A Poetry for a Queer Existence

A KALTBLUT exclusive. ‘Fado Bicha’ (‘Queer Fado’ in English) creators Lila Fadista and João Caçador were photographed and interviewed by the collaborative tandem of Emil Huseynzade and Yago Barbosa.

Fado Bicha is a queer Fado project created in Portugal by young Fado performers Lila Fadista and João Caçador. Their music addresses the social issues of the society that they live in, from homophobia to racism, to gender inequality and toxic masculinity. They are using Fado, traditional Portuguese folk music, as a tool to reshape the conservative views entrenched in the community of Fado, and of Portuguese society as a whole. They share some insights from their creativity, latest experiences, and future plans.

Emil Huseynzade met with Lila and João in a bar called ‘Snob’ located in Principe Real district, Lisbon’s famous queer area.

“We are strong believers in change because otherwise, I would be working in linguistics and João would try to be a nurse.” *Lila Fadista

Hello hello Lila and João, thank you very much for joining me today. How have you been lately?

Lila: Hello hello! So we had the Festival da Canção 2 weeks ago and for us, it was an important point in 2022 as we had quite big expectations from it. We were very happy with the song we performed and it will feature in our first album that will come out in May. Most importantly, our participation was a first experience in mainstream visibility and on national television. So we were looking forward to it and at the same time not quite knowing what to expect as the song is provocative, and our expressions and approach to music are very tense. But we did it and the reactions were mixed. João was a bit taken back by what happened and what people were writing on social media.

But overall, I think we are very satisfied with the experience and we’re currently very busy with all the preparations for releasing a new album and commissioning the vinyl records. We don’t have a label so we will release it independently. For some time, I personally was fearing that it would never happen as it felt eternal, especially in the pandemic, but now it’s finally done and we are proud of the result. We think the album represents us and how we have been feeling lately. And the album has some elements showcasing our path from the beginning until now and they are clearly looking forward to the future and the possibilities for us to develop our music. It’s very diverse and this diversity is communicating different aspects of the past, present, and future.

Congratulations on your upcoming album! Can you share how the idea to create Fado Bicha came up?

Lila: As I was telling you before, I was living in Greece for a couple of years and at the time being I had never sung before. I mean, I have done theatre for many years and in one play there was a little piece that I used to sing. Singing was something I really enjoyed but wasn’t very sure and confident about. I went to Greece and I was working for the local NGO, and there were a few occasions when I was invited to present a piece from my culture. The first time it happened, I said: “Ok, I don’t sing Fado, but I can sing a song just for you to know what that is.”

And then I started doing that and it became kind of a tradition as people eventually knew that this Portuguese person living in Greece would sing Fado. So, I was always singing in every meeting of this NGO that I was working for, happening in different countries. And when I came back to Portugal, I had this feeling that people enjoyed listening to me and I decided to do something about it. I enrolled in a Fado school as soon as possible, but I faced a clash between my expectations and the reality of the Fado school’s operational structure. I realised that the traditional Fado environment was very rigid in terms of gender expectations and norms, how people are framed to sing about certain topics and even the way they present themselves: the clothing, the gestures, and general gender expressions on stage. And I was already a queer person, out of the closet, and I just couldn’t fit the norms. So, I went to one lesson which was quite upsetting to me, but for the first time, I had a chance to sing with a Portuguese guitar. Fado is usually played with the traditional guitar of 6 strings and a Portuguese guitar of 12 strings which underlies Fado, but apparently, it was invented in England, you know…

All these myths of “What is traditional and authentic?” But it is a really beautiful instrument and I love it. I never sang with someone playing Portuguese guitar and it just gave me goosebumps all over my body to the extent I was literally shaking at the end of the performance. I felt at that moment that this is not the place for me to do what I want, but definitely, this was meaningful for me. I came back to the second lesson, just to insist on attending classes, but then I was sure that the school wasn’t going to work for me and I quit it. Later on, thinking and speaking with some close friends about what I can actually do to mix Fado and gender experimentations, I was invited to sing in a small bar called ‘Favela LX’ in Alfama, the ancient district of Lisbon.

The place was owned by a queer black person from Brasil who was offering his place to emerging artists. So I performed acapella there because I didn’t play any instrument, but it was a free environment to experiment. The first time there were 15 people in the audience, 14 were friends of mine, (laughs) and the second time a lot of people came, and even around 50 were left outside as the space was full. So clearly it was an idea that struck people and they were engaged. Later on, João randomly saw the video of me performing and he quite enjoyed this exercise that I was bringing to life. After he contacted me, we arranged a rehearsal that I was very excited about. Because I craved to keep singing, but I also knew that if I kept doing acapella it wouldn’t last long. Plus, I really wanted to have someone to play with me. All in all, that is how we created the project ‘Fado Bicha’.

