Posts from the ‘Women’ Category

Cry Me A River …

 

 

“Tears are a river that takes you somewhere … Tears lift your boat off the rocks, off dry ground, carrying it downriver to someplace better.”

 

The above quote is from Clarissa Pinkola Estes ground breaking book – ‘Women Who Run with The Wolves’. In this work, about the power of story, dream and myth, she also describes tears as being what makes – literally manufactures as though it were a substance – that mysterious thing we call, soul.

 

What follows is no scientific treatise on grief, gender, tears or emotions. Tears defy science, logic and explanation.

 

Crying is such a powerful experience and social significant act, it’s hard to really describe. In some cultures and situations, to cry is a sign of extreme weakness and will be punished. Elsewhere, it’s not just expected, it’s required. The legitimacy of tears depending on gender roles and expectations is also a minefield of different meaning, with different rewards and punishments. Crying goes in and out of fashion – seen as both soft and strong. As a man, do you repress tears because you were told that boys don’t cry? Women do you repress them too ? We are also shamed and attacked if we cry, especially if we do it in the workplace. Our crying is seen as not ‘real’ but something manipulative, ‘turning on the waterworks’ for sympathy and worst of all, ‘proof’ that we are weak. These days, male crying is increasingly seen as something attractive – a sign of modernity, vulnerability and metrosexuality. Again, there are huge cultural variables. In North Korea, people are conditioned to cry, in ecstasy or grief depending on the fortunes of their great leader – and there are penalties for not crying on cue. And in the South, male Kpop idols breaking down in sobs at the end of their gig is absolutely de rigueur.

 

So go ahead, cry. When’s the last time you did? Are you someone who prides themselves on not? Can you no longer – or are circumstances such that it’s all you can do? How many songs have crying as a subject? What’s your crying style? Do you weep, wail, bawl, sob, boo and hoo or are you more of a silent tear rolling down a stoically stony face kind of crier? Are you a secret crier or a public one? Do you feel empowered or weakened if others see you cry? What’s the evolutionary function of tears? How do we navigate the connection between social shame or stigma and crying?

 

That moment when we know, suddenly and unexpectedly, that we are going to cry – especially if others are present, has a frisson of danger, of taboo intimacy to it.  It represents a surrender, a small death of illusion and of control. Like vomiting, or falling in love – there is a moment of no return. And in those moments we are as honest as we ever can be. No hiding. No pretending. Feelings don’t lie, they simply are.

 

The last time I cried was on my own this Saturday, in Ronnie Scotts, listening to bass player and singer, (and pianist and producer/band leader) Richard Bona. He settled into a chord progression that hit my heart and made me bury my face in my hands and practically choke. it was a moment for me alone. I can’t explain why or what it was about. Just the sheer beauty and intensely high quality vibration, I suppose. I know that I felt better for it. And soon I was laughing too. I have had parents in my music for babies and toddlers classes literally weep when I sing ‘Puff The Magic Dragon.’ Which is definitely a mystery to me! It seems that some melodies or frequencies just set us off.

 

Go ahead and cry if you want to – and cry for those that can’t. It’s natural and normal. You might just add years to your life.

 

Some fun things:

 

Sam Taylor Johnsons famous weeping men photos

 

Only in Japan: Rent a hot guy to make you cry then wipe your tears away

More handsome weeping boys of Japan

 


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Poetic Flow and Gender Fluidity in K Pop

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I am a secret K pop fan. Actually I’m secret K pop addict. Get me talking, or read on and you’ll find I know way more than I should. I know that a SHAWOL (linguistic mashup) is a fan (usually teenage, American, female) who spends too much time on the internet appreciating heartthrob K pop band ShinEE. I know that 2MIN is the slang mash-up for the constant fan speculation over whether Taemin and Minho from ShinEE are gay bromance partners. I know that the Girls Generation members might have surgical enhancements – or so says word on the street. I know that the internet is full of fan made homage to K pop stars, sometimes in the form of wishful written or pictorial pornography embroidering both gay and straight fantasy scenarios between K pop personalities.

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Why is K pop culture so seductive?

