Feature image: Album cover art from Lido Pimienta’s “Miss Colombia” album. Via Lido Pimienta’s website.
The Intersection of Identities in Lido Pimienta’s Colorful Music and Art
Lido Pimienta is a Colombian-Canadian artist, musician, singer, songwriter, and mother. Creating comes through in a very natural manner. It’s all she’s known since she grew up in an Indigenous matriarchy with a Black family in Colombia. She grew up in a mixed family throughout the different cities of Barranquilla, Riohacha, Villanueva, and San Basilio de Palenque in Colombia.
“I’ve done art and music all my life. I never had that eureka moment of: that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve always done it. I’ve always been it. From very early on, I always had that interest and calling,” Pimienta said. “I believe art and music is a calling that many people have to abandon. I had the great fortune of never abandoning it, and I’ve even strengthened it.”
Pimienta has used art and music to express herself through vibrant melodies and colorful fashion. Her music and her art are a direct reflection of her identities. On her website, she describes herself as an Afro-Indigenous and Colombian-Canadian punk folklorist, traditionalist, and transgressive diva angel.
“I grew up in an Indigenous matriarchy with a Black family. With a mixed family in different cities of Colombia living different realities,” Pimienta said. “I think because of that, I have a great point of view on what it means to be from the Caribbean. For so many realities lived in one body and one life since an early age in those experiences. So, that’s part of what I show in my work.”
Growing up with those experiences with the Indigenous Wayuu people in Colombia at a young age immersed her in creating visual art with different mediums. Her art is multidisciplinary because she plays with music, textiles, fashion, and music videos, resulting from her natural creation process. Her music and art come through so naturally that she has no conceptual process.
“I come from a tradition. The Wayuu women do things. They knit. They do embroidery. I also have that. I don’t have a process or formula or any sort of ritual. I only wake up, make breakfast for my children, take them to school, and sit down to work. My work is art,” Pimienta said. “I can be academic if I want to, but creating my art is a feeling.”
And that indescribable feeling of creation is palpable in the songs “Eso Que Tú Haces” and “La Victoria” with Chancha Via Circuito and Manu Ranks. In “Eso Que Tú Haces,” from her last album, “Miss Colombia”, she sings about love, fighting, being ignored, and losing herself. The music and rhythms create a happy ambiance despite the lyrics’ expression of intense feelings.
Lido Pimienta’s music video for her song “Eso Que Tú Haces.”
In “La Victoria,” she sings about wanting to be the owner of her freedom. Lido admits her mistakes and owns up to them by trying all over again. She speaks about her freedom and independence, accompanied by happy and colorful music and rhythms. It’s almost as if she paints with music.
The music video for Chancha Via Circuito’s song “Eso Que Tú Haces” with Lido Pimienta and Manu Ranks.
“When I make music, I feel as if I’m drawing with the musical notes. I paint with the melodies. I understand musical notes as a chromatic circle. I feel music informs visual art and vice versa,” Pimienta said. “The chromatic circle is sometimes called a color wheel. It has dark and light hues. For me, this is very close to a harmonic, melodic, and rhythmic circle. Music exists on that plane for me. Even though it’s auditive, it also has a visual power. Music is very beautiful because it gathers many of the things that I’m interested in artistically.”
The Spiritual Fart
The beauty in her music translates into a spiritual experience of connection with oneself and nature. Her experimentation with different music genres, such as cumbia and electronica, makes it feel like a ritual.
“People tell me: I connect with you. Your music takes me to other places with Pachamama and my ancestors. And I’m like: it’s great that it does that for you because I feel I’m my ancestors’ worst disappointment. I can’t stop eating sugar. I couldn’t hunt. I couldn’t survive in the wild. I’m glad my music does that for you,” Pimienta said. “Baby, I’m a Black and Indigenous woman. I can fart, and that fart will be spiritual.”
Pimienta’s music and art tend to generate a powerful spiritual connection with her audience. That innate spirituality is something she really doesn’t think about when creating. It’s part of her as an artist and person, which leads to an intimate connection with the natural world and her audience.
