“Excellence must be pursued; it must be wooed with all of one’s might, and with every bit of effort that we have each day, there’s a new encounter; each week is a new challenge. All of the noise and all of the glamour, all of the color, all of the excitement, all of the rings, and all of the money. These are the things that linger only in the memory. But the spirit, the will to excel, the will to win, these are the things that endure,” Vince Lombardi once said. This quote eloquently encapsulates the enduring spirit of Slim Soledad, who’s just released a new EP, Space Manual for Those Who Can not Swim.
There is a beautiful strength and resilience radiating from this enigmatic spirit. You often hear therapists say you have to do more than want change; you have to do the work. Slim Soledad is doing the work and more. With an introspective, self-aware artistic mind and the fighting spirit of an Avenger, she’s on a self-discovery journey, empowering her community while voguing the house down!
I hope all is well in your world. This is your second time interviewing with us. Your journey as a DJ began by blending genres like techno, baile funk, electro, and hard trance. How did you develop this unique and intense sound, and what drew you to these specific styles?
I think I developed it step by step. I remember that when I started my journey, I had other people who inspired me a lot. I also remember recognizing that each DJ has their own personality and way of communicating, which is reflected in me. I feel it’s the way I communicate and create. I like a lot of styles of music. These, in particular, are also a part of me. What attracts me is the extremes. I believe I always go back to the language, and it gives way to being my aesthetic as well, what attracts me is the combination of my personality with my being.
In a previous interview, you mentioned that the worst advice you received was to focus only on performance and not your other artistic pursuits. How has embracing all of your talents shaped your career?
I think that embracing other talents has made me rich both personally and professionally. I had many experiences in 2021, for example, when I stayed between my gigs, doing my musical research, and then another dance piece directed by a dear friend of mine, Vincent Riebeek. I believe that when I intersect, I can have more vision of the horizon. Sometimes, it can be very tiring, but today, I understand that I had to go through these places to become who I am.
In an Instagram post for Crack Magazine, you stated that you are fearless with how you dress, which takes courage and bravery. Can you recall a time when being unapologetically yourself put you at a disadvantage or made your path harder?
There was an occasion once when I was with a friend going to her house, which was in the east zone of São Paulo. I was wearing a top and shorts and the driver refused to let me take the bus because, according to him, I couldn’t take public transportation dressed like that. Since it was clear that he was discriminating against us, I felt a little uncomfortable with the situation and felt bad about having to make my friend wait for another bus just because she was wearing a crop top. We could wait for another bus but then came the plot twist: my friend didn’t give up and started arguing with the driver and said that we would take the transport. In a way, she empowered me right there at that moment, and we continued on our way to her house.
This specific situation was a moment of discomfort, but it only gave me more strength to continue expressing myself the way I do because no one is going to do that for me. It also made me realize that the problem was him, not me, only because I was showing my skin. Luckily, I had my friend there with me to give me strength, but if she hadn’t, I would have had to continue my path alone and remember that, even alone, I carry the strength of others with me.
Your debut EP, Space Manual For Those Who Cannot Swim, explores the concept of inner space and the potential for adaptation in the face of existential fears. That is extremely introspective and poetic. Can you elaborate on that concept? Do you approach all of your work with such introspection?
This concept comes from something that my mother used to tell me when I was a kid: that I lived ‘in the moon’. It’s also connected with the fact that I don’t know how to swim and I was always afraid of drowning during my childhood. When I was a teenager, I dreamed about this a lot. I have some memories of me as a little girl talking to the sky, and that memory is so fresh in my head.
The EP is also this journey within me about adapting to other places because of my survival instinct that supposedly weren’t made for me. This could be translated in different ways with what we live today, where people are increasingly changing and adapting to have their desired lifestyle, or even just for aesthetics and so on. So, I think I’m increasingly becoming more introspective with my work because I always add feelings, which can end up being very personal, too. I'm happy to let myself live the process and share it with other people.
