of Hadreas’ trademark heartstring-tugging vocals. Throughout changes in his musical style over the years, Perfume Genius never fails to captivate and inspire. (ML)

Antony & The Johnsons – ‘My Lady Story’
A strong advocate for trans rights, feminism and climate action, Anohni (formally of Antony and the Johnsons), is a necessary and powerful voice that we need now more than ever. On identifying as transgender, Anohni once said in an interview with The Guardian: “I was never going to become a beautiful, passable woman, and I was never going to be a man… It’s a quandary. But the trans condition is a beautiful mystery; it’s one of nature’s best ideas. What an incredible impulse, that compels a five-year-old child to tell its parents it isn’t what they think it is. Given just a tiny bit of oxygen, those children can flourish and be such a gift. They give other people licence to explore themselves more deeply, allowing the colours in their own psyche to flourish.” (ML)

Jackie Shane – ‘Any Other Way’
We’ve played Canadian soul-singer Jackie Shane multiple times on the GIHE radio show, and included her on many a playlist and we’re certainly not stopping now. Jackie was a pioneer for transgender rights in the 60s & 70s, a time when being your true self was not always welcomed, or accepted. (TW)

 

INTERVIEW: Lido Pimienta

“You need to know who you are, and explore that within your lane. That’s the best choice that you can make. Don’t try to adopt things when they don’t really belong to you” advises Colombian-born, Toronto-based artist Lido Pimienta. Even though our conversation is taking place via Skype, her passion, artistic knowledge and wit transcend the boundary of her screen. When asked how she’s dealing with the current lockdown situation, she replies “Oh you know, staying indoors, but being fabulous”, gesturing to her colourful make-up and the red dress she’s wearing with its matching hair accessories.

Pimienta has been working non-stop since the lockdown was put in place, as her fourth record, Miss Colombia, is due out in a matter of days when we speak (It’s since been released, read our review here). “90% of the time I’m painting a limited edition vinyl jacket series for the new album. I’m also taking care of my babies, and writing new songs for the next record, so I feel like I’m very busy. I don’t feel like time is just passing by or that I’m not being able to express myself. My brain is very fertile right now.” It’s hard to imagine anything affecting Pimienta’s productivity. Even though she is new on the Get In Her Ears radar, she’s been working as a visual artist and musician since 2002, exhibiting and performing across the world.

Pimienta’s art explores the politics of gender, race, motherhood, identity, and the construct of the Canadian landscape in the Latin American Diaspora – and this naturally extends into her music. Her latest album Miss Colombia is a vivid celebration (and criticism) of her Colombian heritage, and a canvas for her bold, instinctive talent. When asked what she’s most proud of about the record, Pimienta explains that it’s breaking down the idea of what mainstream music can be, by focusing on what you want to hear:

“My biggest pride is having put Afro-Colombian music – that we recorded in Colombia with traditional roots – right in the mix of electronic and orchestral music. That has been very rewarding for me. I find that in mainstream music, there’s this reverence to rock and roll, or specifically to the electric guitar. It’s almost as if for music to be “serious” it has to have those elements, or to make it to the mainstream you have to be a rock star. For me, I want Afro-Colombian drums to have the same reverence that an electric guitar has. I consciously don’t have guitar in my records. There’s also an obsession with naming anything that isn’t Western or Classical sounding as “world music” – so the thing I like the most about my record is that you can’t call it world music. You can’t. That’s the best.”

It’s true, Pimienta’s record eludes genre definition. She’s crafted eleven tracks that showcase her empowering vision with enviable flair and tenacity. When asked if she has a favourite track, she explains that ‘Eso Que Tu Haces’ was her “Eureka moment”. “It’s a song that pushes me vocally in an interesting way, and that’s when I realised that I could actually do a record with grass and woodwind in a coherent way, it wasn’t just a cute idea. The theme really encompasses it all, what this album is about.”

Pimienta’s album take its title from the incident at the 2015 Miss Universe beauty pageant, where MC Steve Harvey accidentally announced Miss Colombia as the winner of the competition, instead of Miss Philippines. When asked how this incident influenced the music that she created for the album, Pimienta gives a detailed response about the cultural, and personal shock it caused.

“It was a moment where my blindfold came off. I don’t know if you’ve ever left your country for more more than a month, but if you ever do, this is something that’s probably going to happen to you. You’re going to start comparing the country where you were born, to the place that you’re in, and you’re going to favour your own country. I did that for many years when I moved to Canada. I’d be like “If we were in Colombia, this party would be so lit! People would be dancing, but no-one in Canada wants to dance” stuff like that, you know? When the Steve Harvey incident happened, I had never seen my country so united over such a stupid thing.”

