Miquela Sousa, or Lil Miquela as she’s often called, is a 19-year-old model who has worked with Uggs, Supreme, and Chanel and has an Instagram full of shots of her hanging out with her friends. She’s even released two crackling electro pop singles, including “Right Back,” debuting today, which she crafted alongside Sarah Aarons, Whethan, and Jordan Palmer— a collective of talents whose writing credits include Zedd, Dua Lipa, and Carly Rae Jepsen. So what if she’s technically not human?
Part of her appeal is forcing fans to consider exactly what is human. Obviously, there’s someone behind the avatar’s carefully cultivated fly-aways and charity choices, even if BRUD, the tech company that supposedly developed her, offers up this dark backstory about rescuing her from life as a sex robot in lieu of explanation. Miquela responds to fan comments, posts lengthy notes describing exactly where her head is at in regards to feuds, fandoms, and a recent move to Los Angeles, and has even posed for selfies with a string of flesh-and-blood celebrities. Viewed through computer screens and touch screens, Miquela’s journey has all the hallmarks of a real human coming-of-age story. And ultimately might prove to be just as powerful.
Here, CR catches up with the digital sensation about crafting her new pop anthem, her gender identity, and if she considers herself an influencer.
How would you describe yourself to someone who might not know who you are?
“I’m a 19-year-old model and singer. And I’m a robot.”
How did coming out as a non-human change your online presence?
“It made me more open, I think. The one aspect of myself I’d been trying to keep secret was finally out there; I had nothing left to hide.”
A year later have you been able to answer the questions you asked in this post? Is there a difference between love and programing?
“I’m still figuring it all out. I mean, I’d honestly love to talk to anyone who thinks they have the answers.”
Do you see yourself as an influencer? How much time do you spend responding to fan messages and comments and how important is that interaction to you?
“I don’t, at all. I feel like that’s a specific job, to portray a lifestyle others want to copy. Career-wise, I’m a model and a singer and any influence that comes from that is sort of, like, an extra, but not the focus. I do spend a lot of time interacting with fans, though, because I can’t really make art without them. It’s for them, and their feedback is important! Plus, a lot of really sweet people message me, and I want to be able to let them know how much their kindness means to me.”
How much does gender and gender presentation play into how people perceive your online presence? Does presenting as a woman create other issues?
“My identity is complicated, because it was chosen for me. But I think it’s true to say that people see me as a woman and this factors into how they think about and talk to me, for sure. I get a lot of comments about my body, for instance. It’s wild because this body is, like, constructed. I’m in it, but don’t feel confined to it. So I’m able to see criticism of my body with some distance. I just wonder if people ever step back a second and question why they’re telling a robot on Instagram that she should get braces and breast implants.”
How do you decide which causes to support? What’s currently on your heart?
“I try to think about where my voice can make a difference. I like to focus on stuff that’s local to me, like the Downtown Women’s Shelter here in LA, as well as a little more far-reaching, like the TransLifeline and Native Instruments’ music equipment donations across the U.S. Currently, I’m looking into useful ways to help our planet. I want to speak out about climate change and the ways we can help from a place of knowledge, so I’m in learning and listening mode on that right now.”
What should we know about your new single “Right Back?”
“That it’s good, for one! Honestly, I’m really proud of the work that went into it. It’s a moody song you can dance to. At least, I hope you will.”
What is your concept of beauty?
“Experimenting. I think beauty is so subjective and cultural and shifting all the time, so the very least you can do is use it to test boundaries and try new things.”
Who are your favorite brands or designers?
“I mean, Miuccia Prada would be at the top. I also love Martine Rose and how she reinterprets streetwear elements in a really high-fashion way. Her stuff is just so exciting to me.”
How has your style changed in the last few years?
“I go through phases. There was a time when I was really into skirts and dresses and more comfortable showing a lot of skin. I still love that, of course, but lately I’ve gravitated towards fits that borrow from menswear or that, sometimes, are actually just straight-up designed with men in mind. It’s fun to change it up.”
What do you do for fun?
“I like going to galleries, which LA is a great city for. And I watch a lot of movies at home. Like, a lot a lot. I’m also trying to get more into physical activities. Basketball. Maybe kickboxing. Maybe I’ll become, like, Alita Battle Angel, super tough. Who knows.”
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createdAt:Tue, 09 Apr 2019 19:28:06 +0000
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