EYIBRA is a collaborator of Marina Abramovic, a multimedia artist, composer, and performer, currently in residence at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art for his project MUXX. The artist is releasing today a new electronic-experimental solo album ‘DIOMEDE’. We had an exclusive interview with EYIBRA x 33 Magazine:
Introductions first! Could you introduce yourself, in your words, to us?
My name is EYIBRA, I am a multimedia artist, composer, and producer.
When and where did the desire for expressing and representing your Lithuanian roots through your music begin?
This started a long time ago – I grew up in the US with Lithuanian and Ukrainian roots and for many reasons, never felt like I really fit in. I ended up living in Lithuania on and off over a period of 6 years. Lithuania (and Ukraine) both have extremely ancient musical traditions, including ritual songs that date back to pre-christian times. The moment I heard these I felt something pulling me, and I became fascinated. Most specifically in Lithuania there are the songs ‘Sutartines’, polyphonic chants with unusual harmonies, which are usually only sung by women, and have connotations of the divine feminine, magic, and a pre-patriarchal society. I am fascinated by the different possibilities these songs hold, including a queer interpretation of them. For me they represent some of the only musical examples of a pre-christian, pre-patriarchal society in Europe, and that is why I also explore that a little bit in DIOMEDE, my new album.
In the past you have collaborated with Marina Abramovic, among others, could you tell us a bit more about this experience?
Collaboration with Marina for me was life-altering. She changed my view on so many things, but most importantly I think that it’s ok to break down barriers and labels- I am not just a musician, or producer, or performer, or singer. It was through her that my interest in performance art developed and that inspired me to explore the use of my body and to think of my work as a kind of ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’.
Which are some of the artists or sound references that have inspired you in the past but also in the present?
I love complex vocal harmony and polyphony, so chronologically this begins with the Lithuanian sutartines mentioned above, and ends with Meredith Monk, Holly Herndon, and Lyra Pramuk. Bjork has always been an enormous inspiration, probably my biggest, for her string arrangements, production, and compositional style. I love revolutionaries! I also feel majorly inspired by Arca, FKA Twigs. Production wise Sega Bodega, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Rosalia.
Can the art-technology connection reach a state of threat for the creative and personal essence? Do you impose any boundaries for your fusion with technology?
Yes, but right now I believe that the capabilities and benefits currently outweigh the threats. I am fascinated by the ways we can now manipulate both instruments and voices into otherworldly soundscapes, as well as our very own identities that using 3D technology, avatars, and the metaverse allow for a complete transformation. We are deeply exploring these possibilities within our project ‘MUXX’, which we are premiering at LACMA in Los Angeles in September. MUXX is a collaboration between myself, performance artist and choreographer Lukas Avendaño (a Muxe, or third gender from the Zapotec nation of Oaxaca), Ana Lopez (NNUX), and Oswaldo Erreve. We are creating a performance piece and multimedia installation that explores non-binary gender through the lense of the Muxes using 3D video and avatars.
Do you think that music and performing arts hold a key part in archetyping society? How important is creating music in which everyone can find themselves in? Did you sense a lack in the industry before becoming a performer?
Yes, I think art needs to reflect all members of a society, and there is a deep lack of representation of diversity in the art world. In my own personal terms, it was this lack that drove the creation of DIOMEDE. There are so few queer love songs, there is such a lack of music that explores the queer experience, the community, the history. I was always searching for music and lyrics that reflected my own life, and I hope just maybe others might feel a kinship with what I have created in this album.
The technological sounds of ‘DIOMEDE’ are visually completed by futuristic artworks imbued with mythology. Can EYIBRA become the next artist of the Metaverse and would you ever consider a listening party or a concert in the uprising virtual universe?
Definitely. I do prefer the energy of a live audience, but I am also interested to explore the possibilities of the Metaverse.
Is there a vision as to what the immediate future will hold post-“DIOMEDE”?
I hope to get back to touring and more live shows – this is the first album I have released post-pandemic. I also look forward very much to the residency we are doing at LACMA in LA, and to developing more projects and collaborations with other artists.
EYIBRA (formerly known as Abraham Brody) is reborn as an electronic-experimental project with the launch of their first lead single ‘ISAAC’, on April 16 2021. Co-produced by Mexican artist NNUX, ‘ISAAC’ explores and illuminates numerous theories that the biblical persona of the same name was in reality non-binary or transgender.
EYIBRA weaves together complex electronic production and raw beats with soaring strings and pristine vocals to evoke a sound world deeply influenced by artists such as Bjork, Arca, and FKA Twigs. EYIBRA has collaborated with artist Marina Abramovic, and their work is deeply influenced by ritual and transformation of consciousness both in their music and the immersive live performances they create. This has led them to collaborate with the shamans of Buryatia, Siberia (installation and performance commissioned by Fabrika CCI Moscow), the ritual music of Lithuania (for the Barbican Centre London), and polyphonic mystical singing from the Republic of Georgia.
Recent highlights include performances at the Kennedy Center Washington D.C., the EFG London Jazz Festival, Public Theatre (New York), Vortex Club (London), Sziget Festival (Budapest), Lunga Arts Festival (Iceland), RichMix Cultural Foundation (London), Meyerhold Center (Moscow), VEGA (Copenhagen), Municipal Smetana Hall (Prague), and Pace Gallery (London). EYIBRA has also been artist in residence at the Barbican Centre (London), National Sawdust (NYC) and Fabrika CCI (Moscow). EYIBRA has performed on shows such as WNYC New Sounds, BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, NPR, and Lithuanian National Television, amongst others. Their most recent work has been featured in The New Yorker, The Independent, The Guardian, Songlines Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar Magazine and others.
EYIBRA is a recipient of a 2021 Arts Council England Project Grant, and a 2018 recipient of a grant from the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture to tour the project ‘ANCESTORS’ with Lithuanian ensemble Trys Keturiose, which among others was performed at National Sawdust in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington.