It’s impossible to put this promising 20-year-old DJ into a box. Hell, she won’t even dare do that herself. If we had to describe her sound, we’d say that it’s sort of experimental electronic music that is catered to the most sensitive, creative, anxiety-ridden kind of people. So, if you fall into that category, read on.
Lyzza is somewhat of a hero or unofficial spokesperson for those who don’t fall into or decide not to follow the norm, and she’s really good at her job. However, don’t expect her to talk about herself or how she identifies because that’s got nothing to do with her work. Balancing between her own produced tracks – like the glorious Take the L – and her DJ sets, where she mixes hardcore techno with remixes of Britney Spears’ Toxic – just like she did at her recent set at Sónar Barcelona – the Brazilian artist is on the rise for all the good reasons. Talented, fun, and in tune with the times. Isn’t that what every artist should be about?
This is your first time playing at Sónar and I also believe it’s your first time playing at the main stage at a festival. How has it been so far?
It’s insane seeing so many people. I started out playing at really small clubs and DIY scenes, so playing at the main stage of a place that is regarded as an institution has been a very positive experience.
Speaking about your music, I’ve seen that you generally have a hard time describing your sound. But I quite like that you once labelled it as “experimental anxiety pop” – emphasis on ‘anxiety’. What do you exactly mean by that?
I feel that we’re living in a time where baby boomers fucked everything up, the world’s going to end in thirty years, we don’t have enough money to buy a house, etc. Nobody knows what the future’s going to look like. We’re also the first generation that got introduced to social media and there are so many new factors to life and being around people. For example, everyone has an aesthetic on Instagram and followers mean something. Like when you’re going out to clubs, you may know who people are but you may not know them personally, just from their Instagram pages – which are usually super fake. Everyone’s stressing out, we all have crippling anxiety, right?
Especially when you’re creative. I feel that I make music for people who feel uncomfortable all the time, and I try putting that into words to create pop music to the point where it’s relatable – pop music in the sense that it’s popular. Everyone from our generation can understand anxiety, so it’s just realising that a lot of people feel what I feel. We don’t talk about it but we all feel intensely nervous about a person liking us back or not following us back on Instagram or what is our future going to be like. Am I good enough to be part of this?
We’re living in this dystopian, anxiety-ridden culture. That’s why I talk about what I feel. I realised that if everyone talked about it we would all be less nervous. We make each other anxious because we’re all trying to be something that we’re not. So, I just want to break that. That’s why I talk about the fact that I am nervous or that I get ingrown hairs and pimples. I hate it when people are just ‘too cool for school’ because they’re trying to impress people because they just make other people anxious.
It’s a never-ending cycle. Especially when it comes to Gen Z. 
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I’ve also seen that you talk a lot about mental health on your social media, which is why I think it’s an important topic for you. Do you feel that through your music you’re trying to heal other people or maybe just yourself?
I’m not necessarily trying to heal other people, I think I’m doing it for myself. I only know about my experience but at the same time…
It’s still so universal.
Yes. And this way, people can be more vulnerable because they normally feel like they have to hold up a certain image. I’ve been told by a few people that they look up to me, but when they listen to my music, they realise, ‘oh, even she gets insecure!’ I think it should be normal for people to just treat each other like human beings because nobody’s perfect. If anyone can relate to my music, at least we can be sad with each other and we don’t have to go through it alone.
I’ve seen that many DJs, yourself included, are being asked now more than ever about creating ‘safe spaces’, which is normally seen as a political act, but you stated before that you don’t share that view. Why is that?
How is it political? I’m literally saying to people, ‘hey, don’t be a dick’. I’m just asking you to accept everyone. As I said before, we’re all different, people have different kinks and weird, less-accepted tastes, and it shouldn’t make us less than others. It’s so easy to conform to what society wants you to be. When you decide to not stick to that, you make yourself become an ‘other’. By constantly being ‘othered’ in your everyday life, you need to have spaces where you can finally have a soft cloud to fall onto. I don’t understand why that’s such a big deal.
What I’m about to say is extremely clichéd, but when you don’t fall under the ‘white cisgender heterosexual man’ category, everything you do is inherently political.
Yes, as a black woman, everything I do is viewed as political.
“We’re living in this dystopian, anxiety-ridden culture. That’s why I talk about what I feel.”
That is a lot of responsibility to bear.
Yes, and I take that responsibility. But I don’t understand why me saying that everyone should accept each other is immediately seen as political because it shouldn’t be.
People see it as a revolutionary thing, but I’m sure that one of the first things your parents teach you is to be nice to others. But I still understand why it’s viewed as political, even though I don’t think it should be. For example, a few years ago, everyone started talking about female DJs as if it were a new ‘thing’ or subject to talk about. I understand it’s important to talk about us and the problems we face because we’ve been a minority for so long, which is why being able to identify as something is really important. But at the same time, all of this is just normal and they talk about it as if it were a phenomenon. If we make it into a spectacle, we’re never going to be normalised. We have to break through that and become the norm.
You started DJing at sixteen, which meant you had to lie about your age a lot. How did you first navigate through the club scene, a notoriously tough environment, at such a vulnerable age?
