Art rapper Melisa Rincón has been on our radar for a few months now, constantly impressing us with her steady delivery of hard to categorize music, erotic/abstract/urban sensibility, and amazing personality. Bunny Michael has explored many sides of her psyche doing versions of Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina,” Danny Brown’s “Dip,” or on her own Rainbow Licker EP with sounds that can be ethereal, noisy, nostalgic, beat-driven and melodic, sometimes within the same track. We finally caught up with her via phone to talk about music, being spontaneous, freedom, aggression and, above all, beauty.
Last we’ve heard from you is your version of Danny Brown’s “Dip”. What made you want to do it?
I really like Danny Brown a lot and I saw him play here in Brooklyn. Everytime I play that song, I have to get up and dance to it. So I wanted to pay homage in my own version because he is talking about molly, but I think, on a deeper level…the reason this song resonates with so many people is because it’s about letting loose and enjoying yourself. That resonates with me, that’s what inspired me to do it.
And I really wanted to write a rap. The moment I think about wanting to do something I just try to do it right away, before I think too much about the outcome of it.
You value spontaneity a lot.
I think when you put too much thought into things you’re kind of blocking the possibilities. For me is more about channelling; we should be open to what I feel are the messages of beauty that I receive and then interpret them into a form of language to make it my own.
Let’s go back a little bit. You used to perform as Bunny Rabbit, then you changed your name and did your own thing. Can you talk a little bit about your transformation?
Well, when I did the Bunny Rabbit project, I didn’t produce any of the music, I wrote the lyrics but I didn’t know how to produce then. It was a collaboration, Black Cracker produced all the music. So over time, we kinda wanted to grow and then I actually started another band called Twin-Gemz when I was basically learning how to produce. I’m still learning, though. Now I have my solo thing where I produced my own music, I mean I have worked with other producers before and I’m continuing to learn about it, because I feel like when you have to depend on somebody else it doesn’t work that well.
What was the first thing you did by yourself? When did you feel that you were on to something?
I think it was probably over a year ago and it was because I had this realization that there really was no right or wrong way to do something. There was no good or bad, it was really just “be yourself.” I have [a big] variety of taste in music that I felt other people shared. Most people I know like all kinds of music and are influenced by different things. So the way I taught myself was basically listening to some of my favorite songs, listening to things that I really like and trying to understand what it was about them that I really like, and reworking them back together in my own way sort of like collaging different ideas together to form my own sound. I think that all the art that I do is basically collaging, whether is visual or songs, I like taking a bunch of different ideas or words that might not necessarily go together to create a new feeling or a new context of understanding. Sort of what I did with the Danny Brown song or “Gasolina.” When you put them in a different context it create a new perspective on it.
You value freedom a lot. What does freedom mean to you, artistically speaking?
I could probably go on and on about it. For me, right now, the systems in the world are not providing a space for freedom. I have a real issue with pretty much anything who can lay claim to things like art, like the music industry. It seems to me that we give too much power to these institutions which think they can tell us what good art is or what bad art is. Music and art has always been since the beginning of humanity, it’s purely the expression of the self. To me, it’s the most free we can be. The true path to freedom is not being afraid to really be yourself and express yourself from the heart. The more people do it and not give so much value to these institutions that capitalize on people’s vulnerabilities. To me, that’s just insanity. I don’t feel I need validation from anybody but myself.
Do you think artists get their individuality individuality denied? Do you think there’s less individual expression nowadays?
I know what I said was a little bit dark but I think we are realizing this, because of the Internet we are eager to connect. And not just the Internet, for me I believe we’re putting value into different things, and it’s really beautiful and I’m really really excited about the potential for everybody. We’re really living in an exciting time.
For me, it’s all connected. My art, my emotional space, my spiritual path, my relationship; it’s all part of the same thing, and I’m trying to expand my consciousness and have a happier, more joyful life. I think we all try to do that for ourselves, to create a whole new world that is more joyous, accepting and peaceful.
Your cover of “Gasolina” was very interesting. Reggaeton has a stigma of being very lowbrow. Do you think these barriers, thinking about music in terms of “lowbrow,” are starting to crumble?
