Translation by Chatgpt.
Correction by Silvina canon.
Kndelah: Rapper, actor, actress, composer. Where does all this artistic vibe come from?
I think it started when I was very young, you know. When I was eight years old, I was already singing songs in the living room of my house, those from the soap operas I liked to watch. And from there, that desire to express something, to express myself, was born. I’ve always been a person with a lot of energy, very active. When I was a kid, I was very restless, and maybe that need to express myself started with theater, choreography, and at some point, it took shape.
You found that path where you were going to go.
Yes, my mom took me out of the school I was attending and enrolled me in an art school. It was a quick decision. She saw that there was a certain aspect there, being a very progressive family, so they encouraged me a lot.
An artistic family?
No, no one in my family is an artist, except for my brother, one of my brothers. My mom is a doctor, completely unrelated, and my dad was a laborer. But she saw that potential in me, took me to a school, and that’s where I started theater from the age of eight until seventeen.
There’s something very interesting that we see, and it’s this concept of “estética pop sudaca” (Sudaca pop aesthetic). When you mention that phrase, what do you mean? Where does that phrase lead you? Where does it come from?
Well, the “estética pop sudaca,” let’s say, I introduced it. Many people already talk about it. I start from that concept taken from Marcos López, who is a great Argentine photographer. He basically proposes that there’s a pop that is poorly done, the pop of the Third World, what would be Che Guevara, Gauchito Gil, Perón, that Argentine kitsch, that aesthetic we have with the strong colors of the Buenos Aires streets, tango, choripán.
All of that is part of the aesthetic that he develops in his photography and paintings because he is also a painter. I start from that concept and relate it to the works of the rich, this poorly done pop because, in a way, it is the pop of the poor. And I incorporate some of that into my latest video, let’s say, that concept, and I also find visual inspiration in Marcos López to create an audiovisual piece.
And this, what you want, is very political, and there you’ll tell me, music and the body are absolutely phonetic tools and go hand in hand with this “estética post sudaca” (post-Sudaca aesthetic).
Yes, I don’t know if it’s very political from the start, let’s say. I don’t know if music, I mean, I wouldn’t want to reduce music to something political. I believe that music is so beautiful and cannot be solely reduced to something political. And I believe that art in general cannot be reduced only to the political. However, I do believe that it depends on each artist. In my case, yes, my lyrics have some political content due to the way they are expressed or the aesthetic pursuit or my own identity, being a brown person, a fat non-binary artist from the interior… Let’s say, in that sense, the body is indeed political because the body speaks. When an artist stands on a stage, their body is speaking.
It’s a language…
It’s a language, exactly. I come back to the same point. I don’t seek to reduce music to the political, I don’t seek for my music to have a political content. I write about what comes naturally and what I need to express. Unfortunately, what is happening affects me. So, I have to write about what I experience because it is what moves me, let’s say. What is happening in the world, and there it becomes political.
Well, your career has become transversal.
“Transversal” in what sense?
That every creation, everything you express, crosses through all your lyrics, your shows. Everything in the world of your music.
Yes, yes, because, for example, I don’t know if I’m going off on a tangent, but I am a non-binary LGBTQ person, and my music has a sound that is inspired by a lot of LGBTQ music, both what it was, I don’t know, Federico Moura, for example, what he was at the time without being LGBTQ, he was an icon. Miranda, Babasónicos, we can name a lot in Argentina and Latin America. I mention Argentina because I lean more toward that tradition. So, in a way, all that aesthetic and LGBTQ music inspired me. And the “maricas” (queer people), because I consider myself one of them, we have always made music for dancing, and dance is associated with the body, and the body is associated with the night and freedom. So my music is for people to dance and for bodies to be liberated. And if that is political, then yes, it is political.
Okay, in what you’re saying, you mentioned a “marica” cinema that influenced you. What genre did you take tools, elements, and influences from?
Well, there was a lot of cinema watched in my house, so I absorbed some of that from a very young age because one of my brothers is involved in the audiovisual field, and the first thing that reached me was Almodóvar. I remember watching ‘Bad Education’ when I was 12 or 11 years old. Imagine, watching that at 12 years old. Almodóvar was the gateway. Then Xavier Dolan… not necessarily all of it is gay cinema, but it does have an aesthetic that is quirky, meaningful, and breaks away from normality. And then, bringing it more to the present, there’s also the music video. MTV, Much Music, influenced me a lot, even though it’s not strictly cinema. The entire aesthetic of the music video developed in Latin America, coincidentally I’m a fan of Illya Kuryaki or even Terciopelados, for example. Well, for me, those bands visually influenced me.
I find it very interesting something I observed on your social media, which is the idea of being surreal to cope with anger. I thought I had to ask you about that. Where does this idea of being surreal to cope with anger come from? I also find the phrase “no future” absolutely beautiful because there are days when one wakes up feeling very tragic and unable to see a future, but there are days when one might see it. So, I want to know why you took that and expressed it on your social media and made it part of your art.
