Valenzuela explores human ecology through music, employing it as an art of communication and creating social networks grounded in empathy and activism.
As a singer and composer, her name is Loïca–a bird that lives throughout her native Chile. For the indigenous Mapuche, Loïca means “wound.” Both bird and singer invite us to pay attention to the world around us, including its wounds, by way of music.
Valenzuela believes that musicians can affect positive change with their songs.
“The power of music lies in the fact that it gives hope and dignity to people struggling for justice and survival,” Valenzuela said. “Music is inherent to humans. It is a beautiful conversation between humans and their environment.
Now a senior at College of the Atlantic, Valenzuela is in Colombia studying contemporary and folkloric music and recording the full-length album In the Shade of Her Tree for her capstone COA senior project. She has started a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo that you can support here to help Valenzuela realize the project.
“In Colombia, where music is sung, stomped, and danced to defend from violence,” she said, “I have found a talented and visionary group of musicians who will work with me on this album.”
Their aim is to transmit the social message of coming back to the refuge of nature.
“Until when will I be a spectator of your pain? To ask such question makes me a participant of the conflict, and therefore, gives me an agency to act, and do something about it.”
Valenzuela was introduced to music when she was very young. “According to my mother,” she said, “as a young child I would often sing to imitate the dancing sound of the wind through the leaves of our avocado tree.”
She publicly performed one of her compositions for the first time in Lima at the climate change-centered 20th UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP20) in 2014. Her song of choice, ”Hombre de Papel” (Paper Man), is a commentary on technocracy and bureaucracy. It was written in response to the human disruption of the environments that sustain human life and the lack of international commitment to address the urgency of climate change.
The song addresses the diplomats who attend conferences such as COP20: ”He thought he could delimit the sky/ divide it up to sell it/ he thought he could overtake life/ exhaust it, abuse it/ when are you going to learn, man of paper/ that life cannot be sold?”
As part of her search to understand how the power of music can be used in political contexts, Valenzuela decided to do an artist’s residency in Paris centered on COP21. While in Paris she performed at the People’s Summit, the Climate Action Zone, and several other venues for activism.
Music has been essential to social resistance in Valenzuela’s home state of Chile, she said. The New Chilean Song, a cultural movement that used music to demand social change and to support the socialist government of Salvador Allende, largely influences Valenzuela’s musical activism. While the dictatorship ended with the lives of the artists of the New Chilean Song, their music survived and travelled around the world as a template of an effective tool for resistance.
Valenzuela has seen and admired the ability of music to enhance resilience in moments of uncertainty and pain while in Columbia, especially during the victory of last year’s “NO” campaign advocating against the referendum to end the Colombian civil war, she said.
Some of Loïca’s songs address political problems head on, such as “Beasts,” which questions those behind the Syrian war.
“As someone who becomes a spectator of brutal images and an unavoidable consumer of violence related to this conflict, I wanted to raise the questions: Beasts of war, until when will you throw their bodies into the ocean? Until when will you poison their skin and dilute their lungs? Until when will you succumb their childhood in debris and dust?” she said.
“This song helps me in transforming my indignation and pain into music and healing,” Valenzuela said. “Until when will I be a spectator of your pain? To ask such question makes me a participant of the conflict, and therefore, gives me an agency to act, and do something about it.”
Loïca invites us to support this project through her crowdfunding campaign! This will only be the first step of a life project as an artist who speaks of global environmental politics, political violence, and personal experience through the sung voice of a wounded bird.