Travesti in the Latin American queer culture, and in this particular case Brazil, is a term used to refer to gender identity, specifically to transgender women, which has evolved as a political protest to its initial transphobic connotation. Your collaboration with Iki Yos, T.E.T.A Intergalactica, is described as a travesti declaration of war against societal conformity and a hymn for radical love. How do you hope this powerful message will resonate with your listeners, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community?
I hope my listeners, in addition to hearing the beats of the songs, are able to capture a little about what we want to say. Sometimes I think that people who are outside of this context cannot understand, but the community is receiving it well. However, it makes me very happy to know that other people can also connect with the message.
On tracks like Transmission, you mix traditional vogue beats with electronic music, bringing the genre into the future with a new blend of what could be called ‘Voguetech.’ How did this concept come about, and what are your goals for blending these styles?
I don’t think I ever had a goal of mixing them. The whole EP was to celebrate in such an organic way that I didn’t get attached to it, but when I did Transmission specifically, I always visualized several dancers giving a super femme queen dramatic vibe, so I believe in the end, the objective is also for the music to reach those bodies.
When creating music, do you envision vogue artists like Honey Balenciaga dancing to your music? How do you see your music fitting into and evolving the ballroom and voguing scenes?
I can visualize other artists like Honey dancing to my music and, of course, other iconic femme queens. I think my rhythms and the music that I make are very dramatic in a total sense, so I hope that it will also be organically involved within these spaces. After all, I am making music for my community and those who look up to us.
Techno, house, and EDM, which were started by the three Black guys in Detroit called the Belleville Three in the 1980s, have become a global phenomenon, but their origins in Black and LGBTQ+ spaces are often overlooked. Why is it important for people to recognize and celebrate the history of these genres?
It is important because we are living in a world where capitalism and globalization are erasing the history and origins of several racialized pioneers within this context of white supremacy. So, for those of us who are minorities, it is always important to know and celebrate our ancestors.
As a Black travesti performer, you’re a minority within a minority within a minority; what has been your experience as a trans person of color in the DJ world? What specific obstacles have you had to face, and how have you worked to overcome them?
I think my experience has been good because I was received well by my community specifically. I am very grateful for all my history and the people I met on my journey in Brazil and after my immigration. Of course, I had some obstacles along this journey, and I believe that one of the obstacles I had was that people didn't take me seriously and even questioned my professionalism, or was in situations where I saw myself used; there will always be obstacles. Nonetheless, it is important to have people around you who like and believe in what you are sharing so they don’t let you give up or doubt yourself.
You’ve performed at renowned festivals and venues like Sónar, Unsound, Dekmantel, and Primavera Sound. What is one of the craziest things you’ve witnessed?
I love all these classified festivals, and they were very important for me to be building the career I am doing now. I think the craziest thing was after my Boiler Room set at Primavera Sound 2022. The stage was already moving a lot, and as soon as the next DJ came on, I think fifteen minutes passed or something like that, and the stage literally cracked. They had to cancel the next performances for safety reasons. Luckily, no one was hurt, but it was something I experienced and was shocked.
How do you approach the intersection of music and fashion, and what do you hope to communicate through your visual presentation?
I hope to convey who I really am through my visual communication, without filters and increasingly embracing what I see aesthetically in my body. I think I want to give strength to other people who feel insecure and that everything is fine with us. Be who we are because we won’t always please everyone, and I say that both in music and in fashion. The two things are connected, and I think it depends on the mood you are in. I don't want to put myself in boxes because I want to have enough freedom to explore myself and explore other places when it suits me and matches the moment I’m living in.
As you continue to break barriers and push boundaries in the music industry, what message do you have for aspiring DJs and producers, especially those from underrepresented communities, who dream of following in your footsteps?
My advice is not to give up, and if you believe in what you are doing, don’t let anyone doubt that; even if it takes a while, take this time to polish what you have. Try your best not to compare yourself because your journey will never be the same as others.