With a new album and London shows, Cibelle lures you deep into to her post-apocalyptic dreamland
The world has ended. You’re one of the few that escaped to another galaxy, but couldn’t resist visiting what remains of Earth: a forest on a floating rock, mutant monkeys altered by the acid rain, neon birds and an ocean dripping into the beyond, and a band plays in the last cabaret, Las Venus Resort Palace Hotel.
The old scorched bar is the only entertainment for the survivers, who party like there’s no tomorrow, led by the enchanting hostess Sonja Khalecallon and her band, Los Stroboscopius Luminous. “Sonja stays on reception, in the bar, cleans the bathroom, sings, does exotic massage, all at once, thanks to the discovery of bi-localisation (bee-loca)”, Cibelle explains. “There are trained monkeys too, because Sonja needs her beauty sleep, but you’re forbidden to feed them”.
This is the post-apocalyptic world which Cibelle created for her third album, Las Venus Resort Palace Hotel, to be launched in May on Crammed Discs. For the album and London shows (on 10th April and 20th May), the singer will go under the guise of her alter-ego Sonja Khalecallon, whom she deconstructs like so: “Sonja is the guru of [artist] Rick Castro + sponje (my anthropophagic behavior sucking in all things) + Frida Khalo + Sophie Calle + canecalon (‘fake hair’) = Sonja Khalecallon.
Produced by Cibelle herself and Björk’s music director, Damian Taylor, the album’s a soundtrack to this post-nuclear cabaret wrapped in electronic neo-tropicalism, with nine original tracks and three covers: Mango Tree, originally by Ursula Andress in the James Bond film Dr. No; electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott’s Lightworks, and It’s Not Easy Being Green, by Kermit the Frog. Aside from Taylor, Brasilian musicians Fernando Catatau and Pupilo also collaborated on the album, which was recorded between the singer’s cellar in London, São Paulo, Berlin and Vancouver.
See below for Jungle’s full interview with Cibelle about her new album, gigs, this fantastical world of hers and just who this Sonja person is anyway…
And check out her Man from Mars (UFO transmission from outer space) video
Las Venus Palace Resort Hotel, the last cabaret at the end of the world. Who would be the head barman and what would the drinks be made of? What’s on the menu? What will people do when the morning comes? Just keep cabareting it away in perpetual motion?
It would be Sonja, with her multiples: Sonja at reception, Sonja at the bar, Sonja cleans the bathroom, Sonja sells in the shop, Sonja sings for you, Sonja gives you exotic massage. All in one, thanks to the discovery of bi-location (bee-loca) [‘be crazy’]. But there are also some very nice trained monkeys (as long as you don’t feed them), and every now and again I get people from other galaxies to help out because the influx of guests is too heavy and Sonja needs her beauty sleep.
About your alter ego, are you uncomfortable in your own skin or comfortable in all skins? In becoming Sonja Khalecallon for your new album, what is that all about?
The alter ego is a caricature of myself, I’m super comfortable with myself, to the point where I can take the p*ss out of myself in a big joke, and make a caricature.
Sonja Khalecallon is actually a code name that explains my creative expression well in a nutshell: Sonia (Rick Castro’s guru on non-attachment) + ‘sponje’ (my anthropophagic/cannibalistic behavior sucking in all things) + Frida Khalo + Sophie Calle + ‘canecalon’ (fake hair) = Sonja Khalecallon.
Tropical Dadaism. Essentially, Sonja Khalecallon is me, but with the amp volume way louder and freakier.
I took that code name and used it to baptise the caricature of myself, because it sounds a bit like a super hero. I’m a bit inspired by ‘Xuxa contra o Baixo Astral’ [a 1980s film by Brazilian presenter Xuxa], mixed with Cicciolina [an Italian light porn actress], a touch Tarantino-Almodovarian, Viuva Porcina [character from Brazilian soap opera ‘Tieta’], an old auntie with 18 cats out in the back yard.
That concept of the world as we know it coming to an end under a set of bizarre circumstances, is it completely imaginary or do you think there is a hint of reality there? Are you a bit nervous about 2012 or looking forward to a total shake down?
I took a ride on all this 2012 talk, because also I was talking and youtube’ing a lot about the subject with Damian, been on youtube also looking at a bunch of UFO stuff, it’s all very curious and interesting, and it sparked my imagination, hearing everyone’s theories, etc etc, so I had the idea and ran away with it making my safe little island, which is whatever is left of Las Vegas, after the ice melted (the ice from the flood), and then the desert became a rainforest, and I found this one hotel left standing, missing the “gas” from las vegas, so I made up a new sign saying Las Venus, because it’s where I’m from. Well, Sonja is, or not, anyways, wanna have a mojito? Pina colada? Cu-de-burro is one of the specials of the house (beer, lime and salt).
Is there any emotional connection behind the reason to doing the cover of Kermit the frog’s song ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’?
I used to LOVE kermit when I was kid, I also love singing this song, the lyrics are great, because I am “green”, and i’m happy to be whatever/whoever I am. (I’m of martian descendent, so when I don’t sunbathe, you can see a green shade… I got the passport and everything).
Why Dalston and not anywhere else, like say, Brazil?
Because Dalston is rich with people from all over the world, lots of Jamaicans as well… makes it hot. I love the chaos here, when I used to live in Sao Paulo I’d always go downtown, because it’s that chaos, and people from all over Brazil.
Are you headed towards some sort of pop exotica stardom? You played with Grizzly Bear lately and there are rumors some of your new tunes and spontaneous loops will be hitting mainstream radio waves soon.
Let the light of Sonja shine upon thee and free your butt to get down and dirty, free pizza! Soltemos as vossas frangas! [‘We’re gonna set the chickens loose!’ (i.e. go a little crazy)]. The mess yahyah ai-ai-ai of the boom-baa boom-baa!
What do you think of Tim Maia’s classic album ‘Racional Volume 1’?
LOVE IT. Do your thing, respect yourself! Wise words.
You’ve collaborated with legendary people in your time already, but who’s next?
Legendary indeed, one is even called ‘The Legendary Tigerman’! I have no idea, “eu to abeeeeerta” [‘I’m open’], like the Tetine song.
Kind thanks Cibelle/Sonja, a pleasure interviewing you!
By Lívia Thimotheo and Oriana Santos
Album Launch @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen