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One month before the lockdown, Charlotte Adigéry visited New York City for the first time. The Belgian-Caribbean musician was in town to perform, alongside her collaborator Bolis Pupul, at club Nublu in the East Village in support of her new EP Zandoli. “We had such a good time that day, it was incredible,” says Adigéry. The lead single “Paténipat” is a shocker of a dance track whose chorus, “zandoli pa té ni pat,” (which translates to the gecko didn’t have any legs) is an homage to Adigéry‘s Guadeloupean and Martinique descent. “I’ve never been to Guadalupe. My father’s from there, but the islands are really similar,” she says. “In Martinique, when I was a little girl, my family always invited me to join them to dance and to sing and to express myself and not be afraid of doing so.” That same energy reverberates through Adigéry‘s music, which includes a song titled “Highlights,” an unapologetically bubbly anthem about owning her identity through “synthetic wigs and all.” Ahead of an upcoming album, and having songs featured on The New Pope and the most recent season of High Maintenance, Adigéry called in from her home in Ghent, Belgium to discuss late-night stoner snacks, Instagram meme addiction, and how she’s coping in quarantine.
On being featured on HBO’s High Maintenance: I’ve been watching it with my husband and we are looking at each other like, “Is this real? Did somebody do something in my dreams? This isn’t happening.”
On meditation: I meditate often and it really helps me. It’s a really powerful tool. I decided I was going to write down every thought I had. I quickly came up with “Yin Yang Self Meditation.” It was something I wanted to do for a long time. My first intention was that maybe I could say goodbye to the thoughts, really look at them, acknowledge them, and then let them go. We have this very playful approach in everything we make and it’s very interdisciplinary, I think.
On her morning routine: It’s different now due to coronavirus. I wake up around nine or 10 and then brush my teeth, clean up the bathroom, and eat. Then I meditate and shower.
On keeping herself busy during quarantine: I’m going to start making a carpet. A crochet carpet. I did it when I was smaller, so it was like, “Okay, let’s make something nice to put in the house.”
On her favorite junk food: In Belgium, we have something that’s very unique called a Friterie—it’s a place where you get fries, but it’s so inherently Belgian, the smell and snacks you get on the side. There are different kinds of meat and you can get a saté or a frikandel, it’s like a sausage. It’s trash. You feel guilty immediately afterward.
On midnight snacks (and getting stoned): I’m a good cook. I made bao buns. I felt so New York. It’s just because I was stoned. We ate at like 11 at night and then we watched High Maintenance. So it felt proper.
On swooning over Patrick Swayze: Dirty Dancing is a movie I’ve seen like 10 or 15 times. I think Baby’s outfits are on point, and yeah, Johnny, I mean Patrick Swayze, I love him.
On defining her music: I find it’s very hard to describe. It’s danceable, electronic, and we use a lot of synthesizers.
On her addiction to Instagram memes: I have this love-hate connection with it because every time I’m on there for more than 10 minutes, I’m like, “What the fuck am I doing?” I love memes, I’m addicted to them, but then I forget about them. If I see the same meme a week later, I’ll still laugh as if it was the first time.
On what makes her happy: Feeling completely present. During meditation or when I’m on stage, I can really feel like I’m present in my body and like I can get a hold of time for just a second. Feeling that you’re not living in vain. When I’m on Instagram for example, I feel like I’m wasting time, and when I’m meditating or when I’m gardening, I can feel super present and it’s an unconditional thing. Also food.
On people staring at her: I get nervous when people stare at me. Like when I wear a blonde wig and I’m in Belgium. People are really conservative about that and they’re not used to seeing black people, let alone seeing a black girl with a blonde wig. There’s a lot of racism here. I can feel them thinking racist stuff, but that’s also because of what I’ve been through all my life. I feel like I can’t change anything about that. Sometimes I just wave at them like, “Hey, how are you?”
On her revenge song: With “Highlights,” I was done being afraid of who I was or justifying myself. I felt really criticized. Actually it’s like revenge—avenging myself. There’s this woman I worked with who was constantly criticizing me, and she’s a black woman so she should know better.
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