Mia Carucci's album "Dieties in Stone" released on November 8th, 2023. Photograph by Miwah Lee.
“Sent from God.” That is how Mia Carucci signs off emails. As our interview began, she asserted, “I make God music.” On the surface, her music, a modern twist on trip-hop, hypnotic and dark, lacks an overtly spiritual valence. But spirituality appears in her music beyond any institution. There is no prescribed ritual; instead, the divine is immanent. God is to be found in nature, everywhere.
“I don’t pray on my knees looking upwards. I pray at eye level.” Carucci believes in transcendence, in the notion of God existing above and naturally within all creation throughout the world, and applies this to her performances. Carucci discussed the possibility of eliminating the stage, being on the same level as the audience, and situating herself in the center as everyone dances and circulates around her. She views this relationship as “a still force with the chaos around me,” an explosion outwards. She is against hierarchy, the anti-pop star; instead, fashioning herself as a kind of spiritual leader, attempting to facilitate a communal experience of the divine.
For Carucci, music liberates. Starting out as a DJ, she used music to let people encounter their animalistic side and to operate through instinct. As she puts it, “I hope to reconnect people to the side of themselves they lost in childhood.” Before language-mediated the world, we just felt, with our mind freely roaming – that is the mindset Carucci ventures towards. There is a purity and simplicity; Carucci tries to find what she considers the essence of music. As a result, Carucci’s tracks are born from the drum: a thumping bass like a heartbeat, and tantric breaks that waver in reverb, hypnotically entering and leaving the mix.
Image by Miwah Lee.
But unlike the club, where release must be immediate, and as Carucci laments, people expect climax within the first minute, she employs what she calls a “cinematic approach.” Focused more on the construction of a sonic atmosphere, Carucci displays restraint. This inhibition is most apparent in the track “The God in You,” where, on the verge of release, of transforming build-up into catharsis, she pulls back and lingers in an ambient soundscape full of hums. The song perpetually threatens to develop, but the track does not lead to a singular moment of climax, but a swirling back and forth between kinetic drums and abstract noise.
Featuring many industrial elements –with crunchy drums, aggressive synths, and even a woodchipper drenched in reverb – Carucci balances these mechanical elements with field recordings. Carucci claims “there is music in all sounds,” and gleans inspiration from “streams, coquí frogs in the night, and trees falling.” She even breaks down the industrial and natural distinction I attempted to make. Carucci discussed being affected by a mechanical symphony, where electric machines, drills, and saws come together to create musical cacophony with these brief moments of harmony. There is an odd naturalism. These machines seem ignorant of their human audience but produce music when listened to – their beauty is to be unearthed. Carucci finds, like God, music everywhere, not tied to traditional instruments, but music as it appears from the Earth.
Second only to the English trip-hop collective Massive Attack, where she was nearly reduced to speechlessness upon meeting their producer, Cameron McVey, nature seems to be her biggest inspiration. She communes with animals, and birds chirped throughout the interview. Living with various “creatures,” a few dogs, a tortoise, and some frogs, Carucci showed me her serpent’s shed skin. Displaying the translucent, curled-up scales, she said, “We shed together.” When she is at peace, her serpent has a clean shed – this month, with the release of her new album, Carucci and the snake shed early. They mirror each other, and they respond to each other. After all, the animalistic centers in her creative process: she focuses on instinct, claiming, “What comes from the gut is from God.”
Like instinct, she respects what exists beyond reason, the things we cannot see, and hopes to inspire a “reverence for the unknown and intangible world.” Her practice, in a way, derives from Amazonian religious fusions, these syncretisms between African, Indigenous, and European relations to divinity. For Carucci, the musical and spiritual traditions are inseparable. She frequented São Paulo as a child, dancing samba, dressed in sequins and feathered headdresses, preparing for Carnival, a festival ostensibly marking the beginning of Lent but using Afro-Brazilian rhythms and concepts from Indigenous clothing. As with Carucci, music, dance, and spirituality are all one.
Mia Carucci’s upcoming album, “Deities in Stone,” released on all streaming services on November 8th. Listen to it like Carucci. Go into the dark, light some candles, lie down, and feel the presence of spirits.
Narciso Novogratz is a freelance writer currently living in New York.