Quick Q+A: Lady Midnight’s Last Mourning: A Multidisciplinary Celebration of Life and Death

Update: This show has been rescheduled for April 7th, tickets available on the Icehouse site.

What could possibly be better than seeing and hearing electro-soul dynamo Lady Midnight perform her album Death Before Mourning? Having the whole project come to life with a full band performance with a lenghty and prestigious list of incredibly talented guests: Kavyesh Kaviraj / Medium Zach / Miguel Hurtado / Mayda / Lydia Jones & Zhané of New Black City / Silvestrey / Oanh Vu Puppets & Andrew Young of Monsoon Season / DJ Adora Tokyo.

To help get everyone as hyped as we are for this cannot-miss show, we sent over some quick questions to Ms. Midnight.

DISPATCH: You recently released new single ‘Tide Over’, but have assembled a very impressive group of multidisciplinary artists to revisit Death Before Mourning. Why go back? 
Lady Midnight: I feel very changed since the release of Death Before Mourning back in 2019, not only because of the collective experience of both the pandemic and uprisings, but because of the space it created once I released it. After the album release show, I found myself asking “now what?”. I had no project to distance myself from the grief I was carrying. My maternal grandmother had passed away a little over a month before the release show and while I knew I had created this body of work to serve as a tool to survive, I never imagined I would need it so soon, again. It was haunting to understand my lyrics, perhaps fully, only after her passing, and I didn’t really want to play it. In fact, for my short lived residency at Icehouse that was supposed to stretch from February of 2020 to May of 2020, I had planned all new music to play. The pandemic hit and my plans, including my fairly newly formed band, collapsed. My band mates, with the exception of my drummer Miguel Hurtado, weren’t in a place where they could energetically perform songs off the record. While I understood, that brought its own grief. So when I got the call to play a few virtual and outdoor shows in 2020, I was fortunate enough to find the musicians I’m currently playing with and basically start anew with this personally difficult existing body of work. I had begun writing and introducing new songs and I took a long break from playing with them to work and perform some of my new material with a DJ. All of that helped me to move into a different place of acceptance of loss, even if I didn’t have the answer to “now what?”.

When I think about all the changes I went through during the writing of Death Before Mourning, last year and this year, rarely did I ever get closure. Things just ended. And that’s life right? A series of endings and beginnings that overlap. I guess I feel like I owe the work of Death Before Mourning a goodbye, or at the very least a see you later while I’m currently standing in this new space of figuring out this new body of work and energy. Maybe I feel like I owe the woman I once was when I created those songs and the energy I connected to when I performed those songs a send-off. I can never be her again, but I also don’t have to abruptly leave or abandon her by never looking back. I’m already drawing energy and inspiration from new understandings but I’m grateful for the teachings and energy that brought me to where I am now. Looking back lets me know I’ve changed and I can mark this change with ceremony, and reverence, and honor and above all else lots and lots of love. I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to, so I want to perform that act of goodbye for them and with them. To make a short answer very long, I guess I’m looking back because I deserve closure on what I no longer can continue to carry but choose to learn from and remember as I step into my present and becoming self.

What do these artists—poets, artists, actors, dancers, drag queen, puppeteers, the one and only Mayda and more—bring to the presentation in terms of the “complexity of loss and hope”? Are they helping you express your own vision or a collective piece?
Yes, it is my vision in the sense that I asked them to perform in an interpretation of a funeral, to pay homage to what once was but can never be again, in a way that leaves space for joy, in the medium they are performing it this Thursday, and under some restrictions with time and space, but—they had to create it and bring their personal experiences to their piece which creates the whole. I chose each collaborator to represent an element of ceremony and experience that has stayed with me from the various funerals I’ve witnessed. Unfortunately, many of the people performing have a very recent connection to loss and understanding of how death changes the living forever. I trust that each person on that stage understands what it feels like to simultaneously hold an ever present grief while infinitely expanding around it and living with it. For me, funerals allow for communities to process the finality of a life so we can continue ours. I see this piece as a way for us to collectively contemplate the feelings of general, and if necessary, specific loss as we enter into a new year with a renewed promise from the solstice of brighter, longer days to come.

Death Before Mourning is ethereal, but like much of your music it’s also undeniably rhythmic. Will the crowd be dancing at this one or taking it all in? 
The way the show is set up there are many spaces for guests to be seated. A lot will be happening and it will feel like more of a performance piece than a concert. However, I do really want people to dance or feel free to move energy through the room, which is why I’ve asked DJ Adora Tokyo to play a set concluding my performance that celebrates life and movement. I’m excited to see how it all shakes out.

Anything else you want our readers to know or expect? 
I am requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to attend this show. I know I’m staging a funeral but I want everyone to live!— so I’m very much doing my part to keep infection numbers low and encourage people to wear masks, even if they are vaccinated. This is gonna be an avant-garde show so why not maximize the moment with a stunning face piece? I’m only halfway joking, but I definitely want people to come prepared when they arrive. I’ll have some gifts I’ll be offering guests as well that I’ve made especially for this show and I’ll also have some gifts for purchase should someone want to treat themselves or a special someone to some limited edition Lady Midnight merchandise. Either way, I hope everyone feels lighter and more open at the end of the night.

Lady Midnight’s Last Mourning: A Multidisciplinary Celebration of Life and Death takes over Icehouse on April 7th. Show at 8 PM. Tickets $20 advance, $25 day of show.

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