Photo: Blake Macfarlane
“La Papessa means High Priestess. It’s a card from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s tweaked psychomatic Tarot. The High Priestess is a young female sitting on a throne with a big book and a headpiece that doesn’t allow her to look outside of herself. This symbolizes becoming more knowledgeable and preparing for war.”
Lido Pimienta is laying out the title and concept for her upcoming album, which sounds both awesomely evocative and incredibly apt. In the last six months, the electronic pop barnstormer originally from Baranquilla, Colombia has fortified herself as a force to be reckoned with. Since storming the stage at the inaugural All Toronto’s Parties event in November, her vibrant voice has boomed through heady gigs with the Healing Power Records crew, set off transnational dance parties at the Bridges nights she presents at Lula Lounge, and amped up warehouse-sized crowds on a series of west coast dates with A Tribe Called Red.
Throughout this block-rockin’ barrage, Pimienta and her posse of collaborators have used beats as a backdrop for impassioned beliefs in equality and human rights. Her performance at February’s Wavelength 14 festival became a lightning rod for debate as she decorated the stage with maple leaf iconography and belted out her own anthem: “O KKKanda, our home ON Native Land.” Pimienta’s 2010 debut, Color, was a paean to Canada and her former home, but she now considers these views naïve.
“There’s no nostalgia any more,” she says. “My new album is all about truth. It’s about recognizing colonization and patriarchy, how they’ve affected my life as a new Canadian, and as a single woman with a child. It’s the next chapter for that sweet Colombian girl who arrived in Canada, but was lied to that it was the best country in the world. As I grow older, I realize the politics behind it all.”
Backed by beatmakers Blake Macfarlane, Kvesche Bijons-Ebacher, and clarinetist Robert Drisdelle, Pimienta’s exploratory soundworld smears Afro-Colombian rhythms with stuttering glitch and chopped ‘n’ screwed grooves, inspired by music her brother would bump in his car. She may have stadium-sized aspirations, but they’ll never come at the expense of her messages.
“I’m very aware that if I want to be Rihanna, I have to play the game,” Pimienta says. “There’s a lot of poetry and satire in my songs, but people get it. They know exactly what I’m talking about, which is the most important thing. Since I embraced Papessa mode, I’ve become gangster. I want the new album to inspire people like me who feel like they’re living in an endless abyss. They can find the light and land on a soft pillow.”
[magazine month=”April” year=”2014″]