Sunday, 28 November 2010

INTERVIEW. CAZZ BLASE (ON RIOT GRRRL) PART 3

Part One of Interview here

Part Two of Interview here

If you could put together a riot grrrl compilation CD what would be the essential songs you would put on it?
I think essential songs would have to include 'Double Dare Ya' by Bikini Kill, also two obvious choices:  Huggy Bear's 'Her Jazz' and Bikini Kill's 'Rebel Girl', also Bratmobile's 'Make Me Miss America', the Frumpies 'Frumpies Forever', Voodoo Queens 'Supermodel Superficial', Mambo Taxi's 'Push That Pram (Under The Train)', Pussycat Trash's 'Blessing Mix Up' and 'Girlfriend', Helen Love's 'Formula One Racing Girls', Heavenly's 'Atta Girl', God Is My Co-pilot's 'I Surrender Complete Control to Ann', Sister George's 'Janey's Block', Delicate Vomit 'Popstar', Skinned Teen 'Geometry of Twigs' and 'Nancy Drew', Tsunami 'Sometimes A Notion', Sleater-Kinney 'Turn It On', Growing Up Skipper 'Abby'. 
It'd be great to really fuck with people's heads on this, really challenge people's perceptions by including bands that weren't riot grrrl bands, but were singing of similar themes, so that you could have stuff like 'Daisy' by The Nelories or 'Father, Ruler, King, Computer' by Echobelly and perhaps include stuff like '20 Years In the Dakota' and 'Awful' by Hole, because they make valid criticisms and challenge people's complacency.


What did you think of the more mainstream bands that co-opted some of riot grrrl's message and perhaps dumbed it down such as the Spice Girls and Girl Power.   When Julie Burchill did a programme on them, several feminists appeared on there defending the Spice Girls as bringing a more popular but still positive message to young girls.
There's actually a piece on the F-Word site at the moment that is looking at the Spice Girls and their comeback tour, and her description of the crowd at the gigs makes it sound like a hen party on a mass scale, she also defends the Spice Girls by claiming that they were less insipid and more affirmative in message than a band like Girls Aloud.  I kind of get annoyed by this because, leaving aside the point about Girls Aloud, who I personally have more affection for than the Spice Girls (I think the songs are better, certainly more innovative musicially, and also Sarah Harding is a Stockport girl).  I think the case has yet to be made convincingly that the Spice Girls were more radical or liberating than every other girl group ever to come before them, which was, after all, the key point of their manifesto.
I think their management took a lot from Malcolm McLaren in that respect i.e. 'Let's declare it year zero, everything that came before is shit, we are now, and we are great and far more important' there's a supreme arrogance that goes with this approach, which McLaren only just pulled off, and it's certainly not an exercise you can repeat all that often and expect it to work.  In the case of the Spice Girls, it's a bit like being the Conservative Party today and claiming you care about the poor and disadvantaged.  People's memories aren't that short, well, in politics they are... I don't think it neccessarily follows with pop music though.

Besides, they weren't the first girl band to come along and be a bit stroppy, they just made more money out of it than their predecessors did.  If they changed things so much, why were critics so surprised when Girls Aloud achieved immense commercial success and One True Voice, their boy band competition, flopped?  Surely, post-Spice it would have been a no-brainer that there was a market for girl bands.  There has always been a market for girls bands, it's just that record companies decided in the case of the Spice Girls to market them at women specifically, or at little girls.  There were plenty of little girls buying records by girl bands before them, it's just that those girl bands had a smaller marketing budget and weren't marketed on a girl power manifesto.  That doesn't mean that bands like Bananarama, En Vogue, Salt N' Pepa, Shakespear's Sister, Voice of the Beehive and many others in the eighties and nineties weren't speaking to girls as an audience, and in many ways, songs like 'Robert De Niro's Waiting', 'Free Your Mind', 'Tramp', 'Goodbye Cruel World' and 'Monsters and Angels' were more feminist or more challenging, than the sort of songs the Spice Girls were writing.  And it doesn't start in the eighties or nineties, it goes right back to the birth of popular music, before that even, to people like Rose Murphy in the forties and before her, to people like Bessie Smith, Billie Holliday... it's insulting to not acknowledge any kind of heritage, and it's dishonest as well.

What annoys me about the Spice Girls is the sheer arrogance of their approach, the dishonesty of their message, the artifical, aspirational lifestyle they reinforce, the way they seem to enforce the message that sex and plastic surgery sell records, and the way that they claim to be superior in message to every woman in the music industry, past or present.  At least Girls Aloud don't pretend to be anything other than Girls Aloud.




Do you still think of yourself as a riot grrrl today?  What are your favourite memories of the scene --- what do you love/hate most about it?
I am a little cautious about calling myself a riot grrrl today:  it feels a little bit dishonest and slightly irrelevant.  Because I have been massively influenced by riot grrrl, it's still very important to me, but at the same time I'm aware that I'm older now, and that, whilst I don't feel I belong as a feminist, I also don't feel I fit in with the current crop of riot grrrls, or ladyfesters, so I'm kind of between worlds a bit, in my own bit of ground.  That's not a bad place to be, so saying, and I'm not bitter about it, but I do think there comes a point where you have to step aside and let the next wave of girls get on with it.
My favourite memory is of going to the first day of the Piao! Festival in 1994, probably because it was my first ever gig, but also because everyone was so friendly and nice, and the bands were great and a real mixture too.  You had Pussycat Trash, Th' Faith Healers, Prolapse, but you also had Gorky's Zygotic Mynci, a very early Coping Saw, and The Frantic Spiders, alongside Jacob's Mouse, and it didn't feel odd at all.  There were regular indie kid types, some crusties, a couple of rastas, and these beautiful Japanese punk girls ..
I loved the openness, friendliness and accessibility of riot grrrl, the fluidity, the space to recreate yourself... I think that all diminished in varying degrees over the years, but it's inevitable.  It happened with other scenes, so I'm not surprised it's happened with riot grrrl, just a bit disappointed.

THIS E-MAIL INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE IN APRIL 2008.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.

COVERS OF RIOT GRRRL FANZINES FROM MY OWN COLLECTION.

INTERVIEW. CAZZ BLASE (RIOT GRRRL) PART TWO

Part One of Interview here

How did you become involved in the riot grrrl book?  How easy or hard did you find to write your chapter?
I was emailed and invited to submit a brief for one of the chapters (I was allowed to pick one) by the book's editor, Nadine Monem, in late 2006/early 2007.  She had read my essay on riot grrrl on The F-Word website, and got in touch with me on the back of that.  I was rather cynical about it because they weren't a publisher I'd heard of before, and I thought it was highly suspect that they would want to invite me to write for it because I'm not a published author, or a professional journalist, so my first thought was that they were a vanity press or an author mill.  I had a brief look around the Author Beware site online, but couldn't find any reference to them, so thought I'd submit a brief on the off chance. 
I figured that they would invite loads of people to submit briefs, then narrow it down, then invite several people to write first drafts, then pick the best first draft, pay everyone else the first draft fee, and commission the best one to complete a first draft.  That wasn't what happened, and I did end up turning it down at one point because I thought the deadlines were ridiculous, but then I decided to take a chance on it.  I made sure I had a clear plan of how to do it, how to go about it, how much time it was going to take, what it was realistic to research and include, what it wasn't, but I knew it wouldn't be perfect, and that there was no way I could include everyone.  I did it because I figured that the chance of being offered another chance to write about riot grrrl for a book was highly unlikely, and as such it was like dangling a big carrot in front of a rabbit.  I think they knew that when they commissioned the book actually, because we were all a bit like that.

It was very hard to write and research, but mainly because of the time constraints involved, by the time I had a definite commission for a first draft, I only had six weeks to write and research it, so it basically meant I had no life for six weeks.  I got up early, went online, researched, went to work, came back, had my tea, researched, went to bed, then got up and it started all over again ... for six weeks.  After that, it was pretty much a waiting game, so I got on with other things and got my life back again.  By the time they'd published it, I'd pretty much forgotten about it, and was giving up hope of it ever being published.


