Morita Vargas is an Argentinan artist, musician, producer, and singer. We got in touch with her when Tallinn-based label Hidden Harmony, a very interesting experimental and electronic music label which is focusing on a „new perspective in the meditative and ambient realm of captured sound.“ (You can read our interview with Maria Teriaeva, who released on Hidde Harmony one of our best albums of 2020). They released a beautiful album 8 by Morita Vargas. We made an interview with Morita and also asked Valentin Sitnyansky about how Hidden Harmony found Morita Vargas and made a record with her.
Where are you right now? What’s your environment look like? How was your day?
Right now I’m in my room. I live in a very old house that I share with 5 friends. Here we make food together and cycles of reading and art. It is a very calm environment, of friendship and love. My room opens onto a balcony and the balcony is attached to the top of a tree, so I share my mornings with many birds. Down there is a very busy street in Buenos Aires, so there is a crossover between the noise of the birds, the motor of the cars, the street fights, the conversations of the neighbors and the horns of the public transport. My day is just beginning, I am drinking maté, which is a typical Argentine herbal drink. I’m about to go to work.
How looks your perfect creative ambient for creating music? What do you need to feel safe, free, and best for the music?
The best creative place is outside a studio. Ideas usually occur to me on the street. There is a great visual stimulus in the street, where the imagination unfolds. I think everything in the form of video clips and I make music with my mind of what I am looking at. The same thing happens to me on trips, my mind becomes detached. Movement stimulates me, moving from one place to another, the change of image, of smells, of sounds.
I always record my ideas with my cell phone’s voice recorder, where I collect everything I can think of. When it comes to composing, the best is what happens spontaneously, and when it comes to recording, the diamonds in the rough are the first takes. So, the best creative environment for me then is when I don’t plan to be creative but life itself gives me ideas.
How do you balance personal life, work, and art? Can you financially live from your art?
In Argentina is difficult to make a living from your art if you do not sound on the radio or you are massive. I am unknown here and yet I feel very comfortable in the small ambient niche to which I belong, we are few, but the good thing is that we are more and more. Here we make our music and have our projects, but we need a parallel job to be able to live. And of course, I would like to live on my music, in fact, I think it is the dream of all of us who dedicate ourselves to this… but I haven’t found the formula yet. If anyone knows it, please tell me! In my case I work in a vinyl store, where luckily I am in contact with music all day, discovering new and old songs and artists The free moments are those that I use to compose or rest. Leisure time is extremely necessary, important, and underrated. We live in a society where we constantly feel that we have to be productive. I think it is not the idea of life and maybe the key is to achieve a balance between everything that makes up a person.
At least when it comes to making music, sometimes it is necessary to have an empty head, and empty ears to be able to fill it with things, that is why the importance of silence is the key.
What do you like in musical collaborations? Can you name some projects you’ve worked on together with other artists and describe how it went?
I like the crossover that is generated by combining ideas. I learn a lot from each collaboration and they are all different. My crosses are always with artists that make me curious. I think the most mysterious potion is in the mix. One of my first collaborations and one of my favorites was with EL PLVYBXY (Brazil) for his album ABYA YALA. The song is called „Paraíso En Las Rocas“.
We both live in Argentina and yet we work via WeTransfer. He sent me the track almost ready and I sang over it like a skating rink, something incredible was generated. Usually, that’s my way of working and some unexpected magic always happens. My last collaboration was with Macha Kiddo (Costa Rica) for the song „Melcocha“ from his last album LESBIHONEST where I also put my voice. And a few months ago a remix I did for Lujo Asiático (Argentina) came out, where I worked disarming his track „Pastee“. In that case, it was like doing surgery to his song, I messed up all the pieces and put them back together giving it another shape. Other artists that I enjoyed working with include Trémor, San Ignacio, Tildaflipers, Ava Canoeiro, Montuno, Julian Desbats, Paz and Pielcitta.
How did lockdowns and this COVID-19 era change you?
In my case, a lot of introspection and thinking activity. Also, a lot of movement of moving houses, which made me breathe new air. I think that not being able to travel made me start moving in a different way. As for the creative, it was more my collaborative work than the individual. I have been working on new songs for my next album but in a calm and progressive way, like a slow fire in a big pot. I do not like to rush or force my creative flow, but to unleash it without pressure. I believe that many strong things are happening to us by the side, as a consequence of this pandemic. It made me think about what I really want for my life. And I do not know! LOL.