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Cursory research reveals the K pop machine to be exactly that – a comprehensive in-house assembly line of picture perfect 20 somethings with athletes bodies and models faces, made even more slick by makeup and in some cases, plastic surgery. The music, lyrics and dance moves, which are shamelessly derivative of US R ‘n’B are created in studio by cadres of session musicians and composers employed by Seoul Media – the centralised empire of K pop product. Seoul Media is its own world, with an olympic sized stadium at which acts ‘debut’, then regularly present shows or ‘stages’ – during which fans chant and wave glo-sticks in ecstatic unison. K pop is often written in English, translated back in to Korean, then peppered with English phrases spoken in American accents, finished off with devilishly slick production and dance routines which inspire mass devotion and group participation. K pop stars may enjoy the celebrity spotlight but they work for their money. Already virtuoso singers, dancers, actors and athletes, they perform and record relentlessly, with an obligatory round of product endorsements, game show appearances, solo projects, soap opera roles and promotional stunts – some of which are deliberately compromising, challenging and embarrassing. Like being made to kiss seedy game show hosts or being hypnotised on national TV. Shows like ‘We Got Married’, (self-explanatory) ‘Hello Baby’ (pop stars get to baby sit a toddler for a month) and ‘Running Man’ (silly sport stunts) really take this to hilarious extremes. Every now and again, boy groups will do their own version of the girl group songs, a few keys down, with the same dance moves. The air hostess glamour of Girls Generation song ‘Genie’ translates into high camp when the boys do it dressed as pink ribboned sailors. It’s hard to say which version is better. (You decide – watch the girls HERE and the boys HERE.)

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It could be said that K pop is uniquely Korean – a national character of steadfast service, obedience to tradition and goodwill, a must try harder and better, (whilst having fun) work ethic – which at the end of K pop concerts erupts into orgies of repressed emotion. Watch any of ShinEEs big concerts – by the penultimate song, lead singer Jonghyun will start crying and can barely sing, to the point where I have wondered whether it’s a stunt.  It’s not, it’s real. Footage of their French tour has them all in hysterics with the entire crowd chanting in French, ‘Don’t Cry.’ (which they must have heard in every language by now)

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But, K pop is also an incredibly skilful mimicry of Western, American pop and soul, with acutely observed and replicated physical and vocal motifs that owe everything to Michael and Janet Jackson, Paula Abdul and Prince. K pop singers can also rap like African-American rappers and dress accordingly too – almost past the point of good taste/political sensitivity, with nuances that might well be lost on the performers themselves. K pop is a performance art that has done the West better that  it could do itself – then exported the product back across the water. South Korea as a nation has in the last 20 years seen a meteoric rise, especially in the realm of technology and business and the ‘soft power’ of the creative and entertainment industries. Always in the shadow of the unpredictable North, a war survivor and a ‘catch up’ nation good at copying, not innovation, South Korea has now emerged into an undisputed global contender, with brand names, catch phrases, fast foods and household names that economists foresee will become ubiquitous in the West. K pop is an energy exchange, manipulated, arguably, by the older generation for the young, but in the hands of the young, has a life of its own. Go on YouTube and you will find that US high school girls are learning Korean just so they can understand their favourite K pop lyrics. They are also crushing heavily on the androgynous beauty of Korean men as a welcome contrast to American standards of  hyper masculinity. From the other side, delve behind the Korean fashion industry and you will see beauty products, accessories, makeup tutorials and whole streets of plastic surgery clinics devoted to making Korean eyes look more European. (also prevalent in China)

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Is this East/West love affair unbelievably messed up or – is something potentially more interesting going on?

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OK, so pop culture is mass manipulation – which has suckered me along with everyone else – but let me now focus on the positive. I first saw the the video to ShinEE’S ‘Hello’ playing at my favourite Korean restaurant where I sometimes stop before going to my teaching job. I was utterly taken. My first thought was how like Michael Jackson they were, in sound and choreography. Then, what genuinely good singing. But mainly they seemed to have a pink haired drag queen/LadyBoy singing with them – how progressive, unusual and refreshing. How gay! Was this a gay act? Of course it was K pop phenomenon Lee Taemin, youngest member and ‘maknae’ (trainee) of the group, (joined at 14 now 22) whom SHAWOL fag hags all over the world passionately hope is fellow member Choi Minhos gay lover.