One of the things I liked about your chapter was the way it broadened riot grrrl's influences beyond the usual reference to punk bands like The Slits.   When you did your e-mail interviews, what were some of the lesser known influences that were cited?
Quite a lot of the email interviews focused on punk actually, which was fine, there were some mentions of the sixties groups like the Shangri-Las and the Girls In The Garage stuff, and one or two people mentioned C86, Beat Happening... Grunge was mentioned quite a few times, but I decided not to go there in the end because it would have meant doing a whole section on Courtney Love and her relationship with riot grrrl at various times, and it would have taken up too much room, plus I think it's old ground, and it's been gone over a lot already, so it would be a bit like re-hashing the Sex Pistols on the Grundy Show in full detail, which I was also keen to avoid.   There are certain aspects of punk's cultural history, and of riot grrrls where you tend to think 'Oh God, please don't make me discuss this again, it's so boring, and everything has already been said so many times already' and Courtney Love was a bit like that.  There are lots of interesting things that can be said about Hole, in their own right, but there's also a lot of unneccessary bullshit, and I didn't want to clog my chapter up with episodes such as her thumping Kathleen Hanna.
I had a section on riot grrrl lyrics, which I scrapped in the end, where I did discuss Hole and the lyrics to songs like 'Awful' and '20 Years In The Dakota', but they were the interesting bits in a very weak section of the chapter so they got scrapped.
Another influence, which was only mentioned by one person, but was very interesting, was Olivia, and the impact of lesbian singer songwriters and the independent spirit established by Olivia as a label on later singer/songwriters of a riot grrrl ilk.  This would have been very useful to refer to had I been doing the singer/songwriter tradition, and I knew what they meant when they brought the connection up, because there perhaps is a connection between those acts, on that label, at the time, and someone like Ani Di Franco, or possibly even the earlier material of Cat Power.  I think of riot grrrl singer/songwriters, people like Lois Maffeo, or The Crabs, come out of more of a punk background or performance art background, but that doesn't mean there isn't a link because someone, somewhere, must have made them pick up an acoustic guitar, but establishing that link would have taken a lot longer than I had, unfortunately, so I went for the easier to prove option.




What kind of response have you had to the book?  What was it about riot grrrl that you think continues to inspire people?  How do you think riot grrrl will evolve in the future?
We haven't had a massive amount of coverage of the book, so what little coverage there's been has been broadly supportive, but some of it has been slightly tinged with a slight patronising edge, so there's been a lot of summaries of riot grrrl that have been breathtakingly simplistic, but that's tended to be in things like listings for the book launch event that the publishers did in conjunction with Ladyfest London.  The feature we had in the Independent was OK, and I got a interviewed by a very nice lady for a show on a Dublin radio station called Access All Areas, which is on Phantom FM on weekday mornings.  There was something strangely surreal but very satisfying about hearing Bikini Kill's 'Rebel Girl' going out on daytime radio at 11am.

I have had some comments about my chapter being badly researched, or covering the same ground as the earlier chapter by Julia Downes, which focused on the history of riot grrrl, but I think a certain amount of overlap was inevitable because the history of riot grrrl is so bound up in music anyway.  As to the bad research, I'd draw people's attention to the fact that I only had six weeks to write and research the chapter, which was well over the 10,000 words asked for.  In the end, I also have job and have to do such neccessary things as eat and sleep, so clearly it was never going to be perfect.  I'd accepted that before I took on the chapter, but it can still grate when people pick you up for making tiny mistakes that you wish you'd time to double check the detail on, but simply couldn't cram into an already overloaded schedule.

I think riot grrrl continues to inspire people because it was matriarchal, but in a gentle, easy, slightly passive way, it was matriarchal but very, very pissed off.  Also, I think it spoke to girls who in earlier generations might have got into feminism through something like 'Spare Rib' or Reclaim the Night or Greenham Common, but who didn't have those opportunities and outlets, and who, in the early nineties, were probably finding feminism something of a closed shop.  It was something you studied at university, it wasn't something you could own or feel a part of it you happened to simply be thirteen and pissed off with being groped in the classrooms and corridors ast school because you had to first engage with all these other issues like equal pay, work and children, things like that ... which, whilst important, tend not to feature very highly on the day to day agenda of the average teenage girl because they are, or seem at the time to be, years away.  Issues like sexual harassment in schools, sexism in advertising, public safety, they were rarely addressed by feminism in the nineties, and still aren't really because I think feminism is still fixed on the whole careers and kids thing, which is fine if you are a woman with a career and kids, but to those who have jobs rather than careers, and who either don't have or don't want children, it's somewhat less pressing as an issue.

How riot grrrl will develop in the future will depend very much on how it continues to be written about, if it does continue to be written about, and on who the next wave of girls will be.  For many people, riot grrrl died out in either 1993 or 1994, but I think, even if you believe that, you can make a very strong case for a post riot grrrl diaspora, which is now essentially in it's Ladyfest age.  Where it will go next, post Ladyfest, I don't know.  I have a feeling it's going to become increasingly academic in tone, increasingly middle class, and increasingly inaccessible, but I would like to be proved wrong on this.

Part Three of Interview here

THIS E-MAIL INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE IN APRIL 2008.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.

COVERS OF RIOT GRRRL FANZINES FROM MY OWN COLLECTION.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

INTERVIEW. CAZZ BLASE (ON RIOT GRRRL). PART ONE.

I first got in touch with Cazz Blase over 10 years ago as we were both involved in doing fanzines at the time.  Over the years Cazz has produced various fanzines such as Real Girls, Harlot's Progress and Touch Sensitive.  She often wrote about female bands/singers and wrote an extended essay on the history of riot grrrl which went on to appear on The F Word website.  In 2007 she contributed a chapter on the music of riot grrrl to the book "Riot Grrrl Revolution Girl Style Now" published by Black Dog Publishing.


How did you first discover riot grrrl and what was it that appealed to you so much?
I first discovered riot grrrl in January 1993 whilst listening to the John Peel show on Radio One.  The Voodoo Queens had their debut session aired that night, and on that show, and the following night's show, he played the first Mambo Taxi single ('Prom Queen') and was also playing tracks from the Bikini Kill/Huggy Bear split LP, in between lots of stuff like Diblo Dibala and some cool ambient stuff and other stuff.  I hadn't heard his show before, and had only tuned in to hear Sonic Youth in concert which, believe it or not, had been trailed on the Radio One Breakfast Show that morning - how times change ... Mark Goodier was filling in for Simon Mayo on the Breakfast Show that day I think ... I had read a bit about riot grrrl in NME a few weeks before that I think, but it hadn't made much sense to me as it had been referenced but not really explained in any way.

In terms of what appealed, initially, it was the music and what was being sung about, but also the experimentation ... a lot of the riot grrrl bands Peel was playing at that point were very punk, and I'd got into seventies punk about a year beforehand, so it linked up very well because I already liked bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Slits, X-Ray Spex, as well as the Sex Pistols, Damned and Clash.  Later, I discovered Pussycat Trash, again via Peel, that was about six months later, post Huggy Bear on the Word, when the backlash was well and truly kicking in within the music press, and it was via Pussycat Trash that I found out about, firstly, Piao! which was then Squab Distribution, a north London distro selling zines and records etc. including that first Pussycat Trash 7" and a lot of riot grrrl, twee and queercore stuff.  Through them I found out about Slampt and through reading magazines like Zine and Sun Zoom Spark I got into fanzines, and writing fanzines.

Essentially, as well as the music, it was the inclusive friendly aspect I liked.   I found the indie scene rather artificial, very preoccupied with being cool and namedropping and the like, and the riot grrrl scene, or that loose 'underground' scene there was then, beyond indie, seemed much more open, accessible and friendly.  There seemed to be a good variety of people from a variety of differing, small, much maligned 'scenes' who had got together and liked some of the same bands, and so things like what clothes you wore, sexuality, age, and so on didn't seem to matter.  That was very freeing for me because it gave me a space to experiment with what I suppose people would now call 'Identity Politics' or self expression, and I needed somewhere like riot grrrl to do that, because I needed a lot of space to think and sort myself out.




Do you think there are certain things that make a band riot grrrl?  What are the defining qualities of riot grrrl in terms of sound/aesthetics?
I think this is a very contentious issue and has caused a lot of arguments and disputes over the years, which is a bit sad ... I think it really comes down to attitude.  There has to be that outspoken, highly independent attitude, which is about 50% punk and 50% feminism.  When I say punk though I mean attitude, not that the bands must sound punk.  Beyond that, I wouldn't like to say, because I think that there are so many different musical genres where there are acts that could be described as riot grrrl or perhaps post-riot grrrl, as coming out of some kind of diaspora following riot grrrl.


