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A research-based approach introduces Odete & her listeners to haunting sonic and visual adaptions - often recounting heartwrenching tales.

Her work ranges in performance art, writing, and sound design. In her most recent EP, Water Bender, she takes us on an excursion through a tragic Greek story. She depicts her interpretion of a water bender, whose own gift results in her death. On the single, Lamento, she strives to find a balance between mourning lost loved ones, and reminding herself that they will return.
Honoring a higher spiritual calling as she describes, ‘connecting to old songs that I used to hear through my grandparents and other old ladies in the village where they grew up’ drove the emotive and visceral track to life.

Her performance work and music alike has garnered much attention - having been featured on Resident Advisor’s, ‘15 Lisbon artists you need to know about’, and named a DJ to watch, even earning the International Performance Project prize for Performing Arts from the Museum of Art, Architecture, and Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon, Portgual.

The project was a step further into a deeper relationship with history and archeology, allowing her spirituality and choreographic practices to shine through collaboration.

In conversation with the artist, we discuss her different approaches to music production and performance, the making of her performance art project, and much more!  

* I remember the WIDE Radio Fiesta mix compilation we were a part of  [Winter] 2018! It's where I was first introduced to you and your work. That was so special, and I'm grateful to have connected with you through there. How has 2021 been treating you so far, and what's it like in Lisbon right now?

Odete: 2021 has been the year where my anxiety and depression are calling for help. Being in a pandemic world for 1 year already has shown me that I really need to start healing what I've been ignoring. It has been very violent in that way, making trauma come to the surface - in the body and in the mind. It has also been a year of spiritual awakening, where my readings and my practices are finally converging through a sense of ecology. The environmental disasters are more clear than ever to me right now and my wounded connection to the planet has been my primary work force - the thing i'm concentrating right now. Lisbon...well...lisbon is the shit hole it has been since ever - money is scarce, people are weirdly uninterested and dettached, the city feels like a huge rural village with the worst parts of it...i dont know..i'm tired of this place that feels so blatantly racist, xenophobic and transphobic. Classist. It feels like bullshit honestly. But There area amazing people here, and good movements of support and associations...i'm just growing tired of  all this unpoliticized mood of the city, of it's whispers and gossipings

* Not only are you a composer (having already scored for 4 films!!) but you’re a performance artist as well, a writer and a producer! How does your approach to production differ (if at all) from performance art?

Odete: I feel that I’m much more strict when it comes to performance work: I research more, I work towards building a core of thought for the pieces. It also demands that I’m aware of lot’s of things at the same time: the visuality, the body, the music, the dramaturgy and so on. While in music…well it is just that - the music. It speaks for itself - it is a genre that is very , well, “itself”. In performance art there’s an unlimited potentiality - and that is where my approach needs to change. But of course, all the research I do throughout my life impacts my work as a producer/composer. Because art (at least mine) is pretty much world building - and music is a part of that world that grows every year. Also I think that my approach to performance is to work through embodiment and reconnect with my body and it’s potential - while in music I’m working with something that to me feels really immaterial. I hate dualities but it is as if with performance I’m using my body to reach for something more spiritual and in music I’m using immateriality and abstraction to reach something that lives dormant inside the body.

* Congrats on winning the RExFORM - International Performance Project prize for performing arts! In your own words, 'it's the culmination of work on shadows and politics.' Could you tell us more about the project and the ways in which it came into fruition?

Odete: This project is not really a culmination as a step forward in affirming my relationship to history and archaeology. I feel that my previous works always fell into categories of autobiography and I was always interested in using my experience to analyse political realities…but I kept hiding my enchantment with magic and historical fictions. It was always there, specially when it comes to the visual component of there works…but working with magic, spirits, broken vases, bones and historical lies was always the parallel to the works and never the works themselves…and so I just allowed myself to show the processes of my becoming - a becoming through an almost sci fi understanding of historical events and mythologies. And also allowing my body to breathe within the performative space. I would usually just read poems and texts or activate mechanisms I designed. But in this piece I allowed my choreographic and spiritual practices to come forth, sharing it with other people and performers that would read them through their own experience. And the project was also pretty much how to use institutions to redistribute money to people that are not seen by that same institution. I was more interested in creating a web of support that would have as its basis an imagining of times past that was flirty playful and utopic.