João: Before meeting Lila, I was already playing and singing in Fado houses, and I have a background in music and Fado. I felt so thrilled about our collaboration, and at first, we just did it for the experience. And you know, sometimes I miss this feeling of freedom without responsibilities, because now we are on a big stage, performing in festivals and involved in music’s business. And yet it is important to remember that small place where we started this adventurous journey.

On the other hand, I am very proud of what we have achieved so far because now we have created a new space, the one which was unknown before to the Portuguese music industry and Fado, in particular. It’s a space where we can exist and explore the potential of art for better representation and new perspectives. For us, it is very essential to disrupt the long-lasting hegemonic narratives that dominate everywhere in our society from national television to social groups. But our mission is clear – “To create a room for our existence, for queer people who were always present historically, but didn’t have a voice.” At the end of the day, Fado was born in this environment, this music is coming from individual narrations of disadvantaged layers of society.

And as Lila mentioned, I was quite devastated by the results of the Festival da Canção, and I felt that although we were invited to participate, they won’t let us perform on bigger platforms. But I am glad that we were there to deliver our message. Maybe somewhere in rural Portugal, young teenagers in the early years of finding their true self and identity, watching us on TV can feel that they are not alone. We are here. We exist. We have a face. We have a voice and we are constantly breaking borders standing in our way. The only thing we don’t have is the shame of being ourselves.

“We exist. We have a face. We have a voice and we are constantly breaking borders standing in our way. The only thing we don’t have is the shame of being ourselves.”

Are there any queer-friendly artistic spaces in Lisbon that you usually go to, or the ones that remind you of the early years of your career? To that small bar in Alfama, for example?

Lila: ‘Favella LX’ closed down, unfortunately, a few months after we performed there, not because of us. (laughs) But there are many places in Lisbon where queer community meets and creates. We experience the growing connection between queer and the Brazilian communities, which is the largest migrant community in Portugal. Especially since 2018, when this ‘fascist guy’ was elected in Brazil, a wave of migration started to rapidly grow and many queers, and young people in general, came to Portugal. As a result, it significantly changed the artistic landscape of Lisbon.

They have opened many places, for instance, the one called ‘VALSA’, managed by two Brazilian women, is a space of queer existence, community, and arts. There are many others like ‘ZDB’, the second place where we performed, and it’s also a queer place. When I go there, it reminds me of our early years of experimentation.

Everything that you do is a response to something: your emotions, ideas, projections, and introspections. Where, when and how do you find inspiration? Can you share the creative process that gets you from point A to point B?

Lila:  I think our creative process is very much inspired by concepts and ideas of the environment that surrounds us. Me and João, we are together almost every day and we are very close friends. While we create, we mostly focus on the same things that disturb us, and mainly the starting point is ‘what we want to say about it’. We have a song, for example, about toxic masculinity where we are exploring how its elements interact with feminine, transfeminine, and generally queer identities. I recently saw the movie by Xavier Dolan ‘Tom at the Farm’, and I was very upset and disturbed by it. There are many parallels between queer people and violence, from intimacy to individual behaviour, and although we work hard on escaping violence, simultaneously we do many things that lead us to it.

And I wrote this very angry poem concerning this issue and when I showed it to João at the beginning he thought it would be impossible to compose music for these lyrics (both laugh) as there wasn’t a basic structure and the words didn’t rhyme. All in all, after long procrastination, we started working on this, sometimes with piano, sometimes with a guitar, and playing with words. So the creative process usually develops like this.

There is also another process that is more representative of the beginning of the project up until now. It covers the structure of traditional Fado and the way it currently exists. In traditional Fado you have a list of melodies (around 300) dating back from the end of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century. Basically, when singers write new poems they keep these same melodies. For instance, if you are in a Fado house and you want to sing traditional Fado, you approach the players and say: ‘I want to sing this melody in this key’. And then they start playing the melody in that key you wanted without knowing which poem you are going to sing.

João: That’s the magic because the players have to listen to the poem and respond to the melody: if you sing about death, they will play tenser, if it’s about the happiness they will transpose accordingly, by keeping the same melody. And the main factor here is that the Portuguese guitar will always respond to your voice.