What are your favourite riot grrrl bands --- those from the original scene and those around now --- and why?
At the time, I really loved Bikini Kill, Huggy Bear, Mambo Taxi, The Voodoo Queens, Skinned Teen, The Frumpies, Bratmobile, Pussycat Trash --- I still like a lot of those bands but I think it's Pussycat Trash who I still really, really like.  I don't listen to them as much but I still like them a lot especially 'Blessing Mix Up', from the 'Amore' 7" they did for Kill Rock Stars.  Pussycat Trash were very noisy, bratty and chaotic, so they had a real love/hate factor to them, but there was that sense that you get with a band like Crass, or The Raincoats where you get these moments of sheer brilliance that almost seem to have happened by mistake, and that's part of the charm with them, you get into it, and the then the more you listen to them, the more you start to develop your own interpretation of what they're doing musically and why, because it's messy and there's a certain amount of self interpretation with it.
A band like Mambo Taxi were a lot more structured, and very much in that garagey girl group vein, and their album was very good, very structured, hung together very well as an album, the songwriting was quite sophisticated, and they were a very angry band, despite writing catchy songs, so you had that clash of styles, the tunes versus the lyrics almost.
I think a band like the Voodoo Queens had less antagonism between the music and the lyrics, but that they were quite experimental in other ways, for example on a track like 'Indian Film Star' where you get the sitar at the beginning, and its about Bollywood, but has this very hectic punk feel to it as well.  Not very radical lyrically, perhaps, but I think the Voodoo Queens appealed to a lot of the very young riot grrrls, and boys actually as well.  I remember when 'Kenuwee Head' came out as a single and some young boy wrote into Peel and requested it for him and 'all the other gay boys who love Keanu', so there was this side to them that was quite good as an alternative pop outfit for very young kids, who maybe wanted something more challenging that what else was available at the time ... which may sound like I'm leading to a Spice Girls analogy, but I'm not, because I don't think the Spice Girls could have written anything like 'Supermodel Superficial' and certainly not the later stuff, which was darker and more complex, stuff like 'Caffeine' and 'Eat the Germs'. 
I probably had and still have, a preference for the UK bands, and this is partly to do with availability of records and suchlike at the time, and partly just musicial preference.   I would say that, of the bands around now, I probably like less of the current bands because my tastes have moved on to an extent, so I tend to like people like Laura Veirs, who may or may not have held any truck with riot grrrl, and people like Lianne Hall, who was in Witchknot, but now makes electro-folk music.   I like Laura Veirs because she has this very unassuming quality, very anti-rockstar, but in a really subtle unconscious way, she concentrates on the songs, and she doesn't have an image or concept to put across, she just does it, and in her own, subtle way she is very outspoken.  If you look at songs like 'Cannon Fodder' or 'Jailhouse Fire', and there's this really evocative, melancholic quality to a lot of her stuff that I like as well.
I think I like a band like The Aisler's Set for similar reasons, even though the music is quite different, there's the subtle quality, and Amy Linton is similarly unassuming I think.  I quite like The Pipettes, but I'm not sure that as a concept it can last beyond one album, and I really, really, really love The Gossip, although I was slow to see how good they really were I think, in that I liked the first album but didn't love it, and it's only been with 'Standing In the Way Of Control', hearing the whole album, that I realised how staggeringly good they were.
Because I'm a writer, not a musician, I think I notice lyrics and voices more than I notice musicianship, so things like whether a guitar is in tune, how many chords someone can play, tend to not factor in much, but a good voice, good production, and good lyrics tend to stand out to me, and she does have that kind of voice that makes you go weak at the knees and sends a shiver down your spine, cliches though both those expressions are, so I'm hoping they'll go from strength to strength, and that Beth Ditto will be prove to be curiously indestructible.   I live in hope anyway.
I recently had a copy of the Robots in Disguise album burned for me, which I quite like.  I don't think Robots In Disguise neccessarily have any interest in riot grrrl, though they clearly have learnt to play in public, and are quite punk-y electro-y ish but that may be coincidence.  The link between the Pipettes and riot grrrl is fairly tenuous, but to some extent they also seem to share some common ground in that their lyrics are quite subversive that way, and I think Robots In Disguise are quite subversive in some ways as well, but ina different way.




What if any do you think were the differences between the US and UK scenes and key bands like Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear?
I think the US college radio scene perhaps makes a big difference.  They don't seem to have that whole 'build 'em up, knock 'em down' approach with the music press, and in fact, I believe they don't have a 'music press' in the same way that we do in the UK, so would expect that that would make a big difference.  I think the London riot grrrl scene in the nineties was hampered partly by it being in London and therefore easy for London journalists to access and write about.  Had it started in the UK in the Scottish Hebrides, South Armagh, or Abargavenny, I can't help but think that they might have been given a lot more breathing space to develop, because the press wouldn't have become aware of it so quickly. 
In terms of differences between Huggy Bear and Bikini Kill, I was never personally acquainted with either band, but from what I know of both of them, I would say the musicial influences were very different.   I think Bikini KIll drew a lot from seventies punk and particularly bands like X-Ray Spex, whereas I think Huggy Bear were drawing more from bands like Pussy Galore and Sonic Youth, that whole eighties, US noise scene that pre-dated grunge.

Part Two of Interview here

Part Three of Interview here
THIS E-MAIL INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE IN APRIL 2008.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.

COVERS OF RIOT GRRRL FANZINES FROM MY OWN COLLECTION.

Monday, 22 November 2010

UPDATES/LINKS. FUZZBOX (WE'VE GOT A FUZZBOX AND WE'RE GONNA USE IT)

Most of the original Fuzzbox records are out of print but still available second hand through the original channels.  You can also still get their Greatest Hits CD/DVD compilation

Vix joined Ginger of the Wildhearts in his band, Ginger and the Sonic Circus for some live dates.  She also released a solo album, LovePower and Peace in 2008.  She had formed a new band Vix N' the Kix who were starting to play live/get reviews but Vix ended the project when Fuzzbox reformed. She also recorded an EP called Seduction Songs + released a single in 2014 with The Offering called 'Believe Me'.
In 2011 Vix formed a New Americana/country music project which became known as ViX & her MsChiefs

Fuzzbox reformed in 2010 (minus Tina and with 2 new members, Sarah Firebrand on bass and Karen Milne on drums).  They did some live dates and released a cover of M's 'Pop Muzik'. Sadly Jo Dunne died in 2012. Recently Fuzzbox have confirmed they are planning a 2nd reunion.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

ARTICLE. WE'VE GOT A FUZZBOX AND WE'RE GONNA USE IT

RULES AND REGULATIONS
A TRIBUTE TO WE'VE GOT A FUZZBOX AND WE'RE GONNA USE IT

One of the best things about doing this zine is the feedback I've had from other people that it's led them to find out about new bands/artists or jogged their memory about some long forgotten treasure.  And in the same way I love reading other zines and discovering new stuff/being reminded about old stuff.  So I felt a definite frisson of nostalgia when I read the article about Fuzzbox in Get Off The Internet zine --- so much so, that it inspired me to get a copy of their Greatest Hits CD/DVD.

We've Got A Fuzzbox And We're Gonna Use It (or Fuzzbox for short, they were named after the distortion pedal for guitars) were a quartet of Birmingham teenagers --- Tina O' Neill, Vickie Perks and sisters Jo and Maggie Dunne --- who formed a band in 1986.  They couldn't sing, they couldn't play and they didn't care.  They were quite possibly one of the most outrageous looking female bands with crazy coloured hair (Tina had a Mohican), wild make-up and mismatched charity shop clothes.  Unlike other female punk stars like Siouxsie Sioux or Debbie Harry, they weren't trying to be sexy or cool.  They were weird, wild and wonderful, always ready to take the piss out of something or somebody but never in a mean superior way.  Their songs had a shambolic energy that made up for the lack of technical expertise and their lyrics were feminist/political without ever being po-faced or pretentious.  Above all, they always looked like they were having a damn good time --- they made punk seem colourful and funny, exuberant and effortless instead of dour and depressing and poseurish like too many of the other bands around at that time.  They might have looked like a bunch of freaks to your average trendy but there was still something very down-to-earth and girl-next-door about them.  They had the kind of feral exuberance last seen in The Slits and they quickly started to gain in popularity.


FUZZBOX BEFORE:  L TO R MAGZ, JO, VIX AND TINA.

They released a few singles and an album, Bostin' Steve Austin and gained much press coverage and some TV appearances.  Then there was a lull while they worked on thier second album and toured the USA before they re-emerged in 1989 with International Rescue.  If you ever want to understand why people feel bands "sell out" and why they hate it so much, then look at the now renamed Fuzzbox as an example.  To fully appreciate the impact of their makeover, watch all the videos on the DVD back to back.  Someone at the record label they were signed to obviously thought the time was right to "do a Bananarama" and turn a bunch of scruffy vaguely socially aware punkettes into trendy sex kittens churning out bubblegum pop for cattle market nightclubs everywhere.


FUZZBOX AFTER:  L TO R TINA THEN MAGGIE ON TOP, JO AND VICKIE (GIRLS CHANGED THEIR NAMES SLIGHTLY)

Don't get me wrong, the Fuzzbox girls looked great in their matching uniforms and respectable haircuts.  And International Rescue and Pink Sunshine are undoubtedly pop classics.  But we already had one Bananarama and we certainly didn't need another one.  What Fuzzbox had had was something different to all the other female artists around at that time.  They were one of the very few bands, even on the alternative scene who wouldn't sell themselves on their sex appeal and instead parodied traditional stereotypes of attractiveness and appropiate female behaviour in their songs.  They might not have been that good but they were special.  They were telling girls it was OK to look a mess, you didn't have to look like a Page 3 girl or be nice and quiet and take unlimited crap from your "fella" --- you could go out and create your own riot.  Apparently the band themselves were unhappy over their new direction and tensions were starting to emerge as Vickie was increasingly pushed to the front and given all the attention as the vocalist/main sex symbol of the band.  They released another album and a couple more singles (including a cover version of Yoko Ono's Walking On Thin Ice) and started work on a third album which was never released before finally calling it a day in the early 90s.

Vickie is still pursuing a career in music.  Tina has trained as a teacher and had a brief stint drumming for Babes in Toyland.  Jo has been working as a DJ and also writing/recording songs with her sister, Maggie.  Despite the tacky packaging, it's still worth looking out for their Greatest Hits collection as it includes all their singles plus some B-sides/remixes and a DVD with all 9 of their promo videos on.

