Sada Vidoo, you may know her as THE living doll – enjoyed an unprecedentedly busy summer; pilgrimaging across the continent to perform at PRIDE festivals, adding the final, fantasy-inspired flourishes to her autumnal sophomore EP A Beautiful Lie, and signing a sweet deal with indie label AGP Music based in Spain before her current endeavour. She’s now touring the Far East for three months, sharing her idiosyncrasies as a, well, China Doll “I must admit I’m nervous, trying to learn as much as I can about Chinese Culture” says Europe’s muñeca . The X Factor and Eurovision alumnus is certified proof in opposition to modernity’s seismic shift where We the People, the social media bisserwassers, are the formidable judges, that entertaining your fan base – by burlesquing life in plastic – has triumphed against considerable odds, as friggin’ fantastic.
Sada’s treated like a Mae West or Grace Jones of Europe’s zeitgeist. Life imitating art as cis-female, female-impersonator, the sum of her parts, aesthetic, voice and message, could never fit the industry’s production-line mould of carbon-copy mouthpieces for the current generation of pop acts. Perhaps it’s a new wave of inclusive feminist diatribes that makes the eccentric artist so appealing; However, the created beauty started out as conveyor of happiness to positively alter moods with songs like ‘Iconic’ which couldn’t sound more authentic compared to the tracks of some stars, for whom the rhetoric and politics of self/female empowerment (especially with the relentless revelations of harassment perpetuated by industry insiders), appear to be no more than a clickbait-inspired afterthought. It’s all too easy to be cynical concerning the authenticity of the more eccentric on the spectrum of artists, many of whom (hopefully) enjoy the perks of avatar-like reality through the visions of restrictive management. So getting to know a new visionary (the majority of people do a double-take at the shock of this woman’s everyday attire in public) and a DIY diversion from the standard norm, with 1400 Facebook followers ‘Stan’-ing hard for what they perceive as the real deal, is an always welcome breath of fresh air.
A disclaimer is perhaps required on the facts of life as a walking, talking, singing doll; misconceptions on the presumed superficiality of doll-life, she politely asks to be left at the door. Sada exists at the ecotone joining performance art with life as a full-time enthusiast of an often misread subculture:
“Living as a Doll equates to living in freedom” she confirms succinctly between shows back home in her native Denmark, for whom she represented in 2017’s Eurovision semi-final with the song ‘Northern Lights’ in a sensational mirror-ball dress that only a living work of art could exhibit with such self-assured sass. She speaks of identity with the knowing tone of the archetypal outcast, looking for, and finally finding, her tribe. And as a talented singer and songwriter with X-factor level exposure, who transported the Living Doll, an Eastern-inspired subculture most often confined in the West to small clusters of online devotees, to the households of thousands. As is typical for artists a little left of the norm in terms of aesthetic and sound, it took many transformations and trials for Sada to find the appropriate packaging for her message:
“The first time I saw a Living Doll, I was in Camden Town…I didn’t speak – I just stared, I was basically star struck by the artistry of this person who was just boldly living this lifestyle 24/7 in a way I couldn’t do in my hometown (Copenhagen), or most other places. The ‘doll’ smiled at me and something clicked – I was a doll! I got to work on creating Sada Vidoo, the doll. My wardrobe, my posture, all of these ideas that were already in me.” But on those obvious misconceptions, Sada clarifies a few things for those who believe that being a Doll equates to being objectified; to be a controlled plaything; to being under the male gaze – nothing could be further from the reality for the die-hards who inhabit this world, devoting time, talent and grafting as the drag queen does. “The Doll world is simply the creation of a nicer, more tolerant reality. In our Doll universe, we are tasked with politeness, with positive energy, above all with creating our own play – the way we interact with each other reflects the enormous respect we have for each other’s hard work on our DIY looks. “Some days I’m a porcelain doll, other days I’m a dark doll, but I’m always wearing my heart on my sleeve, whether people ‘get’ it or not, the point is, I couldn’t change, or even ‘tone down’ for anyone’s approval, as that would be a fake version of me, bent to society’s expectations.
My stage presence as a doll is an advocate for my identity. Since I was little, I felt like a princess doll on the inside – but my outer self didn’t match, back then. The visual transformation gave me the harmony I needed to express myself through my songs, to be an authentic self.”
I ask her what an X Factor produced by Sada Vidoo would look like: “Crazy. Like a Mad-Hatter’s tea-party, but all decked out in baby pink” is the answer, but this music industry stalwart is not simply a fluffy fantasist, instead a realist. “I’ve been doing this for a long time in different incarnations, and had to let go of certain expectations both in my own head and from people around me. New artists sell by being marketed as relatable -the ‘new x or the new y,’, that reference point is a cliché. These days we have the option of picking and choosing, matching our aesthetic to our music because radio is no longer in control and there’s simply more choice.”
So, what is the Doll’s take on the afore mentioned artists, many of whom allowed their conventional looks and sounds attract millions, before identifying with the outcasts, the unconventional and the downtrodden amongst their fan-bases, of which they are none of the above? “Look, America has so many HUGE icons, like Madonna, Beyoncé and the like, who advocate freedom of self expression, and people follow, so that’s all good. We have a little problem in Europe when it comes to allowing new artists to come in right now, the eccentrics seem to be left in the past, Bowie and so on. The flipside to being outspoken in your music and aesthetic is the internet hate – but it was through the internet that ‘Northern Lights’ sold over 100,000 copies very quickly, with no airplay, so the fans hungry for something different are out there – we’re lucky enough for them to find us through digital presence.”
Sada’s telling us that you don’t need to sell thousands, enjoy the privilege of TV talent show exposure or travel to the farest reaches of the globe to achieve your authentic self. All you have to do is grab the most eccentric makeup you can find, feed your head with the saccharine echoes of music that instructs us that it’s ok or even better than ok to be different, and step out into the world looking, if you like, as a ‘lady who sits on top of the loo roll’ as Sharon Osborne once quipped on X Factor. If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve come for confirmation that life is better, just funnier this way. Personally, I see Sada’s humongous circle skirts reminiscent of a transformative Cupcake Doll. Remember those?…
SONGS TO PUT YOUR DOLL-FACE ON TO:
- ‘Iconic’ from 2017’s A Beautiful Lie. Standout line: “We are I-i-i-ico-nic!” So much range in the voice, and most-fitting for enhancing a doll-believer’s confidence before stepping outside into the mundane masses of the great unwashed. Available on Apple Music
- ‘Northern Lights’, Eurovision semi-finalist track. You’ve got to watch the Youtube clip with rotating stage to get in the spirit of all things ethereal, but this will keep you uplifted: “…we’re turning darkness into light…we’re on the same side…”. Melodic, with a vocal range showcasing Sada as more than just a one-trick unicorn
- ‘Love is a Battlefield’: Ah, couldn’t leave out this reworking of the Pat Benatar classic, the tempo of which couldn’t sound more different to the ear. Think histrionic power anthem, rendered like you’d never thought possible. From 2015’s ‘A Story with No End’
A Beautiful Lie is out now.