A talk with grunge-pop artist Lia Lia.

Listen to Soundscapes vol.154, curated by Lia Lia.

Do you find resonance with the term “outsider” when describing your place in the music industry and art scene?

I’ve always felt like an outsider, anywhere, everywhere, anytime. I’m mixed, and being 2x half and nothing fully, I’ve always felt alienated, isolated and struggled with the feeling of belonging. The music and art scene for me is more like a safe space. Most artists are little weirdos, pouring their hearts out, trying to communicate with the world through art. I can relate, it makes me feel less lonely. If all of us are outsiders, are we still outsiders?

You are proof that vulnerability can work as a superpower. Mental health experts are suggesting that the first big step for personal growth is self-acceptance and you are achieving it most creatively. However, most of the time realisation is not easy. How did you lead yourself to that point?

Somehow it’s much easier to sing about mental health problems, than to talk about it. It took me years to open up to my closest friends about it. For me, it’s mostly Anxiety + PMDD. I always had it, but it got much worse after my physical health started to decline.

I think the first step is just to accept it: 1. You’ll never be perfect  2. You’ll never be fully in control (of others, a situation or even yourself) 3. You’ll never be able to please everyone 4. It’s OKAY to change. 5. It’s ok to accept help and treatment and not to be “strong”. Instead of overthinking, I just try my best. Every day I choose my priorities and favorite people, do as much as I’m capable of and try to have fun. When I’m not having a good day, I just sleep or watch anime. No regrets, no shame.

Anime characters have become an important part of the modern cultural lexicon, and are often used to convey complex ideas and emotions in a playful and unrestricted way. I noticed various influences from manga and anime characters in your style/ attitude. Who is your all-time classic favorite anime character and why?

I’ll tell you a secret, before anime was cool, people called me Pokemon or asked what I was cosplaying when I dressed up… I used to hate it. My face just kinda looks “anime’ and I can’t take it off.  I’m glad it’s trendy now, but for me, it never really was a choice.
It could be worse tho… bc I love anime and obviously I’m deeply inspired, and  I always binge-watch anime when I’m sad.

Nana, HunterxHunter, Akira, Perfect Blue, Cowboy Bebop, Bleach, Death Note, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Lain, Ergo Proxy, Paprika, all Miyazaki Movies, One Piece, Full Metal Alchemist Brother Hood, Fooly Cooly, Chainsaw Men and the list goes on…

Could you recount your first encounter with punk music and how it might have played a role in your creative pathway?

I got into punk music through anime…  The Anime “Nana” by Ai Yazawa, is heavily inspired by Vivienne Westwood and Sid from the Sex Pistols. After watching and completely falling in love with the characters and the style, I started watching lots of documentaries about the beginning of Punk… Vivienne Westwood, Malcom McLaren, the Sex Pistols! I loved the idea of being an “Magnificent Failure”!! The book: “Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys” by Viv Albertine, is also a great read, to get a better understanding for the time!! Especially from the perspective of a woman.

How easy is it to blend the punk-pop realm and anime aesthetic all together?

I can recommend watching Nana, it’s exactly that! I think punk culture is deeply ingrained in asian subcultures, “Visual Kei” is also worth checking out, it’s more “Glam Rock”, but really sick as well.

Fashion often serves as a silent communicator of individuality. How does your personal connection with fashion contribute to your daily life and the way you express yourself?

I wear the same outfit when going to the supermarket or performing on stage in front of 20 000 people. I think the way you look plays a big part in your identity. That’s why I like to design things and I’m quite lucky because my best friend Clara Colette Miramon is a fashion designer and she made or customized everything for me. Clara knows that whatever she makes for me I will wear forever until it falls apart. I wear the same outfit when going to the supermarket or performing on stage in front of 20,000 people. I like school uniforms because they are relatable, timeless and give a sense of conformity, which I personally like to break. They immediately give you a setting and world in which you can create. In “Night Call” when I played the demon, I wore a Chinese hanfu gown,  for the Moth look I was inspired by ballet costumes I wore as a kid and 1920s theater costume and in “City of Tears” I referenced Togawa Jun.

Based on your artistic evolution and your song’s titles ( I’m a moth, am I human?) you are in a constant transformative mood. Could you elaborate on the origins of this continuous need for change, both in the literal and metaphorical sense?

I think I’m a moth, but maybe I’m Human? I think I’m having an identity crisis.

Your creative journey undoubtedly has exciting chapters yet to be written. Looking back at your journey so far, what achievements stand out to you and make you proud?

It was crazy when DURAN DURAN invited me to go on tour with them. My first tour ever was an ARENA TOUR, with Duran Duran!!! I still can’t believe it! My only other support shows besides that were with Doja Cat in Germany. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Lia Lia / Angst

Artist: Lia Lia / @liavslia
Editor: Anca Macavei / @ancamacavei
Interview: Iro Bournazou / @irwb

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