➥ But I feel that my strongest and longest desire is to be able to travel making my music, learn new things, share live performances with people from other countries, meet new artists, unusual landscapes, and different ways of seeing, listening and thinking. That enriches everything and opens paths. But I understand that this moment is very uncertain, so I only dedicate myself to daydreaming.
Favorite free time activities despite music?
I love to write. I have written my first novel at the age of 11 and writing is a subject that I have pending. And I really enjoy talking with friends and people in general. Walk, read, watch movies, take care of my plants, sleep, listen to podcasts, watch interviews and documentaries, make collages. Believe it or not, I really enjoy cleaning and tidying my house. I feel like that activity puts all my ducklings in line, in other words, it sorts my ideas. We always need chaos, of course, but there is something therapeutic about rearranging things and also something very fresh and refreshing about moving things around. I am a person who likes to talk a lot, so I always enjoy that. And when I’m alone, listening to people speak on a podcast or reading books with fascinating stories, too. I read a lot, and I don’t read just one book at a time, in my case I read up to 3 or 4 books at the same time. One when I’m in bed, another when I’m on the bus or train, another when I’m in the bathroom, another when I’m bored at my work lol.
My grandmother Nilda’s food is the best food I have ever tasted and I am so sorry but there is nothing to beat it. I’m a big fan of pizza, but you put a plate of food from my grandmother Nilda in front of me and I see god.
[ Morita Recommends ]
- Daniel Schmidt – In My Arms, Many Flowers
- Midori Takada - Through The Looking Glass
- Mariana Enríquez – Las cosas que perdimos en el fuego
- Pauline Oliveros – Deep Listening
- Mark Fisher – Realismo Capitalista
- Margarito Roncarolo – Rosa o Muerte
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A letter from Valentin (Hidden Harmony):
Back in spring 2020, I came back from a long and stressful work project in Vietnam. Needless to say, how hectic and strange times have been back at the offset of covid hysteria and general uncertainties. In addition to everything happening around, we have just started our new label Hidden Harmony Recordings, with lots of enthusiasm and ideas behind the new aesthetics we wanted to build around it.
Acing changing time-zone and self-isolation requirements the night became a perfect time to explore hidden corners of the global Web searching for and listening to obscure music from around the globe. Back then we had just released C.R. Gillespie’s Concentration Patterns LP, our first release on the label and I remember that night I was scrolling and following up on a small promotional campaign we tried to undertake to bring this release closer to audiences around the globe. Colin made a selection mixtape for Mitamine Lab, a Mexico based contemporary sound curatorial project and I had been listening to the entire mixtape late into the night, thereafter continuing to explore and check out other mixtapes and that’s when I stumbled across a selection named “Surrealismo Fantastico” by Morita Vargas.
Not sure if it was the artist´s exotic name or reference to surrealism (I have always been interested in the Latin magical realism in the writings of Julio Cortázar, J. L. Borges, and associates), but the selection of compositions was simply amazing and moved me a lot. So that I instantly wanted to learn more about Morita Vargas: who she was, where she was and whether she was a real person or pseudonym? I started googling and YouTubing and came across an exquisitely well-produced Morita’s live performance for Buenos Aires Zuchuchito Sessions series.
Morita’s music and her artistic aesthetics immediately and fully immerse oneself into the magical universe sonic that she created. This was a moment of revelation and enlightenment for me. I immediately knew that I wanted to release Morita’s work on Hidden Harmony and my next question was – is she already released by any musical label? After more research, I found out that only a small limited batch of cassettes with Morita’s album Mandragora had been released by a Berlin-based curatorial label Autogeneis. I felt that I must do everything possible to acquaint more people with this unique and beautiful art of Morita Vargas with the help of Hidden Harmony.
Despite it being 4 AM that night I drafted an introductory e-mail and sent it to Morita explaining my feelings about her art, and sent it with a hope that someday it would be answered.
The next evening Morita came back with a sincere and positive reply. This was the start of our magical collaboration journey.
It can be said trivially – music helps us discover new music. Our discovery of Morita’s art happened naturally and precisely when the cross-cultural collaboration of our previous release brought us in contact with Morita’s music and paved the way to the next release on the label. An occurrence which happened simply, but yet, as we believe – was written in stars. Discovering Morita’s music for me was a sonic sense of love from the first sight, no more no less. And I believe our release of 8 was just a start of a long-lasting collaboration between Hidden Harmony Recordings and Morita Vargas!
⊶ Interview by Krištof Budke / Feature Photo: Gigo Lawsky / Special Thanks: Valentin from Hidden Harmony ⊷