Tuesday, 29 November 2016

1979-2016-?

This piece seeks to represent working class experience under neoliberalism imposed in the UK by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1979. The cage represents the ‘capturing’ and constricting of the working class as their economic, political and social power has been deliberately dismantled over the last 35 years via what has been described as the economics of class war (1). The piece also references Max Weber’s concept of the working class experiencing industrial capitalism as an ‘iron cage’ (2). Within the cage there are various artefacts that anesthetize and distract the working class to/from their experience. Referencing ‘1984’ (3) these include lottery tickets, sexualised images and alcohol. The wine bottle is from Chile where neoliberalism was first imposed under Pinochet in 1970s. In the top corner of the structure is a CCTV camera representing the preventative surveillance and control exercised by the state upon its citizens.
The title 1979-2016-? implies an uncertainty about where society in now heading.




Bibliography

(1) Harvey, D. (2005) A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

(2) Weber, M, The Iron Cage (1985) quoted in Bowman, M. (et al) (2001) Religion, Modernity and Change: Course Introduction, Milton Keynes, The Open University and Cole, N. Understanding Max Weber’s “Iron Cage” and why it’s More relevant Today, http://sociology.about.com/od/Key-Theoretical-Concepts/fl/Understanding-Max-Webers-Iron-Cage.htm

(3) Orwell, G. (1949) 1984, London, Penguin.



Thursday, 10 November 2016

'Talk of Violence' by Petrol Girls? Stunning!



Petrol Girls take their name from a group of women in the Paris Commune who-at least mythically- burnt down parts of Paris in the last days of the Commune as it was being overthrown by Versaillais troops in 1871(1). I saw the modern day Petrol Girls at The Owl Sanctuary in Norwich earlier this year and they were absolutely stunning-a set of full on melodic post-hardcore punk with intelligent, angry lyrics challenging sexism, structures of violence and injustice. This is a band fuelled by feminist convictions, left politics, compassion and righteous anger with an integrity backing up their words. The two original members, Ren Aldridge and Liepa Kuraitė, have been joined by Joe King on guitar and Zock on drums and have had a couple of previous physical releases; the 3 track Petrol Girls and another 3 new tracks on Something Else released earlier this year.
I ‘ve seen the band a couple more times and they seem to keep getting better so I was interested to see if they had managed to transfer the intensity and energy of ‘live’ on to album...and glad to say they have!
Of the 10 tracks on Talk of Violence only one has been previously released physically so basically you’ve got an album of new material, though fans will recognise some of the tracks from gigs. And that seems like a good place to start! What have they done to ‘Touch Me Again’! They’ve turned a good song into something amazing! Complete ferocious anger at the experience of sexual harassment and assault that women have to endure in a misogynistic culture that apparently has infected even the punk scene. The repeated line “Touch me again and I will fucking kill you” is delivered with all the indignation and anger it deserves. This track has gone up another level in recording.
The album kicks off with the sounds of a protest and the declaration “We want to stop the false peace” (‘False Peace’), it’s here that reviewing without access to lyrics became problematic but I can report that both ‘Clay’ and ‘Fang’ keep up the energy level, with ‘Fang’ living up to my hopes after hearing it live.
Another track fans will recognise is ‘Treading Water’ which has been online as a taster for a few months, it seems to confront the violence of Fortress Europe and its response to refugees ( a situation that Europe seems to frame as it’s own crisis rather than that of the refugees!) before going on to list various forms of insidious and structural violences that are often ignored or justified.
‘Phallocentric’ critiques men’s preoccupations with themselves and their dicks in both public and private life, “Erect shaft-like monuments for your wars’...’Phallocentric we're not done when you are, Phallocentric I'm bored of your art, I want to play not perform a routine, I want pleasure not just here to please”.
Over the 10 tracks Petrol Girls are focussed, intelligent and intent on highlighting inequality, oppression and injustice wherever and however they are expressed- if you’re offended by this band you might want to have a think why.
All in all ‘Talk of Violence’ actually exceeds my expectations in so much as it does the Petrol Girls I know from gigs complete justice. Live they are ferocious, articulate, angry and confrontational- somehow they’ve managed to translate that into this album. Faultless.


