By Elsa Mizraei
“Where are all our women, and where have they gone?”
Leilani and SunSun of ATS and Lido Pimienta are asking in their song from the self-titled Above Top Secret EP set to release in July on Daps Records.
Above Top Secret has been making music for 6 years now but is just returning from a 2014 hiatus.
Elsa: How have you developed as a band in that time? What do you see for your band in the future?
Leilani: We took a hiatus when our band member quit after a gig we played in New York (where we opened for Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction for the Soul of BK Festival) and we didn’t know how to move forward. It took a while to realize that the only way to move forward was to rebrand ourselves and the band. Breathe new life into it, you know?
We figured out a way to balance our sound and make it more palatable for those who want to dance as well as fight the system without getting too overwhelmed.
The future for ATS holds more albums, videos, tours, collaborations, support and growth. Sustainability. The ability to live off of our art and our passions.
Elsa: Can you tell me a little bit about the song “BANG”? How does this song fit into your new album?
Leilani: “BANG” is a song that focuses mainly on missing and murdered Indigenous women, but also touches on the issues of police brutality and organ harvesting. It’s probably our heaviest politically charged song on the album.
Elsa: When I heard “BANG” for the first time, I got shivers listening to it. It is an eerie song that is demanding justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women. I was also caught off guard when I noticed the links in the song between the experience of blackness as well. Can you tell me about the intersections of these identities in the song?
Leilani: As a mother of a black and Indigenous teenager, for me, there is no distinction between the experience of blackness and the experience of being Indigenous in a white supremacist, colonizer society that doesn’t value your life. They are intertwined. The struggle, the pain, the fear, live in both communities. I wanted to capture that reality in my verses for this song and felt it important as a black woman, a mother, to shine the light and spread the message. Unity through understanding different sides of the same story.
Elsa: You are part of an artists’ collective, 88 Days of Fortune, in Toronto. What kind of art does 88 Days of Fortune feature? How has being a part of an artists’ collective helped your own career as a musician?
Leilani: SunSun and I are members as well as co-founders and directors of 88 Days of Fortune. We feature all sorts of creatives. Fashion, visual art, tattoo artists, actors, filmmakers, photographers, musicians. . . Being a part of 88 Days has help us to connect with a community of like minded and ultra talented people. It has given us (along with a ton of others) a platform to share our art, finance videos and albums as well as provided us with opportunities to collaborate and perform for/with other arts organizations, collectives and promoters across North America and Europe.
Elsa: You will be one of the featured artists on a co-presentation between Babely Shades, an Ottawa artists’ collective, and 88 Days of Fortune, along with Lido Pimienta. What can people expect on this day?
Leilani: Expect nothing, but prepare for everything.
You can catch Above Top Secret and Lido Pimienta on August 18, 2016 at Arboretum Music Festival.