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Chutzpah! Festival Celebrates Diversity With Multifaceted International Programming

Chutzpah! Festival Celebrates Diversity With Multifaceted International Programming

by Yasmine Shemesh In Hebrew, chutzpah means “brazen audacity.” As such, it’s fitting that the term would be the namesake…

Kim Villagante a.k.a. Kimmortal is queering the lines and rhymes

Thursday 08th, December 2016 / 10:56
By Kendell Yan

Photo: Retrieved from Kimmortal Facebook page.

VANCOUVER — Kimmortal’s 2014 debut album Sincerity. found me by way of community lines. My best Judy passed Kim Villagante’s album my way and described her as genuine, fierce, and queer. Meeting her at Kafka’s on Main Street I can appreciate my friend’s praises: her voice is unwavering, her style is razor sharp, her candor is as refreshing and infectious as her electro soul hip-hop beats. “It’s kind of funny,” she says, “how I’m considered an emcee and a singer/songwriter because it’s all been experiments, it’s all been taking risks and really going with the flow.”

In exchange for a coffee, humble conversation, and a small commission, I asked her to do a drawing for me during the interview. She recently did all of the animation for the music video for “Brushing by Heaven’s Shoulder remix,” a standout on Sincerity. which she also did the artwork for. “The moments I’ve been the most happy and the most full is when I’ve really felt a synthesis between my music and art.”

This process creates a perpetual motion of creativity. “When I illustrate my music I might notice something I didn’t before and it creates this cycle. I never stop. It’s forever, it’s very circular.” Villagante’s background in theatre mirrors the echo-chamber effect her visual art has on her music. This past March, Villagante performed in a production of Sal Capone: The Lamentable Tragedy Of produced by Urban Ink, a largely indigenous POC theatre company. The production challenges racism, misogyny, and homophobia within the hip-hop community. Taking a nod from the stage, she says “when I’m feeling a certain way before a song I’m gonna use that…I commit to the emotion. You want to be as authentic as possible.”

Villagante relies on an energy feedback from the audience, but at the core of it all she insists on creating art for herself and her ancestors. “It’s a really humouring thing for me to perform and to be seen, and that comes into play as a queer WOC and how I’m assumed to be on the outside…but when I’m on the mic I kill it and that comes from my experience and the rage in me,” she says. “It comes from my mom, she has the most powerful voice and she’s 4’11…She’s definitely a part of me when I’m on stage.”

The influence her parents have had on her life is painted by her reverence of their experiences. “I grew up sitting in his lap watching him make faces come to life,” Villagante says of her father, who gave up a career as an artist to support his family. “My music is a way of continuing the artistry that is so prominent in my dad’s visual arts…I come from a working class immigrant family, there’s always that worry and that disbelief that art will bring food on my table.”

Being afforded the opportunity to work outside the service industry is a privilege Kimmortal doesn’t take lightly. “I saw my mom treated poorly in different work environments or public spaces because of how she’s seen as this small brown woman,” she says. “We do this [art] because we were given the opportunity and the privilege to archive stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told. It’s urgent.”

Kimmortal is currently working on a new album that will be a multimedia project incorporating music, projection, visual art, and fashion. Her latest release is a music video titled “Jungle” (coming soon) in collaboration with WOC femcees Missy D and Jilthy, featuring videography by Khalil.

Kimmortal performs at Fox Cabaret Dec. 8. Follow her on Facebook.

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