Bibliography.
(1) Petroleuses. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A9troleuses

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

IDestroy/Interview.

Courtesy of IDestroy.
IDestroy are a Bristol based punk/garage rock 3 piece comprised of Bec Jevons, Becky Baldwin and Jenn Haneef. Formed in early 2015 they cite influences as wide ranging as Sleater Kinney, Gossip,  X-Ray Spex and Iggy and the Stooges. In February this year they released their debut EP ‘Vanity Loves Me’ to positive reviews, mosh.hitthe floor.com commenting ‘this is a true punk EP’ (1); thegirlsare.com described it as ‘raw and powerful’ (2) while Punktastic described the title track as a ‘short, sharp slab of garage-rock glory’ (3). After coming across them via Facebook and checking out their highly impressive EP I contacted them for an interview and, between gigs on their current tour, lead singer Bec Jevons kindly obliged.

Q: Could you give us an overview of IDestroy? How did you meet? When did you start?
We are Bec, Becky and Jenn, three-piece rock ‘n’ roll band. We met whilst studying in Bristol and formed the band about a year and a half ago. Since then we have been playing shows all over the UK and into Spain. We put out our first release ‘Vanity Loves Me’ (EP) in February this year.

Q: What had you been doing before? Had you been in other bands?
Yes, we’ve all been playing in various other bands since we were in school, I currently also play with The Blue Aeroplanes and Becky plays with Triaxis and Dorja. We’re the kind of people who love playing and collaborating with new people.

Q: Was there anything specific that made you decide to form a band together? Similar ideas musically?
I’d been writing a bunch of songs that I specifically had in mind to play with a three piece, powerful and energetic line up. I knew Becky and Jenn would be the ideal people to ask for the job, luckily they were up for it!

Q: Who would you list as influences-would you identify with Riot Grrrl?
I love riot grrrl! Sleater Kinney in particular have been a big influence of mine, along with The Gossip. We’ve each got a big list of different influences though. But for me Nirvana, Bowie, The Thermals, Jack White etc etc

Q: How did you decide on the name?
One of the first songs I wrote to be played in the band was a track called I Destroy. We were really excited about this song and we felt it summed up the direction of the band, so we decided to make it one word and name the band after it.

Q: Did you have a fairly clear idea of the sound you were aiming for from the start or has it been more of an evolution?
Yes, I had a pretty good idea when we were forming the band what I wanted it to sound like. It has come together in a really natural way, particularly our live show.

Q: You released the 4 track 'Vanity Loves Me' EP earlier this year. Could you talk us through the tracks, what sort of subject matter were you exploring?
The subject matter ranges from feeling the need to destroy everything, to enjoying getting drunk with your friends… so I think there are a lot of relatable themes in the lyrics! The theme of the whole EP is an observation of human feelings and behaviours.

Q: Are you happy that it 'captures' where IDestroy are now? Often musicians feel their releases document where they were!
We’re really happy with how it’s been received, we’ve sold far more than we imagined and it’s had great reviews. I think it’s a good introduction to what we’re all about. We’re currently focusing on the next release, it’s important for us to develop on the sound though and put out even better tracks.

Q: How does the creative process work in IDestroy? Is there one main songwriter or is it very collaborative?
I usually start with getting some lyric ideas down and then I’ll write the song around them. I’ll get a rough demo recorded with all the riffs, chords and vocal melodies to a basic beat. We’ll then all go into a rehearsal room and work more parts of the arrangement and getting a solid structure down.

Q: What sources do you draw on in lyric writing? Personal experiences, books, films?
All of the above! You can find ideas and inspiration from literally anywhere if you really put your mind to it.

Q: Often female musicians have to put up with sexist attitudes and comments from men with essentialist viewpoints. What's your experience been like so far?
Luckily, I think we have avoided sexism at most of our shows. This is possibly because we often play with other female and mixed gendered bands, so most audiences and other bands on the bill are good to us. When we are the only female band on the line up we get comments made about us which just reflects people’s assumptions about female musicians. Sometimes we are approached after our set by people who seem so surprised that we are good at what we do. Sound engineers don’t expect us to play ‘properly’ or to know about our own gear… And people often think that someone else is booking for us and managing us when we've always done it ourselves. We can’t complain about this too much, because sometimes we enjoy proving people wrong!

