OH MY GOD
TRICOT ARE THE COOLEST BAND
“ You’re never going to appeal to everyone. You might as well have some sort of belief system. ”
This bit really stuck out:
"Afterwards, Cain says that in 20 years in the industry he’s never come across an artist so engaged with the minutiae of their presentation. He points up at a giant poster of Lana Del Rey. “With her, we could do whatever we liked,” he says."
Hot off the press, Ben and Leslie’s wedding album!
I drained my romance reserves when we watched this episode over breakfast today.
Do you ever get embarrassed to point out gender bias? I always apologize and say something dumb and sassy like “Not to be the girl who cried misogyny, but no one would ever say that to Larry David!” Somehow I feel the need to point out that I know I’m doing it, and that I may sound humorless, and that I wish I could be free and easy like Cameron Diaz at a hockey game.
I totally understand this. I don’t get embarrassed, though – I get nervous. Because journalists don’t like to be told that their questions are sexist. Every so often I read insane things like, “Who is the next Lucille Ball?” and they list all these red-haired actresses. As though the essence of Lucille Ball’s talent was derived from the color of her hair.
More than half the questions I am asked are about the politics of the way I look. What it feels like to be not skinny/dark-skinned/a minority/not conventionally pretty/female/etc. It’s not very interesting to me, but I know it’s interesting to people reading an interview. Sometimes I get jealous of white male showrunners when 90 percent of their questions are about characters, story structure, creative inspiration, or, hell, even the business of getting a show on the air. Because as a result the interview of me reads like I’m interested only in talking about my outward appearance and the politics of being a minority and how I fit into Hollywood, blah blah blah. I want to shout, “Those were the only questions they asked!””
so this poster for the upcoming priests (multicult/wet brain/stolen girls) show at the stood was recently put up on the facebook page of the beat and then taken down by the magazine’s advisor because he thought it was “offensive.” it’s remarks like this that keep menstruation a taboo subject/make it seem like an illness/disgusting/offensive/continue to dehumanize women for something that is apart of our human nature/continue to encourage that men can police women’s bodies. yes, we bleed, yes, we use tampons, yes, we are not going to pretend like we don’t. priests is a
female punk triomostly female + one dude punk quartet, the poster is making a statement that it will be a feminist empowered show. everybody is completely outraged and FORTH (feminists organizing real transformation here) is literally targeting their first campaign announcement towards his actions. i mean, as is to be expected, this IS suny purchase, we are all magical feminist unicorns. anyways this poster is cool as fuck and i totally want a print.
the beat has written an open letter addressing the issue.
Myself and the rest of the PRIESTS gang are very toked to perform at SUNY Purchase tonight!! Bummed to hear about this controversy but glad that you all are standing your ground.
One quick clarification — PRIESTS is NOT a trio and NOT all female. There are 4 people in the band, and one of them is a dude. Just wanted to clear the air about this because it seems to be a reoccurring misunderstanding!!!
awesome! thanks for the clarification, i did not know that. good luck performing tonight!!!
Can’t wait! Also we are very *stoked* not toked ~heh~
ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE BLEED FROM THEIR VAGINAS AND WE LOVE IT
When the lists are listed and the think-pieces thought, 2013 will earn its place in history as the one where several major artists released albums that a lot of us had given up on ever hearing. Daft Punk, Boards of Canada and David Bowie’s respective legacies would have remained perfectly revered museum pieces had they lain dormant for the rest of their lives, happy as we were to have them back. (Though I think you can pinpoint the exact moment when I lost my mind writing news stories about Daft Punk’s protracted and increasingly mad return.) Major artists release major albums that achieve major success. Big surprise. Three’s a trend. Get your coats. But they’re not the albums we should be the most grateful for hearing this year.
Received wisdom has it that your debut album is a document of your life up until that point while the follow-up is the “difficult” second album; daunted by success, anxious it was all a fluke, perhaps weary of fame, creating in a vacuum of expectation for the first time. For Savages and Sky Ferreira, their respective debuts Silence Yourself and Night Time, My Time – two of the year’s best – were difficult first albums. Records they had to fight to release where the fight then became the crux of the record itself.
