At two years old, Ariana Paoletti danced wildly around her living room to Madonna’s True Blue (1986) album. “I guess my love of music and dance started early,” she says before the eve of her performance at the Far Out Left festival, organised by Social and Regenerate.
Today, she’s a fiercely feminist DJ pushing the boundaries of techno all over the world. Her sound eschews pigeon-holing, crescendoing into a sonic tornado peppered with machine funk, pulsating beats and industrial riffs. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Paoletti — who performs under the moniker Volvox, grew up in Brooklyn, New York — is a goth turned DJ, brining the same dark vibe to her performances. When she’s not channelling mood-swinging music for folks to start moving, she’s performing at concept gigs like the Pornceptual x Boiler Room live stream, creating a dizzying and heady blend of gender, sexuality and music. Through Discwomen — an all-female DJ booking agency that Volvox is a client and promoter of — she’s bringing women to the console, front and centre.
Here’s Volvox explaining what electronic body music is to the uninitiated along while talking about her music as a tool for feminism and evolving visual aesthetics.
What is it about electronic body music that lures you?
Techno as a style of electronic music that originated in Detroit in the late 1980s as a futuristic statement on sound and the human experience. The originators of techno infused the spirit of soul and Motown that they grew up with with the repetitive rhythms from the factory assembly lines, and imbued it with a positive vision of the future.
Although it wasn’t the focus of my interest until more recently, techno was always around and popping up among the goth/industrial and electro music I was listening to as a teen. I was drawn to techno because of the power and intensity of the sound. At some point industrial music sort of lost its originality for me. Techno seemed to carry a lot of the same themes in a more refined and functional package so I made the jump.
How do your artistic and visual sensibilities influence your music?
For me, being into visual aesthetics is an ongoing practice running alongside my interest in music. Since music is so internal and ephemeral, creating a visual language to help communicate the content of the music is important to me.
People that are familiar with the history of industrial music and techno may pick up on visual references and cues that I use. Volvox as a character is highly influenced by American and European industrial music culture of the 1980s and a rebellious ethos overall.
You’ve played at several festish parties in the past. How does sexuality find central representation in your music?
Sexuality and sexual acceptance is a topic that is very important to me. My music is intended to connect at a visceral level, the rhythm hits your heart chakra and impulsively your body begins to move.
I feel like I express my inner self best when I am dancing, and I hope the audience can experience that for themselves as well.
Feminism has today, entered public discourse, especially in pop culture and politics. How important is it for you to let your music represent that?
My music and career represents feminist values in many ways. I cooperate with women, transgender and non-binary artists to promote new talent locally and globally. I nurture young DJs and producers through my events and record label. I use my intuition and perceptiveness to stay ahead of trends in music and deliver the best show possible. I am committed to helping others not only break into the electronic music industry but to rise in the ranks to meaningful positions of power.
Far Out Left festival takes place this evening and tomorrow at The Great Eastern Mills, Byculla at 8 p.m. onwards. See faroutleft.in for tickets and details