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From Naples to Porta Venezia: interview with LA NIÑA

"It's much better to lose followers than yourself"

From Naples to Porta Venezia: interview with LA NIÑA It's much better to lose followers than yourself

The beginning of Spanish domination of Naples dates back to the mid-1500s. A domination that, like that of the French that followed, deeply marked the Neapolitan culture, so much so that it changed its language, aesthetics and even topography. And then there’s the music, which over the years has suffered an increasingly strong contamination: many of the greatest Neapolitan authors - from Pino Daniele to Nino D'Angelo - have reinterpreted their classics in Spanish, up to the genesis of what can be defined as "Spagnoletano", a new language - which makes the pair with Spanglish - that mixes dialect and Spanish. LA NIÑA - Carola Moccia's new artistic life, after Fitness Forever, Cyen and YOMBE - perfectly reflects the canons of Spain's aesthetic and cultural influence on Naples, inserting herself within the Neapolitan artistic renaissance in a rather peculiar way. It’s not easy to find - if not in specific contexts of the entertainment industry - female protagonists able to carry on the Neapolitan pop imagination, made of contrasts between high and low, passion and aesthetics. 

Don't miss the concert of LA NIÑA tomorrow, January 25th at the Apollo Club in Milan starting at 23:00. Click this link for all the informations.

When did the idea for LA NIÑA come about? 

More than an idea, LA NIÑA was born of a necessity. For years I wrote and sang in English, sometimes even in Italian, but I felt I was not telling the whole truth, the words sounded hollow and weak to the point that I could no longer stand my own voice. But it was after a very sad event, in which I lost an extremely important person in tragic circumstances, that something in me changed and I was able to sing about myself without filters. The language was just one of those filters, that's why I chose the Neapolitan. The Neapolitan language has an irrepressible evocative power capable of awakening even the most dormant hearts, and I can tell you that mine has slept very long. 

Your aesthetic blends Neapolitan and Spanish styles: what are the aesthetic references on which you built it? 

Let's say that my aesthetic is the inevitable result of an ancient fusion between two cultures. The Spanish domination in Naples lasted a century and a half, influencing its painting, architecture and especially the language. So I think a little bit of Spain is present in the "starter pack" of every Neapolitan. The name LA NIÑA itself, of Hispanic origin, has its own Neapolitan counterpart: "'A nenna" (baby - little girl – girl, ndr). There are many similarities between the two cultures and so many are the words that our language has borrowed from theirs. And the amazing thing is that we still feel a very strong connection with the Latin American world in general, especially in music. So more than talking about an image/aesthetic that I built maybe we should talk about genetics or geopolitics. I think Naples is the most international city it has ever been to and I hope that LA NIÑA will be able to reflect all its multiculturalism.

The use and understanding of Neapolitan language barrier has become more mainstream. Culturally, how relevant do you think it can be for an artist? 

It's a wonderful thing. Thanks to music and cinema, Naples is back into the spotlight and this has given new life to a language that was actually created centuries ago. I’m proud of how the Neapolitan manages to cross the centuries aging very well, re-inventing and enriching itself with neologisms while maintaining a very strong identity. It’s an extremely versatile language that can adapt and affect trends. I believe that the secret (as well as in its musicality) is in its being incisive and surgical. I can’t explain otherwise how hundreds of songs have entered the imagination of so many people who do not speak Neapolitan in the least. Perhaps it emotionally predisposes people to welcome a message even when it is not instantly decipherable. In this regard I am reading a magnificent book (the title is: "Psychopolitics") which speaks precisely of the loss of EROS understood as an absence of desire to understand the other, characteristic of our technological and neoliberal society. In this super-fast, self-absorbed and narcissistic society I think that all that involves an effort is a great act of love and openness to the other. In fact, I am aware that a project in Neapolitan like mine requires a certain degree of attention, especially if you are not familiar with the dialect. 

Social media is now fundamental to the expression of an artist, and your Instagram tells a precise and coherent story. How do you work on it? 

Well, actually, I don't post much, sometimes even a month goes by between photos. The reason for this "latency" is that I want my social profile to match the artist I became. Not everything is worth sharing, and I am not interested in constantly producing narcissistic and messageless images with the sole purpose of gaining new followers. I realize that this kind of approach does not pay off in the short term, however I feel perfectly comfortable with it. I think over-communication is already saturating in the eyes of the most attentive. Instagram is can be deadly boring, everything seems the same and it’s predictable even when you try to celebrate diversity. Over time I realized that the only way to escape this unhealthy drift of self-satisfaction and self-optimization was to use social media very carefully, communicating my art and not my private life. I want to continue to live music as freedom and research, deciding what to post and when. It's much better to lose followers than yourself.

What kind of story did you choose to tell LA NIÑA? 

I tell several stories, I don't always talk about my story. I like to empathize with other people's lives, to play diametrically opposite female roles. I draw from mythology or the Bible as well as folk tales or the street. I want to "give voice" to people or characters to which history has not done justice. Women of power, divinities, transsexuals; for me they are all fascinating stories that I tell by lowering them into a hyper-contemporary context. Salomè is the glaring example, she is a woman who screams for revenge but does so dressed in latex riding a racing bike. 

There is more and more talk about the new Neapolitan aesthetic, from fashion to music to cinema. Often, however, they make purely masculine references. What did you think you had? 

Boh, none. But I look around and see very few women worth talking about. I don't think it's my job to investigate the reasons for this. 

Have you gone through different artistic lives: is LA NIÑA the one you feel most about you? 

I think every artist would give you the same answer: the last thing I did is the best. If I came to LA NIÑA, it's because I wanted to look more and more like myself. I wanted to blur the line between life and art, and I certainly feel closer to this goal than before. I no longer have to strive to please someone because what I have to say is exactly what I am and I can no longer change it. 

You took part in “Le Ragazze di Porta Venezia”. How do you think that kind of message can spread to Naples and meet the Neapolitan aesthetic? 

Well Naples is a gigantic Porta Venezia. It’s a city that for centuries has welcomed and incorporated diversity and culture for the historical reasons mentioned above. The figure of the "Femminiello" (a term used to refer to a population of homosexual males with markedly feminine gender expression in traditional Neapolitan culture, ndr) for example was always well liked by popular culture, even before we began to talk about "gender equality". This is not to say that today it is no longer necessary to reaffirm and celebrate diversity. Unfortunately, we live in a country where, from time to time, we must remind some decerebrate that the colors are as many as those of the rainbow and they are all beautiful. That’s why I love “Le Ragazze di Porta Venezia” any other manifesto that fights against ignorance. As I recently sang live on stage with MYSS KETA in my verse of the song: "Porta Venezia o Porta Capuana, puortace rispetto a Napule e a Milano" (translation: “May it be Porta Venezia or Porta Capuana, respect both Naples and Milan”).