Luce Unplugged: Five Questions for Antonia

This is an image of artist Antonia.

Antonia. Photo by Jen Meller. 

On Friday, March 23rd, the Luce Foundation Center hosts another installment of the Luce Unplugged Community Showcase from 6-8 p.m. Presented with Washington City Paper, the free show features performances by local artists with free spirit tastings provided by the women-owned distillery Republic Restoratives. Jessica McFadden, the Luce Foundation Center's  Program Assistant, reached out to this season’s Showcase performers, Governess and Antonia, to gain some insights to their creative processes. The second installment of this two-part blog post features experimental pop artist, Adriana-Lucia Cotes, as Antonia. 

EyeLevel: When did you begin making music and has it evolved since you first started out?

Antonia: I started making music by singing everywhere I could. I sang in church, at school, in local choruses, and even just sitting by myself reading. I don’t like to think in terms of my music evolving, rather whether I am evolving. That sounds super snotty, but in my opinion, I’m making the best of what I have in the moment (hopefully) and not trying to strive for something outside of who I am. I think looking at when I first wrote songs that turned into Antonia songs to now, I feel that I’m still learning at the same rate. I’m just more familiar and comfortable sharing my music and I perform my set better now than I did when I started. See what I mean? It’s all relative.

Is Antonia a stage name or persona? Is there a significance behind it?

It’s my grandmother’s name. She’s a very chill, supportive soul with real joie de vivre. She’s had four kids including my mom and knows the value of not sweating the small stuff. She called me once, I really needed her call, and she told me that she was proud of me for taking my own path and sticking to my gut. It wasn’t even out of the ordinary for my grandma, she’s just like that. We are very similar and she’s is one of my favorite people. I don’t see her enough, especially not lately. I’m working on it!

What do you try to communicate through your work? In other words, what do you hope your audience takes away from your music and performances?

The album I’m working on is very deep and dark – I’m recounting multiple forms of emotional abuse and manipulation and self-discovery during the chapter of recovery from abuse where I set very serious boundaries and cut off most contact from my abusers and from people who were complicit in my abuse. I found myself needing to document it all after having one of my abusers try to gaslight me for holding him accountable for discounting my ability to play a show by myself. But the album isn’t about these people – they don’t deserve that. The songs I write are things that I’m feeling and that are happening in the moment. What I hope people can take away is a sense of victory, or peace, hearing songs that express a range of emotions and speak about self-love and enjoying how unique and special we all are.

What’s your experience in the DC music scene been like?

I love DC’s Music Community. The word “scene” has always been tough for me to use because it implies something really superficial, and without any accountability or regard for the community and spaces it inhabits. There are problems with enabling and not holding accountable some really abusive, self-professed arbiters of our creative community; with some that have reached heights of hosting shows at very lauded establishments. There are other problems with not just ‘inclusivity’ but representation of POC and queer people in D.C. At the same time, there are great venues that put in the effort to book exciting, representative shows. There are also amazing people that aren’t just music people, but actually engage with the community and causes that affect our city. I’m blessed to be part of it, but I recognize that there are still things that must change.

Are there any artists you’ve collaborated with in D.C.? If so, who? And do you have any upcoming projects that you’re working on?

Yes! I was able to play in front of a gorgeous piece that Janel Leppin created for her Weavings reception and show at the Black Cat in February. I’ve collaborated with other musicians on benefit shows in the past too. I’m in a band called Mock Identity with several local musicians, and we’ve just finished recording and mixing our first album. I love our band! My bandmates are such awesome, supportive, talented people. We have our Mock Identity album coming out, and I have an Antonia album coming! I’m touring for both projects this year too!

Want to listen to music by these performers? Check out Governess on Bandcamp and stream Antonia on Soundcloud. Luce Unplugged is a free, monthly concert series held in the Luce Foundation Center for American Art. The series is organized in partnership with DC Music Download, and Washington City Paper. Be sure to check out upcoming performances and don't miss our Spring Community Showcase this Friday, March 23rd. Antonia to open at 6 p.m. followed by Governess at 7 p.m.

Read Jessica's interview with Governess.