By Nicole Martinez
Hailing from San Martin de los Andes, a deep southern mountain town in Argentina, Fémina represents a new feminist sound. Rooted in folklore and laced with afro-cumbia, candombe and hip-hop beats, the trio's lyrical rap challenges the conventional sounds of the Southern Cone.
Just in time for Fémina's debut U.S. tour, which kicked off September 10 in Chicago, the band collaborated with longtime friend and Lulacruza founder Luis "Uji" Maurette to debut an infectious new track, "Romper el Hechizo," a cover of ‘Orere Eljigbo’, a legendary 1979 song by the Lidaju Sisters from Nigeria. Here it is, exclusively for Uforia Music:
Sofia 'Toti' Trucco, Clara 'Wewi' Trucco and Clara Miglioli, a multi-talented trifecta of women producing music, movement, and visual art, hold an almost mystical enchantment with their sound. Lifelong friends, Toti Trucco and Miglioli, both 32, formed the band 10 years ago in Buenos Aires, where Trucco was studying urban dance and Miglioli was intent on becoming an actress. Inspired by the hip-hop and jazz melodies at the core of her dance practice, Toti introduced lyrical rap into their music, presenting a new, singular sound into the Argentine music vernacular not unlike that of Li Saumet from Colombia’s Bomba Estereo or Chile’s Ana Tijoux.
When Toti's 25-year-old sister Wewi arrived in Buenos Aires to study visual art, they'd invite her to paint on stage, play the drums, or join them in rapping before making her a third member of the band. Today, Fémina holds an important place in the male-dominated world of Argentine music, eroding gender inequality through powerful messages about love and unity.
I met with Toti Trucco at her childhood home in the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. We discussed Fémina's upcoming tour, the group's contagious new single, and why they refuse to stick to a single genre.
Uforia Music: What did you set out to do with Fémina?
Trucco: Fémina started out more like a sound system – we had a producer friend that worked with digital instruments and we would sing and rap over that. Then we decided we wanted to do something a little more organic, play our own instruments and maybe add some more rap. So the music ended up having rhymes and rap, but fused with something traditional.
What effect did that have on your music?
Trucco: We like listening to folkloric music from around the world, music that comes from a country's roots, and not just from Argentina. We've all always enjoyed playing instruments, so we started out by playing around with what we already had at home like the bombo leguero [an Argentine drum made out of a hollowed tree trunk], the African djembe or the charango. So what ended up happening was we formed this sound, without really making a conscious decision about it, and our music wound up becoming extremely eclectic.
Why are you so drawn to rap?
Trucco: Because it's the music we listen to the most. Especially for me, all my life it's really just hung in the balance. I love its rhythm, the rhyme itself, the poetry of it. Some of our inspirations include Bahamadía, Erykah Badu, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Amiri Baraka, Buttering Trio and Kaytranada.
Speaking of poetry, tell us about Fémina's lyrics.
Trucco: We talk about everything, but we often get super existential. We speak simply about being, about living, evolving, and we talk about love, of course. We rap about everything – it depends on the song, but the concept of existence is often present.
Why is that message so powerful?
Trucco: Because we're three women that are saying and talking about very profound things. We incorporate so much movement and visuals into our shows - in fact, people who have seen us play and don’t speak Spanish have often told us, 'I don’t understand anything you’re saying, but I understand everything because of the way you're moving and how's it's moving me.'
It's similar to what you experienced re-working the Lidaju Sisters song, with 'Romper el Hechizo.'
Trucco: Our friend Uji [Luis Maurette of Lulacruza] had the idea to do a cover of the Lidaju Sisters, and since we're family we really identified with the idea. The song is in a language that we don't understand, but it starts in English, saying 'watch out, trouble in the streets.' So to make our own version, we reflected on what's happening on our country, where there's a lot of competing ideologies, a lot of people at odds, and a lot of things happening in the streets that we often don't see. We wanted the song to reflect on the idea of being honest with oneself, and in that way unite, 'break the spell,' and be real.
Tell me about your U.S. tour.
Trucco: We're starting out in the Midwest, first in Chicago, then Bloomington, Minneapolis, Wisconsin, and we'll also play at Subrosa in New York and in New Mexico, where we'll perform and hold a workshop in folkloric dance and teach everyone how to make mate. The idea is to share our culture with other music lovers around the world. It’s our first time playing in the U.S., so we’re really excited to feel the energy of their crowd and share our music with them.