Lila:  So in the beginning we started to do the same thing, picking Fado songs that already existed and changing the lyrics: by adapting a few words, or by writing new poems altogether for the lyrics. It was a way of occupying this heritage, and the name of the album is ‘Ocupação’ (occupation in English), because it reflects this practice of occupying the heritage that is also ours, but from which we, historically speaking, were excluded. Now with this album, we have many songs that are fully original compositions and it usually starts with the initial idea. Mainly I’m the one writing after the conversations that trigger us and the music comes afterwards.

Do you translate all of your poems into music or do you also write for yourself?

Lila: Most of the time, I try to create some kind of structure that I feel can be translated into music, although then João tells me that it cannot. (laughs) And sometimes, the lyrics and the music come at once. Obviously, I have some musical sensitivity, but I don’t have a musical education at all, so it’s not easy to translate music by myself. I am a ‘words’ person, and then João brings instrumentation and the musical background that he has, and that is how our music is born.

It sounds like a magical process! How would you describe the current situation of the LGBTQIA+ community in Portugal? What do you think has changed since you started your activism?

João: I think if we compare the Portuguese society within the last decade, it has changed significantly for a better direction in terms of LGBTQIA+. Even Fado Bicha being invited to the Festival da Canção, the biggest music event in the country streamed on national television, can act as proof. They knew who we are, and what we are doing, and they let us go and be ourselves. They didn’t want to put us in frames.

We sent our song and although it is a harsh song content-wise, we didn’t feel any pressure on us. So the situation has changed, we understand that queer people can exist now more or less freely in this society. Gay marriage and adoption are legal, and the education system includes queer agenda in the curriculum, but at the same time, the dynamics of power limiting LGBTQIA+ rights still exist. I think Portugal still needs to think collectively about the idea of queer co-existence, diversity, and inclusion. It is the exercise we must do as it is not enough just to accept queer people in legal matters, but also it is crucial to contribute to the environment they can co-exist with others. There are still many issues related to access to education, healthcare, and media, and we need to rethink it from all perspectives and destroy the hegemony of stereotypical views entrenched in society.

“They knew who we are, and what we are doing, and they let us go and be ourselves. They didn’t want to put us in frames.”

Do you receive any messages on social media from young queer creatives across the country, especially from rural conservative areas, who are afraid of coming out? If yes, what do you say to them?

Lila: When we were in the green room of Festival da Canção, we had our friend and agent with us. He was on Twitter checking what people post about us and he showed me this tweet of a person that said: “Ever since Fado Bicha are on television, my parents haven’t stopped making homophobic comments and that is why I will never come out to them.” We have received throughout these 5 years many messages from younger people.

From people who come to our shows, sometimes with their families. For instance, we did a show last year in a small town just outside Lisbon, and later on, we received a message from a woman who said that she came to the concert with her whole family, as her son is a trans person of 9 years old. There was another kid who approached us for the autograph and told us he has been a fan of ours, and he asked his father to bring him to the concert. We saw his father in the back with a big smile on his face and I thought: “Wow, when I was his age it was horrible enough even to love Spice Girls, and I can’t even imagine how my father would react to asking him to go and see Fado Bicha, those weird queers.” (both laugh) So, it is not often, but it happens.

Also, at the end of this year, we went to a TV programme for the first time to perform there, and we had an interview that I was very nervous about so I mostly talked nonsense. (laughs) But the song we had was a very sad Fado piece, which we also included in our upcoming album, about family rejection towards LGBTQIA+ people. After the performance, we received a message from a boy who was watching this late-night show in the audience saying everyone kept silent when we came on stage, but once the music started, he noticed a gleam of pleasure in his father’s eyes. And this means a lot. Our music creates different experiences, not always in a positive way, as we witnessed with the family with homophobic comments, but it still makes a change and creates a moment of connectedness. It confronts silence, at least during these few moments.

A lot of people tell us: “Oh you are so brave to do this!”, but I don’t think I am a brave person. There wasn’t any other way that I could be doing this, I just had to do it and I don’t think it comes from being brave. It’s 2022 and we are still here, but we don’t know where we will be in a year, we never do. It is a never-ending struggle.

It’s 2022 and we are still here, but we don’t know where we will be in a year, we never do. It is a never-ending struggle.

Lately, Jasmine Garsd, a reporter based in NYC, in an article for NPR refers to the definition of Fado by Manuel de Melo: “a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy.” Do you agree with this and how do you define the genre?

