Lyrical flow rap, experimental hip hop, electronic soul full, activating queer, and Filipinx shape shifting type movement are all part of the descriptions artist Kim Villagante uses to capture just how multi-dimensional K!MMORTAL is.
Mainly self-taught in music, she just released her second album X Marks the Swirl, with the swirl symbolizing her gender fluidity.
A multi-dimensional artist
With an educational background in visual art and art history, and a father who is a painter, Villagante grew up drawing. She also enjoys reading, dancing and singing and initially wanted to be a dance teacher. After performing at Open Mics in the city, she ventured more into music and released her first album Sincerity in 2014.
“I really want to branch outside of a specific medium,” Villagante says. “I don’t want to just do music. I want to have art that is gripping, so it incorporates art, dance, acting, spoken words and music. I hope my work is strong in the message but also gripping in the art itself.”
As a second-generation Filipino, she says her music talks a lot about flying and what is home, especially because Canada originally is indigenous.
“I talk about what it means to feel at home,” says Villagante. “Sometimes I don’t find Vancouver to be home. Vancouver is only 150 year old and there is no treaty between indigenous people and the late-comers. I think there is a story that is hidden why people don’t feel at home. I think the place would benefit if indigenous are more involved in creating this place.”
Empathizing with the indigenous cause, she penned a song Ice Palaces in her latest album, which deals with the topic of colonialism.
Selected as one of the artists witness to a citywide strategy on how artistic organizers and entrepreneurs can change the art ecosystem of the city, Villagante believes Vancouver can be more accommodating to artists through more funding and support.
“Art is not integrated in Vancouver,” she says. “The city is so young that it is still trying to find its artistic voice. I really want artists to be more supported financially, emotionally and spiritually. And the big question is always how we can work with indigenous artists.”
Making a gender statement
A big fan of spoken word – where she gets her musical inspiration from – Kim is also an avid reader with a particular interest in queer authors and their biographies. She is discovering her own identity and makes her unique gender statement.
“In my art and poetry, as I become a musician, I became politicized. Love is not based on if the other person is male. Why do I like that person? It had nothing to do with their gender specs but I am drawn to the person in spirit. Queerness is very political to me; it is not what I am sexually interested in. It is a philosophy; it is a way of living. It is about questioning authority –if you question authority, you are questioning heterosexual norms; you are questioning racism; you are questioning transphobia, homophobia,” she says passionately.
The decision to come out wasn’t well received by her more traditional family. Villagante says her mom still tries to ignore her when this comes up.
“In my own community, you are either a boy or a girl, but really there is a spectrum,” she says. “Swirl means fluid, and I am fluid; I am not either/or. There is no binary; we need to get rid of binary.”
Inspired by many other queer artists before her, Villagante believes that gender activism is their very existence, just by being who they are.
“I am just one of many people, people around me are outspoken,” she says. “If we are surrounded by many voices that challenge the dominant narrative, there will be more creative space, and people will feel more at home.”
For more information, please visit www.kimmortal.bandcamp.com.