February 13, 2019 onpapillon@gmail.com

 

How did you start in the world of music, and what were your influences?
Well from an early age I loved making music, playing the guitar, singing, I was even in the college choir. When hip hop came into my life I was really drawn to the fact that it gave me a space that allowed me to be myself and say what I think. I was about 18 years old when I started to write hip hop lyrics for the first time, quite old already. But my first contact with hip hop was through dance, and in that moment I didn’t think I was going to be an emcee,  but I danced and hooked up with breakers and immersed myself in the culture. At one point I felt the need to express myself through rap and that’s when it started. I showed what I’d done to my then boyfriend and he really liked it and helped get it out, from then on I started to get invited to feature on certain materials and mix tapes. I had a lot of support from friends, there weren’t many girls on the scene rapping at the time, but I started to write and record some tracks.

What music did you listen to before this, before hip hop came into your world?
At home we listened to many different things, I have lots of brothers and sisters. My mother listened to flamenco, she is Andaluz, she listened to Cameron and other very pure flamenco artists, which meant she would listen to it alone in the end! It was my brother however who introduced me to hip hop, like The Wu and Tupac. I remember he took me to this place when I was about 10 years old, some secret place. He had a spray can in his hand and he told me to watch out in case the police came, we had gone to do his tag. I got the culture then, I saw it.

After Pamplona where did you go?
I came to Barcelona.

To do music?
To concentrate on dance initially, I was still writing music but at that point of my life the most important thing for me was dance. So I finished my degree and came to Barcelona with the only cash I had – 60 euros. I wanted to live here, it was a city of opportunities and the best place for me in terms of dance. Once I was here, I was 21 years old by then, I began to think for the first time about singing professionally. I started getting to know musicians and emcees from other parts of the world, which helped me evolve.

Going back to the dance. Did you go to a dance school ever?
When I was younger I met people who used to dance in the street, I used to go and watch them break dancing, which seemed so difficult to me. I discovered the toprock aspect of it which appealed to me, the rest was too acrobatic for me. On the other hand the whole ‘video clip’ era was also happening, the days of Janet and Michael Jackson, with their choreographies, and i was like, ‘What is this, it is pop, but the movements are quite hip hop too.’ This also appealed to me. I joined a school when I was 16 years old, I couldn’t really afford it before, the teacher at the school really liked how I worked, she believed in me and took me on as her sub, she gave me some of her classes and other work, and I started giving classes.

Tell me your about your experiences being a woman in the hip hop world.
For sure it is definitely specific being a woman in this culture, which is very male-dominated. Finding your place, knowing you’ll never be one of their ‘mates’, it can even be confusing entering into a friendship with someone in your crew. There are these added conflicts if you don’t know yourself really well, for example in terms of credibility, you wonder if you have to perform really full on – more manly as it were. In the end the world is different through the eyes of a woman, logically, we have another kind of sensitivity. Over the years I have taught myself to not be scared to express myself in an honest way without trying to be someone I’m not. I experienced many conflicts also because it wasn’t so common to rap, sing and dance, you either sang, or danced, or you were a rapper. Being in Spain didn’t help either, because as a country it is very prejudiced, as in the hip hop culture here. If a girl wants to get up and do an open mic session, there will be many who doubt her because she is a woman. On the other hand I find it easy to get on with most people, men and woman, so i have always had positive experiences.
I think it helps to have a strong masculine energy to make progress in certain things, and I don’t mean being masculine, but things like being assertive and outward.

How do you see the art of B-boyism?
It is always about doing it in your own way. There is always a drive to not copy and be as creative as you can be. People who look for originality inspire me, I love it.

Tell me about your love story with Brazil.
It started in 2010, through a friend living in Barcelona who is from Bahia and who started to connect me with everything that was happening in terms of hip hop in Brazil. It was super interesting, and right now Sao Paulo is like New York in the 80s, the same energy and enthusiasm in terms of hip hop. So I connected with lots of people and started to get involved in singing projects, across the internet. People started hearing my music over there and finally in 2011, through my friend, I was invited to a festival in Bahia. This was my first musical contact with Brazil, and I fell in love with everything, there’s such a unique energy there. The following year I wanted to go to Sao Paulo and I hooked up with a producer I’d been speaking to from there. I played with the band he played with and got to know the place and people much better. The connection has been growing ever since, I’m not sure why exactly, but the people there really like and value what I do.

Do you think the people there see you as exotic, being Spanish?
For sure, the Brazilians like outside stuff, and it’s true I feel different when I’m over there. It is the land of rhythm and I always thought, ‘What can they learn from me?’, especially when I was giving dance classes in certain local spiritual places, but in the end it’s another type of information – different to what they are used to, so they embrace it. I feel very good energy-wise in Brazil, I consider myself a spiritual person and there’s something there that I can’t explain but I feel at home with.

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of living in Barcelona doing what you do?
There’s always interesting people in Barcelona, because people are always passing through – it’s a transient place. There are a lot of musicians here too which is wonderful. But being a very touristy place so many of governmental resources go towards maintaining this aspect of the city. It’s as if music is not taken very seriously, there is not a solid structure for performance. Artistically I find people want lots of covers as opposed to anything original, that’s how i see it.

Do you think it’s important that the people who that get involved in the hip hop culture know the history of it, going way back through America’s history, leading eventually to Africa?
Of course, it is something so cultural, besides everything that happens now is a consequence of the past, always. Hip hop wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for very specific historic events.

The word spirit in ‘We Be Spirits’ refers to the way spirits are considered in some parts of the world; beings we are connected to and influenced by but who are not necessarily part of the physical realm. What does the word evoke in you and how do you relate to it?
Wow, for me the spirit is just that, something – an energy – you can’t see but you can feel, and doesn’t always have an explanation. Sometimes when I am dancing, and even when I’m singing, I get the sensation that I am some kind of channel, I open myself up and this takes me to places that I might not go to if I wasn’t open. It’s very powerful, and it lets you connect with other people and other energies. I totally believe in this. If you move through life connected or trying to connect to this I think everything can be easier, you don’t get stuck with only what you see in front of you.

What are your plans for the future?
I want to do everything better. I’ve always been constant, but I would like to set my goals better. Am thinking of a new album, new video clips of new songs. I’ll definitely be going back to Brazil soon, my management is there and I’m really happy with them.