João: Fado brings the visibility to experience the life of disadvantaged layers of society, and it creates a medium to express our feelings, both in good and bad times of our lives. In the end, Fado is all about life and its perspectives. And it is a mistake to link Fado only with negativity, it goes way deeper to the space where there are no boundaries for human feelings. Sometimes we cry, but it lets the bad energy go and it changes us. There are thousands of stories being narrated with Fado through many years, but queer identities have never been part of it. In Fado Bicha, we share these life stories that were left behind. That is what Fado means to us.

“There are thousands of stories being narrated with Fado through many years, but queer identities have never been part of it. In Fado Bicha, we share these life stories that were left behind. That is what Fado means to us.”

Lila: I feel there is the prevalence and importance of the Portuguese language and poems in Fado, the verbal aspect of music, which both of us connect to. And usually, there is this mainstream idea in Portugal of authenticity in Fado and the way how Fado exists. Initially, it had been played on piano with classical guitar and Portuguese guitar came afterwards. It has been danced, so it has gone through a lot of changes throughout time. And also theme-wise, for instance, from the 19th to the 20th century, there was a wave of republican and socialist Fado traditions and at the beginning of the dictatorship in Portugal, they targeted Fado as the power to gather people and strengthen the ties with an authoritarian regime. They were very smart to do that, so they kidnapped Fado and turned it into a flag of the regime.

They had an effect of conservatism on the tradition and it changed Fado a lot. For instance, you had to have a license to sing Fado, all the poems were subjected to censorship, and this past influence we think shows itself even in the 21st century. The connection to traditional family values, patriotic topics, and conservative gender rules… It’s something that we fight against. Although we say Fado is very Portuguese, it is indeed, but simultaneously, it’s very much affected by different cultures and nations, from Afro-Brazilian culture to Arabic influence. One thing does not exclude the other. For us, we feel it is very much connected to our identity, and we refuse to accept all the norms that keep us out of it. With Fado Bicha, we want to twist them and expand Fado’s horizons.

Could you tell me more about the song you chose to compete with at this year’s Festival da Canção, ‘Povo Pequenino’? Whom are you referring to in the song as ‘small’?

Lila: We provided an official Fado Bicha translation of the song because we felt that it would be meaningful to do it ourselves, for those who don’t speak Portuguese. Even though it’s not a direct translation as there are many references and specific words in the poem that cannot be translated. And we translated the title as ‘Small Nation’, not ‘Small People’, the word ‘Povo’ in Portuguese is a polysemic word and has different meanings. It refers to the people as an idea of the ‘people of a nation’. We also use it in the context to oppose the nobility of common people. So it’s a word that is associated with the intervention music of the pre and post-revolution in Portugal. ‘Small’ in the lyrics comes out in a bidirectional way. The poem came out from a dream that I had, and I woke up with this expression in my mind ‘Povo Pequenino’.

And even in my dream, the word had a double meaning. ‘Small’ or ‘little’, in the sense that it refers to the dictatorship memories, mostly about my father’s childhood in our family’s village at those times. This is the first part of the song, and in the second part, the ‘small’ kind of transforms into the critique of small-mindedness, pettiness, and the ability to see beyond whatever has been taught before and after the revolution. First, it comes out of the place of empathy and the collective idea of the dictatorship’s past. It is not a distant past and then reflecting on different aspects of current realities through the lens of how freedom is the present slogan in the notion of what being Portuguese means. In Portuguese history, because of the carnation revolution, we have the carnations, and we have all the slogans for freedom. But the song is actually an expression of the frustration of how we feel that we have collectively been able to develop a proper comprehension of what freedom means and should mean as a daily practice, and not as a general slogan of “Oh there was a dictatorship, and now it is a freedom.”

Specifically in regards to our colonial history. In the lyrics, some of them are more explicitly about it, when we speak about enslaved people who died in the Transatlantic slave trafficking of the Portuguese empire, which was responsible for nearly half of all of the African people, around five million, enslaved and trafficked back into the Americas. There is no possible way in which such a historical process, no matter what kind of novelties it brought to the world or society, that was built upon enslaving and trafficking 5 million human beings can never, in my opinion, be regarded as a thing to be proud of. And we actually still do that, we still teach the ‘discoveries’, it’s part of the schools’ program as a ‘Golden Period’, we have monuments celebrating this period. So the lyrics concern all of these issues.

Your music is strongly linked to political activism. Do you consider Eurovision as a solid platform to address the issues you target in your creativity?

