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Breaking All Barriers : Introducing Up and Coming Singer & Songwriter PNKSAND

"The idea was to create a space where we could really celebrate Italian blackness" - PNKSAND.

Photo by Delia Simonetti from Music Video FOREPLAY

Colors, inclusion and innovation are just few of the characteristics we were able to witness in the new David Blank & PNKSAND music video for “FOREPLAY”, a warm structured R&B oriented song that we just can’t help to listen to and love.

Directed by Delia Simonetti, published by FLUIDOSTUDIO and produced by a whole team of black and queer creators from Italy, such as fashion stylist Thais Montessori Brandao, photographer Lawrence Oluyede and creative director Stefano Protopapa, FOREPLAY is a hymn to the importance of representation of black and brown artists in Europe, specifically in Italy. Being Afro-Italian often means having to create and claim your own space in a reality where your life experience never really “existed” or mattered enough.

Africa and Italy have had significant ties dating back to the time of the Roman Empire but that didn’t seem to have made things easier for Black Italians who are still very marginalized to this day.

Luckily things seem to have taken a positive step in the latest years, also thanks to the incredible power of social media through music, art and fashion but there’s still a lot of work that has to be done in terms of dismantling systemic racism in Italy.

Chantal Saroldi aka PNKSAND talked to us about the importance of representation, what is like to be an independent black female artist in Europe and much more.

We hope that this conversation will inspire the future generation of Afro-Italian artists to create more freely and with much less fears and insecurities. Fasten your seatbelt and get ready to be projected to a whole new world cause this is the beginning of the future of Italy.

Where were you born and raised? I was born in Tanzania and raised in Taipei and then Italy.

When was the moment you realized you wanted to be a full time musician?

There were actually two moments. The first time I was 18 and I had been singing and writing for a couple of years. It was the only thing that made me feel like I had a voice and I was seen so I decided to go to the conservatory and pursue it as a career, but after a couple of years I felt lost. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally gathered the courage to take my songs and create my project with the artist name, Pnksand. No one, except for the friend I started it with (Nicola Arecco, with whole I worked on the first songs) believed in me. I remember my publisher telling me that my tunes were good, but not for an Italian public. That was when I took a risk and decided to be the change I wanted to see. I moved to Berlin and decided to study electronic music production and continue growing. I guess the second time it was a conscious choice and, even though I was scared of the outcome, it felt like I was finally choosing music for me and not for others.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

There are so many, but I have to say Frank Ocean. Channel Orange is an album that made me understand that music is not just melody and harmony. Music is in the detail, the sound, the reverb, the distortion, the space, the lyrical exploration, the groove.

Photo by Delia Simonetti from Music Video FOREPLAY

What was the idea behind your new music video with David Blank for the song Foreplay:

The idea was to create a space where we could really celebrate Italian blackness. The song is a beautiful tune, it is upbeat and catchy and it was created by two afroitalians, so why not celebrate that? Why not change the narrative and tell the real story? The story of so many creatives who are incredibly talented and who are black and Italian. When I was young I never saw people like me being celebrated. Representation matters and it’s time for change.

What would you like to see more in the European music industry for black and brown artists?

Equality. Equal opportunities. There are so many double standards in the industry both as a black person and as a woman. It is so much harder as a black artist to be acknowledged as a multidimensional person and not just a token. It’s as if people could only accept you if you adhere to certain roles. Yes, you can be a singer, but not a songwriter and producer. I think Europe is starting to change, but the change has to be less performative and more systemic.

As a black independent woman and artist, you must have an incredible strength to do what you’re doing on your own. What was the hardest thing to overcome so far?

Impostor syndrome. I feel paralysed by the fear that one day people will see that I am really not that qualified or talented. Moving to Berlin was the biggest leap of faith for me. It meant attempting to overcome the fear of not being good enough and believing that I deserved to go and express myself and pursue my dreams.

Watch the music video for FOREPLAY:

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