My good friend, artist and collaborator Sjimon Gompers invited me to write an essay for Impose Magazine. And so it was.
Week In Pop Feature
While much of our coverage focuses on the superstars of today & tomorrow—this week’s cover story takes you behind the scenes to explore the praxis & passions from one of the industry’s top influencer. Lending further truth to the fact that behind your favorite artist is a very powerful & proud woman is Lueda Alia of Smoke & Mirrors consulting, Inc. who penned an exclusive editorial reflecting on the histories of the world & scenes that are both personal & at the same time universal.
Having worked extensively with groups & artists such as Doomtree, Gambles, Sun Glitters & countless more—the Albania by London, Ontario visionary provides approaches that extend outside the conventions of PR/A&R/consulting/brand development/marketing respectively through humanist & spiritual methods. Working in worlds that are not principally concerned with the tired constructs of campaign outlines, press placements & bottom line figure fixations—Lueda’s industry operations revolve around a genuine care for everyone from the artist, their imprint, the journalist & all the people along the way who are often forgotten about. Alia has been actively creating a whole revolutionary approach to international artistry reinforcement where the concept of care for the arts, care for the artists & everyone involved contrasts with the dizzying soul-crushing nature of the behemoth that are the media machines of which the world is inundated with. Not one to ever settle or accept the entertainment industry’s own well-documented shrugged history of necessary evils & obsolete gatekeepers; Lueda preaches an inspiring gospel of self-care & global enrichment obtained through intuitive & psychic expressions of unlimited encouragement. Lueda Alia leads both inquirers & artists alike to the threshold of tomorrow by doing things her way with visions of a limitless & prosperous tomorrow—as illustrated extensively in the following generous feature for thought.
We Are One
Change begins with ourselves. This is mine. We are currently living in a beautiful moment in time, for we are giving birth to a new paradigm. Together.
Fame and money are not real. But we are. It is important for people like me to not be erased from history, as our names often are.
And if we are to continue existing, then we must prioritize each other, and our collaborations, over competition; the latter is but an illusion and construct of a dying system. As the motto of one of my biggest loves, Doomtree, states: ‘No kings!’ We are it—the ones we have been waiting for.
My life is proof of the power of people and the magic of love—the foundation of art itself, the living. For us, there are no limits. And together, we are unstoppable.
‘We carry a new world here, in our hearts. That world is growing in this minute.’ — Buenaventura Durruti
What do I do?
I was only 14 years old when I came to Canada with my mother in 2001, after having lived through terrible experiences in a country that had been falling apart. I had dealt with immense trauma the 4 years before moving. When I arrived, I was often afraid to go outside. Music was all I had for many years, and I was able to connect with like-minded people on music based Internet forums that had just begun to spring up. I think it is safe to say that I would not be alive today had it not been for music and my online friends. For that reason, I have always felt immense gratitude toward artists and had the desire to give back and invest in them the way I felt they had invested in my life through their art.
That brings me to what I do today.
In a nutshell, I like to nurture and grow artists, humans. I have worked different roles in the music industry for over 10 years from this tiny city in Ontario, Canada; but the internet allowed me to overcome physical borders, and most of my work has been focused in the US and Europe. I am and have been a writer, editor, publicist, manager, agent—list goes on!—but I believe mentor and consultant are more fitting descriptions of what I have to offer. I have also recently embraced the term artist for myself as art comes in many different forms and I like to think of what I do as art. Simultaneously, I have worked in research and mental health for almost as long, which has helped give me a wider perspective on human nature. Most of my time is spent reading books on psychology, spirituality, philosophy, history and writing in the company of my cats.
Currently, I work with artists from all walks of life through my own creative agency, Smoke & Mirrors Consulting, Inc., which allows me to be hands on with any given project and put all the moving pieces together to create a big picture type of campaign. There are no titles, the aim is to simply create meaningful art that will hopefully resonate with and inspire its audience. I started Smoke & Mirrors because I had become disillusioned with the music industry and I wanted to do more with artists. More of what I have always loved: to nurture and help artists grow with a holistic approach and no limitations—much like old school record labels. I did not know how anything would manifest, but I knew I wanted to combine my worlds: psychology and art. The death of Elliott Smith shook me to my core when I was a young teenager, and I felt helpless knowing there was nothing I could have done to help this person whose music had meant so much to me when I needed it most. Musicians like him inspired this trajectory—wanting to play my part to help artists, for their art has saved my life and kept me sane throughout the years.
I tend to see in artists—and people in general—what they do not yet see in themselves, and I try to bring that out when we collaborate together. I push them to stretch the limits of the way they express themselves, for they are humans first and foremost. I do not believe in titles or ideologies, our consciousness is far too rich and fluid for either. Usually when artists show me a new project, my first question is, ‘Where did this come from and what else is there?’ Because I feel there is much we keep hidden out of fear from the reactions of those around us. But without allowing the internal to exist externally, we are always bound to be prisoners of our own doing. I see art as an innate part of ourselves that is itching to live outside of our bodies, especially when we are reluctant to embrace it in our daily lives. This is a duality experienced by us all, which artists bring to light.