João: I don’t think so. Eurovision has this ‘No Politics’ agenda towards competing songs, and me and Lila, I discussed it many times: “What is a political song?” “Don’t sing about politics” is already political enough. I remember when Eurovision was in Israel and many countries and musicians asked to boycott the contest, but it still took place. And it was the most political thing by itself. For us, Eurovision is not the place where we can address political issues, but at the same time, we chose to compete in our national selection in order to get visibility and presence. Clearly, it was not the main point of our performance as we were there to send our message, and we did all we could. We even sent the love kiss from the green room, live on TV, and there is not much homoeroticism on national television.

In one of your interviews with Megan Fernandes, she mentions your great passion for storytelling and how you reintroduce popular fado songs to tackle social matters of homophobia and racism. What is your favourite piece out of those you have recreated? One that stands out from the rest in your hearts?

João: My favourite is ‘Lisboa, não sejas racista’ (‘Lisbon don’t be racist’ in English). The original song was called ‘Lisbon don’t be French’ and it is an old song from the dictatorship times about the poverty and the conservative position of women in the family. Everybody in Portugal knows about the song, and we thought it would be nice to keep the same melody but change the lyrics to bring attention to the social issues few people feel empathy for. The lyrics are very powerful and every sentence is a hook trying to call out the whole country to ‘wake up’.

Lila: There is another song that I really like, written by the poet Pedro Homem de Mello, which is always a special moment in our shows. This poet was bisexual and married to a woman and he wrote some poems that were translated into very famous Fado songs. The original version of this poem that he wrote is clearly a homoerotic piece and it was turned into a Fado song by the singer who is still alive, currently being a monk. It is a very upbeat Fado, where the singer took the most explicit part of the original poem and translated it into Fado which became a masterpiece every Fado singer had sung before. It is a very light song, but if you read the original poem it comes from a very dark place where old age looks back into life realising how much one has missed and how much love has been wasted. It is called ‘A boy in the green shirt’ and this boy by the content of the poem was a sex worker that the poet was in love with, but lost along the way. This boy in a green shirt represents the life that wasn’t lived as the author wanted it to be and is a symbol of everything that didn’t happen but could have happened. We recaptured the whole poem and the song was on a major scale so we put it on a minor scale. While performing, I am reading the poem, not singing it, and João sings it in the back by creating the ghost effect. It is always a powerful moment in our shows that people connect with.

If you had not become an artist, what would you have done instead?

Lila: I like this question. Well, I studied psychology, so I guess I would be a psychologist. But no, actually I wouldn’t be a psychologist. Most likely I would still be working in the NGO field that I did before singing Fado. I could be an actor as well, although I stopped doing that. A field that also interests me is linguistics, so it is another thing that I would like to study in the future.

João: I would be a nurse, a male nurse. Because I am a carer and taking care is my gift.

Will you ever leave Portugal and continue your music career abroad?

Lila: I don’t think so, at least not now. Considering the type of music that we are doing, we must be based in Portugal. We have the responsibility that is an essential component of our creative work. We know that doing what we do is not just doing shows and releasing albums. It is the way we represent ourselves that creates perhaps a bigger sense of responsibility towards what our public figure means and the potential it can bring and develop.

We want to have this effect on the Portuguese society, which is the place we are from and the language we speak of, the heritage that we work with. So it makes sense that we stay here and insist on this exercise bringing other queer people around us. It is also a problem, the thing is most of the famous public figures in Portugal are LGBTQIA+, I will better use the metaphor for that: “They hopped on board, and they chose to mingle with people who were already in there.” They camouflaged under the ‘tulle’ that these people covered them with, and the ones who didn’t board, became ‘others’. You can see a lot of homophobic speeches from the queer people in public and we want to do exactly the opposite and kick this perception down. We don’t agree with the idea that “You can only be famous in Portugal as long as you are modest and silent.”

I know how Amalia Rodrigues, the iconic Portuguese Fado singer also known as a ‘Queen of Fado’, was a beam of inspiration for both of you as Fado performers. If you had the chance, which song would you have chosen to sing with her?

Lila: I don’t think I would be able to sing anything. I would just sit, listen to her and cry. (laughs)

João: I would like to play the song ‘Grito’ (‘Scream’ in English) with her and it is different from everything that she has done before. It is the song about the end of life that was written for her funeral and I think the song better resumes her career that I feel very connected to.

Do you plan to create any podcasts to talk about your music and the issues it touches upon?

