Lotic photography by Philip Primus
Lotic makes music for a pounding dancefloor and the after-club cry too. Both of those things feel far away right now, but listening to Lotic can conjure those memories back up. Based in Berlin but hailing from Texas, Lotic blends the soft with the surreal and creates a sound that’s all their own.
She is maybe best known for tracks like the breathy experimentalism of ‘Hunted’, which finds her whispering “Brown skin, masculine frame/Head’s a target/Actin’ real feminine/Make ’em vomit” over intoxicating instrumentation. Personally, I have listened to ‘Heterocetera’ – their killer single which samples ballroom anthem ‘The Ha Dance’ by Masters at Work – an embarrassing amount during lockdown.
During the last couple of years, Lotic – which means to be situated in fast-moving water – was a member of the Janus collective in Berlin, playing fun, freaky sets around the city, and doing their own production on the side. In 2015, they put out Agitations and Heterocetera, two invigorating releases which flouted genre in favour of a niche that could only be theirs. Her last record, Power, showed her moving into a new musical style, incorporating elements of her classical music training and affirming her vulnerability and emotions.
gal-dem: What inspired your playlist?
Lotic: It’s just what I’ve been listening to lately – which isn’t much, it’s just always been women of colour, queer artists, naturally. I want to put people onto these people, I want to share these songs as much as possible to new audiences.
Where have you been in lockdown?
I’ve been in Berlin the whole time – it’s been a little rough to be honest. I had to move, I wasn’t able to work on the record, I lost access to the studio I was working in – so I actually just used this extra time. I wanted to reconnect and delve deeper into certain friendships and relationships – so it was intense, but it’s been so nice. I’ve just been able to look my friends in the face in a completely different way, and we were able to hold each other up to a higher standard.
How have you navigated being a DJ and a producer the last couple of months? You had a tour planned, right?
It’s just been a little bit of a rollercoaster. I lost all of my gigs – I went from gigs for the next couple of months, from the income I wanted to make all the way down to zero. Then the government in Berlin gave out grants to freelancers and that helped me get back on my feet. Everyone’s in the same situation so that’s been reassuring, but you know that number in my bank account just keeps going down and down and that’s just where we are (laughs). But I’m on an upswing now so I’m feeling better about the future.
“I didn’t really realise up how integral performance was to my livelihood and wellbeing, and then when it was gone, I was just thinking, can I get past this?”
How did you find not DJ-ing and performing anymore during lockdown? It seems like you’ve been firing on all cylinders for the last couple of years.
Not being able to perform – period – has been the worst part. I didn’t really realise up until then how integral performance was to my livelihood and wellbeing, and then when it was gone I was just thinking, can I get past this?
I have ups and downs now, but where I really live is on the stage and I just don’t know when I can do that again. I kind of feel like I took that for granted and so I’m just trying to remember the good things – the way that I felt. Then to try and focus on what might happen with the next record and what shape that might take. It just seems like everything is so theoretical at the moment – this is what I want to do, or I don’t want to do this. But like everyone keeps saying now, it is what it is.
What have you been working on during lockdown? Have you been making anything or exploring any new mediums?
I have to work on something – I’m just not someone that can be waiting around. I’ve been listening to one record all day, going for two-hour walks, hanging out with friends. I want to get back into filmmaking too, so I’m slowly doing that – I’m thinking of documenting how I make this new record. All I ever want to do is just occupy myself, and I’ve just been working very slowly. I’m so used to doing everything by myself.
Can you tell me anything about the next record?
It’s definitely softer than Power was. If Power was me finding myself and really learning about my femininity, then this next one is me firmly standing in it. It’s a new direction.
“It’s just impossible to do anything other than keep in touch and offer support where you can”
How are you feeling about the US at the moment – especially because your family is still there? Have you been able to stay in touch with them?
It’s been crazy watching what’s been happening. I lost my grandfather at the beginning of this, a couple of months ago, to Covid, and I know my mother has been devastated. But I’m just so angry at the situation, at the lack of leadership, the carelessness on an individual level from other Americans, and how everything has just been overrun – what it must be like to go through that. I tried to imagine what that was like and I got so upset thinking about the mass graves. It’s just impossible to do anything other than keep in touch and offer support where you can. It just shouldn’t be this way at all. I’m getting older, and this idea of family, and the disconnect between that and what I’ve been yearning for… it’s been hard to be away.
Did you have much community support during lockdown – especially because you’re far away from home?
I’ve been craving going home to Texas – so it’s just been really valuable to have that support here. But it also really got me thinking about how I could also be of more service to my community, to people around me. I wanted to make a list of people’s GoFundMe’s and share it, so I’ve been doing that. I had a feeling I would get the support that I needed, and it made me feel good about the strength of love and friendships, and that’s been really valuable too.
Lotic’s list of GoFundMes to donate to:
❦ amari’s transition fund : https://gf.me/u/yk4cnt
❦ charm’s gender affirmation surgery fund : https://gf.me/u/yucj77
❦ cassie’s ffs fund : https://gf.me/u/ym4gad
❦ rodya’s transition and survival fund : https://gf.me/u/yqf9dy
❦ for our safety and sanity : https://gf.me/u/yj8r3v
❦ help erika begin her transition : https://gf.me/u/ym4ayw
❦ josue hart grs fundraiser : https://gf.me/u/yjy59f
❦ brandy’s gender affirming surgery fund : https://gf.me/u/yphv6a
❦ harmens transition fund : https://gf.me/u/yk9fm5