Me personally, I believe that you could get what you want out of something. You see what you want to see. I think there’s beauty in every situation, a lot of people can say “Daddy Yankee is this or that.” All I know is that this song inspired me, I think that’s a gift. Without Daddy Yankee I wouldn’t have made that song. I think it’s your choice, basically, what you wanna see in something, we’re really in a world of choices. It’s up to you.
And that music video had a lot of crucial references and these are not references that I created. They are part of a lot of people’s cultural experiences, be it a gay cultural experience or a New York cultural experience or a Latin experience, it’s a collective experience. Because I’m a person influenced by some many things. I’m appreciative of every moment. I try to see things that way because it gives me peace of mind.
Your music has a lot of hip-hop influence, what do you think it’s appealing to you?
For me, my experience of hip-hop is that it’s a form that really brought people together. It’s all about coming together, dancing together…audience participation, call and response; that’s what’s great about going to a hip-hop show. It’s also about the lyrics. I’m a poet, the way words move you, the way you put the words together in hip-hop. I don’t consider my music hip-hop but it’s definitely hip-hop influenced, for sure.
Is Rainbow Licker an Aphex Twin reference?
What was the intention behind Rainbow Licker and your influences when you were making it?
I just put that stuff together because I write all the time. I just was trying to put together my dream mix of thoughts and, to be honest, I really wasn’t thinking about how people were gonna hear it. But I knew that if was going to be myself, everything was going to work out, whether people liked it or not. And I really didn’t plan anything.
You talk a lot about connecting with people with your music, how do you achieve this?
The only way I think I can achieve that for me is to be myself and actually not worry about it. I think what resonates with people is authenticity. You can spend your whole career trying to make things that people want to hear, but you’ll never get there. I mean, you can get there but I don’t know if it would necessarily feel very good. If I start to get too much stuff on my head, I will stop doing it. If I put energy of encouragement and freedom [on my music], that’s what people are going to feel when they hear it. If I put energy of fear or anticipation, that’s what it will sound like to people. I mean, we are so in tune to things that we don’t realize it, why we like something necessarily or don’t; there is no logical explanation to it, it’s just [about] how it feels. That’s the key.
I believe in my heart that I do connect to people and I will continue to do that in the future and I will keep growing. That’s all there really is, there’s nothing to figure out. It’s a very easy going atmosphere [laughs].
Your expression is very personal, including the way you present your music. Do you think what you are doing a lot of people can get into, or would you rather have a smaller audience to connect.
If I don’t believe that a lot of people can connect to it, then nobody will connect to it. If I believe that a very small group of people will connect, then that’s exactly what will happen. I think that everybody can connect to it and be inspired by it. I don’t limit myself in any way, no way! When you start thinking about your art in that sense you might miss on a lot opportunities. In fact, I don’t know what song or what sound I’m going to make next, I don’t know what I’m going to write down or what the videos are going to look like. I’m open, my person changes with my experience.
You do noisy and dissonant stuff along with some more gentle and melodic elements. How do these sounds play a role in the music, in the context of beauty?
I just like it. Also, it’s the most liberating thing in the world to scream into a microphone, to really scream. It feels so good because you really let yourself do it, and it’s not that easy, but if you do it you might just open up and let it come out. That to me is beautiful, to witness somebody do it. I’m a little bit of everything. I’m a very open person, I’m very sweet but I have a very aggressive side, so I just like to show both because that’s how I am. There’s a balance between light and dark, that’s how it comes out. That’s who I am.
How could anybody be as free as you are?
I would recommend them to start being very very nice to themselves. It sounds kinda cheesy but I really think that it’s all about self love. Don’t limit yourself with negative thoughts or judging yourself too hard. All these things you say to ourselves like “hmmmm, no, I’m not good enough” or whatever reasons we tell ourselves to not do something or the excuses we constantly give, that’s just self-sabotage. I think it’s really good being kind to yourself, talk to yourself as if you were a little child [laughs] and reminding yourself everyday, “hey! You’re amazing!” With that you can accomplish anything in life, really.