EDITED TO ADD: Since this article was written, Jo Dunne sadly died in 2012.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008

UPDATES/LINKS. GENE SERENE

Gene Serene has released several more singles - most of them were limited edition CDs/download only but you can still purchse the MP3s or listen to them at the usual sites.   The ones I could find were:  Black Rose, 48 Crash (with Punx Soundcheck), All Over You/Freefall, Electric Dreams, Seven Dials/Wicked, Beatquest (Matt Catt Vs. Gene Serene) and Pedal to the Metal (with T. Raumschmiere).   She's released another album called The Polaris Experience.

Gene Serene on Facebook
Gene Serene on YouTube

Saturday, 20 November 2010

UPDATES/LINKS. EMILIE AUTUMN.

  Emilie has released another EP, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun/Bohemian Rhapsody (featuring cover versions of those songs, some remixes, a couple of live songs and an extra hidden track).

Emilie also published her long-awaited book The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls and in 2012 she released an album, Fight Like A Girl that was based on this book. She is planning a musical based on the book as well.

She has also been touring worldwide (it's worth doing a search on YouTube as there are loads of clips on her live performances).

Official Emilie Autumn website
EA on Facebook
EA on Twitter

Thursday, 18 November 2010

REVIEW. EMILIE AUTUMN --- OPHELIAC

As I was finishing off PussyRock 2, Emilie Autumn released the amazing Opheliac EP, I decided to wait and review it in the next issue figuring it would be easy enough to review the EP and maybe even the forthcoming album.  Now admittedly PussyRock 3 has been delayed but still, in less than 2 years, Emilie Autumn has managed to release --- 3 album length EPs, 2 double albums, 1 compilation album and a reissued album.  There are bands who don't do that much in a ten year career.  I make no apologies for reviewing them all here as I think that although EA is an amazing artist, some of her work is better than others so I thought maybe this would act as a guide to help people decide which of her releases to seek out especially as I think she's one of those artists that once you hear her stuff you invariably want to track down more of it.
(NOTE:  Check under the tag Emilie Autumn for reviews of Enchant, Laced/Unlaced, A Bit O' This & That, Liar/Dead is the New Alive EP and 4 O' Clock)

OPHELIAC --- EMILIE AUTUMN

Emilie Autumn is a classically trained violinist who has worked with the likes of Billy Corgan and Courtney Love.  She describes her music as "Victoriandustrial" but even that almost doesn't do her justice.  She manages to weave together disparate influences like baroque chamber music and gothic industrial beats to create dazzling songs that manage to sound absolutely unique and otherworldly but still stand up as accessible pop songs.  (In that sense, I would compare her to someone like Kate Bush or even Prince).

She originally released Opheliac as an EP, although the term EP doesn't quite do it justice as it still featured extras such as a personal handwritten note and a link to an Internet download/podcast.  She then released Opheliac, the album, which is her masterpiece.  It is one of those records that takes you into somebody's world, the good and bad, and it was stunning in its scope and excecution.  Several of the songs go for a harsher, more rockier feel than those on her previous album, Enchant and she has produced some absolutely storming anthems like Misery Loves Company and Dead is the New Alive.  She's managed to reinvent the violin in the same way that Rasputina have pioneered the genre of cello rock.  But she always manages to balance the gothic industrial beats with a deftness of touch and there are also more brooding, contemplative numbers like The Art of Suicide and Gothic Lolita.  It's an album that washes over you and is something you can truly get lost in, always returning to find a new gem --- if you overlook something, it is only because the album has so much to offer.

The second CD contains a photo gallery of live/studio shots and some video clips - a live performance from US TV and a guide to being a Victorian lady showing EA putting on her makeup and getting dressed before ending up in the bath singing Gloomy Sunday!  EA has an incredible image and she's a charismatic performer.  Her live performances are more akin to theatrical productions as she usually sings over a backing track with The Bloody Crumpets (a loose ensemble of models/designers/musicians) posing around her and doing everything from tea parties to en pointe ballet dancing.  It's the kind of visual feast where every moment brings another taste of eye candy and she's now working on a DVD of her live performances which I'm really looking forward to.  The songs on the 2nd CD showcase a more traditional/classical side alongside a couple of instrumentals and some poems set to music.  The more traditional sounding songs like Marry Me are modernised with clever lyrics that highlight Emilie's quick wit.  One of my personal favourites is Thank God I'm Pretty whose sarcastic black humour is allowed to shine against a sophisticated cabaret-type backing.  It reminds me a bit of The Dresden Dolls and in the same way, an alternative band with a unique and theatrical edge like them have been able to break through to the mainstream so I hope Emilie's beautiful music will find a wider audience.
http://www.emilieautumn.com/

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008
NOTE:  EA has since released another version of Opheliac with more bonus features.

Friday, 12 November 2010

ARTICLE. DEATH BY CHOCOLATE.

THE STRANGE, WHIMSICAL AND FREQUENTLY SPLENDID ... LAND OF CHOCOLATE

Back in the late nineties, long before the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a very different variety of Everlasting Gobstopper was making herself known.  Known simply as Fantastic Everlasting Gobstopper, this precocious talent blew onto the scene in 1997, with the seminal Christmas anthem - that - never- was, "Schoolgirl Psychedelia", which she recorded at the tender age of twelve, along with "I Am A Kitten" (she was evidently much too young to record "I Am A Tiger") for the Trattoria Menu compilation, "Songs For The Jet Set," which became a college radio hit in America.  In 1998, she appeared on the labels "Bend It! Japan '98" compilation, covering "Back Home" before vanishing from trace and re-emerging a couple of years later as Angela Faye Tillett, teenage chambermaid from Clacton-On-Sea, and singer in psychedelic pop ensemble, Death By Chocolate.

Like the "Songs From The Jet Set" compilation, Death by Chocolate are inspired by sixties soundtrack pop, and as such make psychedelic soundscapes in which Tillet's spoken word musings on colours, chocolate, and word association sit happily alongside a particularly innocent sounding "My Friend Jack", sharp modish pop such as "Ice Cold Lemonade" and "Salvador Murder Mystery" and film songs such "Who Needs Wings To Fly?" (from The Flying Nun) and best of all, "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out" (from Harold and Maude).  The later album "Zap the World", includes the track "While I'm Still Young" from "Smashing Time", which could be seen as representing Tillett's approach to her musical career very well.  "It's a band," she told Alexander Laurence of the Free Williamsburg site in 2001, "It's me and two other guys.  There's also a producer who decides what we will record.  They do the music and I do most of the lyrics."   Mike Alway, who runs the label el Records, had worked with Angela before, and it was he who put the band together.  The idea being that, "We wanted it to be like you were watching the film Willy Wonka."

At the time of Laurence's interview, Angela was working in a pub at Colchester, "I grew up in a pub, so I like it.  That's what they did.  I like to drive around in my car.  I like cider.  I drink Guinness, too."  When she was at school, she had a job in London, working for the government.  "I worked in the publicity office.  It's a job that you do when you're at school.  It was at Whitehall right by Big Ben."

Keen to stress that Death by Chocolate weren't jumping on any kind of sixties revival bandwagon, Angela told Brenda Khan of Womanrock, "People sometimes think, especially in America, that (Death By Chocolate) kind of jumps onto this kind of sixties Brit bandwagon, but it's been going on a lot longer than that.  People have been passionate about it for a lot longer than it seems."   Of course, reviving the sixties in any way, shape or form, can often lead to misunderstandings, as Angela recognised:  "But there's other ways that's it's been done that I think are really crude.  Like Austin Powers or something like that.  It makes people forget what it was really like and really about.  Now all of a sudden there's young people thinking that kind of sixties thing in London was about walking around Carnaby Street looking like a twat."  Good things she takes from the sixties include Peter Cook and Dudley Moore and The Monkees, "I used to watch them (the TV shows on video) with my brothers and that, and I never really liked sort of the eighties, so it had to be the Monkees.  When I was little I liked Davy, but now I'm older, I like Peter."

As to her musical career, Angela, in 2002, was remarkably down to earth and matter of fact, telling Brenda Khan, "Well I think I might be pushed to get a career in it.  But I don't know, I see it as a hobby really.  You know I have do insurance and such to get by, and then everything else is a bonus.  If it wasn't fun, I wouldn't bother."  These comments echoed her general approach to music, as explained to Alexander Laurence a year before, "You have to want to do it because you believe in personal expression.  Don't bend over backwards to please other people.  Just do something silly and relevant to yourself.  You are not going to change the world and be anything better than you are.  Do it for the right reason."

Whilst Death by Chocolate haven't released anything since 2002's "Zap the World", both it and its self-titled predecessor are well worth hunting down if, as Brenda Khan put it, "you never got a chance to learn first hand about the sixties, bands like Love, Jefferson Airplane, Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd) and Strawberry Alarm Clock then Death by Chocolate just might be your ticket in."
Notes:  The quotes in this piece were taken from interviews available on the following websites www.freewilliamsburg.com/still_fresh/february_2001/death_by_chocolate.html and Womanrock (site no longer up).


ARTICLE BY CAZZ BLASE.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.

