Singer, Songwriter, Composer, Musician and Author.
THE INSPIRATION TALK
MY DEAR LETICIA… YOU WERE RAISED IN TIJUCA, IN A FAMILY IN WHICH NO ONE WAS AN ARTIST. GROWING UP, WHAT WERE YOU DREAMING OF BECOMING ?
I guess I was dreaming about nature all the time. I was lucky that one side of my family owned a little farmhouse and on the other side a beach house; I spent all my holidays in those places. I wasn’t really dreaming of becoming anyone nor doing any specific job. I was more the kind of kid who wished she knew where this waterfall someone had told her about was, or who wanted to go to that other place because of the color of the ocean. I was really obsessed with nature.
When I was about 13 years old I started studying theatre at my school and then I went to College to study Portuguese literature because I love to write. Only it was very academic and way too square for me. You know, most parents would hate that their children became artists, but my mom was the one who enrolled me in this Art school called CAL (Casa das Artes de Laranjeiras). So I went, met my best friend, became a woman and an artist there. This place changed me.
HOW COME YOUR MOTHER SUGGESTED YOU CHANGED COURSES AND GO TO AN ART SCHOOL?
Because she remembered how happy I was when I was doing theatre at school; I was shining! And she also saw how depressed I was when I went to College. She didn’t want that for me. On my first day at CAL, the first class I attended was music. I arrived late and the teacher pointed at me and told me to sing. I felt so shy! I was standing in front of 40 people that I had never seen in my life before, I was 19 years old and I felt awkward about myself and how I looked. But anyway I said to myself : “If I don’t sing now, there is absolutely no reason for me to be here”. So I pulled all the courage I had in me and started to sing some Janis Joplin song. I felt sexy suddenly. All my friends from there I still see nowadays tell me they will never forget that first day of school because I sang and now it is what I do for a living.
WERE YOU ALREADY SINGING BEFORE THAT FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL?
I was but just for me. Although, since I am a kid, music is my thing. My mother put me to piano classes but it was too classic for me; I would have loved to have guitar lessons instead. I have this old memory, probably my oldest one: I was 6 years old and had just finished reading a Hans Christian Andersen tale. It moved me so much that I closed the book and put it on my chest and started composing a song with lyrics to continue the story. I still remember the song! I compose songs from things that are happening to me. I only started dreaming of becoming an artist when I was 19 and started doing this theatre course at University. And it’s not like I told myself I was particularly good at it, I think any artist will always second-guess himself about his art but I realized that everything I did, like writing a song with my guitar or performing, would call people’s attention. I started thinking that maybe this was something I wanted to pursue for the rest of my life.
WE SHALL THANK YOUR MOTHER TO HAVE ENROLLED YOU IN THAT SCHOOL, IF NOT WE MAYBE NEVER WOULD HAVE HAD THE CHANCE TO KNOW LETRUX! (LETICIA'S MUSIC PROJECT).
Haha maybe later… You know I am a Capricorn and Capricorns are slow to make changes. My mother is a Pisces, she’s very sensitive. So when she realized I was not happy following a more academic formation, she did something about it! But you know, I loved studying literature. I write and in my heart I am still a writer. My process to compose a song always starts with the lyrics, and only after do I think about the music.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE IT WAS TIME TO PURSUE MUSIC AS A CAREER AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DO IT?
I had a first band which was basically just one girl (laughs). If I listen to it now I feel very embarrassed but at the same time it is filled with sweetness and a pure heart. It was genuine. At 25 years-old, I met Lucas (editor’s note : Lucas Vasconcellos), my ex-partner, who was already a great musician back then. We were composing together and eventually started Letuce, my ex band. Lucas always searched for excellency in music, whereas I was always a little bit clumsy, you know? I played a little bit the guitar, I sang a little bit but always felt a bit lost too, when he was so focused all the time. But together with him, I felt I could do it in a more professional way and we could maybe even earn some money with it. When he arrived in my life I realized this was serious. I had to meet a great musician to tell me I had talent. Like if I was waiting for his approval. This actually sounds kind of sexist ! (Laughs).
