.:.A DAY WITHOUT TIME.:.
An Interview with Sara Lux of Hidden Place
Italy’s Hidden Place has been releasing electronic music of the synthpop and new wave variety for the past ten years, achieving success with albums such as Punto Luce and Novecento. More recently, Hidden Place have been releasing retrospective compilations. Sara Lux has been one of the most visible components of Hidden Place, providing emotive vocals and lyrical talent for what has become a renowned band. While Hidden Place has been quite public over the years with many interviews and a strong social media presence, Lux herself remains enigmatic. Outside of Hidden Place, Lux engages with many other activities. She is just as prolific with her Electro Femina project, a group that seeks to promote women within underground music subcultures. She’s multifaceted, and this interview hopes to illuminate her and her other contributions to the post-industrial underground.
Heathen Harvest: To begin, can you tell us a little biographical information about yourself? What would you like to convey to your fans about your personal life?
Sara Lux: My childhood was beautiful, and I was a ‘tornado’ around the house. My mother enrolled me in a school of nuns—my first school—but soon I realized that I was too lively and dreamy to be there. I spent much of my childhood with my maternal grandmother—the person most important to me in my life—in a beautiful little village in the south of Italy called Dirupo. The memories of those landscapes and the time that I spent there are indelible.
The beauty and strength of my grandmother were the elements through which I grew up.
At school I was a creative child, and I was on a women’s volleyball group called ‘Starlets’. I have always thought that any union of girls is a real strength because being a woman is something to be treasured. I have always believed in women.
When I was thirteen, I enrolled in an art school in Matera, a wonderful city that was also in the south of Italy. Of those years, I most remember the many trips in Europe that I made for artistic commissions, and I liked learning the different artistic realities that were open to me. Afterwards, when I was eighteen, I went to study art in Florence. I have loved that city from the first moment that I stepped foot in it, and it is the city where I live today.
I attended the fine arts program there, studying painting. Soon I started working in several clubs as an events organizer and a DJ.
It’s a job that I’m fond of; I love the night, the people who I know in clubs, and the photos that I shoot. It’s a wonderful alternate world. I recognize that sometimes it’s excessive, but with music, it all becomes more beautiful.
The music, especially my work in Hidden Place, helps me and makes me live better: I’m always looking for themes and lyrics, and because of my busy life I write a lot.
HH: Is “Sara Lux” a pseudonym? If so, can you tell us the story of how you chose this moniker?
SL: I was about twenty years old. I always liked the Latin language, and I decided to use “lux” from Latin—the sun and the truth bring light to the soul. What the ancients called “hope”.
HH: Tell me more about your work as a DJ. Do you create a particular set list each night before you do it or do you take requests? What songs are guilty pleasures of yours that you like to sneak into your sets? How do you work the club crowds and get them to have fun? Are there any fun DJ stories that you’d like to tell?
SL: Honestly, I don’t see myself as a DJ, and I don’t even hope to become one. Let me explain: my role in Electro Femina is like a showgirl who loves music and wants to make people listen, a bit like your American’s pin-up—ironic perhaps, but I’m aware of the game. I love to see people smile, dance, and talk about music, and I love to create the right mood for every occasion. This is the true role of a DJ: to feel and follow the people. When this happens, I’m happy—really happy. I feel charged because of the positive crowd and this allows me to express myself better. Lately I have been seeing people using programs for smartphones to search for songs; this means that the music I play is being enjoyed. I never prepare myself before a DJ set, but I usually create target events for new wave, Italo disco, post-punk, etc.
HH: You are the curator of Electro Femina, which you just brought up. Can you elaborate more about this project and its importance?
SL: Electro Femina is a concept. The project was born in June of 2008, not as a night party, but as a way to capture the predominant aspect of the same name: ‘Electro’, which is the predominant genre of the project, and ‘Femina’, which clarifies our vision of the idea of what the word ‘woman’ means in music in its various aspects.
In 2009, Electro Femina became a real night party: DJs, feminine visuals, female performances, and a staff that was strictly feminine. Sex appeal and talent: this is the winning combination for Electro Femina.
In Italy and also in other countries as of late, many night parties are curated and guided more by women interested in music. This is a positive aspect to being a contemporary DJ—a beautiful woman who plays good music is also always a good show. The women DJs are replacing the previously prominent ‘girl image’, and are taking a role that is more and more decisive in clubs. This was my dream for Electro Femina, and when I see that people appreciate it, this makes me feel really satisfied.
HH: For Electro Femina, what has been this program’s biggest achievements and milestones so far? What challenges has it had to face?
SL: The first interview with the Italian magazine Rockerilla was a great achievement for me. I have purchased that magazine since I was child, and I would never have thought that I would inspire so much confidence in the Italian music scene. I worked very hard for this project (and slept little), but I always found satisfaction. There was a time when I believed I that I was having an emotional breakdown: too many events in a week—I had four DJ sets in different clubs—so I stopped for a year and then emerged again with more oomph. When you truly believe in something and you’re positive, you get the best results.