Q: What are your plans for the rest of 2016 and into 2017 -are you going to be out playing live, do you have any plans for further releases?
We are currently on tour, playing dates all across the UK. In between the shows we will be recording the next release ready to put out early next year.

Q: What bands and writers have you been enjoying lately?
I’m currently checking out Jamie T’s new album, which is sounding pretty good so far. Slotface, Martyrials and a band we met in Spain called The Strangers all get shout outs for featuring on my current playlist!

Thanks to Bec and IDestroy. You can check them out on Facebook and Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/idestroy



Bibliography.

(1) Young, J. (2016) ‘IDestroy – Vanity Loves Me EP Review’.

(2) Carter,E. (2016) ‘Introducing IDestroy’. http://www.thegirlsare.com/2016/07/11/introducing-idestroy/

(2) ‘IDestroy Premiere New Video’ (2016) http://www.punktastic.com/radar/idestroy-premiere-new-video/

https://musiceyz.co.uk/2016/03/03/vanity-loves-me-by-idestroy-ep-review/

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Algorithms.

A trailer for Adam Curtis' recent film 'HyperNormalisation' (1) commented that corporate monitoring of online activity is now so prevalent and algorithms so powerful that our internet experience resembles gazing into a mirror. The internet reflects back to us our interests and is tailored to us according to our online history so that, in affect, we inhabit a cyber reproduction of our self.






Sunday, 16 October 2016

The All Seeing Eye.

Online data collection by governments is often contested and challenged while data collection by corporations seems to be accepted by many as part and parcel of online activities. 
Although the symbolism and meaning of The All Seeing Eye has been adopted by several groups historically here it is stripped of any specific religious meaning and has been appropriated and deployed to convey the idea that all and everything you do online is being noted and recorded by various companies.


   

Monday, 10 October 2016

Kamikaze Girls: Riot Grrrl With A Mission.



Kamikaze Girls are vocalist/guitarist Lucinda Livingstone and drummer Conor Dawson who describe themselves as a Riot Grrrl two piece based in Leeds and London. They released their first eponymous single in October 2014 followed by five more until this September’s release of their 5 track EP ‘SAD’ (1,2). Due to the band’s honesty in engaging with issues of mental health Punktastic, in a review of ‘SAD’, described the band as ‘an important voice in the punk scene at the minute’, and ‘SAD’ as ‘a staggeringly bold accomplishment’(3). Combining a variety of influences including Bikini Kill and Sleater Kinney with their own pop sensibilities Kamikaze Girls stated aim is to challenge attitudes towards mental health, to stand in solidarity with other young people struggling with those issues and, if that’s not enough, to work with other bands to eradicate gender stereotypes in music (1). With a mission statement like that and music to match I was always going to be asking if an interview was possible-fortunately it was!  

Q: Could you give us an overview of Kamikaze Girls? Had either of you been in other bands before?
Lucinda: Myself and Conor were both in a band called Hearts & Souls with our friends Andy & Justin. We’re technically still the same band as we’ve just lost members and had a name change but it feels very separate to KG. I was also in the pop punk band called This City Sleeps for quite a while.

Q: Was there anything specific that made you decide to form a band together? Similar ideas musically?
Lucinda: I don’t know really, it was just timing. Conor and myself had hung out before and played shows together in different bands but we both found ourselves without a band and I was starting one up and Conor’s band weren’t doing much and he wanted to do more so we just started jamming.

Q: How did you decide on the name? It's a Japanese book and film isn't it?
Lucinda: Kamikaze Girls is a novel and a film. We knew about the film first. We were on our way to our friends sisters wedding and Conor told me the name and said he was surprised there wasn’t a band called that. We liked it so much and thought it suited our sound so we decided to change the band name from Hearts & Souls then and there. It’s nice to have a band name you actually like!