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I began to follow ShinEE, to the point of even tracking down imports from now defunct HMV. Their whole act fascinated me. Not just their music, (they are great singers, each very distinctive) but also hilarious fan-made mashups, parodies and mistranslations that gently satirise group members quirks and also manage to reference the down low yet obvious gay undertones of the group. Here’s what was refreshing to me, since I am a gay act with virtually no role models.  I don’t like all their releases or – fashion phases, (blue contact lenses – no!) but at best, their energy is a perfect storm of male and female energy that makes more sense to me than anything I am seeing in the western music world, male or female, gay or straight. As a lesbian person, songwriter and performer – I am craving some sort of reflection back to myself of something that feels like me – a kind of third path. Femininity that’s tough, baggy trousered, streetwise, desirous of female company and not afraid to grab it’s crotch. Masculinity that’s camp, glam, kind, silly, funny, gentle and homo-erotic. They really are my honorary lesbians…

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And what about Amber (pictured above) – female rapper and dancer with K pop group FX? This super fit and bendy dancer was born and raised in the US, and can be under no illusions as to what her style suggests to a generation used to ‘The L Word’, ‘Orange Is The New Black’ and Ruby Rose. Amber is a pure delight, whether body popping on daytime TV, promoting her cosmetic line, ‘Talent’, filming her army reality TV experience (which positions her as a straight tomboy falling for the male officer – but we don’t believe her) or hanging out with the ShinEE boys singing, (google it) the Llama song. She radiates affability, humour and ease. She’s especially cute hanging out on the Eat Your Kimchi show – eating Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour beans – which may be a a fictional confection from the Harry Potter books – but also exist as a real product that’s big in South East Asia. She too, has attracted speculation as to whether she was involved with ShinEE members. They all grew up around each other in a celebrity environment so, who knows?

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At the end of the day, K pop kids, your gay fans don’t care that much if you are gay or not – we love that you might be. You make a product that is inspiring and ever so slightly challenging enough that it might just soften up the world we live in. We hope you didn’t have to sleep with unsavoury people to get to the top, that you are not too tired, dieting and working out constantly, and that you are not contractually forced into plastic surgery and that you are not mind controlled robots and that you get to see and spend some of those earnings. In the West we have a LGBT movement with lots of visibility and social acceptance. I understand that in South Korea – for all that Seoul has Gay Pride and a gay district – that things are much more on the ‘down low’ and less accepted in the conservative mainstream, especially with the older generation. Still, like in Thailand there seems to be a very unaffected natural same sex erotic flow that is actually more laid back than in UK media and society. No-one shouts ‘gay’ as a insult if men hold hands in the street (do they?) whereas in the UK, they will. Amber can look like a dyke in broad daylight on national TV and is safe to do so. Maybe visible K pop Bromance is a way for hidden but ‘genuine gays’ to hide in plain sight. Maybe it’s just affection and us ‘real gays’ in the west are guilty of sexualising everything. It’s hard to believe the love between this lot is not real. It comes across onstage as more than an act. And the widely available fan cam, candid and casual footage of these stars just hanging out, is filled with chemistry, attraction and affection. Who knows for sure?  Can these worlds meet? The wonderful combination of not having to call it what it is, but having the human right to do so, and yet one day not even having to. AND YET, being proud. Because love is love. Even as a distant dream – this is a world worth imagining.  So come out when you’re ready, guys and gals.

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 ShinEE fighting! 화이팅 ! Amber too! Gay Icons (or not) forever! 

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Resources:

Eat Your Kimchi  Hugely enjoyable quirky travel and culture show by straight, but gay friendly Canadian couple Simon and Martina.

What the Pineapple  Ambers recently launched entertainment channel.

Sweet and Tasty TV  Language lessons, travel, food, culture and ‘KWOW’ (Korean word of the week) from sweet and tasty, age-defying, gender-bending Professor Oh.