There are forces which exist to convince us to suppress our humanity to better serve the needs of the machine, and it is incredibly vital that we reconnect with it. Psychologist Carl Jung often speaks of the importance of embracing what lies beneath and integrating that in our journey—I feel the reasons behind this are self-explanatory, for how can we be whole if we are only operating at half capacity? And if we cannot be our true selves, then who will? We are all artists in our own way when we find the courage to embrace and live out our authenticity. ‘Please keep creating!’ is what I tell everyone. I cannot emphasize the importance of expressing ourselves enough. Being an artist is not a job title—it is simply BE-ing, in truth.
‘You are inside my head’ is something I often hear from people I work and interact with. Especially when I help create narratives in a language other people will understand—for the truths that live in the depths of their soul—completely transforming the way any campaign looks. I do not believe in doing things the way they have always been done. I like to create and innovate, and that is not going to happen if we blindly follow the status quo about what to do or how to proceed. We must look within, which is where an infinite well of creativity and answers lies.
The disconnect that exists within our individual selves is now reflected in the society at large, for the state of the world is a simple reflection of the collective. Everywhere I look, I see people lost within themselves, locked to their devices and unable to connect with each other. The only way to move forward and out of this mess is to embrace all aspects of ourselves that make us whole, and that includes our shadow—the parts of ourselves we have deemed to be unlovable and have thus buried in our unconscious. This suppression of self tends to always lead to issues that plague our lives. How could we ever hope to know and love anyone else if we are unable to do that with the person closest to us—ourselves?
When we are able to look at ourselves with complete honesty and compassion, we gain the freedom to act consciously and make decisions that benefit not just us, but humanity as a whole. Our world is in dire need of healthy individuals who are able to keep fighting and lead this new paradigm. I see this in my own mother who, undeterred by burdens, always greets every challenge with a sense of grit and determination unique to healthy, persevering human beings. Despite what we are witnessing on a daily basis, I have an incredible amount of hope. Nothing can ever break the human spirit, especially if we build with love to protect our humanity and the planet. I know what we are capable of.
My soul is rooted in a place of love and understanding, and I feel that in itself allows artists to collaborate with me more freely. I always make it clear to them: this is not a job, this is my life and I am here to create, not sell. Where people see an opportunity to make profit, I see the possibility to help humans reach their full potential and make a difference in the world.
And through art, that becomes reality.
Art speaks the loudest because it is the most raw expression of humanity.
Art, living in truth, is the most beautiful act of rebellion.
And I am thankful I get to live this dream—one that came to life through the love of my beautiful mother who has believed in me since day one, my family in Europe who have always stood by me, my incredible girl-friends in Australia who have helped me build every project, industry friends and other creatives who never miss an opportunity to help by offering their talents, and a community of art lovers who always support me every step of the way. Without them, none of this would have been possible.
We have the tendency to want to be seen as the ‘genius who made it on their own!’ because we feel as though this is proof of strength and capability; but on the contrary, it shows the inability to recognize one simple truth: no man is an island—we all receive help along the way and it is important to recognize the individuals who have played a part in our evolution. It is love and gratitude that show the depths of our character. And it is kindness and compassion toward the living that keep the wheel spinning, despite what the powers that be, and this poisonous system, may want us to believe. The brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers who stood for peace and freedom at Tiananmen Square, the vigilant voices of Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter, the advocates for free and open access like Aaron Swartz, and many others, have all fought for our right to be time and time again. Our collective history is proof there is so much beauty in people coming together, for when they do, the most incredible and unimaginable things happen.
A truly sovereign being does not crave personal validation because they possess vision: we are all interconnected.
We Are One.
Some of my work:
My friend and artist Daniel Ahearn invited me to be a part of projects such as Hot Girls Wanted, the Netflix documentary produced by Rashida Jones, and the film The Ever After, directed by Mark Webber, for which he and Moby wrote the score. I collaborated with Gambles (Matthew Daniel Siskin) on the complete production of his project Vicious Times, where I pushed both his and my own boundaries to create something brutally honest. If I had to pick a project that helped transform my life, that would be it—he gave me the freedom to be myself and I was able to find my own voice throughout that journey. In 2015, I helped run and rebrand Emancipator’s label Loci Records and we reached the iTunes top charts and Reddit’s front page together. Last year, I was the creative producer for Sun Glitters’ film It Will Be Forever and its digital production—another project where I pushed both the artist and myself to create in a way we never had before. He would also become one of the first artists to fully and publicly acknowledge my role and contributions (thank you, Victor Ferriera). I brought to digital life my friend Liana Kegley’s Cosmic Vagina world for her mind-bending album Subterranean Penetration. Liana is an incredible artist and visionary who wants to use music as a form of healing (she also does amazing things at Totokaelo in Seattle). And I currently work with many artists in various roles, including award-winning musician Arnór Dan and multi-instrumentalist Stèv, one of Italy’s most innovative artists.