Miel Azevedo on Therapeutic Music and Reclaiming Bodily Autonomy - Tunes Tuesday Transcript



Maud Mostly: Hey, I'm Maud Mostly, my pronouns are they/them, and welcome back to Tunes Tuesday, a weekly series where I sit down with 2SLGBTQ+/Queer musicians and bands to talk to them about their music, their experiences, and much, much more. Today, I am joined by Toronto base singer-songwriter Miel Azevedo. Hey! Would you like to introduce yourself?


Miel Azevedo: Hi, I’m Miel Azevedo. My pronouns are they/them. I think I'm a double Scorpio, which is very fun. And yeah, I play a few different instruments, I currently challenge trumpet, I found my brother's high school trumpets, and I'm just really drawn to music and its healing properties.


Maud Mostly: Amazing, and I feel like that idea of healing properties may be one of the first things that we're about to talk about. Because I want to start with something a bit heavy, as one of your currently released singles, Black Magick is a powerful song that discusses relationships and love after trauma, really honestly. Was this a hard piece to write and how did it feel to release it?


Miel Azevedo: Yeah, this actually took a couple of years to put together and it kind of wrote itself. And like the second verse, for example, to me really describes disassociation, and I actually didn't even have the language for disassociation for me to be able to recognize when I was disassociating, that that was even a thing. And so I wrote those lyrics, and I realized afterwards that that's what I was describing in the song, and ah, yeah.

The song really makes me think of a bunch of special people in my life actually. But especially when I was first writing it and it wasn't finished yet, I put on a little house show and I was seeing someone named Lilly at the time and it was an early lesbian relationship for me, and me. And it made her cry when I played it at the show and it was so beautiful, I died. Just from her action to it. And that relationship, specifically at that time became kind of about navigating the fact that we had similar traumas and the fear of kind of being assertive with our desire. Because we didn't want to cross any boundaries, but yet not really having the language yet to navigate that yet, so that's something I feel like I've learned a lot about, is just how to speak about my desires and my boundaries and navigate that a lot more. And then the song musically actually just took a long time because that was the first one that I produced, and so it was coming in a time where music was kind of on the back-burner for me for a while, and I was going to art school, and it was something that I really, really wanted, but I didn't really have the time commitment of getting chops basically yet.

And so I started working with my drummer at that time, Nick Donovan and that was the first song that I produced where I was really, really laboring to get something at a certain level where it felt tight — the music felt tight — and where what was going on within the production and the different instruments really conveyed what I wanted to the song — what the song meant to me in a way. And so it was really special to kind of finish it and release it, because I felt like I had got into a place where I could — where I was hearing, when I was hearing what I wanted to hear in the production kind of.


Maud Mostly: It's really incredible to hear about the love and care that went into that song that confronts such a difficult topic, but also in such a relatable way. You talk about expressing that disassociation without having the language to do so, and you just so many survivors are put in that situation where they're experiencing things they don't understand, and they're coming up with different ways to explain it. And I feel like that's what can really be heard in that song, which is incredible. And potentially related to trauma, or potentially related to your experiences as a Queer individual, I've noticed you share new photography on your social media, and this could fully just be your choice to create fun art with your friends. But do you feel any deeper connections with creating or sharing that kind of art based on your experiences?


Miel Azevedo: Yeah, it is interesting because, yeah, I have noticed this correlation and stuff I post, and I think there definitely is a strong connection between addressing certain issues as a survivor and also liberating my desire and my pleasure and my body and my sexuality and my identity as a non-binary person, and still being femme or butch or whatever.

Yeah, I got to be part of a project during the first lockdown, I'm blanking on the name of right now — Freaks For A Cause! That was it. And so that was just put together, we were putting together different kinds of Queer porn basically, and then it was on Only Fans and then the money was going to different causes throughout every month, which was really awesome. And that was the first time that I've made, I guess nude sexual content where — again, I was producing it so I was in full control — and where it was also Queer centered. I started working with some photographers through a friend of mine, and they were all like cis het men and I was like, actually, this is not really what I wanna be doing with my body. But I made this video piece that was really sexy and really sexy to make and felt really good, and I was also kind of navigating a lot of ideas or feelings that were coming up to me at that time. During the lockdown of not feeling Queer enough or not feeling like I really fit into a category, and how those categories are always, are by definition exist to leave people out and to be, so yeah, that was really fun.


Maud Mostly: It's so cool to hear about that project. I actually didn't know about that. So it's really great to hear that stuff like that was happening, that's so interesting, that's so fun. And also just kind of how that's related to that idea of reclaiming your space, reclaiming that pleasure, regaining that control over your sexuality, but also how your sexuality is perceived and all that. So that's really incredible to hear. And then more recently, you were part of 1492 Mixtape, which is a compilation album that was created to raise money for the 1492 Land Back Lane legal fund. What did participating in this project mean to you?


Miel Azevedo: It meant a lot. It was really special to be a part of and, yeah, I think it's really difficult to find that sweet spot of where you get to — where the distribution of music is woven in with the political sensibility, and we just engaged with political issues. And also something that's so close to home, Six Nations Reserve is very close to Hamilton, it's right around the corner. And land defenders have been holding it down for so long and putting so much labor into it, so to be, just to be able to support in any small way is just a privilege. I think it really brings up deeper questions of what it means to be a white settler musician on this land, and what does it mean to be part of the music industry and the music world and how it's operating? And that kind of grows exponentially in those questions of how disconnection of the land and connection to music relate. And then what is your place as a white person here in those lineages of music, and so, yeah, that's something that I've really been thinking about a lot and trying to explore lately is because a lot of my music has jazz influences in it. And that is something where when all these songs I’ve written and produced, they're really coming from a place of not having a musical theory background and of not really having chops and having so much stuff together, and I really prided myself on making stuff up and kind of feeling like I just made these things up. But I've been realizing through the help of some group friends and mentors really, is that really whitewashes and it's almost like an inherently racist idea to feel like I created jazz, and actually the thing is to be investigating and looking into the lineages of jazz and how those also connect to the lands. And the fact that Charlie Parker, he was one of the innovatives of Bebop is Choctaw and how it's Indigenous and African music and all these things.

So I kinda went on a tangent, but that's something that I wanted to say because I've been thinking about it a lot. But yeah, it was just really special to feel like I could come together with a bunch of different musicians and be supportive in some way through music. yeah.


Maud Mostly: Definitely, and I appreciate you sharing just in that whole path you went on that it wasn't just where you are now is not where you were when you started. You learned a lot to get there, and you messed up, and I think more people need to see that you know. Definitely, so thank you for sharing that. If you wanna support 1492 Mixtape to support the legal fund directly, or if you want to learn more about what is happening at 1492 Land Back Lane, I will make sure to link all those resources below.


But thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for being a part of Tunes Tuesday this week. If you wanna find any of their music that will also be linked below, you can check out their social media there as well, and see you next week. Miel Azevedo will be playing us out.


*Black Magick by Miel Azevedo plays*


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