Q: What bands and musicians have inspired you?
Lucinda: I was a huge Michael Jackson fan growing up, I was obsessed. I was brought up on pop music and then found punk rock in my early teens with bands I found on Scuzz, through Kerrang and in P-Rock. As I got a little older and realised you didn’t just have to like one genre of music I started listening to a lot of indie, electronic, shoe-gaze, experimental and atmospheric music. Artists that have really inspired me over the last 10 years have been Alabama Shakes, The Julie Ruin, Julien Baker, The Album Leaf and Explosions In The Sky.

Q: I think you formed in 2011 and have released a series of tracks since 2014 (1, 2), with the SAD EP coming out September. How has your sound developed in that time?
Lucinda: We technically formed in 2009 as Hearts & Souls. Then Kamikaze Girls as a two-piece has been going about two and a half years. The sound has developed quite a lot from where we started in 2009. We were atmospheric pop-rock that played to a backing track. A very large rich sound with synths and strings. We’re now a very noisy two-piece with less members, no backing tracks and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Our live show went from being meticulously planned out to being chaotic, fun and unpredictable. My vocal style has changed hugely as well. I never used to shout and scream, so that’s been a more recent thing as of the past few years.

Q: Did you have a fairly clear idea of what you were aiming for from the start or is it constant evolution?
Lucinda: When we wrote SAD I think we were testing what we could achieve as a two-piece, and how big we could make our sound. Our live show is very important to us and we love experimenting with things live and manipulating our sound to make each show unique. At the moment we’re writing for an album and I think we’re being a lot more experimental with things and seeing what develops. I like what we’ve done so far!

Q: How does the creative process work in Kamikaze Girls? Is there one main songwriter or is very collaborative?
Lucinda: I will write all the lyrics and melodies but the music is both Conor and myself. I write riffs, Conor writes riffs, and then we’ll get in a room and jam. I will rarely write a full song myself without Conor’s input, and nothing feels fully finished until we’ve both been in a room together playing it.

Q: You say on your Facebook page that you want to use your music 'as a means to challenge attitudes and taboos surrounding mental health' (1). Was there anything you feel able to talk about that led to that commitment?
Lucinda: Yeah totally. I’ve had some real problems in my lifetime dealing and living with mental health issues. I’ve not really felt comfortable talking about it until more recently. I feel like it’s important to talk about these things because people consider them ‘awkward’ topics. I used writing music as a means to channel it and I felt a lot better for writing music and going to shows and being able to put my time and energy into something I loved so much really helped me. That’s not to say that’s the answer for everyone but I feel like the more educated people are about mental health issues and where to go to get help or how to talk to someone with those issues the better it can be for people in the long run. People shouldn’t feel alienated because of something that affects millions, we’re all in it together.

Q: How has the DIY/punk scene responded? I guess quite a number of people must have been encouraged?
Lucinda: People have been super positive, and most shows we play I’ll have conversations about it when we come off stage. People perhaps saying they relate to certain lyrics, or they’ve taken the same meds as me and they know how I feel, or how they want to pursue something creative to help themselves. Again this isn’t something that works for everyone, but I think having a safe space where you feel okay to talk about these things is important, whether you want to speak out or not.

Q: In the book 'One Chord Wonders' Laing comments that first wave punk created space for women to deconstruct and explore gender (4). Do you think that is still true of the punk/DIY scene, has it continued to be a space to explore and question gender?
Lucinda: I think it just comes back to having a space that’s safe in the first place. Like I mentioned before it’s important to have somewhere you can go where you feel yourself. There’s some great places in the UK like DIY Space for London, the Owl Sanctuary in Norwich and Wharf Chambers in Leeds. All run by great welcoming people, and all places that encourage diversity and respect for your peers.

Q: Can you tell us more about the 'SAD' EP, is it the first EP you've had out?
Lucinda: Sure! SAD was written about a specific period of time over about 2-3 years when I was experiencing severe depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. I had issues with depression in previous points in my life but it was at it’s very worse at the point where I wrote the EP. I was attacked, held and gunpoint and robbed one day in Leeds and it ruined my life for two years and everything spiralled out of control. I couldn’t leave the house, my relationships suffered, my mental health pretty much didn’t exist and I didn’t feel like a real person. It was like that particular event triggered a lot of issues I didn’t know I had and although the EP is short each track is about dealing with an aspect of that.

