Sun-drenched synths and danceable beats come to the fore of Italy’s artist-producer L I M who released his first studio album last week on La Tempesta International. Glowing navigates shining a light on what is otherwise hidden, he explains, “one of the first and longer gender euphoria moments was definitely at the Primavera Festival in Porto some years ago where I was with some dear friends. I realised that I was spending my hours living as a boy and that feeling was so powerful that signalled an important moment in my life”. The album was produced in collaboration with RIVA. We chat about why artists can’t get love off their minds and dream festival-sets.
Your new album Glowing is about illuminating oneself and others. What is it about bouncy beats very danceable music that shines a light on you? Are you a keen dancer?
Honestly I'm an horrible dancer, I think that the strength of beat is one of the few things that can remind me that I have a body. And Glowing is for sure the most appropriate word for the intense feeling of rediscovering this kind of energy, this powerful light that somehow has been hidden and trapped for a long time.
Beats like Fire with their grooving rhythms, light summery high hats and comforting echoed vocals that loop round feel instantly warm and festival ready. Tell us, what would your dream festival environment be like? Both real and imaginary.
Not a long time ago I had this dream about a festival from the future, it was in the country side and there were animals everywhere and stages with humans mixed with holograms. It wasn't a rave, it was mostly a futuristic representation of what festivals from the past looked like. And the general atmosphere was relaxed and cozy, peaceful. The main act I remember was Hit or Miss by Bo Diddley. But this was just a dream, I don't know what I should expect from my future live shows, where they will begin and which places I'll reach with my music. Every time is different, with every release I discover new places and new people, this is what I like most. It will take me where my music will bring me.
Your video for Bubu really put you on the map with a feature in Fact magazine. I wonder, how did you cast the group of friends videoed? How did you choose the protagonist to represent your own journey?
Working with the director Giada Bossi has been a blessing for me, she embraced all the project with the most caring approach. First thing first I explained her my situation about not being comfortable exposing my body during that particular time and we managed together how to find someone that would like to be the protagonist and could represent the essence of the song. Casting was funny because I was happy to include some dear friends but it was important to me meeting all these young and old new people that enjoyed that moment. They were a light not just in the video itself but also on my own perception of many things, I learnt a lot from them. I couldn't be more grateful, the energies during the shooting were absolutely new to me.
Pagliaccio (clown) Marcio (rotten) are tattooed on the hand and arm of the protagonist in Bubu. The tattoos make me think of the re-appropriation of potentially derogatory terms by trans and non-binary people. Is the re-appropriation of  language something you identify with?
Seeing Ian with all his powerful queer body shooting scene after scene gracefully, was a dream come true. The first time I saw his tattoo I liked it very much indeed. Ian is absolutely a person you should know, it’s very inspiring on so many levels. And I totally agree with the re-appropriation of language as an important step for marginalised people. Marcə, Frociə, are just few italian words that, for example, a group as the transfeminist collective Marciona born at Macao in Milan adopted to proudly and fiercely present themselves. It's a strong act of resistance against the daily oppression of language that queer people live.
I’m a fan of Italian-language lyricism and I wonder why you chose to mostly sing in English. Your accent sounds like you could be a native English person, but if Italian was your first language or is your main language you use living in Milan, why do you not have any Italian songs?
You are too kind about my english accent, I still feel exotic. I often ask myself too, ideally it would be easier for me to write songs using my first language, but truth is that writing in Italian is not easier neither more instinctive. When I sing words come to me in english, maybe for their sounds, they match easily. It was quite a miracle that my first song in Italian Quando came up simple and fresh  as it is. It is quite strange for me hearing my voice singing in Italian and pronouncing Italian words. The sounds are completely different and I'm learning just now what part of their sounds feel right with my music without going too far from their meaning of  course.
Your feature on Populous’ album W (Women) you talk about pursuing love with women on Getting Lost. Are you a romantic person?
Yes I've been in love, and I'm a romantic person I think,  but I have to say that something has really changed lately and it's very different from 1986. Back then I was focused on really trying to figure out which way was best for me to be happy with the person I was in love with, but the problem was that happiness doesn't come if you don't love yourself first. Now I can say that has taken a long road to understand that full happiness wasn't possible without looking at myself first. Nowadays I'm trying to learn by de-constructing habits and shifting the point of view on many things. Taking care of myself in a different way has definitely changed the romantic vision of life as I changed too.
