THERE ARE BLACK PEOPLE IN THE FUTURE - Interview with Multi-Talented artist La'Vender Freddy! Pt 1.
Data**Received Subject of Interest::La'vender Freddy - Begin_Transmission
Known for his edgy tracks and incredible visual productions, Philly based artist Ricardo Iamuuri Robinson AKA La'Vender Freddy is breaking down barriers in the music industry. La'Vender's music boasts a combination of alternative rock-hop, intricate instrumentation, and deep emotional lyrics when available and his visuals are engaging and uncomfortably visceral.
La'Vender uses his platform to explore answers to Marvin Gaye's age old question, "What's going on".
"The goal will be to answer the question. The case will be open until enough evidence is produced to make sense out of the nonsensical. The art will be the evidence and the evidence will be an artistic presentation of La'Vender's discoveries."
His recently released single "There are Black People in The Future", brings awareness to the erasure of Black lives and Black stories, not to mention is the bop of all bops.
Connect With La'Vender online here:
How are you feeling today?
Sensational. Sensational! It is father's day so I'm receiving a lot of reminders of all the choices I've made in the past to create life. [laughs]
Hope they're good reminders! Let's start with this character that you created La'Vender Freddy. Who is La'Vender Freddy and how did you come up with the concept? So this was two years ago when I had an art exhibition that I was involved with called "Civil rights and Civil wrongs' where I had to travel to South Africa with other artists from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on an exchange exhibition where South African artists would come to Pittsburgh and we would go to South Africa. At the time I was working on a sound installation piece that provoked thought about excessive, blind consumerism within the hip hop culture and this sort of obsession with the pursuit of materialistic wealth. I wanted to connect that desire to consume these fashion statements of class of importance of luxury with the labor that goes on in South Africa so I went there to record "mining sounds" documenting the Sonic landscape of the labor that goes into the consumerism here in the United States. So the piece was pretty heavy. One day while I'm working on the piece I head outside of the museum and I get in the car and my daughter had left her Halloween wig in the back seat, this cheap lavender wig - and it was for her costume as a witch. I reached back there and at the time just needed to see myself differently, I just needed to see something else, not this guy that was trying to bridge the gap or create some sort of profound monumental art work that is going to I don't know, impress a viewer or an attendee at the museum, but just somebody thar I no longer recognize. So I put on that wig and it was tight cuz I got a big head [laughs] and did a little shake and I looked in the mirror and was like "the world ain't ready for Lavender Freddy." and I haven't stopped since.
I especially love how the character has kind of evolved into something that I believe is profound. What’s life like outside of La’vender Freddy when you’re not embodying this character.
Oh man. The creative spirit is always burning. I call my art practice sonar archeology and I’m a field recordist so it’s all within the rubric of conceptual artist, but my job is to listen and my art is listening. I go into forests, urban areas, rural areas, oceanic areas and just love listening to “the noise”. And I'm not using the term “noise” to define something unpleasant, but rather how its pervading, it's pervasive, it's everywhere. Within this noise are my Sonic colors, the paint, the feelings, the emotional geography, the history, the present and the dreaming forward. It's all there in that listening. I try to carve the vibrations with sound design or manipulate creating music out of the noise. So I always say no matter what intention I have when it comes to composing a piece, the listener is always the composer. You hear those sounds and that's incredible responsibility.
I think it’s an incredible amount of work to intentionally put yourself in a space to be able to just sit and listen especially during an age where there's a lot of media and a lot of information thrown at us.
Yes, I firmly believe that sound is the medicine of the future. I think a lot of sound is going to be used for healing, for restoring balance, for helping people deal with anxiety. You're going to have to consider the frequencies that are around you. And because we're playing with a lot of frequencies now, just to even have this conversation, you know, through these virtual streets, there's a lot of energies being harnessed and they have an effect, and we're going to have to be cognizant of how we're feeling through it all.
You’ve described yourself as a conceptual sound artist performance artist, a composer and a prophylactic rock hop traveler. Tell us about that journey.
[Laughs] I’ve added Afro now so it's prophylactic AfroRock hop. That's what’s so interesting about lavender Freddy is he's unfolding and he has the freedom to say I don't want to be that today. I'll be this today. So, there's a lot of freedom with this character, but as far as the prophylactic rock hop or Afro rock hop, prophylactic means protection and I wanted to create sound and a musical experience that encourages the listener to equip your mind and to protect your mind. I wanted it to be an empowering sound, even if there's music that is full of sorrow and grief, it's going to be celebrated.
You know when I think about life and all of the people that I have had to say goodbye to so far in this journey and knowing that as I continue to breathe and as I continue to move through space and grow there's going to be more of that. I may physically outlive other people that are near and dear to me and it’s like, okay, this is shitty, but if this is how it goes then I'm going to have to surrender to this and come to some sort of peace with it. So, my inner standing is, life is good grief. It is good grief, you know? And I love that message and that’s what's in the music, this sort of protection from the sort of, I don't want to call it shallow but it's protection from just mindlessness.
That is such an important message. Yeah! You know, this music wants you to be mindful to be present in your joy, you to be present in your grief, wants you to be present within your anxiety, you know, invite all of that in and dance with it, you know, dance with it, laugh with it, cry with it, make love to it and have that war with it, let it become your best friend.
Freddy was born out of this sort of, “why are you so serious Ricardo?” And then he was like levity. He was my amusement. He was the reflection that was capable of laughing at myself, laughing at my seriousness, but now the character has become so associated with rebellion and resistance, but also joyful. And it's so healing for me as an artist to see how his work is being received. Our work is being received.
I couldn’t help thinking as you were talking the amount of depth in your work and your music whether intentional or not intentional. Especially in your recent song “There are Black people in the future” where there is just so much joy especially during this time when there is so much pain and literal erasure of Black lives. How did that come about?
It’s interesting isn’t because what is it about that for us? The phrase alone is truly inspiring. This sort of declaration of oneself into this space that could be perceived as not happening now and in some sort of distant time or it could be perceived as the future is now. The work was inspired by Alisha B. Wormsley’s phrase, “There are Black people in the future” which started off as a billboard art piece here in a pretty visible part of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This supposedly “hip” part of town suddenly had all of these different quotes up on a billboard saying things disagreeing with war or having a certain opinion about the Palestinian Israeli conflict or about bringing home the troops, or even just against president Bush or the Bush administration. It was during this particular time that they threw up their “Black people in the future” when it became a problem. Why out of all of the things that were up there on the billboard, why did this become so outstanding? So Pittsburgh had to have a conversation about that and Alisha was at the center of that and inspiring that conversation and she is the mother of my son as well. So we are connected deeply.
So being inspired by that work and being inspired by her presence in my life and her power as a black woman, as a mother and the vision, the creative vision of just those words, I felt it was only right to compliment it with the art that I do. And when I saw the piece, I was just like, this is so beautiful. This is so beautiful. And it's been so well received.