ARTICLE. THE AISLER'S SET

I WON'T DRIVE FAR...

Despite hailing from San Francisco, there has always been a strangely British quality to the records made by The Aisler's Set.  Maybe it's their influences, which appear to include Sarah records and Girls At Our Best, or maybe it's simply that they sound as though they come from Glasgow, and that they wouldn't be wildly out of step with bands such as Camera Obscura or Adventures in Stereo.

Singer/guitarist/producer Amy Linton, formerly of Henry's Dress and (briefly) Go Sailor, began recording songs under the name The Aisler's Set in 1997, in her garage, before being joined by Wyatt Cusick (guitar/vocals), Alicia VandenHevvel (bass), Jen Cohen (organ) and Yoshi Nakamoto (drums), all of whom play in other Bay Area bands.  "The way I used to do things was that everything would be worked out before anyone else heard it, and that would be easier for me, as I had an idea of how I wanted it to sound.  But as it turned out, they're four completely competent musicians and capable of making everything better", Linton told Louisa Thomson of "Purr".

Linton's relaxed, low key approach to making music can be seen as stemming from the fact that she has been in and out of bands since she was eleven.  "Tellingly, she cites The Smiths and The Dead Kennedys as the bands that were most important to her, growing up in the middle of nowhere," reported Louisa Thomson, "Now, San Francisco provides most of the inspiration for her songs."   If Linton's early life provided her with a sense of isolation that is eloquently conveyed on songs such as "Emotional Levy", it is fair to suggest that her life in San Francisco has provided the warmth that makes such isolation and melancholy sweet and moving, musically.

"Mary's Song", from the debut album, "Terrible Things Happen", with its blurred and echoing vocals and subtle, understated chords conveys this sweet, aching melancholy to great effect, revealing that less is so often more.  It's a wistful song of heartbreak and sadness, with a warmth that is provided by the bar room camaraderie, and a charm that is almost part Velvet Underground, part Jesus and Mary Chain, but most of all, totally itself.

Much like Belle and Sebastian's "Tigermilk", "Terrible Things Happen" was a well-accomplished debut that displayed quality songwriting set against minimal-yet-perfect production.  Punky indie pop anthems, like "Friend Of The Heroes" sit happily alongside the cheerful thrashy garage pop of "Holiday Gone Well" and "Falling Buildings", whilst "London Madrid" and "Why Baby" show a fondness for understated simplicity and sixties folk tinged pop coupled with Sarah records that would lead them to support Belle and Sebastian on their debut U.S. tour two years later.

By 2000's "The Last Match", the band were gaining a small yet significant, not to mention loyal following internationally.  The album made it into Spin.com's top twenty albums of the year, led to radio airplay and a session fro John Peel, as well as enthusiastic reviews in NME, Mojo, The Times and The Guardian, and it's easy to see why.  Opening track, "The Way To Market Station" comes across like The Darling Buds with sixties girl group harmonies, whereas tracks such as "Hit The Snow", "Chicago New York" and "Lonely Side of Town" (the latter showcasing Wyatt Cusick's almost Stuart Murdoch-esque vocals) could all have been singles, had the band not plumped instead for "The Red Door", a thrashy but catchy, feedback drenched slice of punk pop.  Whilst The Aisler's Set's use to harmonies is pure Sixties California, it's on "The Last Match" that the band display most clearly what is an admittedly small debt to Phil Spector, in this case, probably the Phil Spector Christmas album, as evidenced on "Hit The Snow".  Many reviewers have compared The Aisler's Set favourably to Phil Spector's wall of sound, but the comparison meets terse reaction from Linton, who acknowledges the influence, but who admitted to Louisa Thomson that she "doesn't seem to hear it as much as other people do."

Certainly by 2003's "How I Learnt to Write Backwards", the Spector influence is negligible at best.  Opening track "Catherine Says" mixes sixties style harmonies with handclaps, glockenspiel and light fuzz guitar to make for glistening upbeat catchy pop that contrasts strongly with the sparse, brooding "Emotional Levy", a soundtrack of tension to the beat of a ticking clock, which, with it's minimal guitar and drums, displays Linton's quietly sweet voice to great effect.  The song ascends, in its climax, into an almost gospel infused call and response of glorious despair and heightened emotion that is strangely moving.

Whilst the thrashy, fast punk pop of "Languor in the Balcony" is reminiscent of "The Last March", "Mission Bells" hints towards almost Marine Research or Stereolab territory, whilst "Sara's Song" has a brooding 4AD/Twin Peaks feel to it, and "Attraction Action Reaction" mixes angular post punk riffs with sixties harmonies and the jangle of tambourines, allowing the vocals to soar.  "Unfinished Paintings" recalls the gorgeous wistful melancholy of "Mary's Song", and displays the band at its most pared down:  just Linton and her guitar, singing a lullaby to a lost love, of sadness, of things left unfinished, with a cool quiet dignity that is her preserve alone.  By contrast, "Melody Not Malaise" shares a peculiarly jazz like spiralling with "The Train #1" as well as some gorgeously soaring vocals and an eerie restlessness, suggesting the shape of things to come perhaps.

Whilst "How I Learned To Write Backwards" is, at face value, the least accessible, or least pop, of The Aisler's Set's three albums, it builds on the quiet subtleties of the earlier works, and displays a flair for experimentation with a number of different styles that usually comes off, and which should be admired.

As to what the future holds for the band, they are currently gigging around San Francisco and the U.S. and it is assumed that a new album will appear at a later, as yet unspecified date.  The won't-be-hurried-won't-be-rushed approach that Linton and her bandmates have taken so far has served them well, so playing the waiting game for a while longer should be all worthwhile in the end.

Yahoo! Music Canada.

THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN BY CAZZ BLASE.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

UPDATE/LINKS. SHAMPOO

Most of Shampoo's original releases are now out of print (although they're usually fairly easy to get hold of second hand).  

There are a couple of good fansites out there Wash and Go-go and Shampoo community on Livejournal
And this fan has put up loads of great Shampoo videos/TV appearances on YouTube here

ARTICLE. REVIEW. SHAMPOO --- WE ARE SHAMPOO (REISSUE)

VIVA LA MEGABABES

Shampoo were once described as the Barbie doll equivalent of the Sleaze Sisters from New York punk movie, Times Square --- a description which goes some way in summing up their appeal as a mixture of glamour and mundanity, spite and sweetness, clever manipulation and dumb naivety, and most of all, the collision between pop and punk.  In a sense, Shampoo were in a tradition of bleached-blonde pop-punks like Debbie Harry or Wendy James.



Jacqui Blake and Carrie Askew were two teenage schoolfriends from the South London suburb of Plumstead.  They bonded over a love of music and retreated into fandom and glamour as an escape from their mundane surroundings.   They became known on the London scene for their peroxide punk babydoll kitsch look (which was later to spawn an army of imitators) and they wrote a fanzine for Manic Street Preachers called Last Exit which blended Sylvia Plath quotes with collaged images of Kylie or Bardot.  They had a cameo appearance in the video for Little Baby Nothing and began to get several mentions in the press.  Deadline magazine described them as a performance act looking for an outlet and made it clear that they'd designed themselves as a pop group.  The girls were always quite clear that they couldn't play instruments or write music but they knew what they wanted and how to get it.  In the same Deadline interview, Jacqui was quoted as saying, "If anyone's manufacturing us, it's ourselves.  We knew what we wanted and set out to meet the people who could help us create it --- a raw punky glamorous band."

Bob Stanley from St. Etienne signed them to his record label, Icerink, after they sent him a mixtape featuring some of their favourite songs such as The Waitresses' I Know What Boys Like (which they went on to cover themselves).   They released 2 singles --- Blisters and Bruises (co-written by Lawrence from Denim) and Bouffant Headbutt (co-written by Con Fitzpatrick who wrote all the music for their songs from then on).  The singles got good reviews and Bouffant Headbutt, in particular, had more a punk sound.  People forget but when Shampoo first started they were seen as more of an indie band than a mainstream pop act.  In their interviews, they raved about 60s pop like Brigitte Bardot and 80s strangeness like Grace Jones or Adam Ant alongside indie bands of the time like Cornershop or the Manics.  But like Blondie and Transvision Vamp before them, the music press didn't know how to treat blonde pop babes who loved short skirts as much as the Sex Pistols.

Shampoo signed to Food (a subsidary of EMI) and released 2 albums for them, this one and Shampoo or Nothing (which popularised the phrase Girl Power before the Spice Girls).  They released a 3rd album via the internet before splitting up.  Although they'd had only moderate success in the UK, they were one of the biggest selling acts in Japan and made more than enough money to retire on.  Their later albums concentrated more of the childish pop element of their sound and increasingly their interviews seemed to appeal to a more mainstream audience as they obsessed about their love of East 17 and Take That, Barbie dolls and sweeties.

