Exploring the Alien World of VIDA

Combining love and intense skill for music, theatre, fine arts, dance, and philosophy, Tāmaki Makaurau-based musician VIDA is a creative from interdisciplinary art heaven. ’70s-DIY-sci-fi magic infused with spiritual and sensually erotic themes, all laid bare through music and dance, VIDA’s ‘The Story of Takavi’ is a delight. Now with her debut single out in the world, VIDA talks with Jean Victor from bad apple about alter egos, icons, and the magic of being a DIY creative.

JV: Congratulations on your debut single release! How does it feel having your single and music video out in the universe?

V: Thank you! It feels good! As a performer, work only really feels finished once it’s shared with an audience so it’s really nice to have that completion and be able to share my music with my community. It’s been a long time coming!

JV: Tell me more about the alter ego that we meet through this song

V: Takavi was a character that was born out of a short story I wrote during the very first COVID lockdown. The story was about an alien jamming in outer space; the jam got too fire and her planet caught alight. She fell down to Earth and had to transmute Earth’s energy through sound and raise Earth’s place in space so it could play the drums in the intergalactic orchestra she fell from. So that’s how Takavi arrived in my imagination, but since has been a character I’ve worked a lot through and I think has been a channel for me to express my homesickness for a place of interconnection and deep desire for a more radically loving world.

“Making art without any money can sometimes be an uphill battle but as soon as this team came together I knew it was gonna be special.”

JV: What was the creative process like turning alien lockdown dreams into a unique and tangible art piece?

V: It was long and beautiful and surprising. The project has taken the form of short stories, songs, installations, costumes, performances and all of that culminated in the music video. Many of the motifs in the video had been film installations I made in art school previously. Working with the team on this though felt like a palpable shift to something more tangible and honestly, I just felt incredibly blessed to be able to make it and that was because of the team’s generosity. Making art without any money can sometimes be an uphill battle but as soon as this team came together I knew it was gonna be special.

JV: The music video carries such strong ’70s-DIY-sci-fi vibes—what were your inspirations for taking that route?

V: A big inspiration/limitation was our lack of budget which meant couture sci-fi (as much as I love that) was not on the cards so it made sense to instead lean into the DIY aesthetic. Frankie (who co-directed this with me) and I both started out as theatre makers so the challenge of trying to make magic with household objects is familiar and fun to us. The ’70s vibe is from growing up on the VHS collection of sci-fi puppetry and in-camera effects like ET, The Never Ending Story and films like Sun Ra’s Space is the Place so it comes from that fondness combined with helpful limitations.

JV: There is a moment within the music video in which you use a probe camera down your own throat as a transition. Could you tell me more about how this moment came to fruition and your creative process behind that imagery?

V: I’ve been playing with that particular piece of imagery for a couple of years now. It began as an exploration into internal hydration systems after an image of the vocal cords and the vuvla side by side was shared with me and I saw the mirror imagery. It then expanded to exploring wetness and turn-on and thinkers like Audre Lorde in her infamous essay ‘Uses of the erotic’— looking at how essential our turn-on/wetness/internal hydration is for radical transformation—but yeah, basically I’ve been deep-throating cameras for a good few years now. Who knows what body part will show up next?

JV: If you could collaborate with any (dead or alive) artist/musician for your future adventures with Takavi, who would it be?

V: Oosh that’s hard. I think I am genuinely too Gemini to choose just one so I’m not gonna try. I would get Mariko Mori and Yayoi Kusama to build as a spaceship and the lineup, for take-off would be Fela Kuti, Sun Ra, Lonnie Hollie, Stevie Wonder, Björk and Arca. Takavi would be the MC.

JV: Are there any specific music videos you took inspiration from?

V: I’m a HUGE Björk fan and for the original treatment, I was looking a lot at ‘Isobel’ and ‘All is Full of Love’ as a reference, however, due to funding we had to pivot that concept and it then became more about working within our accessibility. It turned out to be a nice intersection of imagination and reality and finding the magic in the mundane. The spaceship became the [Auckland Transport] train in the morning commute. In saying that I’m always watching Björk, Solange and Matthew Barney’s work with a keen eye so no doubt all of those things will have had impact.

JV: Now that this single is out and in the world, what’s next for you and Takavi’s journey?

V: Next is releasing the rest of the EP [‘Time Wars’ is available to stream now] and playing it live. The first gig of which will be Whammy Backroom on the 14th of March. I would love to make more visuals and eventually make a live show that combines the music with live visuals and more theatrical performance and kinda merges the ecologies of performance I come from. First thing first though and that’s releasing the rest of Aquotopialien.

JV: What are you most excited about this upcoming year?

V: I think every year my ultimate goal is learning how to love up on myself and embody a love ethic in my relationships, but aside from that I’m really excited to be heading towards writing more songs, more live performances (which is really my first arts love) and continuing to evolve myself in the director and producer role I’ve found myself in on this project.

JV: Do you have any other up-and-coming projects in the works?

V: I have some new songs in the works in various stages. There are always many pots brewing on my neurodivergent, Gemini stove but my central stew is performing live in a way that centralises ritual and elevates the listener.VIDA will be expanding upon the story of Takavi and further combining more jazzy-art-pop-inspired ethereal harmonies with her forthcoming EP, Aquatopialien.

You can catch VIDA playing at Whammy Backroom’s Dungeon #13 for free on Thursday 14 March at 9:00 pm.

Featured media courtesy of VIDA.


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