HH: Given the way you describe your role in Electro Femina—”a show girl, a pin-up—getting people to smile and get in the right mood”—how does this contrast with your showmanship when you perform live with Hidden Place? When you perform live with a band, are you trying to accomplish something different? If so, what and how do you go about doing it?
SL: With Hidden Place my role changes; it is almost the opposite of Electro Femina. Playing a gig is not a DJ set, it’s obviously something else entirely. It’s an intimate and important part of yourself that you’re forced to show—bare and raw—to the public. It’s you who sings personal words. It’s a moment of great responsibility for yourself and for your band. I’m always myself, though perhaps a ‘Sara’ that is both more fragile and strong at the same time. Singing is like waging a small battle—not with weapons, but with music.
HH: There have already been many interviews with Hidden Place asking what music and artists inspire that band. Music aside, for you, what other forms of art (cinema, literature, painting, etc.) and their respective artists are you drawn to? What else has a profound impact on you?
SL: I’m very inspired by Italy; the first Italian cinema; the 50s; photography. These beautiful Italian women who have honored the country with their beauty and pride: Claudia Cardinale, Silvana Mangano, Sophia Loren, and Gina Lollobrigida. These Women, with a purposeful capital ‘W’, have been for me the first true feminists after World War II. They were the first to express themselves and to arouse real emotions—an interpretation of their own.
HH: Your interest is with Hidden Place, but you only appear as a guest musician for Lupi Gladius. Why is that?
SL: In the records, I’m a face that appears as a simple addition. Un intervention. A parenthesis. A feminine touch that stands outside of the core. For Lupi Gladius, this was a role that came naturally.
HH: Hidden Place and Electro Femina seem like collaborative projects, but what solo activities do you engage in? Do you have any other artistic outlets, and if so, what are they?
SL: I was very lucky. I grew up with my brother Fabio, and from an early age we always listened to and bought music. His musical sensibility has always fascinated me and it’s not often that two siblings could become so similar. Concerts and records are passions that we shared, even today. The project Hidden Place is a somewhat natural outlet for all of this. As far as what other artistic outlets I indulge in, like many people, I write a lot and I love to read. I write every night before falling asleep. I would love, one day, to publish something—or perhaps not. There are things that you have to keep forever hidden.
HH: You mentioned you love to write, and this shows in your lyrics for Hidden Place. What styles and genres of literature do you enjoy writing?
SL: I write so much that I write about everything. Night stories develop more often than others. The night drags me onto the sheets. Fictional characters are born and die in one night in my stories, and then I like to reread what I wrote later. The night is magical; it can make us become skilled writers, and the words become the most important aspect. In my writings there is always an ironic note, a bit like the dialogues with my mother. We tend to feel better with irony. It’s essentially the vision of life that has been taught to me.
HH: Your personal writings are fused with an “ironic note.” Does this also seep into your lyrics, or is composing lyrics a different ritual altogether for you?
SL: Yes, I’m ironic to the end. Moreover, so many things happen to us and there are times when we amplify the positivity and negativity. Over time, I have learned to walk towards the irony, even with serious subjects. We are just passing through life, and we live everything with so much tension in these times when what we see in the media is a reality for many. If you insert a smile into these things, some of them change for the better. It’s a way of approaching and honoring ourselves. How many times in life do doubts and fears cause pain? These negative feelings don’t let us live, they don’t let us see the different paths that life offers us.
HH: You were a guest performer on a Patenbrigade: Wolff (Dust of Basement) song called “Fragrance.” How did this collaboration come about? What attracts or interests you when considering collaborating with other bands?
SL: It was around the time that I often found myself in Germany—Berlin in particular. I wanted to try something with Patenbrigade: Wolff and undress from my canonical robes in Hidden Place. I wanted to offer a part that was more ironic and playful. I heard them on the streets of Berlin before I went to their concert. I contacted them and they were very happy to work with the “spaghetti pin-up” Sara Lux. It has been a very nice and friendly collaboration between the voice of Hidden Place and the electronic sound made in Germany by them.
HH: What are some of your upcoming projects and events that you want to highlight or talk about? What is new and in the works for Sara Lux?
SL: I’m a lucky girl—I live for music. Electro Femina and Hidden Place are my second parents. There is always the desire to continue in these projects, to find new surprises for and in myself, and to give surprises to the public. There is equally a desire to always be completely in love with the people who I live for, for stories that I live through metaphorically, for gigs and wonderful memories, for voices and faces that I see, for travels and laughter in the background. All of this, for me, is life. Music is eternal.
HH: Any final statements, comments, or anything else that you would like to convey to the readers of your interview?
SL: I would like to know that the readers had found reason to laugh by the time they’ve reached the end of this interview. And perhaps even to think, ‘she’s alright’. In fact, I hope that this has been a way to share the idea that passion for music never dies, because music is the lifeblood for all of us in times like these. Whoever benefits from the beauty of this lifeblood will always find strength for whatever falls in their path.
Oh, and why not listen to ‘Emotional Frequencies’ by Hidden Place at least once?