|Photo by Ruthie Titus @ruthtitus|
Lido Pimienta is back! Almost six years have passed since Color was first released and a lot has happened to our Colombian darling. Club Fonograma has been blessed with the best come back offering ever: an exclusive, in depth interview, along with “Agua”, the first single off highly anticipated second LP La Papessa.
Souad Martin-Saoudi: Color dates back to 2010 and the release of La Papessa has been rumored for some time… Here at CF, we’ve been anticipating it since 2012! Could your give us an insight into your life, and walk us through the evolving shape of La Papessa?
Lido Pimienta: Since the Color era, Ive been keeping to myself and my family. Color was a wonderful introduction to life outside of my naive/Utopian head. It all seems like a blur now. It is almost as if it never even happened. This question could be answered in many ways, and take several turns, but to keep a 6 year old story short (or at least try): I took a break from the music industry after realizing I was not fit for it, I was not prepared for the amount of ugly business that happens behind the scenes. I was the target of many social climbers, one label runner in particular used me to get his artists a European tour by using my name to do so (and almost succeeded at it), he claimed he was my booker, manager and lied to me and bookers down there...This episode in particular made me take several steps back and stop pursuing a career in music. Sometimes I wonder if perhaps some of the negative experiences I lived back then were some if not the same reasons why Rita Indiana decided to stop performing music live.
The first major change in my life after Color, was that my husband and I separated. Also known as Golden Death Music, my ex was not only my family, father of my kid, but also the genius co-creator, musician and producer behind the Color LP. The songs were made in our tiny home while breastfeeding, being young, dumb and excited creatives amongst a vibrant artistic and musical community in London, Ontario. Canada was also a new country to both of us. "Luces" was our goodbye song, the last one we worked on together. Still one of my favorites.
After our separation, I moved to Toronto, Ontario and decided to pursue a degree in Art Criticism and Curatorial Practice. I moved to the big city with my kid and dedicated my time to my studies while figuring out life as a single mother.
The first year was really rough and I was having panic and anxiety attacks regularly, I kept thinking there was no way I could do it on my own, without him. In one of those many insecurity stricken moments, music pal Ulises Hadjis read my Tarot (via Skype) and revealed to me the power of The High Priestess: La Papessa - A female figure, sitting on her throne with a book on her lap. The symbolism behind it opened my eyes to my own inner strength, as a womxn, mother, as a thinker, planner - I wrote the first song for it, "Ruleta", the song would help me go through the pain and fear I felt at the time. Sometimes being alone is the best, and accepting that reality proves impossible to accept at times, actually...much too often.
I started working on songs after my child would go to sleep. Back then I shared my bedroom with him. Toronto is really expensive so I shared my room to save up some cash. I built him a bed out of milk-crates and wood under my loft bed and I bought a refurbished desktop, speakers, a little mixer, and several “how to ableton” YouTube tutorials later I had me a little demo ready. No band, no friends (in music), no family, but a cute 4 song EP nonetheless.
One lucky night a curious white boy heard my solo set at some gallery show. He contacted me and asked if we could play together. I said something like, “yes, but only if you would do so dressed in a cute dress”, but obviously more than a “requirement”, my intent with such question was mainly to make sure this cis-white dude was not going to end up being some homo/trans-phobic asshole. I showed him my songs and we started working them in a tiny studio he had behind a gallery called Creatures. His name was Kvesche Bijons-Ebacher, he became my son instantly. We started playing shows and I started getting lots of attention, well, enough attention in the art/indie Toronto scene, enough to justify doing the crazy music thing again.
Another curious white boy approached me, he was friends and an old collaborator of Kvesche’s. His name was Blake Blakely, an intellectual and visionary who (of course) showed up at my door with a Moog under his arm: “Hi, I decided I don't want to do a remix for you anymore, I want to play with you instead”, and just like that, we started building the songs more, in my bedroom, we brought all of our gear together and started the machine.
I started getting booked for more shows, and we played with different brass people each time. Always different, trying new things, the stage was my playground. I would write these wild parts for woodwind and brass, but no one from that jazz, classical world would stick around to play with us, though. Those people in this city are way too busy! That was until Robert Drisdelle, composer and multi-instrumentalist, heard about me and how I liked to collaborate with different live musicians and approached me. He then showed up to my house...with a damn electric guitar. I was so confused...I told him “guitar is not going to cut it, I am against guitar, there’s too much of it in the world, I don’t want it in my album, what else you got?” He threw his guitar out the window and brought me his beautiful bass clarinet. And that was it, the band was formed.
We kept playing more shows, perfected them, wrote new tunes, experimented with visuals… One particular show caught the attention of long-time supporter of Lido Pimienta, who is also A Tribe Called Red’s manager, Guillaume Decouflet. He offered us the opportunity to tour with Tribe. We were so excited, we felt a new reviving energy, It was all forming, it was all working out. We went on tour with them, and we killed it. Guillaume and Tribe gave us a fantastic opportunity to perform my songs in front of thousands of people, perfect the live show, learn about contracts, royalties, booking events, essentially, an Industry of Music education, all the stuff I was too inexperienced and vulnerable to deal with first time around for Color Era. Touring with Tribe, gave me a healthy and safe place to educate and empower myself. Words cannot describe how much I love those men.
In September 2013, my younger brother, father of one, took his own life. A young beautiful life, gone. It was and still is the most shocking, painful and difficult thing my family and I have had to experience. Ever. It took me a long time to recover. I mean, I still have not recovered from it, and I might not ever recover from it. A part of you dies when your sibling dies. There are no words to explain. I had to put La Papessa and everything related to it on hold. This chunk of my life is also a blur for me, I keep waiting to wake up and have everything just turn out to be nothing more but a terrible nightmare.
School got really hard for me after this, there was no space for concentrating, I was putting on a front, a facade, pretended that everything was OK. I hurt myself by doing this. I also started working in arts organization more, I was worried about making money and providing emotional support for my mother, my sister, my brother’s girlfriend and their son. It took a while, a long while before I felt I was ready to play/record again. But eventually you know, art/music is what I do, so it became my safe heaven...singing...under the moon…
Slowly but surely it happened, seasons changed, time passed, and my heart was sewn up with the delicate yet strong silk thread of friends, chosen family, my sisterhood and collaborators in the city. I thank them deeply for their love. We played some shows and decided to go for it again, we made plans to go to the studio, we played a couple new shows, we were ready to lay the tracks down, we were on fire.
But then, life had yet another dark joke awaiting. My amazing friend and genius collaborator, Blake Blakely (who’s behind “Agua” beat/production) got seriously ill. My world came apart. The new-found stability was shaking, was fragile, got torn apart. We knew the road would be difficult, but we decided to continue working together. We figured out ways to make it work, around hospital visits - plotting world domination. I took a month off, I went to back to Colombia, to visit my brother’s grave for the first time since his passing, I stayed with my family, in the north coast of Colombia, my family is Indigena Wayuu, I needed to be home. The desert air, the ocean, the sun, fresh fruit and my aunties’ embrace filled my soul.
|Photo Credit: Nic Pouliot / rockphoto.ca|
Stay tuned. Part 2 of our interview with Lido Pimienta will be published tomorrow.