DO YOU THINK IT COULD HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT HAD YOU MET A GIRL INSTEAD?
Not at all. Let me rephrase it then: I was just waiting for the approval of a professional musician (laughs).
WHAT WAS THE FIRST PAID GIG YOU DID?
I think I was 26, Lucas and I were playing together already, and I remember we did a concert at a movie theatre for the launch party of a movie in which my cousin, who is the amazing actress Karina Teles, was starring. I remember the feeling of happiness after the show. You know, the joy of not paying something out of your own purse? Well I was very happy to being treated to Japanese food with the money we earned from the gig that night!
WHAT KIND OF STORIES DO YOU WANT TO TELL THROUGH YOUR ART, ESPECIALLY SINCE YOU CHOSE TO PERFORM AS A SOLO ARTIST?
I am an observer. An observer of life, of things that people don’t pay attention to. You know when people watch a movie and cannot take their eyes off of the beautiful actress, I only look at the specific scar she has on her wrist. I just travel in my head and start thinking that she must have had an accident when she was a kid… I can go very far! It is the same thing when I start writing lyrics for a song: I try to imagine a woman, sometimes it is me, sometimes it is a friend of mine, sometimes it is my grand-mother, and I try to imagine how it is to live in those skins, how to find love as a rescue when you have to face other problems, or when your country is going down like now in Brazil. This album talks about these things. It is very tragic but also very funny because we are in a moment like this. Sometimes I want to laugh like a crazy person and sometimes I want to cry like also a crazy person. I think my whole generation is a bit like that. No one is really balanced, no one really feels safe in our country. Look at carnival for example, people get so crazy for it because they want to feel something. That is why it is so radical: seven days of lust and drugs and drinking and sex. And then when carnival ends we sometimes have to go back to a job that we hate, only to pay bills and where we don’t feel satisfied as human beings. I tell these stories with these details that happened to me but I know everyone can relate to them.
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR PASSION FOR ASTROLOGY. IS IT SOMETHING THAT HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU FEEL INSIDE?
When I was a child, my mom gave me a book about the moon and it clicked: suddenly this world opened to me and never closed! It just makes sense to me, and I am not against science at all; I love science. I love to watch documentaries about science. People think that someone who loves science is against astrology; I love both and I think both of them in the past worked very well together. I mean, we have electric light since 150 years maybe? Before that, you would walk and guide yourself through the stars and it was beautiful. People started to realize some “coincidences” like tides when the moon was fuller. You cannot deny the power of the moon on the ocean. And when you know that our body is filled with water, it really makes you think.
THEY SAY CAPRICORN DON’T GET SAD, THEY GET DEPRESSED. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?
I remember being a child and reading about my sign and not identifying with it… But today, I’m so Capricorn! (Laughs). I was a very happy child, always laughing and being crazy whereas Capricorns were supposed to be so serious. I guess this happens when you read poor astrology. If you read serious literature about astrology, you see that Jim Carrey is a Capricorn and he is very funny. You know all the earth signs: Taurus, Capricorn and Virgo, are very strong. And when they’re sad they can really change. You know, when people are sad they tend to drink and starve themselves. I do the opposite. When I am sad, I cry first but then I cook myself an egg and I drink an orange juice. I feed myself with the things that I know will help me get better.
YOU SAID THAT THIS RECORD IS YOU AS A WOMAN; YOU EXPLORE OPENLY FEMALE SEXUALITY, YOU SPEAK YOUR MIND, YOU ARE A PROUD FEMINIST. DO YOU THINK YOU CAN OPENLY CELEBRATE YOUR INDIVIDUALITY HERE?
I have been in the music industry for fifteen years. I grew my public through these years and I feel safe to say what I say because I know I have an audience of people who praise me and are curious about what I am going to say. I think it is also a very good time for women now, especially female singers. But I was exactly the same when I was five years old; I just grew hair and traumas (laughs). I deal with work today just the way I dealt with my toys back then. Of course I changed regarding how I feel when putting my sexuality out on stage. I always wanted people to think of me as an intelligent woman. I understand now that it is okay to dress in a swimsuit on stage and still be considered smart. I feel people used to judge a lot by the figure, it seems to have evolved. I love Peaches for example and always thought she was amazing.