Q: Are you happy that it 'captures' where Kamikaze Girls are now? Often musicians feel their releases document where they were!
Lucinda: Definitely. It documents that period of time and it kind of gives me closure on it in a way I didn’t think it could. I’m excited to get started on our next release knowing I’ve put what I felt at the time when I was writing the EP to rest.

Q: What are your plans for the rest of 2016 -are you going to be out playing live a lot to promote 'SAD'?
Lucinda: We’re on tour for the rest of the year. We’ve been on tour since August and we’re leaving for Canada and America tomorrow. We have 2 months over there and then we’re coming back for some UK dates to end the year on.

Q: What bands and writers have you been enjoying lately?
Lucinda: At the moment I’m really enjoying the new Touché Amore album and the new Doe album too. Book wise I have the Travis Barker biography to read when we’re on touch as I’ve been recommended it so many times I feel like I need to check it out for myself. I’m also re-reading at the moment a book called ‘Junk’ by Melvin Burgess. It was the book that inspired me alot when I was about 19/20 and it sort of lit a fire in me for writing honest lyrics so it’s been nice to get my head back in that and discover new parts off it.

Big thanks to Kamikaze Girls and Jamie for organising.


Bibliography.

(3) (1)Wilson, M. (2016) ‘Kamikaze Girls-’Sad’, http://www.punktastic.com/album-reviews/kamikaze-girls-sad/
(4) Laing, D. (2015) 'One Chord Wonders; Power and Meaning in Punk Rock', PM Press, Oakland, CA, USA.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

DOLLS: Cathartic Rock! Getting Out 'What Frustrates Us About Current Society'.

Photo by Neil Anderson.
There is a famous story about a music journalist who went to see Buzzcocks supported by Gang of Four. He was so amazed by Gang of Four that he left at the end of their set, missing Buzzcocks, so that nothing would diminish the significance of what he had just witnessed. In about 2004 I went to see punk band Capdown supported by Douglas but first band up on that night was a band I had never heard of, Adequate 7. I was so impressed that I went to see them another ten times before they split up in 2006!
A few weeks ago I travelled down to London for an All-Dayer, and despite the above paragraph I decided to nip to the hotel I was staying in for a quick shower before going onto the gig. I left the hotel, found the venue and walked in catching an exhilarating, energy filled last couple of garage rock/grunge punk tracks of what must have been a cracking set by DOLLS, a band I will definitely be making the effort to catch in full!
DOLLS are a two piece comprised of singer/guitarist Jade Ellins and drummer Belinda Conde, they formed DOLLS in 2014 and have three excellent tracks up on Soundcloud, double A-side single ‘Audrey’ and ‘Kid Kannibal’ plus ‘Killing Time’. Despite my frustrating tardiness they were kind enough to agree to an interview.  

Q: Could you give us the story so far!? Have you been in other bands before? When did you form?

Jade: I had my own gothic (well tried to be) rock band at Uni and now currently I’m also in Long Teeth. Bel and I met about 2 years ago now and got on ‘like a fucking house on fire’.

Bel: Before joining DOLLS I was in a seven-piece band… so this was quite a change!

Q: Where did the idea for the name DOLLS come from? Is it a comment on the reductionist view of women in contemporary society as in 'Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism' by Natasha Walter?

Jade: No actually, I thought it was a cool, short punchy name, and original… then it turned out almost every other band ever had the word ‘Dolls’ in their name.

Q: Did you have a fairly clear idea of the sort of sound you wanted from the start or has it been more evolutionary?

Jade: When we were first jamming together I was still very much in my Blues Rock stage. So every song was very riff based with wailing vocals. I was a bit scared to use more pop based chords back then as I thought it might sound cheesy. I got into listening to more punk and ‘arty’ bands such as Bikini Kill, Sonic Youth and Ought about a year ago so our sound changed a lot. I realised pop chords weren’t the problem, it was more what you did with them. Now there is hardly a blues riff in sight!

Q: How would you describe your sound?

