La Strega del Mare
Hailing from Puglia, Southern Italy, Paola Gladys is a Los Angeles-based Singer, Music Producer, DJ, Visual Artist and Actress who has collaborated with artists like Justin Brown (Thundercat), Marcus Strickland, Jacques Schwarz-Bart (D’Angelo), Ray Angry (The
Roots), QWALE aka Pasquale Strizzi (Marcus Miller, Meshell Ndgeocello), Reuben Cainer (Bilal) and Corey Sanchez (Emily King, Amber Mark) amongst many notable others.
Her music is lush texture of Soul, Progressive R&B and Electronic Music. Groovy patterns, soulful vocals, spicy synths and jazzy harmonies coexist in the same recipe. For Paola, making music is pure healing: a deep dive into the spiritual realm, that ethereal world where everybody is free to be. She wants her audiences and listeners to feel freedom, understanding, intimacy, peace and love without judgment.
In 2019, Berklee Alumni Paola Gladys released her debut single Not a Waste, followed by Blackroom (2020) a modern-sounding and forward-thinking track, a completely self-produced EP Estrogen, the single Pure (2020) and Floating (2021) a track that reflects the current social condition of the world. Next release Step Behind will be out soon.
From 2018 to 2022 Paola Gladys lived in New York, where she performed her own original music with a live band in famous clubs and collaborated with some of the greatest contemporary musicians of the NYC music scene. Marcus Strickland, Keyon Harrold, Butcher Brown, Bigyuki, Braxton Cook, Vanjess, Kiefer etc have shown their appreciation to Paola’s artistry.
Creativity has always been a driving force in my life. Observing the world around me and letting my intuition flow freely, led me to immerse myself in the vibrant realms of music and art! A significant pillar of my artistic journey is rooted in the unwavering and pure love of my family, constant source of support, inspiration and positivity. My music is a mix of Soul, R&B, Jazz, Funk, and Electronic music. What I do is composing and producing my own music, performing live (solo or with a band) and participating to art exhibitions with my artworks. For my art I use a mixed tech: acrylics, pens, makers, colored pencils, collages, vintage magazined and fabrics/ materials preserved over time, discovered by a witch-like intuition. Lately I reconnected with one of my passions, acting. I used to act in theaters before moving to the US, and now I feel that the time and place are right to delve back into it. In my spare time, I like to workout, go for a hike, walk as close as possible by the water, read a book (I prefer essays, not fiction), have a nice cup of coffee, discover new places/experiences, go to see some shows and have a skinny margarita (but still with tajin rim) with my friends!
In 2017 I left Italy to attend the Berklee College of Music in Boston. It was my dream to study in the US and be a student at some of the greatest schools for music, acting, dancing and more. After that, I moved to the magical New York, specifically Brooklyn. And now, I’m here in Los Angeles!
It’s hard to pick just one memory from the multitude of experiences and episodes in a city like New York. I’m just gonna say that my four years there deeply shaped me. I learned so much in terms of music, musicianship, life, people and so many other aspects. I changed apartments around 7 times and faced tough and raw challenges. But here I am, realizing that I made it through those difficult moments and also acquired some of the most powerful experience of my life.
I chose Topanga beach because I believe it really holds some kind of mystical charm…there’s a inexplicable and vibrant energy that permeates the beach and its surroundings, from the canyon drive itself to an abandoned motel, a sea food place that reminds me of home, and a beach that not everybody knows about. There’s also a fascinating community of artisans and artists. It’s like living in another and bizzarre dimension! I am a city woman for sure, but I also like the idea of living in a smaller neighborhood where you can say ‘Hey’ to people on the street : ) As for my outfit, I opted for a jumpsuit because lately, I’m no longer comfortable wearing certain types of dresses. I see myself in pants; they complement my figure and make a bolder statement. This brings to mind those occasions when I encounter specific dress codes for some gigs I got. Some require women to wear dresses! What about a classy and sassy tailored blazer + pants? Or a jumpsuit? I love jewelry and accessories, they really help me express my personality. I’m referring to unique pieces of art crafted by artisans.
I love this project. Besides the incredible artistry behind these photographs, I also cherish learning about the life stories of the people, especially when it comes to immigrants. It may appear easy from the outside, as if we are living our best life because we are in America, but it’s not that simple. With utmost humility, I say that every immigrant is a freaking hero. We gotta be strong, determined, focused and adaptable; we gotta speak another language, make time to connect with our families on the other side of the ocean. So I sincerely admire all the souls involved in this project because I already feel a connection to them.
Time changed my perception of Italy and being Italian. In the beginning I was almost ashamed of my Italian heritage; I don’t exactly know why, but, of course, every other nationality seemed cooler than mine (I was also younger). I would see other Italians receiving big boxes of food from Italy and I would think “Oh my God, why? I’d never do that!”. Well, now I see it differently. I truly appreciate and genuinely embrace my roots, my origins and my essence. I’m proud to be from Italy and honored to carry a rich luggage of culture, history, art, style, innovations and amazing and healthy food!! I’m evolving into a hybrid, mixing all the varied cultural inputs that I meet throughout my life.