This reissue of their 1st album represents that moment where they balanced their pop and punk sides (although it is still more pop that it could have been/should have been).  The girls squawk and shriek, snarl and pout over catchy pop numbers echoing both the boring mundanity and rampant egotism of teenage life.  The songs are as sweet and light as candyfloss but dig a little deeper and you'll detect a sharper edge.  There are no love songs on the Shampoo album --- only songs mocking those that buy into the myth of romance, laughing at the too-cool-for-school indie boy scenesters around them and singing the praises of "running wild in the city late at night" and not caring what anyone thinks.  Surely lines like --- Everyone hates us/We don't care/Who needs friends anyway? --- wouldn't sound out of place being sneered by Johnny Rotten.  And wasn't Dirty Old Love Song merely a simpler version of the ethos behind the Manics' Motown Junk --- "songs of love echo underclass betrayal".  And is it just me or does Game Boy have a subversive double meaning?!

While it's true some of the album tracks are fillers, the reissue has added 6 bonus tracks (the B sides to the singles off this album, a couple of which were only available on CD releases) which have the petulant brattiness and kitsch sweetness that made Shampoo such a great band.  Although it is a pity they didn't include their 1st two singles and the B sides from them, this album is still a great introduction to a duo described as part Lolita/part Children of the Damned.  Shampoo --- a band that so perfectly embodied teenage glamour and pop culture that they could have been an Andy Warhol creation (if their essential Britishness didn't evoke more St. Trinians than Manhattan Factory).

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.
SHAMPOO PHOTO FROM ID MAGAZINE

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

UPDATES/LINKS. WICKED LITTLE DOLLS

Wicked Little Dolls self-titled debut album is available from CD Baby (http://www.cdbaby.com/).   There are live videos up on YouTube featuring new songs - it also says the band has a new line-up but I've been unable to find out any more information on this.
Here's the video to Rotten Candy off their 1st album



Sunday, 7 November 2010

INTERVIEW. SCAREIFINA (WICKED LITTLE DOLLS)

Scareifina is the lead singer for Wicked Little Dolls (the other band members are MarrCello, MiZari and LuCi).  Classic Rock described them as "a loony, possibly Satanic cross between Alice Cooper and Daisy Chainsaw" and dubbed them New York City's darkest, dirtiest secret.  Their self-titled debut album is out now and they're currently working on the follow-up.


You got your start writing songs for black metal band, Ancient.  What's your favourite memory about your time with that band?
My favourite memories are seeing Europe on tour and being in the Lillith's Embrace video.  We shot it in Norway and we were freezing.  I remember for one shot we thought it would be a killer idea to go inside a cave and make a fire.  We all nearly died in the friggen cave.  There we are, a bunch of badass black metal members scrambling to get out of a cave in Norway, that was filling up with black smoke because of your brilliant make-a-fire-in-a-cave idea.  We did get the shot, but yeah, not the best plan, lol.

Do you have any other side projects now or are you just concentrating on Wicked Little Dolls?
WLD is my one and only baby.  It's more than a band to us, it's a way of life, a family, it's an enchanted empire.



What's your favourite song on the album and why?
Rotten Candy.  It feels good to be the predator.  I need that feeling on stage, unrelenting rage.  It takes a certain type of monster to rape a child or beat an innocent creature and it takes an equal amount of anger to slay the slayer.

In your CD notes you thank Eminem and Oprah Winfrey.  What is it about these particular people that inspires you?
Eminem speaks his mind with no filter.  I admire that about him, and he's got a ton of talent and came up from nothing.
Oprah Winfrey uses her life to speak out and put focus on topics that need to be discussed.  My music is often inspired by something she brought to my attention through her show.  I do not believe in accidents, so if I see something I ask myself why did I see this and how can I help.  I first learned about baby rape on her show.  Men with AIDS in Africa were raping babies because they were told that having sex with a virgin will cure them.  I thought that babies were so young and innocent that they would not know what had happened to them until I saw this six month old little girl's eyes.  She had been raped at five months old, her body had to be put back together, and in her eyes I saw a sadness that brings me to tears even as I write this.  If Oprah had not followed her path to the top I never would have seen that little girl.  It's important to use your life.

You use a lot of doll imagery in your songs (as well as the name of the band itself) --- what is that fascinates you about dolls?
Secrets were as normal as the sun rising in my house growing up.  There is something about the way a porcelain dolls' eyes look that make me think they keep secrets.  Many people have a fear of dolls because they always look like they are looking at you.  I have many, many dolls all over my home.  I love them obsessively.   My first doll Emily was on the WLD album.  She has a music box inside her, I wound her up and you can hear her song on the end of our record.



I first came across your band when you donated a CD to Ladyfest Newcastle (which was given to me by the organisers as a thank you present) and you sent this amazing package where you customised a box to look like an antique book and put dried flowers in with the CD.  Do you have any craft-type hobbies?  What's the favourite thing you've ever made?
I do enjoy painting and drawing and making things inside boxes.  My favourite thing I made was "Scareifina's Box".  It was a box with a broken porcelain doll from Italy inside it.  Inside the box I decorated it to reflect my life and I took string and bound another doll to the box.  We all have a box we live in, things that make us feel stuck.  That was my favourite and it was stolen at a show.  I hope whoever stole it loves the dolls the way I do.

The video to Rotten Candy shows you as a vampire and your CD has quite a strong horror vibe to it.  What's your favourite horror movie and why?
I have so many favourite horror movies, "The Blood Splattered Bride" is one and another one I really love is "Alice Sweet Alice".   I love "The Blood Splattered Bride" because it turns me on.  I don't like porn, but this movie is like porn to me.  It's a haunting story, beautifully shot, and so rich with romance, obsession and horror.
"Alice Sweet Alice" I love because it's such a twisted tale with two sisters, two little girls, one is good the other is bad.   I love duality, and little girls that kill is always a good time.

If you could cover any song what would it be and why?
I really don't know, I wish I could cover something crazy like a Devil Doll song.  That is some insane music that I love.



Do you and the rest of the band all come from New York?  What do you like best about living in the city?
LuCi and I grew up in Northern Virginia, MarrCello and MiZari grew up in Argentina.  We all love the city because you can find anything you want at any time.  MarrCello told me yesterday, "It's crazy man, I went downtown to get some coffee and found this place that sells coffee, tea and shoes!  The tables in the place were made out of old drum sets, I fucking love NYC!"  His statement sums up how I feel too, it's a magic box that moves and doors change and open and close and open all the time.

What are your live shows like?
I never really remember much after I hit the stage, I stop thinking and just sing and by the end of the set I have two bloody knees and I feel like I cried for three days.  It's the best feeling in the world.  We do each show differently, sometimes we hand out candy, lollipops are a must at any show.  Other times we bring out hot WLD's with us to sing back up vocals.  Our last show, one of my closest friends, Andrea, did the show with us.  She had a fantastic voice.  I love to give other women the experience of being on stage.

Do you have any plans to play Europe/the UK?
We don't have formal plans but we are going to London at some point in time.  I plan to stay there for a few months.



What are your future plans for WLD?
We have almost finished our new album.  It will have 13 songs.  One song is called "Angel in Darkness" and it is about a NYC girl from our scene that goes by the name of Dark Angel and she killed and castrated her father in July.  He raped her from age 3 till a teen and her sisters too.  We will sell this track online and donate the money to her.  (EDITORS NOTE:   The website address that Scareifina gave me isn't working but if you Google Brigitte Harris + Dark Angel you can read more about this case.)   The money is going to get her a good lawyer.  She slayed a monster and saved another little girl from the horror she went through.  I hope she gets help and goes on to live a good life.  If every little girl who raped killed we wouldn't have a million perverts all over the world.  A word to all the WLD's out there, I'm not saying to go kill who ever wronged you, it's better to not fuck yourself over, find a way to use your life instead, and always use the dirty secret parts --- that makes for very rich soil.
Bloody Kisses,
Scareifina, MarrCello, MiZari and LuCi.
WLD4LIFE.

THIS E-MAIL INTERVIEW WAS DONE IN MARCH 2008.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.
PHOTOS OF WICKED LITTLE DOLLS FROM THEIR MYSPACE.

ARTICLES. STONE FOX

Sometime during the mid-1990s, after the success of 4 Non Blonde's grunge-lite hit What's Going On? but before she became known for writing & producing hit records for Pink, Christina Aguilera, Courtney Love et al; Linda Perry discovered a band so great she decided then & there to set up a record label to unleash their music on the general public ...

This band was Stone Fox.  You probably won't have heard of them.   They are the San Francisco rock scene's best-kept secret & their diverse career lasted between roughtly 1990 and 1998 producing 3 studio albums and 1 reissue/compilation.   The band consisted of Jorjee (vocals), Yvette (guitar), Kim (guitar) and Janis (bass).   The band had numerous drummers throughout their career.

The album Perry worked on with Stone Fox wasn't actually their first album - they released Burnt on an independent label in 1992.  This self-titled album was released on Perry's Rockstar Records in 1996 & it is one of the best albums I have ever heard!  Whenever I tell other people about it or play the songs to them - they never really 'get' it, I don't know why.  From the Barbarella-esque artwork (a scantily-clad female space explorer being sized up by robots) on the sleeve and the cute flaming heart cartoon adorning the CD itself, to the diverse range of sounds displayed on the songs themselves - this is a CD no record collection is complete without.
Sometimes sounding like a straightforward female rock act on songs such as Coke Whore and Tiny Box of Lies whilst showing a more tender side on the heartbreaking HIV+, as well as displaying a tongue-in-cheek 'deep south' attitude on the very catchy Poach - Stone Fox really do escape any kind of pigeon-holing - their music is a mix of punk/rock/blues/country and more!

