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