 

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A Woman’s Worth…

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(The picture is of Norma Jean Wofford, also known as ‘The Duchess’ – lead guitarist with Bo Diddley from ’62-’66. She doesn’t appear in the book I’m talking about here, but this image goes very well with my blog post title. There were dozens of artists that I could have envisaged in the project. Would I like to see Giving Birth to Sound volume II and III and beyond? Yes.  Also a CD compilation and a dedicated music festival? You bet. I’m dreaming big…)

This post is about the worth and significance of musicians – female ones in particular – our capacity as story-tellers, mediums, healers, visionaries, agitators, collaborators entertainers and communicators. Every week, I am still riding the wave of momentum generated by ‘Giving Birth To Sound’ – the new book by Cologne jazz publisher Buddy’s Knife. With a foreword by legendary jazz pianist Amina Claudine Myers and featuring 48 female musicians – including myself. Over a year ago, I was approached by the editor, Renate da Rin. Would I like to be interviewed for a book about female musicians in jazz and creative music? I was up for it of course, and now suddenly the book has arrived and it’s an absolute dream. I am honoured and happy to be sitting side by side with some of my influences and industry legends. A rich collection of personal histories and records of incredible achievement. The contributions have all been translated into English but each artist tells of a very personal relationship to sound, with a diverse range of nationalities, cultures, languages and instrumentation.

All the artists in the book are receiving our copies at different times and reading the final creation at different paces. Needless to say, with a sense of unfolding wonder and high hopes for further contact and projects. This feels unstoppable! For my part, I feel determined to draw attention to what has been achieved here and why it’s important. Despite distinct differences in age, race, language, education and geography, attitude to music, society and concepts of ‘womanhood’, there are common themes amongst the participants – which speak volumes about the times we are living in. An awareness of injustice, a recognition of global inequality and an economic climate where poverty is being demonised and money worshipped, the natural world being destroyed. A recognition that things are in some ways worse not better. A proud, fearless independence, but love of collaboration. An almost mystical, ecstatic reverie that comes from the creative process. Early exposure not just to musical stimulus, but to the worlds of the imagination. A generous passion and hope for the music above all – often expressed in words that are non-linear, poetic, idiomatic and rhapsodic. The book actually reads like a piece of music itself.

Women and girls have been told so many times that we can’t do stuff – either that we’re weak, incompetent and decorative … or in other periods of history and geography, that we are only good for sex, childcare, menial labour and social scapegoating, physical/emotional punchbags, with no access to self-improvement. I don’t say that lightly. In some areas, women have lower status than a domestic animal. Though happily, neither extreme is my own personal experience – the reality of worldwide abuse of women and girls is now so widely known about, that the concept of  female emancipation can no longer be ridiculed as some special interest feminist minority issue. It’s affecting the gender which is actually the majority. So it brings me joy when I see initiatives that really celebrate women. Our stories need to be heard. Some of them are shocking.

 (Here’s what I wrote to the editors:)

”The more I read of the book, the more I am blown away, with love and inspiration, heart quakes and shakes, tears of solidarity and empathy and also a fair bit of socio-political outrage. Today, reading the story of the musician who was accused as a child of being a liar – (TWICE) as her work was so advanced they didn’t believe it was hers… (this happened to me at school, with a play I wrote.)”  * I remember too, after a performance at the Isle of Wight Jazz festival, being approached by the (drunk) director of another prominent UK jazz festival. He accused me of not being the author of my own songs, which he threatened to  research and expose as classic standards which I had in fact plagiarised. Talk about a compliment and insult at the same time. I later received an apology …

 (I also wrote this to the editors:)

”I have to say, a book, (so much more than just a ‘book’) of this nature could not have happened at this time in the UK. We’re beset here with a governmental drive towards austerity that is unbelievable. But there are valiant pockets of rebellion and creativity resourcefulness, generosity and people-power all the more amazing, as we are operating against the odds here. A common theme amongst some of the contributors seems to be the increasing punishment of the poor and of poverty by government and media, affecting all artists – so maybe this economic trend is worldwide. BUT I am so thankful to you creative jazz loving folks at Buddys Knife – for your intellectual courage, determination and artistic integrity in doing this project.
Each one of these 48 contributors is not just a musical creator, but leader, visionary and dare I say it – shaman/sorcerer/witch/wizard/world-bridger and changer of epic proportions. Each with her own networks of international creativity. There are some global possibilities here. As with all creations – a mixture of strong desire/intent and a trust and ALLOWING… the inevitability and momentum of dreams coming to fruit : ) Thinking big. Loving large. Powering the imagination. Women are rising again.”