I’ve been treated poorly quite a few times; I was once told by a male DJ that I wasn’t good enough. Another time, someone got mad at me for arriving five minutes late when I wasn’t even sent a timetable in the first place. At the end of the day, I just keep quiet because success is the best revenge and in this kind of situations, I know I don’t mean any harm. If I feel terrible, then I can just go to the toilet and cry, but I immediately get over it.
I’d rather not spew out negativity. We all go through shit and I’d rather focus on the positive rather than the negative. If I show that I’m having fun whilst DJing and don’t show the struggle, it will motivate more people to do it too. I obviously give a shit but I pretend that I don’t. I’ll just be at home pulling my hair out (laughs). I feel that us, as women, we’re used to being called a bitch and other things like that. But we’re more mature than them.
The experiences we’ve had to live through basically oblige us to become more mature.
Yes! For example, people would talk to me like I was stupid and didn’t know anything and because I’m really good at social dynamics, I would play dumb. I used to do that all the time when I was younger.
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Sometimes, if you act that way, they will underestimate you because they have such low expectations that you can get away with anything.
Yes. This gives you leverage to eventually knock them down. So I just try being really nice to everyone and you can get really far by doing that.
You’re just twenty years old and you’ve already made the bold choice of moving not too long ago from Amsterdam to London. What prompted the move and what has your experience been like so far?
I moved in October. I wanted to go to London because of the people I was working with and was inspired by. I’m interested in NTS Radio and the label The Young Turks. Do you know how in America girls from places like Illinois eventually move to Hollywood? It’s the same thing, except London’s an hour away from Amsterdam by plane. Even though Jarreau Vandal helped create a really cool queer scene over there in the last two years, there’s still a big difference in Amsterdam between those who enjoy listening to electronic music and those who make it. There weren’t that many people I could sit down and work with.
You were like a big fish in a small pond.
Exactly, I needed to throw myself into the water with the big fish.
I’m sure it was very hard, though.
Yes, living in London is hard. It’s uncomfortable, it’s huge and isolating, but I like that. Everything I’m doing is so that I can feel comfortable in the future and buy myself a big ass mansion and never leave my house or talk to anyone. But to get there, I need to work. If I wanted to make myself feel comfortable, I could have moved to Berlin. I would have paid three hundred euros in rent a month and I could make that just by walking dogs, I wouldn’t have to work that much. In London, a room is six hundred and fifty pounds a month, so you have to work really hard for that. Pressure creates diamonds and that’s what London feels like to me. Even though I hate it, I know what I’m doing it for.
Back to your music, I know that you’ve stated in interviews that you connect with Sophie’s music, which I find really interesting.
Yes! (Laughs)
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And I also find some parallels between your music and hers. What is it about Sophie or the music that makes you feel so connected to her?
I like her music because it feels so limitless, there are no limits to what she can create. I like the idea of losing borders and the cages we are put in as people. We have a mind and we’re put in a body; that concept is insane! We’re born into these bodies and we can’t control that. Especially in the climate we’re in with gender fluidity, we have to go deep into ourselves to realise what our minds feel like instead of what this cocoon we’re in makes us be. And all of this sounds like a new concept, but it’s not recent at all. I’m a native Brazilian and so in my culture, we’ve had people who identify like that for centuries.
When it comes to her music, it’s a way to escape this prison we’re put in. By using textures that aren’t necessarily real and sounds that aren’t organic, her music can make us escape from our reality and those things we didn’t choose for ourselves. For example, I talk about the music or surroundings I want to create but I never talk about myself or sexuality because I don’t feel like there’s a need to. I see people as entities themselves instead of boxing them into categories. At one point, I just don’t want to identify as anything.
Do you just want to be known as Lyzza?
Yes, I don’t know why people find that weird.
You’ve also stated before that you want to be known as someone like Marilyn Manson, as he's so well-known that people just don’t categorise him anymore.
Right, Marilyn Manson can’t be compared to anyone. We don’t call him anything anymore, he just is.
Maybe this is related to what Sophie was saying in her song titled Immaterial Girl.
Yes, I want to be an immaterial girl! (Laughs)
“Especially in the climate we’re in with gender fluidity, we have to go deep into ourselves to realise what our minds feel like instead of what this cocoon we’re in makes us be.”
What is your dream gig? I’m not talking about playing a specific location or festival you want to play in, but your wildest fantasy.
I once had a dream where I was playing music in a cave and people were submerged in water, but only up to their thighs. They were all wearing purple latex dresses and bodysuits, and they were just going wild! I just love the idea of losing control, like when you’re riding a rollercoaster. People let go in those kinds of environments. I want people to do the same when I’m playing. Maybe I’d also like to do something that nobody’s ever done before, like playing inside a glass box that’s lifted in the air!
What can we expect from you in the near future?
I’m going to release my third EP this year. I’m very nervous because it sounds nothing like the other two, it’s completely different.
Are you going to be singing in it?
Definitely, but the sound is going to be like nothing you’ve ever heard before. It kind of reminds me of the music that Skrillex used to do, like early EDM. I’m really scared that people might not like it because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done before.
I think we always expect to hear something new when musicians release new music, so don’t worry too much about it.
Yeah, but… Crippling anxiety, am I right? (Laughs)
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