In 1997, Stone Fox moved to Bad Taste Records and released an album called Dirty Pillows, complete with a blood red Carrie-style cover image.  (Despite many Ebay bids & e-mails to online record stores, I have yet to get my hands on this album & can't tell you what it sounds like!)  Punk queen Exene Cervenka even joined the band for the song Something to Brag About.

Around this time Stone Fox supported legendary metal gods Metallica at one of their fan club shows - apparently Kirk Hammett was a fan - whether the girls successfully won over the Metaliheads, however, remains a mystery.

In 1998, the Man's Ruin record label released the album Totally Burnt - this was a reissue of Stone Fox's debut album Burnt with additional tracks culled from early demos & live shows.  Particular gems from the album are the laid-back rockabilly of Embalm Me & the 50s doowop of Candee.   Despite the poor quality on the demos & live tracks, it is possible to tell that Stone Fox were a truly diverse band who mixed a range of musical styles with a hard rockin' attitude.

Exactly when & why the band disbanded after the release of Totally Burnt is a mystery but I am thankful for the 3 lovely records they bestowed on us & urge you to check them out.

Band members have gone onto various projects with other girl-rock luminaries.  Kim Pryor plays guitar in Auf Der Maur - the ex-Hole bassist's solo project.  Janis was part of punk girl group Auntie Christ, before joining L7 - and now appears to be playing bass for Pink!  Since joining ex-Hole bassist Melissa Auf Der Maur's solo outfit, guitarist Kim Pryor's profile has increased somewhat - there are a number of fan sites set up to provide a comprehensive list of her musical work, and feature a lot of Stone Fox info.  To my knowledge, there was only one Stone Fox fan website (EDITORS NOTE:  This now appears to have disappeared).   For more information on Exene Cervenka, visit http://www.exenecervenka.net/

In the fields where she lay in the grass all day, mixed with green and the red while she contemplates a man, should  I bother to love him cause he'll only bring me down.  Ah hold my water till the last note.  An, my hooves have grown tired from the shit that I see, if I breed will he bring me up to ecstasy.  Ah hold my water till the last note.  Ah kick up my heels like a billy goat, I don't mind bleeding or smelling like a fish, but I think he should bring me nautical gifts, since that day I have sent away for license to Mary so my love will never die --- Two Solid Weeks of Menstruation 1996.

ARTICLE BY SOPHIA.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN OCTOBER 2005.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

LYRICS. SHAMPOO --- GAME BOY.

Got a game I can play, got a game boy
Game Boy

Life can be so sweet
If you weren't hangin' out on the street
Time goes so slow
Till you get a trick in bed
Off you go-go

Level 2, Level 3, Level 4
Try to beat your highest score
Steppin' up into overdrive
If you can stay alive
How can you be so dumb
You get used by everyone

Got a game I can play, got a game boy

Game Boy, ain't you got no brains boy
If you don't get sick of it all
You're still on the game boy

Flesh is reality
There's more to life but what can it be?
Games, on a loan
You're always searching
But you just can't find home

Repeat bridge

Repeat chorus
Game
Boy
You're still on the game boy
Repeat to fade.

LYRICS BY SHAMPOO

LYRICS. EMILIE AUTUMN --- GOTHIC LOLITA

How old are you?
I'm older than you'll ever be
I've been dead for a thousand years
But lived only two or three
I don't mind telling you
My life was ended by your hand
The kind of murder where nobody dies
But I don't suppose you'll understand

Call off the search
We've found her

If I am Lolita
Then you are a criminal
And you should be killed
By an army of little girls
The law won't arrest you
The world won't detest you
You never did anything
Any man wouldn't do
I am Gothic Lolita
And you are a criminal
I'm not even legal
I'm just a dead little girl
And ruffles and lace
And candy sweet faces
Directed your furtive hand
I perfectly understand
So it's my fault
No, Gothic Lolita



Thank you kind sirs
You've made me what I am today
A bundle of broken nerves
A mouthful of words I'm still afraid to say
I don't mind telling you
Now that I'm old enough to love
I couldn't begin to even if
My pretty life depended on it
And funny thing it does

I am your sugar
I am your cream
I am your anti-American dream
I am your sugar
I am your cream
I am your anti-American dream
I am your sugar
I am your cream
I am your anti-American dream
I am your sugar
I am your cream
I am your worst nightmare
Now scream

LYRICS BY EMILIE AUTUMN.
PHOTO OF EMILIE AUTUMN FROM HER MYSPACE.

LYRICS. EMILIE AUTUMN --- OPHELIAC

I'm your Opheliac
I've been so disillusioned
I know you'd take me back
But still I feign confusion
I couldn't be your friend
My world was too unstable
You might have seen the end
But you were never able
To keep me breathing
As the water rises up again
Before I slip away

You know the games I play
And the words I say
When I want my own way
You know the lies I tell
When you've gone through hell
And I say I can't stay
You know how hard it can be
To keep believing in me
When everything and everyone
Becomes my enemy and when
There's nothing more you can do
I'm gonna blame it on you
It's not the way I want to be
I only hope that in the end you will see
It's the Opheliac in me



I'm your Opheliac
My stockings prove my virtue
I'm open to attack
But I don't want to hurt you
Whether I sink or swim
That's no concern of yours now
How could you possibly think
You had the power to know how
To keep me breathing
As the water rose up again
Before I slip away

Intelligent girls are more depressed
Because they know
What the world is really like
Don't think for a beat it makes it better
When you sit her down and tell her
Everything is gonna be alright
She knows in society she is either
A devil or an angel with no inbetween
She speaks in the third person
So she can forget that she's me

Doubt thou the stars are fire
Doubt thou the sun doth move
Doubt truth to be a liar
But never doubt
Doubt thou the stars are fire
Doubt thou the sun doth move
Doubt truth to be a liar
But never doubt
I love

LYRICS BY EMILIE AUTUMN.
PHOTO OF EMILIE AUTUMN FROM HER MYSPACE.

UPDATES/LINKS. NY LOOSE

NY Loose's debut album Year of the Rat is now out of print but you can usually find second hand copies quite easily online.
They played a couple of gigs when the compilation album was released.   Brijitte now has a new band and has released an album with them, Brjitte West and The Desperate Hopefuls

UK NY Loose fansite

Brijitte West and The Desperate Hopefuls on Facebook
Brijitte West on Twitter

Friday, 5 November 2010

UPDATES/LINKS. VULGARAS.

Vulgaras released a third album Heavy Handed Heart (which I highly recommend) and are currently working on a new album called Alpha Fatale.

Their albums are also available from CD Baby
here

Vulgaras on Facebook

Thursday, 4 November 2010

INTERVIEW. VELOCITY CHYALDD (VULGARAS)

Velocity Chyaldd is the lead singer of Vulgaras (the other band members are The Anti-Dave, Oz and Bones).   Vulgaras are a New York-based metal band who also use blues/goth influences as well as inspiration from horror, performance art and burlesque to create an emotionally intense experience, both on record and onstage.  So far they have released 2 albums, Aphrodite P.O.W. and Year of the Whore and are due to release their third, Heavy Handed Heart in July 08.


You remind me of artists like Lydia Lunch or Diamanda Galas who were able to take deeply painful personal life experiences and turn them into brutally honest art that wasn't afraid to express emotions like rage but without denying the hurt they felt.  The songs you write deal with things that are hard to live through and the struggle to survive.   Year of the Whore is an intense and powerful album to listen to.  Was it a difficult album to record especially using your own personal experiences for some of the songs?
It's difficult for me to record/write in stone any emotion that I don't personally feel.  It was harder for me to live through those experiences than to sing about them - the writing and singing part were cathartic.

I love your vocal range of YOTW - did you have any formal training and what other singers inspired you?
The singers from the Jazz/Blues pin-up era of the 30s and 40s have always resonated with me.  I'm also inspired by Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, PJ Harvey, Ann Wilson, Patsy Cline, Tori Amos, Siouxsie Sioux, Tina Turner, Johnette Napolitano, Stevie Nicks, Diamanda Galas, Otep Shamaya, etc.

One of my favourite songs on the album is Hooker Barbie (I guess I wasn't the only girl playing naughty sex games with my dolls!).  What is that you like/dislike about Barbie?
I like the fact that she started out as a "Working Girl" comic strip figurine in Germany back in 1955 as Lilli.  I love the hyper-glam and perversity of her.  I dislike how misrepresented she has become due to conservatism and hypocrisy.



On the sleevenotes for YOTW you say, "We thank the following whores" and provide a list of inspirational women (and men), both expected and unexpected.  Could I ask why you included, for example Queen Elizabeth I, Marie Curie, Boy George (or any of the others you'd like to talk about)?
I focused on the "bastards", the "socially unacceptable" who had to confront great opposition for their "radical" methods or beliefs.  Those who were called "Whores" openly throughout history - anyone who was made to wear that badge and in spite of it all proved themselves just as grand or as human as the rest of us.

