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In Conversation: Lido Pimienta

With her second record, Lido Pimienta won the prestigious Polaris Music Prize in 2017 for her album La Papessa. Pimienta grew up in Barranaquilla, Columbia where she grew up in a life of music, before she immigrated to Canada. Pimienta identifies as a queer artist, activist and musician. She began her musical career as a heavy metal singer at the age of 10, but was also singing traditional music. Her current music combines her Afro-Columbian roots with electronic music to create an exciting and uplifting blend to call her own.

Would you be able to tell me a bit about your upbringing in Columbia and how you got your start in music?

When I was 10 or 11, I was really into hardcore and heavy metal and I started playing in bands with people who are my age now. It was really funny. Columbia is a little different. Kids hang out with adults and its not super creepy. Kids are more mature – you party with your parents and stuff like that so I was able to experience all kinds of music.

I grew up in Barranaquilla which is super musical. We have our carnival which takes over for four months and its just traditional Afro-Columbian music. I was in my metal band, but I was also singing traditional music as well. I experienced music in all of its flavours since the way I was born. That’s why my music sounds the way that it sounds like.

So, La Papessa was awarded the Polaris Music Prize, with the Juno’s around the corner do you feel like that award has a lot more weight to it?

I think they are two different entities. Polaris is really there to support artists regardless of music industry influence. By that, I mean that these artists don’t have the million dollar machine behind them.

I noticed that they still have a world music category at the Junos and a few of my friends got nominated and I feel like had we sent an nomination package or whatever bullshit to them then maybe I would have been nominated, but who knows? All of those awards mean noting to me, I don’t pay attention to any of that, I just do what I do because I want to do what I like.

I don’t know you, but I spent the morning reading about you, trying to get to know you, and it seems like you’re really appreciative and authentic and trying to use your art as a platform to make the world a better place.

Its 2018 and we have a child molester as the president of the most influential, powerful and toxic country in the world. We live in a country where indigineous people can’t walk around freely because if a farmer wants to shoot them… then white people won’t be accountable for their actions. That’s the world that we live in. Caring about an award is not my number one goal when I create music.

I have a very comfortable life. I don’t pick up avocados for a living. I don’t pick strawberries and tomatoes and I’m not a migrant worker. I am an immigrant, but I am not a migrant worker getting paid 2$ an hour. It is upsetting sometimes when I getting people trolling me online and telling me I’m a racist or whatever. [On Oct. 19 in Halifax, Pimienta invited all the girls to come to the front, then invited all the ‘brown girls [in the audience] to [come further to] the front’, which created an adverse reaction from some – and many people on the internet followed suit.] I got harassed, and I got death threats. What I do is not even that radical, but it goes to show the true colours of our country. I can be upset for a week but then I live super comfortable, I can drink water from my tap, so I’m ok. I don’t want people to think I’m suffering from any cause. The least I can do is use my platform to elevate the voices of those who are not having a great life.

So I’m going to assume that a lot of people know who you are, but perhaps they don’t know what your show is like. Would you be able to explain what audiences can expect?

My show is an experience. It’s definitely an emotional rollercoaster. We laugh and we cry together, we’re enraged together. The music is loud and exciting and there’s some live percussion and trance beats. I process my voice in different ways and it’s very exciting and an empowering show. Whoever goes feels refreshed and uplifted. We’re all in it. Everyone is in it together. I bring people together and I’m really excited to go to new places for the first time because it’s kind of like when you’re having sex with someone for the first time. You’re both excited and it’s a but awkward, but then by the third song we’re all in and we’re having a great time.

I want people to forget whatever is happening outside that door and lets all be together in this moment.

Lido Pimienta performs at the Warehouse on March 8 with Sydanie. Tickets are available at ticketfly.com

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