* Research breeds ground for your production - your strong affinity for history guides your practice. What drives you to create based on this approach and transform your knowledge into music?

Odete: What drives me is pretty much the loneliness of feeling not seen by the writings of history. The responsibility also to work through the wounds of colonialism as a white person and specially as a Portuguese one. History is the ground for politics. Is the ground for our present. Working through history is working through the mechanisms that make our present possible and so changing history is therefore having the possibility of changing the future present. In terms of music…the only approach to history I made was really my first EP “Matrafona” where I tried to create what would be a trans soundscape by sampling a lot of things I was archiving as trans sound history…even the name comes from a northern pagan ritual here in Portugal where you express yourself in feminine clothes hiding your face so no one can tell your gender to protect against male magic…it is said that other men would do this practice but honestly…we know that this is a practice of trans people to express themselves freely without condemnation.

* You've also told me you've been researching water and fluidity!

Odete: Yes! My next project is basically my research on ancient water mythologies and deities but specially on trans practices (lets put it like this whatever) of drinking fluids or creating fluids or even worshipping fluids as a way to access the sacredness of their bodies and to change them or the perception others have of them. And I’ll leave it like this to not spoil it yet!

* In your interview with Hypnotik, you stated that your musical work began when you started transitioning - how has your artistic practice changed during this process? 

Odete: I think it became more political. And also more cynical, unfortunately (not any more thank god). I was hyper aware of the eyes staring at my body when I performed, the way people wanted something out of me when before they didn’t. Expectations, paternalism. This all contributed for my insistence on music as an immaterial art form without the appearance of a body - but of course, capitalism has had a huge suck up on club and music culture and I soon realised that identity politics are the trend and that no one listened to my music - they just wanted someone that they saw as a tranny. Still to this day I’m waiting for someone to come up to me talking about my music and not “who I am”. I want people to ask things regarding the structure, the samples, the world, you know? Not in interviews…in real life. Friends, fellow comrades and human beings…I don’t know. I’m becoming too tired of the electronic music world and that’s why I started doing performance work again - because my connection with my body was lost and now it’s time to build up it’s own legacy, it’s own dreams and spiritual realms. My body craves existence. And performance gives it a context that the world has yet to provide.

* Your EP, Water Bender - a ode to a Greek tragedy - is described as ‘a water bender whose gift ultimately leads to her tragic demise.’ And your latest release, ‘Lamento’ is inspired by ‘mourning songs from the villages of my grandparents.’ Do you particularly find strength in depicting these distressing stories?

Odete: Of course. Music is the place where things that live in my unconscious rise up and show themselves. And sometimes I go through life without noticing the scars and my own trauma. I know it’s there but I’m usually so full of drive that I tend to overlook. I always say “I’ll get better I’ll be better” and try to proceed with my life as if things can’t touch me…but lately all my music speaks of is my wounds. Not that I want it to, like in my ep “Amarração”…it just comes up. Death, a heart that never fully healed and so on. I find strength in dealing with these things that I lack words for because they remained so under my mind…I feel like it’s a slow healing a slow overcoming

* Do you mind discussing Lamento in specific? It sounds as though you are honoring those you have lost.  The video credits read, ‘as some people die many times, would there be a way to mourn their loss while at the same time acknowledging their return?’ I think it's beautiful that you perceive death in that sense, if I’m correct? Not a ‘goodbye’ just a 'see you when you get back.’

Odete: I composed Lamento very organically, improvising everything pretty much. I keep singing these words “ela volta” that mean “ she shall return”. And at one point, as I was layering everything and singing all the different voices I felt something spiritual coming to the song. I felt like my voice was connecting to old songs that I used to hear through my grandparents and other old ladies in the village where they grew up. There was something as eerie as beautiful and that’s what made me write those credits. Because all those influences were already there and I just noticed them mid way. And yes, the idea that the dead return is something that is very dear to me, specially when we are talking about political deaths as in trans people that commit suicide or are murdered. Return can be something like a legacy, as I wrote in a poem once “ a star chart for the unborn”. But it also means that memory is an extension of someone. When someone you love dies that same love extends the life of the person - propagates it through your life. And Lamento is just the song of someone almost creating the space of remembrance through the voice. Understanding that all returns, that we are one with the planet, that everything rots and decomposes and at the same time brings life.

Photographer: @nezpera