The word comes from feudal Japan describing a group of Ronin/Samurai outcasts. This artist embraces colorful aesthetics into a mix of ambient textures with ethereal ritualistic overtones. The project was conceived on Denmark Street (London), in front of the place where David Bowie and Mark Bolan allegedly met for the very first time. Her experimental sound can be appreciated and celebrated by all…
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where are you now?
I’m Portuguese, constantly traveling between Portugal, UK and Germany.
How long have you been creating music?
If I go to the very beginning, I would say that it all started more than 25 years ago. I’ve been through several bands, genres and paused for a whole decade before creating Kabukimono.
KABUKI: is a classical dance-drama and MONO: one single channel of sound. Such a lovely combination to use for you artist name. Tell us what your name means to you:
In fact, Kabukimono has its own original meaning as a single word. In feudal Japan, some wanderers used to populate the streets, dressed in weird outfits with flamboyant colors (some of them were believed to be ronin or samurai). They were the weird ones, the ones who did not fit into any kind of social convention, the “Kabukimono”. It is believed that Kabuki has part of its origins exactly from Kabukimono, since Izumo no Okuni incorporated most of their visual elements in her performances at the time. Several artists through the ages and even nowadays (consider David Bowie or Siouxsie Sioux, for instance) were heavily influenced by Kabuki aesthetics. When I started thinking of which word could describe myself as a person and as an artist in constant mutation, the answer came to me fast, loud and clear.
Tribal, spiritual, ambient and dark are some elements to your sound. Can you dive in further and tell us what type of artist you are?
I look at the creative process as a ritual and as a whole. It is pretty much like alchemy: you take all the experiences you have, even the worst ones, and process them in order to deliver something beautiful to the world. It is a very poetic attempt to change the way the world is revolving, by allowing people to enter this realm and not feel alone: even pain has its own beauty. The message always comes out not only as music, but as image, ambiance, movement, a connection, a gathering between a tribe. “Strega” was my debut world and my way to tell my own story through a set of ten songs that float through different times and places. “The Cry of the Banshee” represented my way to deal with pain, death and loss throughout last year and it’s very raw, naked. It’s not easy, even for me, to put a label on my own art. Ritualistic? No doubt about it. Dark and very atmospheric? Absolutely. People have been saying that it moves between ethereal wave, darkwave, dark folk, Gothic and even some atmospheric black metal influence. We will always label things according to our own experiences, so I’ll leave it to the audience.
What instruments do you use during your recordings?
Mainly my voice, electric guitar and a keyboard. Loads of reverb, delay and looping. Voice has always been my main instrument, even though I’m a self-taught pianist since I was a kid, so my connection to the keys is also very strong. Electric guitar is the most recent passion. I also like to incorporate different sounds, like crushing paper bags on a microphone with distortion and reverb, several kinds of bells and rattles, a violin bow, drums, sounds I record on the streets. Everything that allows me to express myself, that lets me convey my message in the most organic way is welcome.
Tell us why you chose to cover Joy Division’s classic song ‘Atmosphere’?
“Atmosphere” has the perfect emotion, sound and words I needed in order to exorcise a recently suffered trauma. I couldn’t find that in my own music, at least not for this situation. Ian Curtis was such a great artist that anyone can hear this song and feel it as their own. That’s, to me, one of the purposes of art. Recording it was my own way to thank him.
Who are the artists that inspire you to do what you do?
That is a never ending list! When it comes to music, my roots are on the 60’s and 70’s rock (classic rock, psychedelia, blues rock, punk and glam rock had and still have a huge influence on me). Kabukimono was born on Denmark Street (London), in front of the place where David Bowie and Mark Bolan allegedly met for the very first time. Also blues, jazz, classical music, opera (Maria Callas is always on my playlist), some metal, experimental music, a lot of the 4AD names from the very first beginning (Bauhaus, Cocteau Twins, This Mortal Coil, Dead Can Dance) and, of course, a lot of post-punk. I also draw a lot of influence from literature, dance and even theater. It’s always the way you look at the world. So you might want to try to train your brain and expose it to new approaches, so you can see the same things through a kaleidoscope of different perspectives.
What’s next for you?
I’ll be playing three dates in Italy next February. Since I’m very nomadic, it will always be a surprise to see what’s behind the next set of doors: everything’s unexpected but I plan to tour more in Europe throughout this year. There’s also a new work starting to take shape and, hopefully, some very interesting collaborations will start seeing the light of day.
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
Is there any other kind of beauty?