Does the way you feel about love come through on this new album? Has it changed since then? Kicks talks about love but in a quite different way.
Kicks for me is the track that best represents the struggle between being loved and being absent to our self, letting someone else fix that empty space. It’s about being bonded, hurt by someone. Because until that moment you've experienced love with that person just that way. And it's an absurd dimension, the moment you realise that you were practically hidden inside a toxic relationship. Facing change and putting yourself first is something that in my case I've learnt just with working with a good therapist (much love to her and her patience). Learning how to let others take care of you was my next step.
Why are musicians across genres and generations always interested in speaking about love?
I think that love can be an enormous strength, an incredible power. But there are many kinds of love as many are the number of people on this planet. Its energy can be very loud and bring people to express it through music.
You composed Daddy’s Girl in 2018 for Apple for 2020 Pride Month, that has the lyric “let it burn” that I imagine talks about burning that past identity of yours. What made you chose this title for the song? Why didn’t you choose Daddy’s boy or child as someone with he/they pronouns?
Back then I used she/her pronouns, but I wasn't consciously talking about myself. During writing Daddy's Girl I was thinking about a person I knew that had a kind of dynamic with her father which had a strong impact on me. I was younger than now and I was collecting sensations that came from seeing other people’s lives, without having the ability to connect them to my life, but they were constantly hitting me. I was pushed by a big mess of thoughts and music was the space with no rules where I could easily record my feelings. By putting them in that song I felt uplifted, it was my protection scheme.
Your press release for Glowing talks about the need for community to construct an identity. Who do you identify with within your community? Who has inspired and shaped you? RIVA?
I think about community as a collective process of growing. The community I refer to in the press kit refers to the strength with which people close to you can support you through validation. Validation also takes place at random daily moments and with completely unknown people, of course, the identity process is complex but what I can say with respect to my personal experience is that I would never have done it without the support of my friends. And besides them, therapy helped me a lot and meeting new people, sometimes online, whose experiences have made me grow and feel less alone, less lost. Over time I have also developed the ability to understand when and how much I need specific support from trans or non-binary people with whom I can talk about my experiences firsthand and with whom, at times, the comparison is more direct. The experiences of those who have already been through it can clearly provide a point of view which is sometimes the key to getting out of difficult days or periods. This is what I mean: that mutual support is very important. It can defeat even major difficulties. For those in such a moment I recommend looking for community, because there are people who can help.
Do you feel comfortable to share about any moments of gender euphoria in your life that helped bring about this album that talks about joy and belonging?
I have gender euphoria each time I cut my hair, each time a person doesn’t fuck with my pronouns, when the baker at the shop called me for the first time campione, the first time a person called me Liam, when cis men don’t give a fuck about my presence in the bathroom, when I got my first binder. It gives me gender euphoria sleeping with someone with no fear or being present to myself all the time, the first time I had my session with the therapist using my pronouns and the first time I had a doctor that was prepared and cared about trans people. But one of the first and longer gender euphoria moments was definitely at the Primavera Festival in Porto some years ago where I was with some dear friends. I realised that I was spending my hours living as a boy and that feeling was so powerful that signalled an important moment in my life. I was fully allowing myself to feel it and taking it with me. It has been crucial letting myself being completely free to feel it.
You have collaborated with fashion brands including Sunnei, Marios, Lucio Vanotti, Marcelo Burlon. What is it that you enjoy about getting dressed? If you had to wear the same outfit every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Yes I did enjoy to be a model for many brands, it was like playing different characters and it shaped after time my personal idea of gender expression. It was interesting for me to see how I could change and how people perceived my different look. I had the kind of body that for many years was called androgynous (I never totally liked this definition), but it was just the way that people look at me, that gave genderless o genderqueer labels to me, it depended from their personal definitions about gender. I think that gender when it's assigned to you by others can reveal more about others and is not indicative about you. It's like a gender boomerang. I don't know if today I would be so confident as I was when I was young, ageing revealed shapes of my body that I didn't consider before and sometimes it gives me gender dysphoria. But not every day is the same, and I'm working to find a way to be comfortable and confident with myself.
Where are you next playing live?
Hopefully my first show will be on March 18th in Milan at Triennale, for Radio Raheem.