In charge of the music and sound art programme at kunstencentrum STUK
Self-proclaimed ‘Queer Black Diva and underground popstar for the cyber resistance’, MHYSA is the needed voice of an awake American generation. Unapologetical, powerful, riotous are just a few words that could define their unique style. Debut LP ‘fantasii’ is an interpretation of what it means today to be a black person, especially a black queer femme, living in world dictated by the violence of white supremacy.
Words by Matias Calderon
Behind the moniker MHYSA hides the solo project of SCRAAATCH’s genderqueer artist E. Jane. Between catchy performances and social criticism, the duo that MHYSA formes with artist chukwumaa thrive on bringing back politics into the clubs. The pair started collaborating in 2013 in Washington DC before moving to Philadelphia. ‘We’ve been looking up to Mendi+Keith Obadike, early pioneers of digital performance and sound,’ E. Jane explained back in 2016. Later that year, MHYSA shared their first record “Hivemind EP” in collaboration with high-profiled label NON, that features artist from Africa and the African Diaspora. MHYSA’s first solo attempt comes as an experimental travel where the listener seems to find the missing dots between church gospel and strip-club rap.
Although their queerness defines the 11-track long debut ‘fantasii’ released last year, the versatility of the genderqueer artist captures any listener. Under mesmerizing instrumentals and reverbed vocals, they try to challenge the boundaries between art and spirituality where pop meets house, rap, and actually so many genres that MHYSA becomes hard to label into any boxes. Paying homage to strong black figures, the journey becomes a high reverie experience. ‘The album’s primary material is the Black woman’s voice — including my own. I thought a lot about the Black women and femmes I admire, and their music and our shared Black history that continuously builds the pop culture landscape. Janet Jackson, Donna Summers, Beyoncé, TLC, Harriet Tubman, Prince and notorious jewel thief Doris Payne are all referenced on fantasii.’ MHYSA explained.
Music comes to MHYSA as natural as possible, where they acknowledges black suffering since the advent of slavery and try to heal from it. As told by Mhysa, the album is not only a way to exorcised the wounds from the past but also to take as much joy as possible ‘This album is for Black people—and Black women and femmes especially—that want to live and rejoice because we are still alive, even if the war is far from won.’
MHYSA is playing Beursschouwburg, Brussels, 30 March at Listen Festival & Vooruit, Ghent, 31 March together with SCRAAATCH and DJ LSDXOXO.
Both shows are free for members. Join here.