Here is the intro on the back cover, which says it beautifully. Here’s why you need to read this book! Please order it and buy copies for your friends, libraries, schools, jazz cafes. By doing so you will be helping to support the next stage of our journey – you too will be ‘giving birth to sound!’

”Giving Birth to Sound is about Her-story as told by some of the most brilliant and creative women musicians in the world. Individual thinkers and movers who have been brave enough to devote their lives to the making of music the way they hear it. They were not afraid to sing and speak in the name of sound, showing us that they are a family of unique individuals, separate but united. Read their words and listen to their music whenever you can – it will take you even closer to the great mystery called life.”
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   How to buy the book:
   http://www.buddysknife.de/our-titles/
   info@buddysknife.de
   Available on amazon.com and amazon.de.
Thank you for reading!

 

 

 

Giving Birth To Sound

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This month I am pleased and proud to announce that I am featured in this amazing book, Giving Birth To Sound. Created by specialist Cologne jazz publisher Buddys Knife and a host of contributors working in the field of music – not just jazz, but uniquely personal interpretations of jazz, improvisation and creative sound. The line-up includes some major artists of the 20th century, some of which have influenced and inspired me greatly. What an honour – and I can’t wait to see what happens next! Here is some background from the website:

”Renate Da Rin and William Parker have invited 48 creative women sound artists to share their experiences in the process of creating music and living as an artist. These women come from North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.”giving birth to sound” is about Her-story as told by some of the most brilliant and creative women musicians in the world. Individual thinkers and movers who have been brave enough to devote their lives to the making of music the way they hear it. They were not afraid to sing and speak in the name of sound, showing us that they are a family of unique individuals, separate but united.

Read their words and listen to their music whenever you can – it will take you even closer to the great mystery called life. Foreword by Amina Claudine Myers.

Among the great musicians we find Jay Clayton, Marilyn Crispell, Claudine François, Terry Jenoure, Joëlle Léandre, Marilyn Mazur, Nicole Mitchell, Maggie Nicols, Angelika Niescier, Lisa Sokolov, Ijeoma Chinue Thomas, Fay Victor, Jessica Williams … ”

Excited? Like a copy of the book? CLICK HERE  to order.

 


 

 

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Faye Patton Camden ‘mini-tour’… ‘Gilgalive’ 11th March

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Just a quick bulletin – I am really excited to be appearing at Gilgalive @ Camden’s sumptuous Gilgamesh club on March 11th.  I have dates at the Green Note on March 22nd and April 19th, so am going to be glad to warm up and gather a cool Camden crowd around me! Come on down – it’s free entry and if you haven’t visited Gilgamesh yet, it’s a beautiful venue and vibe.

GILGAMESH LIVE! is a regular Wednesday night showcase of some of the most talented acoustic musicians in the UK. Hosted by Rachel Rose in the Gilgamesh Lounge.

Come and enjoy 2-4-1 on selected drinks from 6pm, with performances kicking off from 8 ’till late.

Enjoy a mid-week beverage and some pan Asian aperitifs to the accompaniment of live music. To book a table, call 07534676008.

Gilgamesh, The Stables Market, Camden Market, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8AH 020 7428 4922


 

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The Art Of Nunchaku

 

NunChuck Pic

 