“For Colombians, beauty pageants are as important as football. The Colombian Diaspora was reacting like war had been declared on Colombia, and the evil behind it was this one guy, Steve Harvey.” Pimienta recalls the racist slurs that Colombian’s used when describing Harvey after the pageant took place. “That was a moment, where I was like, wait – are you trying to tell me that in Colombia, people are also horrible? I feel like if this happened in Britain, if Miss Britain was accidentally announced as the winner, the reaction would’ve been the same, right? But…you expect that of white people. You don’t expect that from Colombians! So I was like, do we think that we are white? Do we think that we are more beautiful than Asian folks? Or black people? When we are black, and we are so mixed? How can you see yourself as that? How can you say that the worst thing about Steve Harvey is that he’s black, when we are black. That was the moment where I was like “Whoa, am I even Colombian?” And the floodgates opened, my head exploded, depression started, anxiety began…and now we have the album!”

Using these reflections as a creative spring board, Pimienta dived into recording Miss Colombia. Her new sounds are steeped in defiance, but also brim with pride about who she is as an artist. When I ask her about the poetic nature of her music, she extrapolates further on how her Colombian heritage has naturally played in to this:

“I think the poetry element specifically comes from the Cantaoras Grupo Raíces de Palenque (Emelia Reyes “La Burgos” Salgado, Teresa Reyes Salgado, Doris Garcia). The Cantaoras women who traditionally sang songs on the river banks of the North coast of Colombia. Afro-Colombian tradition is oral. So the main Cantaoras tell the stories and sing the songs to their daughters, and when the main Cantaoras dies, the daughter takes their place, so the stories keep going from generation to generation. These songs are written as couplets, some are written specifically for call and response, and those are the poems. I’m not inspired by Western literature per say – I mean, I do love me some Little Women and I do love my British drama – I love the drama between the Queen, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry!”

Pimienta temporarily (and delightfully) veers off subject to talk about this drama. “One of the saddest parts about not being able to travel at the moment, is that I was excited to go back to England, because the Harry and Meghan jokes were going to be so on point. When I was in England playing live last time, they were just starting to date, so I was like “If this goes well, I might finally be able to find some hair products for myself next time I come here!” We laugh, before returning to the talk of Cantaoras and poetry.

“It’s an old tradition though, I really wanted to look at myself in terms of the things I love about being Colombian, as well as the things that I don’t like about my country. That’s where the cynicism comes from. [The songs on Miss Colombia] are poems, and poems are usually beautiful, but I’m telling you a truth in a poetic way, so that you might not even see an aggressive annotation. That’s what I did. I’m inspired by Afro-Colombian tradition, where songs are written in code, so that your slave master doesn’t know that you’re talking shit behind their back. That’s the poetry. Reading between the lines, double entendre, trying to mask your true feelings, but really, really, nailing it and putting that emotion in there.”

Pimienta has lamented that it’s hard to make electronic music sound beautiful or emotional, but her considered treatment of it on Miss Colombia transcends this concern. Her vast range of cultural influences, and experiences in everything from punk and metal bands as a teenager, to joining the Afro-Colombian group Sexteto Tabala (who feature on the new album) as a vocalist; to simplify it, she has an eclectic mix of styles to cherry pick from. Pimienta sees the amalgamation of her musical experiences differently though.

“I don’t think that I consciously take, I just am. When I started performing, I was 11 years old. You don’t really see 11 year olds slaying in punk bands anymore, especially when everyone else in the band is 25. I was a precocious child. Something that people need to understand is that, because Colombia is basically managed by USA and American enthusiasts, we have all the channels from the USA, broadcasting all the late night music shows from around the world. Colombia is like a port country, so we get all kinds of cultures and music.”

“I think because I am so mixed, and I have so many bloods running through my veins, I am sensitive to it. My mind and my brain and my heart are open to all kinds of music, so when I perform, it’s just all in there. When I write the music, it’s all in there. When you go to my show – and you will go – even a song like ‘Eso Que Tu Haces’ where it goes really high” – Pimienta demonstrates an angelic high note – “I know that there’s gonna be a point where I’m like” – she then produces a low, deep, metal-like, roar – “it just comes out. You have things that your parents gave you, that you do subconsciously, so that’s what it’s like for me with music. I have always been so entrenched in it.”

