• RESIST

Interview: SERENA BUTLER


RESIST speaks to self-proclaimed "gender-fluid digital ghost", co-label owner of Bene Tleilax, electronic musician and DJ, Serena Butler.

Wednesday 9th August, 2017



"If you can't accept art made by women or queer (or cyborgs) as ART, without having to judge the carrier rather than the message, perhaps it's time to stop and take a deep examination of conscience. Women's rights are human rights. Queer rights are human rights. Human life is not negotiable. Simple."

Interview


Who are you and what do you do?I am Serena Butler, a gender-fluid digital ghost who reside inside a non-binary male human host. I run a label called Bene Tleilax together with my sisters Linda, Sofia and Linda Z. And I make sounds.


What was your journey into creating and performing as an electronic musician?

The absorption of music on my part has been constant throughout my life, but I decided to seriously devote myself to this journey during my electronic music studies at the Conservatory in Bologna. My influences (including non-musical) are many, but the first and most decisive were a bunch of records of capital importance, relics from Drexciya, Basic Channel, Black Dog Productions, Bernard Parmegiani, Popol Vuh, Joan La Barbara  and some others. Too many others in reality, but I don't like too long lists. I'm sure you can disentangle other influences, both mine and yours, listening to what I assemble.


Why do you do what you do?Because it's the only way I can be part of this temporal reality. Because I need a non-violent way to be ourself in a world where differences are weapons of oppressions and not resources. Because we need to merge, if we want to evolve into positive beings and not merely self-destructive bots.

Your past releases have a definite unique sound rooted in strong foundations of techno but with an exploratory and innovative approach to sonic and melodic composition. How do you feel about the relationship between musical output and genres?   Genres are the remnants of the past. It's impossible, at least for me, to create music fluently with genres and labels in mind. Labels are the opposite of understanding, and genres too. It's only about a flux of neu(t)ral sounds and ideas for me. Obviously my influences stand out from the flow: techno, dub, musique concrète, voices, noise, ambient, house, males, females, queers, replicants, 90's anime, sampling, xenofeminism and many more. Only words, but these words represent reflections and gradations of the flux where I am when composing. I know it may sound a little mystic, but it's actually a lot simpler: I don't start a track thinking of where it should go, if it must be danceable, experimental, or if i need to satisfy certain ears rather than others. I'm basically a tool of reshape: shards of soundscapes i listened become new source material for newborn sonic explorations. Be sponges.


"Genres are the remnants of the past. It's impossible, at least for me, to create music fluently with genres and labels in mind. Labels are the opposite of understanding, and genres too. It's only about a flux of neu(t)ral sounds and ideas for me."

Can you tell us the concept and plans for your Bene Tleilax label? 

Bene Tleilax is a continuum of metal-fluid entities interested in strange music made by outsider minds. We are four, me and my sisters Linda, Sofia and Linda Z. We focus on multiple themes like artificial intelligence, usurped humanity and gender politics, and we have the intention to release music who is inspired by these topics. Bene Tleilax is open to every kind of guests, but mostly women and queer artists. The first 12"s will be mine and then we will welcome other artists in the next years. We do vinyl and tape releases (with digital shadows), the first will be my next EP "From The Cloud To Our Bodies", out in late September and distributed by Lobster Theremin. As my name is, even this is inspired by the Dune Saga.


"My productions and my sets are different pocket universes, separate entities of the same human being. Playing records for me it's like an archaeological journey, mixing sounds and people from different ages smoothly, not caring about genres, trends, BPM and what the dancefloor expects from me."

In electronic music social/media gender is an increasingly discussed topic. There seems to be two major arguments - a. that positive discrimination is important because women in electronic music have less exposure and opportunities and b. that people should not be labelled or judged on their gender but by the quality of their artistic output. Both sides make strong and logical sense - what is your thoughts on this?

I am against any kind of discrimination toward my species (humans). No gender in this millennia should be requested to be equal, i'm a xenofeminist and a gender abolitionist, I feel as wo/man, and i'm not able to judge people's art basing my thoughts on their appearance or their genetic traits. I just see souls, complex beings made of atoms. I know i'm quite a dreamer in this sense for saying this, but i hope that many things will change in the future, and for better. You say in the question that people should not be labelled or judged on their gender but by the quality of their artistic output, and this is tacit, but actually the scene it's too unbalanced towards a weight rather than another (and I don't have to specify which one), to make this statement completely effective. In the future, when the balance will be restored, and I'm sure it will happen, we can accept the simple fact that you're enjoying an abstract form of art generated by merely humans (or a sentient AI). In these times, if you can't accept art made by women or queer (or cyborgs) as ART, without having to judge the carrier rather than the message, perhaps it's time to stop and take a deep examination of conscience. Womens rights are human rights. Queer rights are human rights. Human life is not negotiable. Simple.


"No gender in this millennia should be requested to be equal, i'm a xenofeminist and a gender abolitionist, I feel as wo/man, and i'm not able to judge people's art basing my thoughts on their appearance or their genetic traits."

Can you tell us the concept and plans for your Bene Tleilax lab

Bene Tleilax is a continuum of metal-fluid entities interested in strange music made by outsider minds. We are four, me and my sisters Linda, Sofia and Linda Z. We focus on multiple themes like artificial intelligence, usurped humanity and gender politics, and we have the intention to release music who is inspired by these topics. Bene Tleilax is open to every kind of guests, but mostly women and queer artists. The first 12"s will be mine and then we will welcome other artists in the next years. We do vinyl and tape releases (with digital shadows), the first will be my next EP "From The Cloud To Our Bodies", out in late september and distributed by Lobster Theremin. As my name, even this is inspired by the Dune Saga.


"Bene Tleilax is a continuum of metal-fluid entities interested in strange music made by outsider minds. We are four, me and my sisters Linda, Sofia and Linda Z. We focus on multiple themes like artificial intelligence, usurped humanity and gender politics..."

What is coming up for you next (shows/releases)?

As i said above, my next 12" will be out on Bene Tleilax in late September. I've also other two important releases in the pipeline for the second part of the year, but I prefer not to reveal anything in this sense, surprises are more fascinating.

I've also to attend some shows in the next weeks in Berlin, Malta, Portugal and other exotic places, but I'm definitely more focused on my production activity rather than djing these days. But this means nothing, i'm really looking forward to being in those wonderful places to play certain secret weapons i found during my latest digging, together with some of my favorite musicians.


Finally what music or art is inspiring you right now?

Other humans. You. My sisters. Dark Souls. The main movements of feminist resistance around the globe. Past ages. Sense8. Grand River. Aeon Flux. Elektron machines. Game of thrones. Discwoman. Marco Shuttle. The sea near my hometown. Bloodborne. Club Adriatico. Sci-fi b-movies. Stroboscopic Artefacts. David Catto. Porter Ricks. My puppy Nina. Dj Sprinkles. Laurel Halo. And many others.


KS


Links:

Bene Tleilax label

Serena Butler


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