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Folk on the Rocks preview: ‘ You are enough,’ says performer Kimmortal

Artist and rapper Kimmortal rose to fierce and sudden fame earlier this year, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted a TikTok video lip-syncing to their song, ‘Sad Femme Club’.

Artist and rapper Kimmortal rose to fierce and sudden fame earlier this year, when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez posted a TikTok video lip-syncing to their song, ‘Sad Femme Club’.

Cortez did it in response to confirmation hearings of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson. The song’s chorus expresses the demeaning and often public, gendered double standards of emotional expression still so prevalent in mainstream society today.

Kimmortal is a queer non-binary Filipinx artist and rapper who uses the pronouns they/them, and is known for a powerful stage presence and multi-dimensional approach to music.

They paved a path for loving righteousness and getting groovy to the sound of dissent with this hit, giving voice to the many non-binary, queer, LGBTQIA and femme folk currently coping with outdated social norms.

Kimmortal described the experience like this: “I went to her IG story (AOC’s) and she was laughing along and singing it like she knew the actual words! I’ve performed that song so many times, but she was performing it to the extent that I would! It was so cool. I was like “wow” - ‘cause I’ve followed AOC - she’s just such a badass - and I forget that she’s younger than me, but she’s representing the current American public and political landscape, and is one of the few women of colour who is so outspoken. My publicist messaged me and was like “I hope you get some sleep tonight, there are going to be a few shares on this one.”

But that was an understatement.

“It just sort of blew up! For a lot of my community it felt like a huge win. The fact that ‘Sad Femme Club’ was an Anthem for AOC witnessing a candidate for Congress deal with such open disrespect in Congress - and that it gave her strength - was so powerful. And it really paralleled why I wrote this song. I wrote SFC watching a friend of mine deal with similar dynamics in an academic place while trying to graduate and navigate the bureaucracy of art school.

“This was a moment, that moment that I realized my art moves, and does its own thing - that, as an artist, you put your work out into the world and it grows hands and feet, and walks. You don’t know where it goes, it just reaches people, crosses borders, and that’s tight. That really supported me too.

Kimmortal is based out of Vancouver, but since AOC’s post in early March 2022, most fans are now based in the U.S.

“I don’t even have that many fans in so-called Canada anymore! They are all in California and Chicago, and just around the States.”

New album

Kimmortal will release a new album in November and plans on touring in the coming months.

“I’m just really excited my music is landing with radical folks. That’s who I’ve been nurtured by, who I am, and who I want to reach.”

“The challenges that are coming out right now across global political liberation movements come with the expression of deeply held truths - and, often, go hand in hand with deeply felt emotions. But to hold space for the realness of anger, sadness, confusion, and frustration, is a necessary part of healing and transformation, both collective and personal.

“I’m the most empowered when I remember, that I am part of this collective liberation as a musician and performer - when I remember that this music comes from reconnecting with my ancestry, and how my ancestors speak in my music, and the process of embodying in my art, and performing, is part of something bigger.

“I spent five and a half years in academics as a visual arts student, and learned a lot, and became more politicized as a student, connecting to Filipino grassroots organizations in Vancouver that were all about educating, organizing and mobilizing and talking about issues in the Filipino community. And education is huge! I love learning. But there are still these big gaps in the music industry and community, and the chance to talk about these topics through lyricism - fitting some of these big issues in four bars of music - that’s where a lot of my inspiration was drawn from.

“This next album is different, because I’m sitting more with my feelings, and not doubting that my feelings - and where I’m at - are important. And so this album feels more personal, and it feels more interpersonal.

“In my last album I spoke, generally, about a larger movement, or the liberation movement in general, and this next album is more like love songs - and not doubting that love songs are a powerful thing.

“So much of my identity as a musician is being outspoken, and speaking to states of oppression, but realizing that I have limits, and that I was neglecting my health, and that this wasn’t what this was about to begin with. We are not meant to brutalize ourselves at the expense of art.”

Beginning to feel happiness

The artist’s newest release - ‘K, I’m Mortal’ — was “written in a shoebox of a room - where the oven was at the foot of my bed, and I was so unhealthy — sorting through the whirlwind of so-called-success in my music career — interviews on interviews, music video projects, album recording, more intentions. But I was so not well, and my relationships were falling apart, and then the pandemic happened and I actually learned to slow down. And, I mean, we all say that — “learning to slow down,” but the impact on my core, and rearranging my core, and being like “OK, what just happened?” and healing through that — and realizing that this is not what this is supposed to be — as in, feeling like, as an artist, I needed to be the very tip of the flame. I’m now leaning into understanding that I am also human, and that just because you (the listener) can’t see me, doesn’t mean I don’t exist.

“I’m really leaning into that, and I’m beginning to feel happiness - and that’s such a big deal, you know? I’m connecting with happiness, and that’s a huge part of healing - just like, being OK with this ordinary-extraordinary, and my mortality, and life and death - and every moment - so, I feel like I’ve grown a little, and at the same time too, I still feel like a child, and that’s a great thing, too.”