I had the beautiful opportunity to interview Amina Flèche Love, an artist I discovered on Instagram and that I really admire. She is not only a talented singer and songwriter, but also an activist who truly believes in women empowerment. She founded SWOOD with her sister Soraya and here she talks about her inner voice and how tattoos reflect her berber culture.

Who is Amina?
Amina is the name my parents gave me, my magical name is Flèche love. I’m a singer, songwriter and performer, I am an activist too, how could you not be one when you are born as a woman? With my sister – Soraya Cadelli – we have just created a community called Swood, the idea behind of it is sorority, aiming to empower women.

What drew your attention to tattoo art?
My grandmother was tattooed all over the face. To me she was magical, she was a witch and those tattoos gave her a super power. I felt like she was transcending her own body, she was not anymore flesh, she was not anymore defined by her physical apperance, she was not anymore old, she was powerful and she was a magical creature.

Are your culture and heritage related to your tattoo choices?
Most of my tattoos have a link with my berber culture, but some of my tattoos don’t. Now I am more into tattoos with a special signification, as I grow older my relation with spirituality grows deeper .

I saw your beautiful neck tattoo. Could you tell us more about the meaning behind of it?
This tattoo is a protection, I am a singer and getting a tattoo on my neck it’s not a coincidence, it’s a berber parure. It’s a work of art made by the incredible Guy le Tatooer, he is such a genius.

Berber tattoo tradition on I am Not a Tattoo Blog

Can we say music is your deepest means of expression? How did it all begin?
I don’t know if it’s my deepest means of expression, I know it’s important for me but I like writing essays and poems too.

My voice is important, I don’t only mean my singing voice, but my voice is a tool to express myself, to say: here I am.

When I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer, I understood the power of words, I wanted to help others and I ended up being a singer, which is cool too.
The singing voice adds a vibration to my words, offers them a possibility to travel in space or time. I used to sing for myself in my room, singing out of key, just for pleasure.
My father used to listen to a lot of jazz music, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra. As a child I was like a sponge and this music changed my life, the way those singers dealt with sorrow and anger, it was fascinating. For instance, when Billie sings she sings right in your face, you cannot escape, she is the real deal. I LOVE HER.

What’s it like to be a female alternative singer nowadays?
I left a band back in 2015 which was a bit successful because I was not respected as a human being and as a woman. I’d rather start all over again than not respecting myself. I’m learning to say no, to respect myself and not to sacrifice myself.
As a woman I’ve been taught to stay silent and not to empower mysef, and now I’m learning the opposite, it’s never too late.
I’ve realised that being a female alternative singer is the only way for freedom, as most of the important jobs in the music industry (producers, directors of labels) are men’s jobs. So as a young woman in this industry it takes clit and you have to know where you wanna go, I know it will take more time and it’s more reassuring because, as we all know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

About woman empowerment and tattoo art

Do you feel tattoos empowered yourself?

Definitely, it’s like a colorful shell. I feel like tattoos give you the opportunity to be who you really wanna be. I’ve always been frustrated about this face which is supposed to reflect who I am, a face I haven’t chosen, and tattoos give me the chance to finally choose. Tattoo is my attempt to own a little bit more my body. It has given me more self confidence and it has protected myself from jerks.

A lot of people would never talk to me because I’m tattooed and a lot of great people come to talk to me because I have tattoos.

I met a bunch of incredible people because of my tattoos, even old people telling me: “normally I don’t like tattoos but yours are great”. This is so cool.

What do you love the most about music? And tattoos?
I love the fact that it’s a way of expressing yourself, music is my therapy, I tried not to keep inside of me what is poison and what might turn into a curse or a illness.
For the album I’m working on, my songwriting process is different from my previous one. I improvise all the time and most of my lyrics don’t rhyme, they are words coming straight from my soul, I believe in mantras and that’s how I see my new songs.
Tattoos are an extension of my inner emotional landscape.

Tell me about your first and your latest one tattoo experience. And then, what artists did you get tattooed by?
My first tattoo is a wheel of a boat made by a very bad tattoo “artist” in Geneva, I’m gonna get it covered by Guy le Tatooer pretty soon. My latest tattoo was done by Guy, on my hands, which is a step further in the life of someone who has tattoos.
Having a tattoo on your hands means I don’t give a damn about what society thinks I should look like. For me it’s a reminder that I should never have a conventional job, I mean I respect people who are happy with conventional jobs but it’s not my type, I feel like my inner life has to be expressed artistically in my job.
No matter how, music is one side!

Interview on berber traditional tattoos by Ilaria Pauletti

What is your opinion about the general perception of being an independent woman in today’s society?
I feel like something is changing, people have more consciousness about what is going on. A change is gonna come and consciousness is the key. As women, we have to realise that the change will come from the inside, we have to refuse to nourish this competition between us.

Competition can be healthy when the purpose is to get better as a person and to improve but we cannot always be under pressure, it’s not constructive.

As a woman I’ve always been taught that my value is my physical appearance and that I am in competition with other women.
You know what? I’m not okay with that, I have to be honest with myself and with others but I’m fighting those feelings, those misconceptions.
Have you ever noticed that women can be so judgemental with other women, calling them ‘bitches’ when they live their sexuality their own way, staring at other women in the street to see what they wear, if they are more beautiful or less? It’s tiring to be constantly watched.
This is a diversion, while we are doing this, we are not empowering ourselves and that’s what some men want (when I say some men I mean men who are willing to keep women under control, men who are sexist, I believe they are great men who are waiting for a change and who are fighting with us).
Sorority is the key. We have to learn to say NO, and as soon as we all say NO, things will change. It will take time but as soon as we all realise it, we can then teach this to the next generations. I do have hope.

Who are your favourite artists and inspirations?
There are so many artists I admire so much.
for tattoos I love Caroline Vitelli she is an amazing illustrator, a beautiful spirit and a tattoo artist with her own style. She deserves the best really. I love Guy of course and there are so many I don’t even know and who are just incredible.
I love Casey, she is a french indie rapper, she is so clever and necessary to the french rap scene; I love Son Lux, they are the perfect combination of creepiness and beauty, their music is insane; I love Helado Negro I’ve just discovered him, his live is so cool and he seems to be such a nice guy. I love Abra, I love Odezenne, I love Arvo Part, I mean there are so many people who are inspiring. Back then when I was part of the band I left, the leader felt like he was a genius, he didn’t want to do name dropping during interviews and it was only because he was unsecure about his own “talent”.

I don’t think that saying you admire people is a bad thing, ego can be very destructive.

What if I was the only person to make music? It would be so sad, I’m part of something bigger than me and it’s important to always stay conscious about it.

 

Photo Credits: main pic by Roberto Greco, second portrait by Guillaume Mégevand.

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1 ottobre 2016

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