We delve deep into the rising electronic music provocateur’s world, where sex, techno, and spirituality collide
The Virgin Mary was the epitome of sanctity: the mother of Jesus, a symbol of female purity. Fast forward a couple of thousand years and Mother Mary walks among us, her symbolism reclaimed and subverted through the work of Spanish techno DJ, producer, and performance artist Virgen María. Imagine a gabber-blasting version of Marina Abramović (long, sweeping hair and all) and you have electronic music’s rising enfant terrible. Hailing from Madrid, Virgen María is renowned for playing an eclectic sound that mixes the extremism of hardcore rave with the fire of Spanish reggaeton.
María’s career as a performance artist began five years ago. It was during a naked performance retreat in upstate New York in 2016 that she decided to perform nude, a reclamation of her freedom, sexuality, and the fetishisation of her body from society’s oppressive gaze. Soon after, she turned to music as a natural extension of her mission to free the body; she performs nude when she DJs, too. It’s with music that María can create art free from censorship – her Instagram account has been repeatedly deleted for ’provocation’.
Now, María has released her first EP, G.O.D. (it stands for Good. Opening. Drug.), with perth records, produced with the label’s perth Daijing. The EP is a meditation on the spirituality of techno, and the intextricable links between this cult-like energy and sex. Following its release, María has made a Dazed Mix thats equal parts sex, equal parts transcendentalism. She claims it will moves both our high and low chakras. It’s a video mix, using naked yoga as its unifying aesthetic. Hear the mix, watch the video, and read an interview with the provocative artist below as she delves into all things sex and spirituality.
What can you tell me about G.O.D.?
Virgen María: It’s about God, but as a force of creation. We are God, the streets are God, everything is God, so that’s why the title is G.O.D. – it’s what unifies everything. It’s three words, “Good. Opening. Drug”, because we wanted this musical product to be a drug in itself, to change the consciousness of people without harming them. Music-wise, it’s a mix between rave, hardcore, and reggaeton, our Spanish influence. It’s a mix between adrenaline and sex, those two experiences joined together. I didn’t want to talk about my relationships, or my life – I wanted to talk more about global things that concern all of us.
Can you talk about your links with sex, spirituality, and techno, and why you think they’re so inextricable?
Virgen María: For me, there’s nothing more near to God than being naked and having sex. When you are naked and having sex, you create life, and that’s basically the most godly thing. Nudity, sex, and spirituality are one thing. I like meditation. When I hear very extreme music, it’s like a meditation, and when I hear reggaeton, it’s a more sexual meditation. In my live shows, I remain still, like a naked totem, expressing how, when we’re naked, we are free, not only as women, but as people. The contrast between this being static and meditating, with being moved by music, creates a very adrenalinic meditative state, which I’m very into. It’s kind of like a drug. It’s like a trance.
Is that why you turned to harder styles?
Virgen María: Yes, because I like extremes – I like to make people feel the extreme. What I really like is extreme hardcore and extreme sexual, because I think going to the extremes is where you live most. I’m like the static channel of all this information, and I give it through the music.
What’s the purpose of you performing nude?
Virgen María: The purpose is to show people an expression of freedom that you don’t need to be ashamed of. When I was a teenager, I was judged because of my body. I developed very young, and I was told ‘You have to cover yourself, you’re provoking the boys.’ This really troubled me. I started performing naked as a statement: ‘This is my body, it’s beautiful, like every other body.’
What are your musical influences?
Virgen María: Hardcore styles from the 90s to the more melodic hard styles today. When I was younger, I used to go to massive clubs that, to me, were like churches. People didn’t want to dance with each other, they just wanted to see the DJ, and the DJ was like the God. It was like a temple, a religious thing. Gabber, hardcore, hardstyle – all this music has a religious essence. That’s also when my name became María, because when I went, they were all guys, and they were like Jesus, and I wanted to be the Virgen María.
Then there’s reggaeton, a very Spanish style that I’ve been raised with. Sometimes it’s misogynistic – the words are a bit rough – but the good part of reggaeton is that it liberates sexuality. In a reggaeton party, everyone is shaking their ass and touching their ass, like an orgy. I found how people liberate sexually in those kinds of parties really interesting, and I wanted that too.
“Artists have to provoke. If not, it’s boring” – Virgen María
When did you start making music and performing?
Virgen María: I first started doing naked performance around five or six years ago. I went to an art residence in upstate New York where everyone had to be naked. It was in a really big house in the country with a lake, and we would just run naked around and there would be performances in the lake or in the building. That was the start of me liberating myself with nudity. I did naked performances, but I was missing something, which was music. At first, I did an experimental electronic and reggaeton group, and we were also naked. It was an inspiration for what the Virgen María project is now.
When did you start your latest project?
Virgen María: I met perth Daijing, the main producer (that I work with), and he got the concept really fast. He also loves reggaeton and gabber, so it was very easy. G.O.D. is an introduction to all of that. It was born with him and three other producers. That started last year. The EP was going to go out in January, but it didn’t, because of all the trouble (that I had) with Instagram.
Virgen María: I was not ‘following the rules’, because nudity is not permitted on Instagram, even if it’s blurred. So now I try to follow the rules. I’m not naked. If I am naked, I try to be low-key.
What do you think about Instagram censorship?
Virgen María: I think it’s this hypocritical, American thing of, ‘It’s cool to shoot people, but it’s not okay to see artwork of a naked woman,’ where sex and nudity – especially for a woman – is bad. It’s backwards.
Does music offer you a certain freedom that you can’t get from platforms like Instagram?
Virgen María: Yes. I’m very happy about that. Every club I DJ in – there have been very different ones, even art galleries – they’re completely okay with me being naked. They are a lot more shocked and hurt by my nudity on social media than in the real world. I sit with all my hair in front of my body – you can’t see anything, it’s a very naive nude – and as I feel so comfortable being naked when I’m on stage, people feel it too. On social media, I’m more provocative than in my shows. Artists have to provoke. If not, it’s boring.
Can you talk a bit about the Dazed Mix?
Virgen María: The Dazed Mix was the idea of hardcore and Latin reggaeton vibes together. I love the mix, it’s my favourite so far. It’s about unifying the high chakra with the low chakra. When you mix these two polarised music (styles), they vibrate different parts of your body. Gabber and hardcore music vibrates in our upper chakras, and reggaeton and sexual music vibrates in the lower chakras, so when you play these two things together, it unifies you. That was the aim, to make a channel through which people can activate all their chakras.
What about the video?
Virgen María: I do a lot of yoga. It’s a healing tool, I love it. On YouTube, we couldn’t post anything (with nudity), but naked yoga was fine. I wanted to transmit the yoga philosophy. (In the video) I wear stripper shoes. I had a small past as a stripper – a long time ago, when I was in Australia. I learned so many things about being human, about love, about sharing. That’s why I always wear those shoes.