This unique weapon, popularised by Bruce lee and Dan Inosanto, amongst others, originates in Okinawa, Japan, but variations on the flail-like implement are common throughout South East Asia. Some theories situate it as an adapted farm tool, but opinions differ, since historically, martial arts were often the preserve of the ruling classes. Spinning my ‘chucks everyday, in hot sun, freezing rain, mud, ice or high winds –  is keeping me sane. For obvious reasons, I don’t want to glamourise weapons, aggression or violence and the nunchuks have a bit of a bad rep. However, like all weapons and fighting arts, if you train with the correct attitude, the idea of using it to cause grief, starts to really fade into the distance. Instead, it becomes the most supreme meditational tool, teacher and ally. As in life, I lose the rhythm and have to stop and unwind my self-entanglements. As in life, I drop them, I pick them up. The key is not how many times you fail, but the manner in which you recover. I am used to wielding quite heavy white oak Japanese bokken and Jo. Also I practice Kung Fu and lift weights – so I have quite a lot of strength. But the real beauty is that for this, physical muscle isn’t necessary – only the weight of the wood itself and the exact momentum needed to deliver it to the hand. It’s about pure feeling and flow. Having faith in movement. Free fall and flight. Mental dialogue chatters away, but the only constant is the clanking and rattling of the chain, and the powerful ‘phoommm’ sound of displaced air. There is the lovely, fleeting sense of mastery. (I’m doing something REALLY clever!) Interspersed with moments of indignity, ecstasy and the humble nobility of being covered in mud from all the wipeouts and flowerbed retrievals. A bit like life. At every new level and new move, the Nunchuks teach me, painfully if necessary, what I need to know. For instance, you really don’t want to hit your funny bone at high speed, or at any speed – the hard whack I gave myself disabled me for 10 minutes, and my fingers were numb and buzzing a fortnight later. Not so funny. (My flatmate looking out of the window, spotted me, prostrate, clutching my arm, face screwed up and breathing raggedly, unable to move. She thought it was part of my ‘spiritual practice’…a prayer perhaps?)

I have also learned that hitting myself in the face, hard, is something I only want to experience the one time. Accidents with this light, but deadly force, really, really, really hurt. Therefore, best to approach the practice, being as present as possible, with respect and curiosity. I feel like I used the nunchaku in a previous life. Like music, and certain languages, it feels like something remembered, not learnt for the first time. Like music, it plays itself with only a little coaxing. I am loving it, the simplicity, the dexterity, the mental peace. It’s wonderful to discover (rediscover?) a new (old?) friend.

(Note: Best to study this with a proper teacher and within the context of a dedicated personal martial arts training framework. It’s not illegal to carry them if  they are concealed in a bag and are for obvious study purposes but questions may be asked if you brandish them in public. If you want to buy them, you may be asked for ID that proves you are over 18. )

Resources:

Agogi Wing Chung  (Streetwise Wing Chun Kung Fu for the 21st century. Developed by Founder, Sifu Eric Nicos. )

Tao Sport (London based boxing and martial arts equipment supplier to the combative sports and fight community in the UK since 1988.)

 


 

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ROOAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRHHHHHHH!

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It’s the fag end of August and I’m on the prowl, times are lean and my stomach is rumbling.

This is for my fellow lions and feline relations. Including leonine honorary citizens and ‘Leos rising’, of which I am one. For bob cats, tomcats, alley cats, kittens with mittens. Ancestral, trans-dimensional cats. Ultra, hyper and über cats. Space cats, fractal cats.  Camouflage or Kamikaze cats. Martial cats. Spotted and striped, bright burning cousins, Bengal tygers and Black Panthers. BIG CATS. Catwomen. Rhythm cats or solo cats. Cats who swing, blow croon or strum. Jazz cats and hip cats. It’s about art, pleasure music and self-expression, royalty, nobility and sovereignty. It’s for my fellow female artists of all persuasions, and for those whose art does not fit into a category, or who are inventing a new one and owning it. Anyone feeling like a total diva attack coming on? Anyone feeling severely underappreciated? I need to say the following. I always err on the positive (Of course! Don’t we live to entertain?) But …snarrrrrrl.

Don’t we all want and need some appreciation, some applause, some encouragement, some recognition, some praise, some (yes!) adoration, some reciprocation, some recognition, some acknowledgement? I have an appetite for a little more in return for my art and am considering (yes!) going to live in a different country very soon unless I get it. There is a difference between the genuine humility of being in service to ones art and being a servant. They are different things.

Audiences – I wrote my music with you in mind, to please you, uplift and nourish you. Therefore, please clap. Be bothered. Bear in mind that the music may be free. Therefore I need your applause to continue since it may be all I am getting. That’s the relationship. If you want it, show me that you like it. IF YOU WANT ME, SHOW ME THAT YOU WANT ME. Make some noise. Lifting your hands together to clap is the very least you could do. Can a performing seal not do as much? As a rhythmic, musical task I am actually doing something far more demanding – so could you at least make the effort. If you don’t applaud, at least don’t talk so loud over the music that actually you are drowning me out. If you must look at me like an unwelcome eyesore, rather than warmly into my eyes and soul as I want to do with you…at least don’t talk about me loudly, whilst I’m playing. Especially don’t turn to your neighbour and discuss loudly whether I am a guy or a woman, whilst looking displeased and miserable. (By the way, please cheer up!) Don’t you realise that I can hear and see everything? Whilst you’re watching me, I’m watching you.

