3 Questions with Ariel Zetina
in advance of the next installment of manifest at smartbar this thursday (1/4) we asked our headliner ariel zetina a few questions...
ariel & her diamond formation parties are the newest additions to the legendary smartbar residents roster. ariel is a chicago-based club music DJ/producer/performance artist/poet who has been blessing dancefloors at smartbar, berlin nightclub and hideout with her joyful and eclectic selections. her debut ep 'cyst' was released on boukan records in september. her plays have been produced in new york, chicago, and los angeles.
one. is there a moment in time (art project, a certain teacher, etc.) when you knew that creating was going to be your life’s work? if so, can you describe that (memory, feeling, thought) for us?
after i had sent in my college applications i changed my major to theatre midway through the application process...and when i got to school i had one meeting with my advisor about how i should also major in business. i ended up signing up for macroeconomics the next semester then dropping it before the first day of class. maybe at that time i was too scared to admit it but i never really attempted to do anything else besides create. in high school, i had a really amazing acting teacher barbara colaciello who was in andy warhol's studio in the seventies and I think her influence on me and a small group of students really showed us we could do whatever we wanted... it wasn't really an acting class...it was a bunch of 16 year olds screaming about their feelings then writhing around on the floor to philip glass while whispering the names of ice cream companies.
two. how does where you are (personally, geographically, historically, etc) impact the work you create? how does chicago factor into that equation, if at all?
i always say how in chicago, the average person will be much more driven to dance and house music and that creates an accessibility that allows me to delve deeper into house and experimental sounds around that... i think that i really didn't understand house music until i moved to chicago in 2012 (suburbs from 2008-2012). chicago house has an emphasis on percussion in a way that other derivatives of house do not, and for me that really moved my deejaying and production a bit away from the genres that really got me into dance music (grime, jersey club, pc music, uk bass music) and more towards four-on-the-floor kicks with a focus on hi-hats and percussion. i will always consider myself cross genre but that is because i have geographic and cultural influences from all over. being from north florida, everything from country to ska to edm is an influence. being from the latinx diaspora (my mom is from belize) and spending summers there growing up introduced me to everything from soca to punta and my mom blasting gloria estefan...growing up in mainstream us gay and trans culture gave me euro pop and industrial sex music (think avenue d's 'do i look like a slut?'). i am a deep child of the early 2000s and 104.3 FM is giving it to me right now.
three. what is the role of the artist in today’s world, for you?
i think an artist's role is to work. i could ponder about how my work saves young trans kids but i think young trans kids are saving themselves by simply letting others' work inspire them...the trans artists i know are some of the best artists i know and i think there is a correlation to being trans and being a creative person because creativity must serve as necessity. i think a lot of artists do not have anything necessary to say about the world, but that is because they are not doing the work it takes. it makes the work less specific so it's less accessible. i'm interested in going deeply personal. dance music is an excellent tool for this because since it's mostly reliant on how repetitive electronic bleeps and a heartbeat like kick, it creates a meditative state that can be individual or collective- and also may or may not use words to aid or interrupt this.