Pimienta tries to imagine her own son, who is now 12 years old, attempting to behave in the same way she did when she was his age. “Now, I see life through his eyes. I had him when I was very young, so we’ve grown up together. I remember at his age, I was playing in bands. So my son is creative, and he has his crew of friends at school and they talk online, but I can’t imagine letting my son play in a band with 25 year olds. I would go across town to all kinds of neighbourhoods by myself taking public transportation. I don’t see myself allowing my son to just take the subway for two hours like it’s fine. I think about that all right now, and I’m getting really inspired by that parallel of growth and the beauty of childhood. I don’t really know where I’m going with that…”

It’s this early earned independence and fearlessness that no doubt helped Pimienta forge her own creative pathway, and develop her own sense of style. The artwork for Miss Colombia, which features Pimienta in a flamboyant, colourful dress (more details on that ahead), is one of the many impressive examples of her flair when it comes to costume and personal style.

“The cover dress, I made here in my studio. I am a visual artist. I have a degree in art criticism and curatorial practice, so my art history game – it’s pretty good! When I draw my treatments for my videos, I understand that a garment can express so much. I always try to make sure that the stuff that I wear is saying something. I don’t care about how synched my waist is, I want people to look at those videos and remember them and think “I want to be that character!” I want to be the author, I want to be the muse, and the inspiration behind it.”

She elaborates on the connotations associated with the dress on Miss Colombia‘s album cover: “In Colombia, we are 90% Roman Catholic, that’s how we grow up. So the idea of a woman being a virgin, and the concept of virginity is super important. Your confirmation, your baptism, all of these activities are building you up to the most important occasion in a woman’s life which is…her marriage. So, I wanted to make a dress that would encompass the Virgin Mary, me getting baptised, and my Quinceañera.”

“A Quinceañera is like a telenovela version of a Barmitzvah. When you turn 15 in Colombia, you are considered a woman. You wear this ridiculous dress (well, they’re getting quite sophisticated now), and you’re introduced to society and you have a big party. It’s like a mock up of your wedding. Depending on your class, you will get a car. Or a trip to Europe, or most popularly; you get a nose job, or a boob job. It’s really normal. The rich girls will get everything. They’ll get the car, so they can drive themselves to the clinic to get that brand new nose.”

I take a moment to digest this, before Pimienta elaborates further: “The imagery on the album is so charged. In Latin America, the feedback is like “Oh yeah! My Quinceañera was so traumatic, it was horrible.” I actually never had a Quinceañera. My Qunice party was at my Mum’s apartment with a bunch of my punk and metal friends. I was wearing a short black dress and I was like “ugh, I’m not a girlie girl” and now, look how I dress.” She gestures once again to her bright red dress and hair accessories. “I ended up wearing a proper Quinceañera dress on a photo shoot while working on the album. I sent the picture to my Mum, and she was like “15 years too late, but at least I got you in a pink dress.”

Pimienta’s acceptance, and treatment of femininity on her own terms has certainly made the artwork and accompanying videos for Miss Colombia a feast for the eyes, layered with meanings that would most likely go over the heads of many Western listeners (including mine.)

“Colombia is a very interesting place”, continues Pimienta. “There’s beauty and there’s ugly, there’s no middle ground. It’s extreme violence and extreme happiness. I’m in between that. I am the grey area; but very gay, very queer, very feminist, and that’s why I can’t just wear a standard pink Quinceañera dress [for the album cover], it had to be purple, and yellow and green too. I haven’t shared all the photos of the album cover yet, but there’s one with four women who are dressed as brides, riding motorcycles and holding machetes. I have fun, and I’m lucky because I’m given the space to create, given the license to be an artist. I don’t have to pretend or hire creatives to give me good ideas. I just get to collab with my friends who happen to be geniuses.”

The natural friendships and collaborations Pimienta speaks of lead us to talk about how easy it can be to be distracted as an artist if you’re not working with the right people, or if you’re not staying true to your own vision, especially in electronic music. “I feel like everyone wants to be Arca, and use tech, but there’s only one Arca”, she explains, more specifically relating this to Grimes’ latest album, Miss Antropocene. “Grimes herself, wants to get to that level of production or aesthetic to where Arca is already beyond, but she lets the hyper-conceptual take over. The ideas don’t go as far, because she’s so concerned with being dressed as Akira sat on an Akira throne, thinking she’s really smart, and that only a few people are gonna get it. But it’s like – everyone knows who Akira is.”

