“It’s our responsibility to normalize kindness.”
A DJ and activist radio show host, Piu Piu also copilots the creative studio Good Sisters. From behind her decks, she has always been passionate about music and explored the nightlife of Paris and other cities, attentively observing the scene. Today she tells us of the battle she is waging against sexist and racial discrimination through a series of cultural and social initiatives. A battle being fought with lucidity and kindness.
How have things been going since the first lockdown?
2020 was super complicated. We were in a time where we were forging ahead with our head down, and suddenly, everything came to a halt. It gives you the chance to take the time to make changes, without fearing what you’re going to lose, because you have nothing more to lose. I also had moments of paralysis, evenings where I was bawling, wondering what was going to happen. All the more that in my circles, there was no visibility. Our only certitude was that it was going to last a very long time. We understood that from the start.
When did you fall in love with music?
I was always passionate about music. My father is Uruguayan and a musician, so we listened to a lot of South American music – Brazilian, Uruguayan. Very quickly I listened to the Beatles, Prince, lots of jazz. A whole lot of things. For me, music is the place of the imagination.
When did you decide to become a DJ?
After my studies, I started working in fashion. I always got off work very late, and would listen to a ton of music when I got home. And really young, I started to go out at night. I had a lot of musician and DJ friends. At a certain point, I told myself that rather than spend entire nights looking for music and trying to understand it, I was going to make it my profession. I started to learn how to mix, with the help of my brother [the DJ Valentino Mora, known as French Fries in the 2000s, of the CleckCleckBoom team] and later I was lucky to be able to start playing very quickly. I remember thinking that if I didn’t quit my job, if I didn’t go all in, 100%, that it would always be on the sidelines, and that I absolutely had to give myself the chance not to let something this important to me slip away. I didn’t want this feeling.
You’re very active on social media, fighting discrimination. How did you develop this militant streak?
Ever since I was a kid, these things have given me pause. I would ask myself what it meant “to be a woman.” I could see a real difference in the social importance accorded to boys and girls. A girl and boy acting the same way were treated very differently. And then I became interested in the case of sex workers. Later I discovered feminist literature and I understood that the problem was huge, systemic, very old, and that it would be necessary to fight. All the more so, that these issues are related to racism. I grew up in the 13th arrondissement. It’s a very mixed environment. There were a lot of Black Bombers and active anti-racist groups. Today we are clearly seeing a kind of normalization of racism. The freeing of speech has benefited all forms of speech! We grew up, particularly in Paris, with the myth that racism was the preserve of old people who experienced colonization. The reality is that the myth is falling apart. Racism has become banal, super common.
So you created a constellation of counter-forces?
It really came out of necessity. I try to make people aware through my DJ work, radio broadcasts, podcasts and by organizing talks. In the 2000s, and above all in the decade of the 2010s, there was a kind of “boys club” aura, which no one questioned, in fact. We experienced it as a cool thing, not like an exclusion. With a bit of distance, I feel it’s kind of nuts to have lived with this prism throughout my Twenties, with the idea that it was cool and normal for groups of guys to be in the forefront. I had to ask myself how I was going to define myself as a human through all that.
How did you get the idea for Good Sisters?
Good Sisters is an image management agency that I started a year and a half ago. It’s between consulting, artistic direction and long-term support. We want to give real power to women in terms of their image and what they represent, whether as to their payment level or type of contract, etc. There are tons of things to deconstruct. Women are exposed for their image, but at the same time, they are given very little space to express what they want to express. I met Alma Jodorowsky and we really hit it off. She’s the first artist I signed up in the agency. Just afterwards, Thaïs Klapisch teamed up with me. She started handling the management for Crystal Murray. So we run the agency together.
So you are working towards greater inclusivity?
Not really. For me, inclusivity is the foundation. If a brand or a campaign isn’t working with a preexisting notion of inclusivity, it bothers me. Rather it’s to go through the process of thinking through the issues of identity and expression. How do artists give themselves the possibility to express themselves? What do artists wish to express beyond their image? Beyond their physique ? We want to move away from objectification and go towards empowerment, keeping in mind of course that the context is still capitalist. We are not calling ourselves radical feminists, in terms of the agency.
Do you think brands will follow this model?
I think everyone stands to gain from it. Today people need to identify with models. Brands have the responsibility of giving their spokesmodel or their colleagues/associates/partners the place they deserve. They have the responsibility of not cutting them off when they speak.
In terms of “first-generation feminists”, who look at current times with a certain form of deception, where do place yourself? Some say that sisterhood is an illusion…
I started with the same observation. To push minorities into thinking that they have to be in competition is precisely what falls into the system of domination. In fact it’s up to us to realize we choose to be in competition. It’s our responsibility to no longer be. It’s our responsibility to normalize kindness, and to normalize the free admiration of one woman for another.
Strangely, this doesn’t happen spontaneously.
I think that the deep meaning of feminism is to change the definition of power and our perception of power. Rather than wanting to seat three women, by force, at a table of seven men, let’s ask ourselves if it’s interesting to have a seat where power already lies, even though we know that this power, as it exists today, is discriminatory. It seems to me much more interesting to abandon this pedestal and to emphasize the value of others. Take the best person to do this, the best to do that, and really give them their chance, make them feel that they have worth, that society needs them, without seeking to have an upper hand… All of a sudden, the social system changes.
So the aim is not to hold power as such…
Right, but this requires killing the ego. The work is on the inner self. Whether you’re a man or a woman, we were all educated with a certain vision of power and success, practically modeled on films about superheroes. The famous myth of the self-made man. We must absolutely deconstruct this idea to be able to operate differently. No one speaks of the self-made woman!
What is Safe Place?
For the past year and a half, I have been a member of Safe Place, an association set up by Thaïs and the other members of the Gucci Gang four years ago. I handle the programming. We organize talks and workshops that attract between 200 and 400 people. We have a sexologist available all day for free consultations. We hope to reestablish a monthly schedule starting in June. We also launched a Youth Program that is involved in youth centers and middle schools to talk with teenagers about questions of consent, male-female relationships, etc. We work with two associations in the 20th arrondissement, La Vingtième Chaise and Feu Vert, with a group of girls and a group of boys.
There’s a generation between you and the other founders of Safe Place. After all is said and done, you didn’t grow up in the same society. How do you see this new generation?
We are very careful not to behave as though we have the upper hand because of our age. Thaïs is not my “little sister.” The girls set up Safe Place at the age of 17. They realized, just before #MeToo, that most of the girls they knew had been subjected to sexual aggression but didn’t talk about it. That’s why they set up this platform. This very young generation is woke to the world, they have an awareness and a commitment to questioning the established order. On the other hand, I think that we – the thirty-somethings – had a harder time giving ourselves permission to change the status quo. The younger set has given itself the incredible possibility, as a generation, of saying, “I don’t accept, I am going to change things.”
What are you dreaming of doing when the world reopens?
Dancing! I really miss listening to very, very loud music and dancing. And DJing! I love people. I don’t want to DJ via streaming, I find that totally depressing. And that’s good because we are preparing lots of surprises over the summer and in September, with Andy 4000 [Good Sisters’ music programmer], notably a gig at Peacock Society!
Interview: Marie Cheynel
Portrait: Jean Picon