Electronic music in a theatre. Electronic music with cowbells. Electronic music understood as a craft. The most interesting aspect of art is when it transcends its own codes. The collective Lágrima, based in Madrid, with less than a year of existence, promotes an expanded experience of the world of electronic music and clubbing, relying on multidisciplinary proposals and collaborating, as in this case, with unconventional spaces for this type of music. On November 3rd, Fucklore, the latest album from the Cypriot producer and performer Krista Papista, accompanied by the DJ and sound artist from Vigo, Akazie, was presented at Réplika Teatro.
Akazie is sitting on the floor, on a red fabric matching the lighting of the space. Behind her, visuals controlled by Cristian Benítez, aka Carne Kddo, are projected with an Xbox controller. In front of Akazie, in the auditorium and scattered on the floor, is the audience. All attention is focused on her live creation. Seeing her up close, we can appreciate the artisanal nature of the DJ set, with no visual barriers separating us. At times, it seems like the work of a surgeon.
Akazie states that her experience was positive: “Being able to participate in proposals and spaces where the main thing is to listen and connect with the music actively is brutal. I think that in this way, you can also explore and take risks in a more honest way with the audience, always trying not to make it something exclusive.”
Krista Papista arrives freshly from Berlin, and with her, multiple fissures open up. Her musical career dates back to 2012, always on a round trip journey towards the sounds of the Mediterranean, between Greece, the Middle East, and the Balkans. Krista’s particular perspective offers an anarchist and queer re-signification of folklore. Specifically in her latest album, Fucklore, criticism of conservative policies and the machismo that permeates her place of origin (not to mention the whole world) becomes much more evident, with tracks like 5 hours of period cramps or Livia, Elena, Maricar, Mary Rose, Sierra, Arian, Asmita, a song that references a group of migrant women who were murdered in Cyprus.
Papista’s fissures are, on the one hand, space-temporal, with this transfusion of sounds from tradition to innovation and from East to West, and on the other hand, they are artistic fissures. The performer spends half the concert ‘dressed’ in shepherd’s bells that impose themselves on any sonic landscape. They are the sonic landscape itself. The tracks unfold more like a whisper behind that idle and provocative tinkling. At a certain moment, Krista sheds her costume, picks up the guitar, and we transition to another stage, no less heartbreaking but more audible.
This rupture of the very idea of listening is accentuated by the arrangement of the audience, as mentioned before, seated in a theatre, predisposed to an attention more characteristic of a recital than a rave. Inevitably, people need to join in the agitation proposed by Papista, and on the sides of the stage, groups of people start dancing. And this is the charm of the event organised by Lágrima. The artistic experience expands. We let ourselves break or join in the tearing. Sounds from such different places become collective sounds. And in this moment of trance, a political message sneaks in through the cracks.
Hi Krista, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. Before your presentation in Madrid, how are you feeling leading up to that?
I am great, I really looking forward to performing in Madrid.
Do you perform any rituals or routines before going on stage to get in the mood?
Before I get on stage I like having a moment of peace. I do a vocal warm up and I put on my costume made of shepherd’s bells. Once the costume is on, then it’s show time.
In Fucklore, the traditional genre of folklore is transformed by external influences from electronica, creating a broken and rooted landscape at the same time. How does this relationship between the local and the global emerge? How do one sound and the other feed back into each other?
The poetics and psychedelia of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Balkan folklore are a part of me. My manners and spirit have been formed in these regions and cultures. When I was growing up in Cyprus, half the time I was partying in Boyzoukia, where you would listen to super loud traditional Greek and Middle Eastern music; the rest of the time I was in beach parties listening to Balkan and Euro-trash EDM, but I was actually making punk music at home. I now live in Berlin and all these elements are spitting through my sound.
My latest album, Fucklore, was an experiment; It was an attempt to create my own version of my culture’s folklore in an LP. Traditionally, folkloristic projects have aimed to portray a romanticised, homogenous nationalism that I enjoy dismantling, queering and re-inventing in my work. But it’s interesting what you are saying about one sound responding to the other, I play with this technique in the production, it creates a melodic dialogue.
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Your work is a product that fits very well with the global nature of contemporary culture. How can globalisation be embraced without falling into cultural imperialism?
The content of my work, also coming from a tiny place like Cyprus, an island marked by colonialism and ethnopolitical division, even if my work is circulating globally, I would be surprised if it ever falls into this cultural imperialism category.
How do you imagine a resignification of popular culture?
I have only imagined the resignification of folklore and EDM.
The club scene is associated with a festive atmosphere, where political activism is not immediately evident. How do you connect political discourse with electronic music?
I write about things that concern me, the content is political; sometimes it’s about my emotional landscape, curiosities and personal relationships. I make music that turns me on, the music is a collage, a kaleidoscopic experience of different sounds, narratives and psychedelics. The connection between all these elements develops in the production of the track, the video, the performance, the experience of it, the aftermath of it.
“Traditionally, folkloristic projects have aimed to portray a romanticised, homogenous nationalism that I enjoy dismantling, queering and re-inventing in my work.”
Before your presentation, Galician DJ Akazie will be preceding you. We recently spoke with her and she told us about her love for folklore (she even learned folk Galician music as a kid) and deconstructed music. I don’t know if you’ve had the time to check her work, do you see any connecting points or links between the two?
Yes, I checked her out, I am looking forward to her set :)
How would you define the queer phenomenology that you claim with your work?
My process involves subverting, queering, and twisting my culture’s poetics and narratives through sampling Dabke, Greek, and Balkan melodies. Through queering and re-inventing rituals, this allows me to channel a sense of hedonism fused with revulsion and chaos, resulting in a brand new orientation, in perspective, in narrative, and in the work. Collaging these elements with my punk-infused computerised production is what went down with my last album Fucklore. I think the idea of anarchy and queer phenomenology resonates strongly when you’re a queer woman with a Cypriot background.
As an artist, you work in multiple disciplines, from music, poetry, performance, visual arts... What do you find in each artistic language? Does each one have its own space or do they all converge in all projects?
I find all elements of the artwork exciting and important, usually they all converge in one.
Your songs are explosive and full of stimuli, but all that chaos must come from an initial point of emptiness. What are your creative and composition processes like?
I have an on-going process, I never really stop producing music, collecting ideas, or making work. I just have days where I absorb more than produce, or days where I am more animalistic than creative.
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