Berlin-based DJ and producer Slim Soledad, has lived many lives. Scrolling through her Instagram, you can find her in Switzerland, France, Spain, and more. Beyond DJing, she sings and mixes and also has an extensive background in contemporary dance. When she’s not wowing audiences with her energised beats like she did at Primavera Sound’s Boiler Room, she can be found modelling for brands like Burberry or facilitating safe spaces for queer folk across Brazil and Europe. We spoke with Slim Soledad about her recent music, the collaborations she did back in 2020, and the harms that come with being a queer Black artist.
For those who are not familiar with you or your work, could you tell me a little about yourself?
My name is Slina, aka Slim Soledad, I am an artist working as a DJ, music producer, and performer. I started DJing about 6 years ago when I was still living in São Paulo. Before that, I already was in contact with music because I had studied contemporary dance and, in a certain way, there is a big influence coming from my parents since I was a little girl. I believe I have been diving into the world of music for a long time, and also experienced it in several layers – like producing, mixing, performing, singing – and I want to be able to continue working as an artist, but trusting without the fear of making mistakes and embracing chaos.
You seem to have a passion for fashion. Do you see any parallels between how you express yourself through modelling and how you express yourself through your music?
I love fashion and fashion loves me (laughs). I love the feeling of getting dressed up to go out or to dinner, looking chic, feeling the glamour to celebrate yourself, to celebrate other people, and to use this tool that fashion is to express yourself and to talk about yourself just as an outfit.
I think it's very powerful and important because it demarcates positions and groups. Even like in music, there is your way of being expressed, and I see a parallel connection that is between the message and the manifestation of communication.
How was your experience playing at Primavera Sound? Have you DJed anywhere this big before? What is your most distinct memory of the experience?
It was one of my best gigs, without a doubt! I had never played such a big festival before; it was very gratifying and fun. I had a lot of moments that are memorable but two are the Tyler the Creator, show and the Maricxs party closing out the first weekend.
“There is a romanticisation of precariousness in relation to racialised bodies in the art world. I see a sadism in consuming our traumas and pains and commodifying them in a ‘normal’ way, especially with non-white artists.”
You seem to travel a lot for work – in the last few months you've been to Germany, France, Switzerland and Spain, for example. Do your travels influence your sound? What keeps you grounded?
Yes, it does. I've been to many countries (laughs), but my travels influence the sound I create a lot. Every trip I feel like I get some kind of boost and inspiration to keep doing what I'm doing. I think what keeps me grounded is to rest well, eat well, understand the things in my surroundings that make me feel good and discard the things that make me sick and keep doing it because I'm passionate about it.
The first 5 minutes of What Berlin Did to Me? seem to be a pressure cooker. Time builds and builds as if waiting for a release. Is that how you would describe Berlin? Just constant, barely contained energy?
Quite the opposite, I would say Berlin has its two sides. I think there can be a certain chaos, but it also has a peaceful side! The name of the mix is precisely that because I know that after living almost 3 years in Berlin, my musical taste has changed a lot. Also, I had a key turning point in my process with music and mixing after coming here.
You are the co-founder of Chernobyl, a collective that creates safe spaces for queer people in Brazil. Since you have been in Berlin, how have you continued this work? Have you found opportunities to create safe spaces for queer folk in the city?
We've been doing parties and events in Brazil, but we slowed down because of some turbulence that one of our members went through, but now we are with the founder of the collective here in Europe. Unfortunately, we only did one edition of an event that was very special in 2020 in Berlin, but we have the idea of planning something out in Paris in the future.
You joined forces with Jota Mombaça and Iki Yos Piña Narváez in 2020 to produce La Leche Travesti. What was the driving force behind the creation of this podcast?
The creation of the podcast came from Jota inviting me and Iki to be part of that, but then the whole process of the podcast was from the Zoom calls during the pandemic for the first time, where we were exchanging ideas and references to create the podcast. We ended up creating La Leche Travesti, it was a very short process of residence to make the three episodes, but we held and gave impulse to this sound space
Disorder against darkness and colonialism are central to both Mombasa's and Narvaez's artistic practices. How do you feel engaged with these critical discussions in your own work?
These discussions connect with me because we have some meeting points as artists and experiences, exchanging thoughts about this flawed and abusive system regarding our bodies that does not guarantee us safety. This connects with my work in a way that takes us out of a place of subalternity, exchanging these ideas collectively to draw plans and arriving at impossible and unmentionable places, being it with music, politics, poetry and art, in a way where it's all connected. I also believe the work of Jota and Iki is beyond that.
In the first episode of La Leche Travesti, the narrator says he is interested in how “Contemporary modes of commodification exploit the presence of queer black bodies within the art world.” Does this notion resonate with you as a Black queer DJ in Berlin? Are there acts of resistance that you turn to in the face of exploitation?
I think it resonates in general, not just in Berlin. There is a romanticisation of precariousness in relation to racialised bodies in the art world. I see a sadism in consuming our traumas and pain and commodifying them in a ‘normal’ way, especially with non-white artists.
Resistance consists of denying the exploitation that often comes and appears in a very subtle way; at the same time, if you ‘deny’ it, you don't get to work, and sometimes the subtlety comes in an imperceptible way you only realise it later. So, it depends a lot on the negotiation of each individual between their professional and personal lives.
La Leche Travesti seems to have ended in 2020. Is there any room to bring it back?
Actually, the last release was in 2021, commissioned by Gessnerallee, materialised in a 35-minute sound piece with two other guest artists Puta da Silva and Luan Okun, that even if you haven't heard, I recommend you to listen to it. We have planned some next steps for La Leche Travesti, but maybe it will be something else, for now, that will be a surprise. Something fresh and I can't be sure about the dates, but I would say maybe something for next year.
Can you tell us about any future projects of yours? What are you currently working on?
I've been working on a few projects at the moment, both related to dance and music, but other than that, I've been putting energy into some songs that I intend to release early next year. In the meantime, I'll release some surprises that I've been working on over the last few months, which consist of finding more power and noise from the voice to build beats. I'm looking forward to it and I've been doing it with a lot of love and making sure I enjoy every moment and part of the process.
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