That’s a great question. Surrealism. Well, I’ll start from the beginning because I have to go back to explain. I believe that the reality we live in is very hostile, especially in this context. We are in an apocalyptic moment, a moment where we don’t know how humanity will emerge, and that affects all of us, I think. And in my case, due to various things that have happened in my life, having had a very complicated life with many adversities from a young age, my only refuge as a child to survive was fantasy, always. If I hadn’t imagined other worlds in my room, I wouldn’t have survived, I wouldn’t have reached the age I am now. And I say it like that, it may sound tragic, and I believe it’s the story of many dissidents. Most dissidents invent a fantasy to survive the hostility of the world. It is in that fantasy where we exist, where we can be ourselves. Because in the real world, we cannot be ourselves. And as I grew up, surrealism came to me. I came across a book that changed my aesthetic perception, which is André Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism, and I discovered the entire movement with its most aesthetic expression. From there, I embraced it, I embraced that manifesto that states “imagination empowers.” They say that imagination has power, that we should dream, prioritize dreams over reality, and all that they propose. I held onto that, and the first track of my album is called “Surreal” because it is, in a way, a tribute to that, to Breton, to the paintings of Madrid, to all that fantasy, that surrealism that allowed me to think beyond the tangible.
I interrupt you because I find it very interesting. In that first track of your album, there’s that apocalyptic aquatic world, in homage to the bossa nova, trash surrealism, everything you’re saying, that creation of another world that generates new possibilities for creation, right? I find that very interesting. Now, I would like to hear your thoughts on art in self-managed artistic spaces because it seems that these spaces are increasingly occupied by the LGBTQ+ communities, by brown people. Do you think this generates a paradigm shift in the consumption of art, finding these different individuals in this hostile world?
On the one hand, I believe that due to all the accusations made in the past about abusers in the rock scene and elsewhere, there has been a change, even a generational change in music. Women, dissidents, and brown individuals started making progress. I feel that there is still much to be done, and it’s not all the same. It may be controversial, but I feel that women have gained ground today. For example, they have quotas in music, but dissidents are still lagging behind, especially trans and non-binary individuals. While it’s true that, at the independent level, dissidents are slowly entering other spaces that are not so underground, bringing about changes, what is happening is that the mainstream is appropriating dissident discourses, and there are mainstream artists who are not part of the community but promote those discourses.
The message comes across but is delivered by other people. It was even seen at this year’s pride march. On the main stage were Cazzu and Lali Espósito. It’s great that these artists support the community, but it would also be great to have artists from the community on that stage, given the opportunity, which of course there were, but I hope there will be more.
Clearly, the mainstream has started to resist, right? But spaces are gradually being occupied.
In Brazil, for example, there is an LGBTQ+ mainstream; in Colombia, even Mabiland, a rapper who has managed to make her way and is one of the most influential artists today.
In your music production and since you’ve been involved in events here in Buenos Aires, has being non-binary always been part of your artistic identity when you introduce yourself?
Actually, it was a step-by-step process. First, I encountered feminism and everything happened in parallel. It’s very interesting what you’re asking because in 2017, I started performing live more often. The music came before, but it was during that year when it became more real, and at the same time, there was a feminist struggle, the fight for legal abortion, and so on. So, in my case, it first influenced me as a feminist person, you know? At that time, I had a duo called Resacades, which was a feminist trans rap duo. We rapped about abortion and even performed at the Congress, supporting the fight. After feminism, I moved towards transfeminism. When I discovered Paul B. Preciado, I encountered all those questions about sex and gender, and it influenced me. About three years ago, I started realizing that I identified as non-binary, that I didn’t feel like a woman. It started a journey of deconstruction and self-discovery of my identity, looking back. Inevitably, because that process was so intense for me, my music became infected by it. Nowadays, I even choose to sing in neutral gender in many lyrics, while in others, I play with it. I enjoy experimenting.
And that’s something that surrealism does, right? I think it can become part of it.
It’s about how one thing transforms into another, and when you look at it again, it’s something else. There’s definitely something about that.
And it’s like life itself, which is dynamic and transformative. That’s what the mainstream and the system refuse to grasp because they already captured the product, but they don’t accept it, right?
It’s challenging because there’s also this idea of pigeonholing music, you know? I think, if we’re already questioning the gender binary of male and female, why not question gender in music as well? I feel that there is some questioning happening, but we still have this notion of “this is urban” or “this is such-and-such genre.” My struggle is to break those barriers in music too, let’s contaminate each other in art. The system has divided art, but as an artist, or at least for me, I want to move towards total art, a cross-pollination between artists and disciplines.
We are in Argentina, and here, I find it very interesting to think about migration as well. Are you part of a group or organization of artists where migrants who also identify as non-binary or brown individuals are included? Is there a connection between migration and identity in relation to your art?
No, I’m not part of any specific group. I used to be an activist for many years, but I stepped away from activism and decided to express myself through art. However, I am part of a network because there are many non-binary, trans, queer, and brown artists who are connected and are generating that. We perform together in shows, collaborate on songs, support each other’s albums, and attend each other’s performances. We are creating what I call an alternative LGBTQ+ scene, and I feel like a part of it, super supported by the community. And I believe that also gives me a lot of strength to pursue a project because I feel that if I didn’t have other artists who are also striving for the same thing, it would be much more hostile.
Thank you so much. Rapper, actor, actress, composer. Candela, we greatly appreciate this space, this interesting conversation, these minutes, and for providing clarity on many topics. I think that every day we are breaking those molds that the system has socially constructed. So, thank you very much.
Thank you to all of you, because I believe that spaces of visibility for artists like us who are brown and dissident are challenging to come by. It’s already difficult to access them, so every opportunity, at least in my case, is greatly appreciated.
I also wanted to mention that for those who are watching, you can find me as KNDELAH. I recently released a music video called “Surreal” in which more than 15 artists collaborated. It took many months of work, and now in 2023, my first self-managed album is coming.