Kidä, also known as Ava Leoncavallo, is the New York-based sound designer, composer, Red Bull Music Academy graduate and founder of the platform A Portal To Jump Through launches her new single The Garden. Her life is now dedicated to music and her experimental style and role as an alchemist of sound have circuited throughout fashion, art and advertisement, enabling her to work with brands like Dior or Prada.
Aware of the power she creates through sound, she prefers to keep it simple and “communicate complex ideas in simple ways,” conveying really deep feelings and ideas, as well as mythology inspired by her Egyptian heritage, that will leave you thinking for a while. In her own words, “I want to make sure they feel safe in the dark.”
You have just launched your new single The Garden, having listened to it and to your previous songs I found myself thinking of the meaning of your songs and their messages. What’s the message you want to tell the world with your sounds?
I guess the main message I hope to spread with this specific EP is that pain can be a catalyst for authentic beauty. Suffering cracks open the shell of the ego and allow light to seep through. That philosophy is literally the pillar of this record, Burn To Make It Glow. I’m aware of its simplicity, but in my music, I prefer to communicate complex ideas in simple ways. I want to be a burning torch, not a mystifying octopus darting behind sea anemone to become unreachable to the listener. They’ve already put on their diving gear, I want to make sure they feel safe in the dark.
I feel that your music is a very cool blend of '70s psychedelic rock with mythology inspired by your Egyptian heritage. Do you always find inspiration in the past? What inspires you on a daily basis to create new music?
I actually don’t feel like I have much control over my pool of inspiration – a lot of it is absorbed through environmental osmosis. Sometimes I walk around the city for a day and overhear a conversation or see an image that sets me off on a research spin for weeks on end. The act of music-making is more or less of way or organizing my thoughts. I think if I didn’t make music I’d be a writer, I have a strong urge to document ideas. When I stop doing that, I lose my internal compass. It’s a cliché but I actually need music to function properly. Otherwise, I imagine I’d be an insufferable tyrant because my head would just be on fire all the time.
Creating music from scratch seems really difficult because you are working with intangible elements. How do you create your music? Could you tell us your creative process?
I just follow a flow of attraction. I don’t know what genre my music is, but I’m not necessarily fixated on it. I trust that my different inspirations manifest in a way that pays homage to the music that I listen to and I think it usually does. I try not to dig up the grave of our past rockstar ancestors to steal their formula, we fight evolution by doing that. I’d rather rouse the living than summon ghosts. 
Another question that comes to my mind also involves the creative process. I am a very perfectionist person and I feel I would never be ready to say when a song is finished. How do you decide that?
You’re asking the wrong person... I never feel a song is finished. It has actually required physical and verbal intervention to stop me from tweaking songs. That’s how I know my song is a hit. When an intervention is staged.
“The abstract realm of surrealism, dreams and psychedelia makes more sense to me. Reality is more nonsensical in my opinion. Especially in the wake of Trump’s reign of terror”.
2020 has been a tough year for everyone. How has it treated you and your music? Is The Garden inspired by any of your experiences of 2020?
It’s been odd. But it has allowed me a lot of time to make music and ruminate, which are two of my favorite past times. I tend to oscillate between a deep privacy fetish and really wanting to engage. I can be a hermit but when I do press go, it tends to be full guns blazing. I can be quite extreme in that way. Much to the alarm of the people I love. And my followers. The Garden was written in 2019 after a difficult breakup, and it’s about the reckless pursuit of growth, endings and the bravery it requires to joyfully explore the afterlife of that.
You have also worked as a sound designer for great brands such as Dior and Prada. How was it like working with such important brands? Did you enjoy the experience?
Of course, I have the utmost respect for designers – there is so much creativity that goes into a collection and the visuals that accompany it. Being able to be a part of this process is a fascinating and unique experience every time, and to be trusted to translate these visual narratives into sound is truly an honor. I try not to let it get to my head.
I am sure these experiences have made you grow as an artist. How do you plan your future career?
I find the best plan is no plan. Whenever I try to make a plan I end up rebelling against it anyways. But if I were to project anything it would be expanding my studio A Portal To Jump Through to create a platform for sound design: much like ShowStudio is to fashion film.
Besides your music career, I would also like to talk about your aesthetic and your style because I feel that you have a very unique sense of fashion. What inspires your style?
Anything and everything. I love Jean Paul Gaultier, McQueen’s feral era, Galliano’s theatrics… But I think, above all, I feel most connected to Italian women’s philosophy when it comes to beauty, there are femininity and elegance but it’s laced with animalism and wildness. Tan skin, long athletic limbs, lipstick.
I think passion is what exudes style – whatever I am passionate about at the minute ends up being reflected through my style – whether that be romance, the Sahara desert, utility, insects, or anarchy. You will know what I’m thinking based on what I’m wearing. It’s my mood ring. If I’m wearing a dramatic cat eye it’s best to leave me alone. I’m either in heat or plotting revenge.
This strong style of yours also gets seen on your music videos in which you use digital worlds and psychedelic elements that transport the viewer to other dimensions. Have you always been interested in this aesthetic? What does it mean to you?
The abstract realm of surrealism, dreams and psychedelia makes more sense to me. Reality is more nonsensical in my opinion. Especially in the wake of Trump’s reign of terror.
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Finding your own identity is a difficult job and reflecting it in your art is even more difficult. How did you find your style and your personality? Was it a tough journey?
I just follow a flow of attraction, in everything I do. If something resonates, I catalog it. I have a big library from years of research in sound, visuals, design, fashion, paintings, etc. By creating a map of things that sparked organic interest in me, I was eventually able to zoom out and realize, after some time an identity formed. There was never an intentional process of creating an identity, it just happened.
How did you start creating music? Was music what you always wanted to do in life or did you have other career options?
Music runs in my family. My great grandfather was a composer and wrote the opera Pagliacci about a lovelorn clown. The sad clown trope comes from his opera actually (the Joker is more or less my family’s legacy). So, yes, I was genetically predisposed to be a drama queen. Even as a little girl I was writing songs.
Pursuing an art career and being able to make art your job is a dream of many people but everyone knows that art is a tough industry and not everyone can make a living out of it. Was it easy for you?
It’s high risk but high reward. Pursuing art can be a lonely, difficult and dark road, but shadowy roads often lead to mystery, adventure and sometimes, treasure. Yes, it’s safer to stay under the apple tree but the best views are seen from the tallest peaks. I’m the eldest sister, so it’s a natural instinct to throw myself in the deep end without a snorkel anyways. If you don’t feel ready to jump, find a mentor, or an older sister figure who has already wandered into the dark and returned unscathed.
Take note of your peers that wander into the thicket and return with their jewels. Those are the people you want to have on your team. I would be nowhere without the destined outreach of certain hands throughout my life. Humans are tribal by nature, so having a community is highly rewarding. Find your tribe.
What would you tell to anyone whose dream is to live from art whether it is music or any other art expression?
All I can say is: if you have a gift, don’t resist it. Fighting your soul’s path will inevitably wreak havoc in the physical realm. You might find yourself continually getting fired from jobs or having your life repeatedly disassemble itself, that’s the universe’s way of trying to realign you with your true purpose.
If you are an artist, you will do yourself a great dishonor and danger by locking up that urge. If you have something to express, it’s your duty to express it. Otherwise, you will walk around with perpetual blues. When you let out the color blue, you have the option to also mix it with red. Do you see what I’m saying? Then you’re purple. The next day you could mix your blues with yellow and become a money green dragon. Chances are someone in the world will resonate with that. Be brave. Nature rewards courage. That’s the key to alchemising your dreams.