Lila: Right now, no. We have some personal limitations in regards to the energy that we can use. We have been quite overwhelmed with the amount of work lately, so taking on new challenges in the near future would be impossible. But maybe after this wave around the new album and the shows that will come with it, it will make sense to do something that has the energy of sitting back and reflecting on it by creating content about everything we do. We have had similar experiences in the past. We had two radio shows for four hours each on the local radio outside of Lisbon. It was a great experience to speak with people and answer their questions. For sure it is something that we like, but now we need to focus on the album.

Community involvement, individual identity, and power are essential factors that spark creativity within younger generations wanting to be heard and to be able to introduce their unique creative features. Considering your history within Fado schools in Portugal with predominantly conservative views, what would you suggest for young talented individuals who face the same issues you did several years ago? What should be changed in those educational institutions in order to become more inclusive?

Lila: This is a very complex question. Regarding individuals, it is always tricky for me to think of ‘What can we say’. Because our experience happened in a specific way, not only because of the external influence but due to the resources we had at that specific point. Obviously being a queer person I had many negative experiences throughout my life.

But on the other hand, I have many privileges as I am a white Portuguese person, a native speaker living in Portugal and I have, in a way, a supportive family. I don’t have financial difficulties, I am a healthy person, mentally and cognitively speaking. I grew up in the suburbs of Lisbon, and I have lived in the capital city for 10 years already. So it creates a set of experiences and resources that many other people don’t have. At this point, for me to tell other people what they should do feels wrong based on these reasons. What worked for me eventually was not that I created a plan to achieve my goals, but it was to do things despite my self-doubt. And my self-doubt is an ever-present fit in my life with the tendency to sabotage myself, but I learned how to do things despite that. Carrying it with me, but still going through it. In the end, I am very happy with how things turned out, but sometimes I feel like I am a fraud and that what I am doing is wrong. But I always have people to support me, and it is a bliss that not all people have. Maybe regardless of all these limitations that I could have in advising, I can still suggest not to deny your self-doubt that would probably be there until the end of your life, and try to co-exist with it. It is a nice ‘remedy’ to use for self-expression. And never wait for the validation of others, just do it for yourself.

Regarding the Fado schools, I believe that the change is possible eventually, however, even in formal schooling there is still much to be done in Portugal, and all around the world. Things are changing from the time I was at school though. For example, a few years ago, there was an incident from the school in a small town called Vagos in the north of Portugal, where two queer teenage girls in a relationship faced homophobia from the school’s personnel.

To oppose it, many students of the school created a supporting mob to show solidarity to the girls with banners and a creative program. It had a huge impact on me, even to compare that with my own experience at school, not even 20 years ago. So I know that change is possible, for sure. I feel like in Fado schools it can be different: it reflects a lot of what happens in the community. João could agree how his discomfort was growing being involved in the Fado community by the things that they discussed and the discourses prominent within the community. Most likely in Fado schools, there isn’t a formal operational structure that it should follow, but in formal schools, it exists in terms of how things should be organised.

This current structure is the result of many influences from communities to media, and it has the power to change things. And we can witness how in Portuguese schools things happen differently. The law adopted in 2018 about gender identities states that children and teenagers are allowed to be treated through their chosen name regardless of the one they were given in their IDs. However, sex education and the discourse around gender identities vary across the country and it changes from school to school. It obviously can happen in Fado schools as well with their informal structure. When we started in 2017, LGBTQIA+ within Fado was virtually nonexistent.

There was only one famous Fado singer from the 90s who had a clear queer expression, although he never sang anything related to queer topics. But nothing apart from that. And since we started, just recently two famous Fado singers released music videos with lesbian content, although we are not sure about their sexuality. Two other singers (a man and a woman) who are not known but supposedly are homosexual, released Fado songs about their homosexual identities (‘Love Song to a Man’ and ‘Love Song to a Woman’). We kind of also fantasise about what effect Fado Bicha has on the community. Would this have happened if we never existed? Maybe it would, but we will never know. So we are strong believers in change because otherwise, I would be working in linguistics and João would try to be a nurse. (both laugh)

Muito Obrigado Fado Bicha for your answers, it was a great pleasure to meet you today.


Interview by Emil Huseynzade / emilhuseynzade.com / Instagram: @emilhusaint
Photography by Yago Barbosa / yago-barbosa.com / Instagram: @yagosbarbosa
and Emil Huseynzade / emilhuseynzade.com / Instagram: @emilhusaint
Fado Bicha / fadobicha.com / Instagram: @fadobicha
Producer is Yago Barbosa / yago-barbosa.com / Instagram: @yagosbarbosa
Make-up by Cris Severo / Instagram: @crissevero_____

Outfits present in the photoshoot are artists’ own designed pieces.