I've read interviews for YOTW where you talk about how the respect whores get is a measure of respect that all women get in a society.  We seem to live in an increasingly sexualised (some would say pornified) society yet it still seems like there is a double standard and that only one type of sexuality gets mass acceptance.  I've also noticed a resurgence in anti-porn activism among feminists but equally people involved in the fetish/sex work or even just more comfortable with certain sexual activities/ideas being completely dismissive of feminism and I just think there is too much black & white thinking on both sides and I think life is more complicated than just to say all sex work is automatically good or bad.  Why do you think that open female sexuality (especially in terms of sex work) is still so stigmatised?
We are taught very early on to look upon any female who possesses a strong sexual energy as dangerous (a la film noir, the danger dames of the 50s, vampires, succubus, Lillith, Eve and her almighty apple, etc.).  We are supposed to shun it in fear.  Women create life.  I dunno --- I guess that scares the shit out of someone that doesn't.  It's a pretty fucked up bummer.  There'd be less violence in the world if we didn't fear or try to possess women and the power of sex so much.

You said the name Vulgaras was inspired by a quote from Alice in Wonderland which you've also named as one of your favourite books.  What is that appeals to you about the Alice books?
The same thing that turns me on when it comes to Dorothy and The Wizard of OZ, Wicked, Willy Wonka, Donnie Darko, The Big Lebowski, The Wall, Spirited Away, Waking Life or Magnolia.  Transformation.  The personal spirit pushing past the supposed boundaries of the human condition and the journey that takes them there.



I've read that you're also involved in burlesque.  How did you feel about the resurgence of interest in burlesque in recent years and how it became co-opted into the mainstream?
I support it.  It's still an outlet none the less.  There is a place for fringe performance artists regardless.  My work is controversial so I created a platform once a month for performers like myself who don't always want to buckle to conservative/commercial burlesque promoters.  I call it !BadAss! --- http://www.badassburlesque.com/ It's a crazy party celebrating the underside of the female psyche and if I didn't try to promote it there wouldn't be that platform ;) Burlesque is like steam releasing from a volcano of war-time absurdity.



Who are some of your favourite burlesque performers (past or present)?
In no order at all ---
The World Famous *BOB*
Rose Wood
Tigger
Julie Atlas Muz
Bambi the Mermaid
Blaze Starr
Miss Zorita
Dirty Martini
Deity
Miss Astrid
Scotty the Blue Bunny
Jo Boobs
Penny Arcade
I could really go on forever here ...

I read that your performances used to quite an extreme blend of sex/horror.  What kind of stage shows are you planning for the new album and do you have any plans to tour Europe/the UK?
I ceased stage antics 2 years ago.  I only work with horror in my performance art.  When I am onstage in front of my band I have the room full of people in front of me and my relationship with them has become my muse in live play.  I focus on what I am sharing with them, what they want to share with me and find myself engaging with everyone both physically and spiritually.  The energy exchange is as potent and naked as any knife or drug.

You've got a cover version of Bang Bang up on your MySpace that I absolutely adore.  What made you decide to cover this song and will it be on the new album?
The Anti-Dave and I have a strong creative relationship, partners in crime so to speak.  That's our song for each other - our ode to creative destruction.



How is the new album coming along?
 Our release date is June 21st 2008.  It represents a war-torn passion that is living loud in spite of it all.  The cross roads aly across it as the do or die moment we are living in as artists in a grey world.

Will it be very different to YOTW or a continuation of the same themes?
I haven't been working in the sex industry since 2003.  My life has become a constant work in progress ever since.  The struggle to manifest destiny and rediscover personal boundaries have a lot to do with it.  Soulful empowerment on a personal level.
I hope that helped.  I enjoyed your questions.
Blessed bees,
V=d/t

THIS E-MAIL INTERVIEW WAS CONDUCTED IN MARCH 2008.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.

PHOTO OF VELOCITY AND BAND PHOTOS OF VULGARAS BY JOHNNY SWIGZ
YEAR OF THE WHORE ALBUM PHOTO BY JOHN SANTERINEROSS

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

UPDATES/LINKS. PAM HOGG

Pam Hogg has been concentrating on her fashion designing in the last few years, most recently showing her collection at London Fashion Week.  Her outfits have been worn by stars such as Kylie, Siouxsie and Lady Gaga and Pam herself is often pictured in the pages of style magazines such as Vogue.

Fansite on Facebook

INTERVIEW. PAM HOGG

Although Pam Hogg is perhaps best known as a designer (her body-conscious fetish influenced clothes have been featured everywhere from Skin Two to Elle), she has also been involved in music for many years.  Her previous band, Doll, were featured in the Amy Raphael book, "Never Mind The Bollocks", and supported Debbie Harry.  She had a demo CD EP available through MySpace with her new band, Hoggdoll, which showcases her unique brand of slinky swampland rock.


Your interview in the Amy Raphael book was one of my favourites in that book.  What happened to Doll?  Did you ever release any CDs?  (I would love to hear some of the songs you're describing in that interview).
We played as Doll until we could no longer stand the strain of trying to find a bass player every few months.  It's difficult to maintain that spark unless everyone is committed.  We only have rough recordings.  Dave Stewart gave us studio time but I was unhappy with the polished result so we never released it.  One day we may release our home demos.  I'm interested in checking how they sound now.

Could you tell me a bit about the musicians you're working with now on Hoggdoll?
I met Jason (Buckle) in the small music venue, "On The Rocks", about five and a half years ago.  He walked straight up to me and asked if I'd like to be in a Cramps type band.  I waited and waited for the music he'd promised and eventually after about 3 or 4 weeks a CD arrived with 15 various instrumental rockabilly style tracks he'd written.  I immediately chose three, wrote three songs in three days working out the melody on a four track and then we recorded them in his basement in about an hour and half.  I sang each song about 3 or 4 times, adding a different harmony and that was it.  I just waited.



With "Doll", the guitarist Robe Courtney and I would work out all our tracks together on bass guitar, create a mood and the songs would evolve but Jason and I did all of ours in that manner, although as he got to know my preferences he started writing accordingly.  It was pretty crazy.  We took such a short time to write and record, but it took about 3 years to extract the mixed tracks from him, and one got so lost I never even got to know how it sounded but we intend to record it again along with some new ones in the near future.
He's a fantastically unusual individual and a great musician but he's only ever played live with me twice as he hates being on stage.  When we were asked to perform at a Spanish music festival last summer, although initially really excited, he pulled out and I had to find a whole new band.  Rob thankfully was there like a shot to stand in even though we hadn't seen each other in years.

You have a unique sound - what sort of things influence your music/how would you describe your sound?
The Cramps on Valium is how I describe my sound as 75 % of all tracks have that Cramps type rockabilly vibe but I just write as the mood takes me on the very first hearing and run with it.  It's always spontaneous.

What's your favourite song on the CD and why?
Probably "Honeyland" as it took me by surprise.  I had no intention of writing a heartfelt song but it was exactly what came into my head the first time I played the music.  I was scared to let Jason hear it, but it's surprisingly the one that everyone loves.  Chicks on Speed put it on their "Girl Monster" compilation last year.

If you could choose to cover any song, what would it be and why?
I do a slow version of Jolene and Iggy's Wanna Be Your Dog --- I have a club called "Pam's Slinky Salon" where myself and special guests get up and sing torch songs and classics at the piano.  They fit in well in the set and as Marc Bolan says --- "They're good for my voice."



You're perhaps best known as a fashion designer --- are you still involved in designing clothes?  Do you have a current collection that's available?
The artists Tim and Sue sponsored a studio for two months to help me get started in fashion again so hopefully there'll be a collection available next season if I can get some sponsorship or backing.

You've always had an amazing sense of personal style.  What's your favourite look/outfit at the moment?
My new press collection is black, gold and silver so that's what I'm generally wearing right now.

In a Skin Two interview I have (issue 10) you describe Joan of Arc as the ultimate strong woman and the inspiration for your Warrior Queen collection.   What other women (past or present) do you particularly admire or inspire you?
I have great admiration and respect for the strong willed uncompromising late Frances Farmer.  Her story haunts me.
Boadicea or Boudica as she is now known was another great warrior queen and for fantasy, Emma Peel was my first female visual inspiration.

You seem like someone who has a fantastic zest for life and terrific confidence.  Do you have any advice for how to maintain your energy and motivation year after year?
Do what you believe in and believe in what you do.  I think that's the best advice I can give for maintaining good energy and motivation.

What are your future plans for your music?  Will you be playing live/touring soon or releasing a full album?
I'll always be into making music and will always be making clothes.  There just doesn't seem to be enough time to be able to do both really well simultaneously.  So right now my creative energy is focused on fashion and my desire to get that up and running.  I'm constantly jotting down words and flashes of new songs and Jason is at the ready, so a full album is just a matter of time.

THIS E-MAIL INTERVIEW TOOK PLACE IN APRIL 2008.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN MAY 2008.
PHOTOS FROM PAM HOGG'S MYSPACE.