“Grimes just uses Akira as a backdrop, so she’s minimizing the Akira legacy. By putting herself as a very skinny, very wealthy, baby mama of one of the most richest men in the world on that throne – you’re actually shitting on Akira right now. I love Grimes. I think she is a great artist. We’re all very different, but you have to know who you are. That’s what I’m going for. I don’t need to grow an android hand, or have an operation so I have a chip in my eyeball.” Pimienta’s criticisms are as on point as her Meghan Markle jokes.

She puts aside these thoughts, and begins talking about what’s fascinating her right now: “I’m embodying Carnival, I’m being my own personal roadie show. I’m obsessed with clowns at the moment, and my daughter really enjoys that. Dressing up is a part of my culture, Carnival is a part of my culture; I can do that and elevate it. That’s why it’s so important that you have a clear vision, that doesn’t look outside of who you are.”

Pimienta’s vision is one that has captivated, fascinated, and educated us since we recently discovered her work. Her unrivalled artistic confidence, and tenacious appetite for creating multi-layered music that defies explicit definition, is something we look forward to hearing more of in the future.

Follow Lido Pimienta on Spotify & Facebook for more updates.
Order your copy of Miss Colombia here.

ALBUM: Lido Pimienta – ‘Miss Colombia’

A vivid celebration (and criticism) of her Colombian heritage, and a canvas for her bold, instinctive talent; Lido Pimienta‘s latest album Miss Colombia is a sublime offering that eludes genre definition. Released via ANTI- Records, the Toronto-based, Colombian-born artist has crafted eleven tracks that showcase her altruistic, empowering vision with enviable flair and tenacity.

Pimienta has been creating art since her early teens, but this is the first time she’s appeared on the GIHE radar. She has performed, exhibited, and curated as a visual artist around the world since 2002. Her art explores the politics of gender, race, motherhood, identity, and the construct of the Canadian landscape in the Latin American diaspora and vernacular – and this naturally extends into her music.

The title of her latest album alludes to an incident during the 2015 Miss Universe beauty pageant, when host Steve Harvey mistakenly announced Miss Colombia’s name as the winner, instead of Miss Philippines. This error saw Colombia unite in pure hatred towards Harvey, and shocked Pimienta to her core. She began questioning how her birthplace – divided for decades in civil war – could be collectively vicious over something so trivial. It also sparked painful memories of the anti-blackness she experienced as a child growing up in Barranquilla; while her sister was raised to be a beauty queen, Pimienta says she was seen as the “weird artistic tomboy” of the family.

Using these reflections as a creative spring board, Pimienta dived into recording Miss Colombia. Her new sounds are steeped in defiance, but also brim with pride about who she is as an artist. This mood is encapsulated throughout the record, but especially on ‘Te Quería’ and ‘No Pude’. Pimienta says the former track is about “moving on from those who won’t appreciate your light, but still can see it enough in you to want to steal it.” On ‘No Pude’, which roughly translates as “I could not”, her heartfelt vocals lilt over punchy, eccentric percussion and avant-garde synth textures, summing up the “love/hate relationship” she has with her hometown. She clearly has a talent for turning complex emotions in to smouldering soundscapes.

Notice that there are no guitars on Miss Colombia – a conscious deviation from popular rock & indie norms – it’s purely electronic instrumentation and percussion. Pimienta has used a blend of experimental electronics, drum programming, and traditional Latin American percussion, (such as tambora Colombiana and timbales) to flesh out her album. It’s Pimienta’s rich, pitch perfect voice however, that’s one of the most stunning elements on the record. From the offset, on the captivating ‘Para Transcribir (SOL)’, the clarity and power in her soprano vocal is undeniable.

Pimienta credits Afro-Colombian group Sexteto Tabala for nurturing and developing this part of her. Considered to be the guardians of Afro-Latin musical history in Colombia, Pimienta duets with the band on ‘Quiero Que Me Salves’. It’s a raw, passionate performance, recorded on the streets of the historic town Basilio de Palenque, where escaped slaves settled in the 17th century. Pimienta’s ability to forge new narratives, without forgiving or forgetting historic trespasses, is something that truly shines through on Miss Colombia.

On middle track ‘Coming Thru’, it’s surprising to hear Pimienta sing the song’s title in English during the chorus. Whether you’re fluent in Spanish or not, her instrumentation and emotive vocals have acted as the only translation aids up until this point, guiding non-Spanish listeners through her exciting, turbulent journey. Pimienta has lamented that it’s hard to make electronic music sound beautiful or emotional, but her considered treatment of it on this record transcends these barriers.