“That comes with my body. With these hands. With this nose. It comes through because I’m a conduit of what comes through in those songs. It’s natural,” Pimienta said. “I don’t rehearse. I don’t study. I don’t practice. I simply feel and suddenly: ay, this song came, I record it on my phone, and then, I go to the studio and upload it to the computer.”
For Pimienta, the creativity is quite simple, but from an outsider’s perspective, you can tell she relies heavily on translating her feelings into music. In that translation of emotions, she creates a complex and intense experience for her audience when performing. Her feelings are transmitted to them in an intense manner, which creates an interesting interactive dynamic in her concerts.
“I see people crying there. I’m up there on stage, and people cry. I try to make jokes so that they don’t cry. I’m very intense, and I don’t do superficial music,” Pimienta said. “I don’t sing to men. The themes of the song aren’t like: oh, I can’t breathe because the man didn’t call me. So, that already places you on another frequency.”
That other frequency that Pimienta explores led her to experiment with music in different formats, such as collaborating with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Medellín Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 2021, Pimienta’s work with orchestras introduced a new collaboration format where she open-heartedly learned about music’s complexities.
“My music is completely improvised and instantaneous. The music for a philharmonic and symphony orchestra requires all details written on paper,” Pimienta said. “It’s a great exercise for me because I improvise everything. I’m like: the heart! The heart is going to guide me! No. No. You can’t tell a percussionist that their heart is going to guide them. They’ll say: two eighth notes? A sixteenth note? Or what?”
Fashion and Textiles as Self-Expression
Experimentation with different forms of music is present in her visual art. Pimienta is simply art in the way that she dresses, how she creates music, and the music videos she directs. Her self-expression in fashion is a statement through the use of very vibrant colors and beautiful textiles. The fascinating clothes she wears are either her own designs she takes to seamstresses or a collaboration with particular designers.
She loves collaborating with Les Jesus, who is a crew from Mexico, and Norblack Norwhite, who is a crew from India and Toronto, Canada. Everything she wears is an intentional form of self-expression. Even her shoes are selected from Costa Rican brand Cruda, which is based in Mexico.
“I like buying from various designers who are up and coming. I invest in their collections because in a few years, it’ll be worth a lot of money, but I have the day one [designs]. I really love fashion. Real fashion. Not trends,” Pimienta said. “It’s an extension of what’s inside me. It’s my exterior, and I’m interested that my interior reflects my exterior.”
In the music video for "Nada” featuring Colombian singer Li Saumet, her inner essence powerfully resonates through its external portrayal. They’re set in the luscious green forests of Colombia, and the imagery can be read as a very strong reference to Frida Kahlo’s painting “The Two Fridas,” but that was not Pimiento’s intention.
“In that moment it was very intentional to do it in that jungle. Since the album is called Miss Colombia, I tried to film in the territory as much as possible. In the video of “Nada,” my inspiration were some women washing their clothes next to the river,” Pimienta said. “When I gave birth to my daughter, I’d sit down and sing to her. In that post-partum pain, a melody came through, and I started writing that song. I’d already written almost all of “Miss Colombia,” and Liliana complained: how am I not going to be in that album? Then, my daughter was born, and I wrote that part for her.”
In Pimienta's vibrant canvas of music and art, nature isn't just a backdrop. It stands boldly, interwoven with the intricate threads of her multifaceted identity, painting a story of who she truly is. It’s music and art that connects on a spiritual level with people, and that acts as a legacy reflecting on the Colombian Caribbean as sublime and not exotic. It’s music and art that’s a reflection and expression of life.
“Everything I do is a legacy. An artistic legacy. I’m a stamp in this that’s called the life of immigrants of Caribbean women. I’m only part of the whole universe. I’m just part of that, and I know that I’m just one voice of the other,” Pimienta said. “I don’t do commercial things. I’m not part of the mainstream, and I think that’s what keeps me as an artist and not an entertainer. Because being an entertainer is being an entertainer. Being an artist is being an artist.”
To learn more about Lido Pimienta’s identities in her colorful music and art, follow her on Instagram at @lidopimienta.
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