Lucrecia Dalt tells unsettling fairy tales for grown-ups and plays with everyone’s most intimate desires. Some of her songs are pure eroticism. The manifold sound and voice textures are seductive and rich; they unfold slowly as if coming from primeval woods and underground caves.
Lucreica’s sixth album Anticlines (2018) is soaked with references from geology, fiction, poetry. She has also scored a silent horror movie, audiovisual spoken-word-opera, sound installations, and even worked on a telepathic composition, presenting her music in the awe-inspiring venues around the world from Berlin’s Kraftwerk to the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.
Mariana Berezovska: You are often asked about the connection of your music to your previous occupation as a geologist, but you almost never speak about the eroticism and desire also discussed in Anticlines (2018).
Lucrecia Dalt: Like you said, I’m surprised that people don’t ask me about how, for example, extremely erotic the song ‘Edge’ is. It’s almost very sexual. Everybody approaches it from the monstrosity part or from the folklore, which is also there, but in the end it’s about extreme love. I imagine it extremely erotic and intense.
It’s because you love the other person so much that you want to be able to possess their subjectivity. You want to be able to see through their eyes or to experience something that is unique to them. Even physically experiencing their skin from the other side. It’s fiction but it’s extreme.
MB: So it means to enter the other person, basically.
LD: In a way, yes. Or to possess the skin of the other person. So, in response to a piece that I love, this song by Melody Sumner Carnahan with Brian Reinbolt, in which he tells this other person that the only way to love him is to take off his skin and to feel the muscle that is underneath, and that if the other person cannot do this then they should go away.
Of course it’s poetry but I was impressed with how intense it is. I wanted to be able to give an answer to that piece. I was interested in talking about edges and bubbles, I don’t know why. I was wondering what a human bubble is and remembered this Colombian myth about El Boraro: this creature that cuts a hole in its victim’s forehead to suck the pulp inside their body, and then it inflates the remaining skin. Then I thought, “Wow, this is a way of possessing the other from the inside out.”
MB: What really attracts me in your music is this raw femininity. It’s a sort of witchcraft. There are a lot of shadows and in-betweens in it.
LD: It might have to do with the amount of things that I put together to start making an album, how I combine them, how I let them affect me and shape my work, and how I deliver something from that atmosphere. I think that our society still tends to negatively categorize women as witches when they are very independent, powerful or when their practice seems ‘obscure’, disturbing, or difficult to comprehend. But I identify with this positively. In the end, I spend hours and hours in my studio to see how I can go on affecting people with what I do.
MB: I think generally our society still negatively categorizes the concept of ‘darkness’, because it is often associated with anything that scares us. We are not encouraged to explore our dark side. Though to me it feels natural to try to embrace darkness as another side of light, as essential and powerful for a human as light is.
LD: I honestly find that the worst nightmares of our current times are happening during bright daylight. It is symbolic, and perhaps I have difficulties thinking in binary terms, and every situation has to be analyzed in context. What could be ‘dark,’ ‘abrupt,’ ‘sordid’ to someone could seem normal or necessary to me, or be challenged overtime as I broaden my maxims by experiencing the difference. But let’s see, in our scene, aren’t ‘dark’ spaces where we begin to explore our freedom?
MB: Looking back on your music career, it feels like today you allow yourself to experiment more with sound, and use distortion in songs to the point where they can make one feel uncomfortable. It sounds like you let more discomfort into your music.
LD: I’ve been concerned with processing sound for quite a while, like figuring out how to get different voices and textures from the instruments that I use. For example, my album Commotus  was made mainly with a bass guitar, by expanding its textures and register. I like using certain elements that challenge staying in a comfort zone, even if it’s just one little thing in one track that gives so much meaning to me. It’s quite a challenge but I tend to like music that does that: Maryanne Amacher, The Residents, Aaron Dilloway, Asra, to name a few.
MB: There’s also more variety of textures and ‘raw’ sound.
LD: Yeah, I definitely like to keep it raw, but I also like to create art that lives within its own logic and rules. You know, I’m still trying to understand why I do the things I do. I think in general the art that I like and that I want to make is the one that plays with effects more than trying to represent a reality that I am already familiar with. The art that triggers my senses, puts me in a sort of ecstasy, but not by guiding me in the process of the way I am supposed to feel, but by giving me texture, narrative complexity, gestures or just basically a world that has its own logic. I feel that nowadays art has become quite complacent, like contemporary cinema, for instance. It’s honestly rare for me to find something that challenges my reality, my morals, my ways of listening.
MB: What do you think this shift is connected to? Why are the majority of movies produced now are so flat compared to before?
LD: For my radio show called Pli I interviewed various artists and that was one of the main questions. As I was curious to know their favorite soundtracks and how these tracks impact music production, I soon started to see how this flatness is a generalized feeling with new cinema, with a few exceptions. One is the magnificent Under the Skin [film by Jonathan Glazer, 2014] soundtrack made by Mica Levi, which I think elevates the film to a whole different level, creating a feeling of spectacular and speculative void. But anyway, why is this happening? Perhaps because art branches are not getting entangled enough, or because we have made artistic processes so connected to the expectations of a market that it has become impossible to do simple things anymore, to have intuitive, artistic freedom or not even to have it but to have the courage to look for it.
MB: Why do you think some of us seek this music that has this brutal effect on us? Only some of us, listeners and viewers, look for this experience of “being freaked out”. What feelings or physical experience do you think we are seeking? Why do we want to be scared?
LD: I don’t know really. I relate to being “freaked out” more like to feeling something I have never experienced before and when certain music has that power it’s just magnificent. To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s intense, soft, violent, calmer. It could be something very subtle, like a very simple sound with a gesture. But if it has the power to elevate me, to make me forget that I am perpetually entangled with this reality, then I will continuously look for it because it’s one of those feelings that make life worth living and of course art worth making.