The playful is fused with the poignant on ‘Pelo Cucu’, which celebrates and explores the prejudiced attitudes towards the natural texture of African hair. She achieves the same on penultimate track ‘Resisto Y Ya’, where she references the recent protests against economic and political reforms in Colombia. Tackling these unsettling issues comes naturally to Pimienta, who insists that by simply being who she is – an Afro-Indigenous, queer feminist, and Canadian outsider – she has always been engaged in resistance, both politically and personally.

“Sometimes I feel like Miss Colombia is me really doing it for real” explains Pimienta, reflecting on her recent achievement. Her energetic, emotive, empowering music proves she is both the master and the muse of her own vision; delivering her messages with poetic, and deeply impressive passion.

Order your copy of Miss Colombia here.
Follow Lido Pimienta on Spotify and Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

PLAYLIST: April 2020

We’re living through tense and testing times at the moment, so at GIHE we’re doing everything we can to distract you from the day to day reality of lockdown life. Our April playlist is filled with some electro-pop stunners, a couple of riot grrrl inspired tracks, and the occasional tentative lo-fi tune. Take some time to scroll through our track choices below, and make sure you hit play on the Spotify playlist at the end of the page.

 

Kraków Loves Adana – ‘Young Again’
Some seriously lush electro-pop from duo Kraków Loves Adana here. Speaking about the track, Deniz Çiçek explains: “’Young Again’ reminisces about youth and the time when anxiety, overthinking and unhealthy relationships were holding you down. Memories might be dark and painful, but you realize how strong you emerged from the experience – with that bittersweet understanding that you’ll never be young again.” Yearning vocals, vivid synths and an intoxicating rhythm make this track worthy of repeated listens. (Kate Crudgington)

TOPS – ‘Colder & Closer’
An utterly dreamy slice of alt-pop, this new single from Montreal band TOPS is filled with all the swirling synth-laden hooks and whirring electro beats you could ever need. While alluding to the irony of social distancing and physical closeness to others (a particularly poignant theme right now), ‘Colder & Closer’ is a moreish, shimmering delight (Mari Lane)

Belako – ‘The Craft’ 
One of Spain’s fastest-rising bands, Belako have released their new single ‘The Craft’, taken from their first internationally released album Plastic Drama, due out on 8th May via BMG. This track is full of uplifting guitars as it pays homage to their teenage love of the 90s movie of the same name, explaining: “It also feels like the here and now, and it’s now or never. A sorority spell to face adversity head on, and to take fragility as a vital force in new ways to build ourselves up”. A great anthem for our current time. The track is  accompanied by a video which can be watched here. (Tash Walker)

Painted Zeros – ‘Commuter Rage’
Lifted from Painted Zeros’ second album, When You Found Forever (set for release on 29th May via Don Giovanni Records), ‘Commuter Rage’ is the sound of an artist who has had enough of making space for everyone else. “Go read a fucking book / don’t you fucking look at me / to teach you things that you are responsible for learning on your own” Katie Lau sings, with a quiet and relatable anger, over a deceptively sweet melody. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the record, and to play this on my commute once lockdown rules have been lifted. (KC)

Lido Pimienta – ‘Te Queria’
I’m always so impressed with Toronto-based, Colombian-born artist Lido Pimienta’s releases. Her voice is so smooth, her music is uplifting, and the sentiments behind her songs are always empowering. Even though I’m not fluent in Spanish, I can’t resist trying to sing along with her. Pimienta says ‘Te Queria’ is about “moving on from those who won’t appreciate your light, but still can see it enough in you to want to steal it.” I love it, and I can’t wait to hear her new album, Miss Colombia, in full on April 17th. (KC)

Junie & TheHutFriends – ‘Boi Cha Cha’
I think we could all do with a big dose of Junie & TheHutFriends every day right now! ‘Boi Cha Cha’ brings me so much joy. I can’t help but exclaim “what a tune!” every time I hear it. It reminds me of the randomness of tUnE-yArDs, with its layers of beats and snaps and claps. It’s taken from the band’s debut EP, Diary of a Chaotic Neutral. (TW)

NAVA – ‘You’
Milan-via-Iran duo NAVA make mesmerising electronic tunes, and ‘You’ is no exception. They’re set to release a new EP later this year, and (if everything goes back to normal) they’ll be playing their first ever UK show at the Sebright Arms on 8th September. I’ve got my fingers crossed! (KC)

