Lido Pimienta

Exclaim! - - MUSIC SCHOOL: WHERE I PLAY -

by Ryan B. Pa­trick

IN TORONTO, LIDO PIMIENTA IS HOME. It took the dis­so­lu­tion of her mar­riage for the Colom­bian-born mu­si­cian, pro­ducer and vis­ual artist to re­al­ize that liv­ing in South­west­ern On­tario was not where she wanted to be. “[It] wasn’t big enough for me,” Pimienta says em­phat­i­cally.

With her young son, she set off for Toronto, set­tling into a cozy place in Lit­tle Italy that serves both as her home and mixed me­dia stu­dio. The big­gest room in the house func­tions as a record­ing stu­dio and art room; it’s where her 2017 Po­laris Mu­sic Prize-win­ning record, La Papessa, was con­ceived.

“My life is very do­mes­tic,” she says. “I don’t like to go out. I don’t drink, smoke — if I’m not the party, I’m not at the party. I don’t sound­proof and most of the mu­sic that I do is elec­tronic, so work is done us­ing head­phones.”

While trained in voice — she took mu­sic lessons in her na­tive Colom­bia and is versed in the oral tra­di­tions of Afro-Colom­bian mu­sic — she is largely self-taught when it comes to pro­duc­ing and record­ing. She has evolved from her early days with groundlevel record­ing tools such as REAPER soft­ware, to a record­ing setup that in­volves the Able­ton dig­i­tal au­dio work­sta­tion, a Roland SP-404 sam­pler, a Ver­mona ana­log drum ma­chine, Au­dio Tech­nica and Blue USB mi­cro­phones and a Boss vo­cal ef­fect pro­ces­sor/pedal to trig­ger the sound.

“My mu­sic is very melodic and sim­ple; I’m creat­ing it so I can per­form it live. So the pro­duc­tion part of it is not some­thing I’m com­pletely ob­sessed with,” she says. To that end, her DIY ap­proach in­volves us­ing a lot of YouTube tu­to­ri­als when pro­duc­ing. “I don’t have time to sit for six hours to learn from some­body, or find a men­tor. I go and learn things. I know by do­ing.”

While her sound leans on elec­tronic el­e­ments, it is rooted, first and fore­most, in her voice and a tra­di­tional, or­ganic sound. “My voice is the cen­tre. It’s the most im­por­tant thing that I do. Ev­ery­thing that hap­pens elec­tron­i­cally fol­lows the voice. The voice is not chas­ing af­ter the elec­tronic sound, it’s try­ing to catch up with me. And it never does — that’s that game we are playing.

“It’s lim­it­ing when you de­pend on the elec­tronic sound com­pletely,” she adds. “I try not to use com­put­ers live — aes­thet­i­cally I don’t like how it looks on­stage, and you can’t rely on com­put­ers to not break dur­ing the set,” she says. When record­ing and per­form­ing, a mix of elec­tronic tools (in­clud­ing

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