THIS MAKES ME THINK OF NATALIE PORTMAN’S SPEECH ABOUT THE FACT SHE HAD TO BUILD THIS INTELECTUAL PERSONA COVERING UP HERSELF WITH CLOTHES SO THAT PEOPLE WOULD RESPECT HER.
I did that as well. I am 36 years old now and sometimes I look at pictures of when I was 22 and think : “why didn’t I have the courage to wear a skirt?”, when now I think my legs aren’t that good anymore. I regret being ashamed of myself back then, I was very insecure with my body. I was tall and skinny but I grew up with all these fake references I saw in magazines like retouched armpits, retouched stomachs, retouched everything. I feel more secure as a performer and as a woman today.
DO YOU FEEL FREER WHEN YOU ARE LETRUX THAN WHEN YOU ARE LETICIA? IS THERE A DIFFERENCE?
I think when you are on stage you always wear a mask to protect yourself. Sometimes of course I am "Leticia" but I need to have a voice and a persona to say some of the things I say out there. A stage is a sacred place. Nearly everything is allowed there. You can try things. I like to play with voices, add some drama, some stand up comedy too. It is not that I feel freer but I feel I just want to play more. In my “real” life I still play and I can be very goofy but I also love to have an “average” life.
FOR NOW! HAHA.
PEOPLE SEEM TO HAVE A SPECIAL “CARINHO” ("AFFECTION") FOR YOU. THEY FEEL CLOSE TO YOU. THEY ENGAGE A LOT WITH YOU.
I think on social media I try not to be that diva who would only post selfies when she looks amazing. Of course I like to post a selfie when I look beautiful but I also like to share when my nephew draws me something. I try to talk to people as I would just talk to you, I really don’t put myself on a pedestal. People really feel they know me because I share a lot. I am in a very specific place right now where everything is changing in my schedule. It is crazy but I am very happy because this is the result of something I started 15 years ago! I think I’ll always try, even if I get more successful, to be connected with people who like my work. I love to write and I always try to do a little chronicle about my day. I get a lot of comments from people who say they love reading about those things. Actually, I intend on writing a second book.
WOW AMAZING! WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST ONE ABOUT?
A poem book that I wrote in 2015.
ABOUT WRITING… WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE YOU EVER WROTE IN A SONG?
Oh my god. This is very special… I think the sentence that I most enjoy at the moment is: "existe amor depois do amor” (editor’s note : “there is love after love", from Amor Ruim).
DO YOU READ EVERYTHING THAT IS SAID ABOUT YOU?
I used to but now it is too much to read. It used to affect me a lot. When I was a teenager I suffered bullying because I was too tall, too skinny, my nose was too big… Everything was a reason for the boys to make fun of me. When we started the band, I was doing an analysis but still wasn’t healed from the bully. So when I read negative comments or bad reviews like “she cannot sing” I was devastated. I wasn’t ready to face these things. Can you imagine being judged for something you made with love in your bedroom, sometimes crying your heart out while playing the guitar? (laughs). Now I handle those things very differently: I know this is all a circus. There is one specific person that we know who hates me and anytime I do something he will comment something negative about it, up to the point we are waiting for him to react whenever I manifest myself. I think he likes the circus. But it doesn’t affect me since he doesn’t put any effort in the way he writes those comments. I love good literature you know. Also I think Astrology helps me a lot since I see those things coming; I read my annual astral theme and I am aware of things coming at me.
WHAT EMERGES FROM NOWADAYS CONVERSATIONS IS THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SENSE OF THE COLLECTIVE; WOMEN SUPPORTING OTHER WOMEN. YOU ARE A SOLO ARTIST NOW, DON’T YOU FEEL THE NEED TO BE CLOSE TO WOMEN?
