Interview: Angélica Negrón

The Brief

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Angélica Negrón is a composer and multi-instrumentalist who writes music for accordions, electronics, robotic instruments, and toys, as well as for chamber ensembles and orchestras. She is a founding member of the electro-acoustic pop group Balún and creates lo-fi ambient music with Arturo en el Barco. Negrón has composed soundtracks for theatre, dance, and film, including Cecilia Aldarondo’s documentary Memories of a Penitent Heart, which premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. She was selected as the 2014-2015 Van Lier Fellow at American Composers Orchestra and was a recipient for NYFA’s 2016 Artists' Fellowship Program.

Which documentary would you recommend?
, directed by Godfrey Reggio. The combination of Reggio’s stunning slow motion and time-lapse visuals with Philip Glass’s haunting music is truly breathtaking. Every time I see this it takes on a new meaning.

Which folk song would you recommend?
‘Sawdust and Diamonds’ by Joanna Newsom. She has an incredible way with words and melodies, and every time I hear this song I get chills all over my body. The way the harp cascades down after she says ‘hear it fall forevermore’ is beyond words.

Which classical composition would you recommend?
Partita for 8 Voices
by Caroline Shaw. This piece has everything I love about music in it: gorgeous melodies, weird sounds, effortlessness, mystery, new colours and textures, surprises, and pure joy.

Which comic would you recommend?
Puerto Rican illustrator Mariela Pabón’s zine Turistas is a current fave. Her dark humour and candid quotidian vignettes make me laugh like nothing else.

Which television episode would you recommend?
Season 9, Episode 14 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, in which Sasha Velour kills it with her lip sync of Whitney Houston’s ‘So Emotional’. Sasha is a huge inspiration for me. Her unique style of thoughtful, politically charged drag is making a much-needed difference in today’s exhausting world.


The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.

Should art aim to bring people together?
I don’t think it should aim to do that, but when it does it’s pretty magical. Art has an incredible power for allowing us to understand deeper things about ourselves, which could potentially connect us to others in more special and meaningful ways.

Should art invite its audience to rebel against conventions?
I very much appreciate it when it does. I love art that makes me see the world in different ways, that makes me question my perceptions and understandings, and that invites me to change something about myself and my surroundings.

Rule of Three

The following questions relate to our Rule of Three column, for which each article includes a trio of artworks that share an association with a single word.

Which artwork associated with the word ‘Ecology’ would you recommend?
On Behalf of Nature
, a stage work by Meredith Monk. It’s a truly breathtaking meditation on the environment and a plea for ecological awareness. From the costumes to the movement and the sounds, everything I saw and heard at this show transported me to a place I’ve never been before.

Which artwork associated with the word ‘Virtual’ would you recommend?
‘Blissing Me’, a song by Björk. An electronic ballad celebrating love between two people who are connecting virtually. The harp in this song is beyond delicious and the repetitive vocal melody opens new possibilities with each breath and sound.

Which artwork associated with the word ‘Youth' would you recommend?
The Florida Project
, a film directed by Sean Baker. A wonderful portrayal of childhood adventures through the lens of struggling families. The colours and cinematography are stunning and the acting is honest and compelling. It also has one of the most powerful endings I’ve ever seen in film.

States of the Arts

The following questions relate to our States of the Arts column, for which each article includes four artworks that share an association with a single nation or territory.

Which Colombian artwork would you recommend?
‘Volcán’, a song by Ela Minus. Ela writes simple yet luscious and dreamy electronic pop with a small orchestra of synths, some of which she builds. I love the bass in this song and the lyrics, which are a beautiful mix of catastrophe with irreverence. Bright music for dark days.

Which Congolese artwork would you recommend?
‘Nlele Kalusimbiko’, a song by Konono N°1. It has a hypnotic groove that seems like it could go on forever. The intricate yet effortless polyrhythms and the distorted vibrant melodies made by the electric likembés put an instant smile on my face.

Which artwork from the Dominican Republic would you recommend?
, an album by Mula.  They’re an electronic female trio who combine a lot of diverse Caribbean rhythms with entrancing and catchy vocals. Their lyrics make me want to take a plane to a distant island in the Caribbean and dance under a palm tree at night until the sun comes up.

The art of discovery

The following questions relate to Silent Frame’s aim to celebrate the art of discovery.

What does discovery mean to you?
Discovery to me means to dig deep, to be vulnerable, to try, to fail, to imagine, to change, and to make new and meaningful things with what you’ve found.

What question would you like to ask other Silent Frame interviewees?
What’s your favourite Instagram dog account?

More to discover

Angélica Negrón: Visit the composer’s website here and her Soundcloud page here.  Her Twitter handle is @angelicamnegron. Listen to music by Balún on their YouTube channel here, including the songs ’Años Atrás (Years Ago)’, ‘Teletransporte’, ‘La Nueva Ciudad’. Watch a video interview with Angélica Negrón by Q2 here.

Today’s recommendations: Koyaanisqatsi (trailer), ‘Sawdust and Diamonds’ (song), Partita for 8 Voices (performance), Turistas (website), RuPaul’s Drag Race (excerpt), On Behalf of Nature (excerpts), ‘Blissing Me’ (music video), The Florida Project (trailer), ‘Volcán’ (song), ‘Nlele Kalusimbiko’ (song), Aguas (‘Eco’, a song from the album).

Also on Silent Frame