Jessica Winter – ‘Play’
“I’m a fuck up, and I’m okay” admits Jessica Winter in her seductive, sweet voice on this new single. Taken from her debut EP Sad Music, which is set for release later this summer, ‘Play’ accepts that life can be cruel; but there’s always edgy, electro-pop bangers like this to distract us from the pain. (KC)

Julia-Sophie – ‘x0x’
x0x is the first single from new electronic artist Julia-Sophie taken from her forthcoming EP, Y?, due out later this month. Recently supporting GIHE faves Sink Ya Teeth, I am completely mesmerized by the slow and haunting sounds evoked on this single. From the pulsating beats to the whirring synths, building and layering, topped with her questioning vocals, results in an almost painfully blissful experience – I’m completely addicted. I cannot, and don’t want to stop listening. (TW)

Bitch Hunt – ‘Spaceman’
Filled with catchy, scuzzy hooks, a subtle tongue-in-cheek wit and the gritty deadpan vocals of front person Sian, ‘Spaceman’ is an observational and relatable slice of punk-pop. With Bitch Hunt’s trademark impassioned energy and swirling harmonies, it’s a spot-on reflection on the sickening arrogance of all those cis male ‘splainers and ‘spreaders we so often have to endure in our day to day lives. An uplifting raging anthem inspiring us all to take those men down a peg (or four). Watch the new video for ‘Spaceman’ now. (ML)

Vulpynes – ‘I Can’t Sit Still’
Irish duo Vulpynes were due to play for us at The Finsbury last Friday (3rd April), along with Tiger Mimic, Gravey and Boys Of The Hole. It was pretty heartbreaking, but of course necessary, to cancel this one – I was super excited to see their immense raucous energy and soaring gritty power live. But, I’m desperately hoping to reschedule the gig for later in the year, so do keep your eyes peeled! And in the mean time, please stream/download and buy their music. (ML)

Guitar Gabby and The Txlips – ‘The Dead Pool
As scuzzed out riffs blast out alongside Gabriella Logan’s seething growl, ‘The Dead Pool’ is propelled by a grunge-fueled energy, with shades of the likes of Alice In Chains. Oozing a gritty emotion, it’s a ferocious, empowering anthem; a completely necessary angst-driven offering for these strange times. (ML)

Party Fears – ‘All Is Good’
The creator of some of our favourite DIY art-pop tunes over the last few years, ‘All Is Good’ is the latest single from Party Fears (aka Maggie Devlin). Released via Babywoman Records, it’s a tender, lo-fi offering that explores feelings of loss, nostalgia, and emotional endurance. (KC)

Lindsay Munroe – ‘Split’
‘Split’ is the second single taken from Lindsay Munroe’s forthcoming EP Our Heaviness, set for release on May 8th via AWAL – and I’m counting down the days. Of this latest single, Munroe says: “Split’ is one of the rawest songs I have written. I spent my early 20s in conservative religious environments, embedded in black-and-white thinking and beliefs. Increasingly I felt like I had to leave part of myself at the door, painfully unable to be open about my life and choices. ‘Split’ came from an attempt to move beyond the hurt and exhaustion of that situation”. I’m loving what I hear from Munroe so far, reminding me of a mix between Angel Olsen and Mitski. (TW)

Emily Magpie – ‘All Is Silence’
A particularly poignant new creation from GIHE fave, Bristol-based artist Emily Magpie, ‘All Is Silence’ was inspired by reading Margaret Atwood; a spine-tingling reflection on a post-apocalyptic journey. With her trademark twinkling ukulele melodies and her soaring heartfelt vocals, Magpie creates an effervescent slice of dream-pop, offering a sparkling glimmer of hope in dark times. Let’s Talk About The Weather, the upcoming debut album from Emily Magpie, is out now. (ML)

Kathleen Frances – ‘Define’
Hot off the press, ‘Define’ is the debut single from Bristol born artist Kathleen Frances. I was drawn to this song by the strong slow piano chords and the depth of Frances’ vocals. They resonate on a level that brings such gentle emotion and depth to the song. Inspired by the need to question the social constructs of love and romance, it feels rather apt at the moment when we are all looking at redefining every aspect of our lives. (TW)

Jenny Hval – ‘Bonus Material’
Us GIHE grrrls love a bit of Jenny Hval, and this standalone single is no exception. The Norwegian multidisciplinary artist describes ‘Bonus Material’ as “Trash practicing love”, referencing her last album The Practice of Love, released last year via Sacred Bones. Featuring saxophone by Espen Reinertsen, Hval’s sweet vocals float over twinkling synths in this light, “unfinished” offering. (KC)