You know in my previous band I was the only woman. Now that I started Letrux, I am surrounded by women and they are amazing. Natalia, who is a transgender woman and Marta, who is a Lesbian. My band is very LGBT, we have everything… These women are everything!
YOU KNOW YOU ARE A GAY ICON, DON’T YOU?
Yes! You know even when I was part of Letuce, I always tried not to specify any gender in the way I was writing lyrics. I want for everyone to be able to identify with my songs. And when people tell me that they always feel connected to my music, it is a relief. On the album that I did as Letrux, I feel I connected with women even more. There is this lesbian song that I wrote along with an amazing poet friend of mine. It talks about two women. Of course there are plenty of singers who are considered gay icons, like Madonna for example, but I feel we don’t have so many songs talking about being gay in their lyrics. They don’t assume. The lyrics from my song, “Que estrago” are very sexy, very gay. I received so many messages from women saying: “thank you, now I have a song for me and my girlfriend” or even telling me they had sex listening to it (laughs). I really tried to be more inclusive with this band. I feel we are a strong collective of women.
IS IT EASIER TO WORK IN THAT ENVIRONMENT?
In the past I was always insecure about telling something that would maybe make the boys (from the band) think of me as a bit silly… But I don’t think it is silly to talk about costumes! Of course we give more importance to the soundcheck but it is also okay to be concerned about what you are going to wear on stage. I think around my actual band I feel more at ease to talk about those things. My ex band was amazing though, they are very special boys to me. It is not a time to segregate and be mean to men. I have three nephews, I have a boyfriend… I love men. I think it is a time to teach them how to listen to us.
YOU SEEMED TO HAVE FOUND A WAY TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN WITH YOUR SONGS!
A WOMAN YOU ADMIRE?
Thousands! (Laughs). I think the first woman for whom I said “wow, what is this?” was Janis Joplin. And then Patti Smith, PJ Harvey…
SO WOMEN WITH, LITERALLY, STRONG VOICES!
Yes I like those voices. I also love Brazilian women like Maria Bethânia, Rita Lee and Marina Lima. She was very famous in the 80s and the 90s. I consider her as my music godmother because she was the first famous person talking about me in the media. I participated to her new album, writing lyrics with her. She is my friend, my mentor and she also did a featuring on my solo album!
YOUR FIRST “I MADE IT” MOMENT?
The band Air, which is amazing, did a gig in Circo Voador and the venue called us to open the show. It was quite a thing. So we played and you know when you open a show, the public is not here for you, it is very difficult. But I didn’t care because after our performance one of Air’s members looked at me and said “well done girl”. I felt very secure suddenly (laughs).
ANY SPECIAL TRICK YOU LIKE TO SHOW OFF DURING A DINNER PARTY?
I have a dish that I like to do: couscous. Everybody loves my couscous but I don’t know why… Maybe because I put ginger in it. When I have a little more money I even put shrimps! (Laughs).
FINALLY, AND I KNOW THIS IS GOING TO BE TRICKY FOR YOU… WHAT IS THE SONG THAT WILL ALWAYS MAKE YOU WANT TO DANCE?
Wow… Actually there is a song from Prince called “Wow” (laughs). It is an amazing song; I mean Prince is always going to make me want to dance, but this specific one might be a bit hard to dance to. I think also Billy Paul’s version of Elton John’s “Your song”… I know it is very cheesy but I recently turned 36 and we were celebrating with some friends, we were very drunk and I actually really turned 36 singing with them on that specific song that night. It was very special.
ITW & CREATIVE DIRECTION: LISA DEBATTY
PHOTOGRAPHER: PEDRO KOELER
BEAUTY ARTIST: FOX GOULART
STYLING: CRIS BARROS & LISA DEBATTY
PRODUCTION: OUI SIMONE
SPECIAL THANKS: HELENO BERNARDI FOR THE SET OF HIS BEAUTIFUL INSTALLATION “CASSINO”; THE IED RIO.
This portrait is part of a curated series of 4 portraits of artists representing free, feminine and inspiring women that OuiSimone imagined with Cris Barros.