Venues/venue managers/bookers/promoters/festivals/industry  – PAY THE PIPER. If you like it, if you love it, if you keep saying how much you like it and love it – FEEEEED MEEEEE. If I bring you the raw material of my soul, consistently, reliably, professionally, punctually…if I deal with your shoddy PA system, (even try to mend it and buy spare parts) lend your other performers my gear, if I am patient and humorous with your late or absent payments…if I bear with all this, at least don’t blank me. At least don’t ignore me. At least don’t ignore me and then hire someone else cheaper in my place without telling me. Do I need to teach you how to treat me, with each and every interaction? Do you forget, in-between?

Funding bodies/Government and Arts organisations –  I know you are trying and I haven’t given up on you. It’s so marvellous that  some of you have special awards for women and women’s art. I do hope your female staff are being paid a decent wage to administer them. Can I just say it…the amounts you offer are derisory. The requirements illogical, the forms incomprehensible. On my current lifestyle I can’t afford the calories spent going through the paperwork and the award, were I to get it, will just about pay for the hours of office work spent trying. And then you want some art on top of it? For me to hire studios/venues/session players…and eat? And also somehow prove (sometimes, in advance!) that I have indeed met the needs of new audiences and am viable as a financial unit? Is proof needed? Is it still about proof? Can we take a moment to appreciate the irony here?

Friends/colleagues/ punters, fans – I love you all. I know your intentions are the very best. But please stop asking me what I am doing lately to advance myself. Stop asking why haven’t I done or thought of such and such. Believe me, EVERYTHING  you can suggest, I have already thought of and done, or am doing. To be an artist is to be rejected and blanked repeatedly. Punters, I’m so happy that you enjoyed the music but please stop asking ME why you haven’t heard of me and advising me what to do. Instead write letters to radio/TV/festival/venues asking THEM to book me. If you are dying to see fresh talent, new voices, unusual voices, viewpoints, lyrics and styles break through, (and I know so many of you are hungry for this) then take hold of your power as a consumer and demand that the industry wake up. Then get yourself on my mailing list, and get your bum on the seat and create the demand, which these days I am required to prove, just to get a booking.

A note about wages – Everyone loves music. Everyone agrees that live music is lovely. It’s organic, immediate, irreplaceable, ephemeral, magical, of the moment, uplifting, catalysing and healing. Unforgettable. It gives ones a special feeling. Priceless, one might say. Therefore how ironic that the musicians wages are considered, last and least. Even the toilet cleaners at festivals get a wage, and so they should. Likewise, the toilet manufacturer, the sewage collectors, the electrician, the sales staff and of course the administrators. Never have a I met an administrator who didn’t get paid. Yet the musician comes in, does a skill that no-one else can do and is the thing upon which the whole event rests – and not only is expected to do it for free, but expected to pay for the privilege and do it in a hostile, or indifferent environment. For the joy of it! Did we mention irony yet?

Roar. Snore. Bore. Yawwwwwn…

Give me a reason to get out of bed, shake the cobwebs from my heart and head. In my world I am both King and Queen. I live in parallel, magical realms and dimensions where I am respected and even feted, fed and nourished, shined and polished. I walked the earth before, and am used to self-respect and mutual respect. I give and receive willingly, art with a big heart. I will sing the endless song of my soul, that tells of teeth sunk deep into life, and of pulsating vitality giving itself in sacred surrender to an act of love. But give me a reason. Give me a reason not to retreat into the secret invisible borders where the fairy folk go – unseen, unheard, unloved, disbelieved, uncelebrated. (They are fine. They play for their own amusement and pleasure. They understand themselves, they are not lonely.) But what have you shut yourself off from? I have something you want. I have medicine. I have something wild and golden and beyond riches. It’s worth far more than any coin you care you exchange. Yet I am willing to share my kill. Give me a reason.

 


 

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