Bel: I think our sound is a mixture of wanting to ‘get out’ what frustrates us about the current society we live in, with a touch of Jade’s ballsy vocals and my loud drums. We like to make an impact through our music and really reach out to our audience.

Q: What were your early influences, was there any musician or band that inspired you take up an instrument yourself?

Jade: My parents are both musicians so music was always around. Pretty much as soon as I could move they gave me a guitar. Thank God! I loved classic rock bands when I was little as my Dad used to play them all the time in the car such as Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. I also loved a bit of Britney and Christina though, I still do!

Bel: I didn’t come from a musical background at all – I had to fight my mum over the years to get a drum kit! My early influences were serious heavy and nu metal bands, such as Slipknot and SOAD. Hehe…

Q: You've three tracks up on Soundcloud-could you talk us through them-'Audrey and 'Kid Kannibal' seem quite dark!

Jade: ‘Audrey’ and ‘Kid Kannibal’ are supposed to be fun and tongue in cheek. Not taken too seriously at all. I guess people can interpret them however they want though!

Q: More generally what sort of subjects do your lyrics engage with-are they mostly based on experiences or inspired by other sources like films and books?

Jade: It’s a mixture really. Sometimes I will see a film and a character will inspire me for a song. Some are more personal.

Bel: When I write some lyrics for our songs, I like them to be quite ambiguous so each person that listens to them can find a particular meaning themselves.

Q: How does the creative process work for DOLLS, is it a collaborative process or one main songwriter?

Jade: I generally will have the chords and a basic structure of a song ready before I take it to Bel and our other co-writer Sam. I find it really difficult to get songs out of jamming and rather have some time to myself first to decide what kind of song it will be. A few songs have formed out of us jamming them on the spot like ‘Kid Kannibal’ but that is quite rare now. Other times Bel may come up with a drum beat that I find inspiring or Sam may come up with some chords that I want to work with.

Q: I caught part of your set at Loud Women Festival and was so annoyed with myself that I hadn't got there earlier-you were excellent! Is it on stage where you are most at home or in the studio, which do you prefer?

Jade: Thank you! Performing on stage, is definitely why I do this. It’s actually my favourite thing to do! That’s why I don’t mind us gigging all the time and never understood when other bands would complain about it. The studio is still bit of a weird environment for me, however we have just been recording four songs with Jim Sclavunos (Grinderman, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds) which was a brilliant experience. I felt like I needed to go and practice a million hours after working with him as it was so inspiring.

Bel: Being onstage is where I feel the most comfortable! I love playing live and I believe that is the best way to put our music across. It’s great to get good feedback from our gigs!

Q: A lot of female musicians seem to experience a degree of sexism, what has your experience been like in the alt rock/punk/DIY scene? Is it a better place for women than mainstream culture?

Both: Each scene varies, even the more underground scenes still have sexism. The Punk DIY scene where they put on female fronted bands in particular has been great. We haven’t experienced any sexism and always feel supported. Which is why these nights exist! The general alt rock punk scene can be very different. There are a lot of male ‘punk’ bands that still think it’s OK to belittle you, or expect you to be a bit shit as you are a woman. Some of these bands have even had female members in. I guess sexism is still more dominant in mainstream culture, but it can happen anywhere.

Q: Do you think things are improving in that respect?

Jade: There’s still a lot that could be improved.

Bel: Yes, definitely gender equality in the music industry still needs to improve massively.

Q: What bands and writers are you enjoying at the moment?

Jade: I’m loving Parquet Courts, Hinds, Angel Olsen, Ought, Queen Pj and the Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds new album is ace!

Bel: I really like King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, The Oh Sees and when I need to chill out I go for Bowery Electric.

Q: What are your plans for the rest of 2016 and into 2017? An album at all?

Both: Like we said before, we have just recorded four tracks. What will happen to those four tracks is still a bit of a mystery. Hopefully they will become super popular, we will become mega rich, and we will be able to finally afford a roadie so we don’t have to carry our shit around with us on the tube!

Big thanks to Bel and Jade for interview, here is their Soundcloud page  https://soundcloud.com/d-o-l-l-s