I first saw Savages play the White Heat club night at Soho’s Madame Jojo’s in early 2012. “Buzz” bands always play there early on, and I have no idea why as it’s awful; the stage is high up, like a shelf you can’t reach, while a floor full of record industry people stand and contemplate whether whatever band it is would look good on their shelf. Savages were excellent: ferocious and bladed and perhaps a tiny bit nervous. Their sound seemed to expand as their performance went on – you could tell they’d thought carefully about their set-list. Some time around this they started working with a management company who signed them up to a jolly seaside jaunt with the Vaccines. They made suggestions about who the band would and would not be working with on their eventual debut album. “It was shit, a bad time for us,” Jehnny Beth told me when I interviewed her and Fay Milton in Bristol last December. (We met for this Pitchfork Cover Story.)
“It felt that at that point, we were just stepping onto this conveyor belt of bands that everyone steps onto and goes along drearily,” added Fay, “and falls off the end at some point.”
Before Savages played Camden’s Electric Ballroom in January, I wandered to Whole Foods with Fay. We talked casually about the bad time with the management as we stood in the queue to pay. I asked what the album the management wanted them to make would have been like. She looked at me incredulously. “There wouldn’t have been an album.” They nearly dissolved the band because of the conflict. Thankfully, they sacked their managers instead and released the ‘I Am Here’ EP, a statement of intent, identity and undeniable agency.
“For me, the way I see it, you have young intelligent people who are very talented, and they want to work and do things together and get excited about that, that was the original vibe of Savages,” Jehnny said in December, “and then suddenly you have a conflict with another generation, that is kind of detached to that feeling, two realities conflicting together. We kind of suddenly felt manipulated. And manipulated by fear.”
“I’VE PROBABLY actually made ten albums at this point in order to get this one album that I’m happy with,” Sky Ferreira told Stereogum recently. “And I finally got it.” Keeping track of the records she’s almost released is exhausting. Signed to a million dollar record deal (that she apparently never saw any of) in 2009, a debut album was penciled for release on January 11, 2011. An EP, As If!, came out on March 22 instead. On January 23, 2012, she announced another debut album, Wild at Heart. Then it was called I’m Not Alright. Then she leaked “Everything Is Embarrassing” online because her label wouldn’t release it. It got her on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Wait – now the record is called I Will and it’s out summer 2013. Finally, it arrived as Night Time, My Time on October 29, released by Capitol.
After scrapped and shelved sessions with so many producers, Sky eventually made the record in two weeks with Ariel Rechtshaid and Justin Raisen. You get the impression being that Capital were so tired of the project that they finally gave up on having middle-aged men try and shape a young woman’s pop perspective and gave her carte blanche. Weary parents doing anything for a moment’s peace.
I wonder whether Capitol has conceded that Sky knew best since the record came out. It’s all delight, teasing out the sweetness of Suicide and My Bloody Valentine and wrapping it around a baby finger that knows how to whirl a perfect pop cliche. And it’s even better because you can hear exactly what she was up against to make this happen. “Nobody asked me if I was okay.” “Ten years old without a voice.” “I blame myself for my reputation.”
It’s the same on Silence Yourself, Savages’ debut. Their original intention was to write songs about sex and war poetry, and definitely not romance, but they wound up writing about their experiences at the hands of managers who signed them for their potency but expected them to act like docile young ladies. “A lot of songs that are going to be on the record are coming from that particular time, when I really felt that people were telling me to shut up, and I couldn’t voice what I wanted to say,” Jehnny told me. “It was the only way I could carry on at the time. I had to express it in a way that I thought was quite ironic, to sing the songs live to the face of the people it was actually about. They did not realise.”
“If you tell me to shut up/I would tell you to shut up.”
“I am here/I won’t hide.”
“They wonder how we do it/They ask me if I care.”
“Fake selves/Fake smile/Waiting for the day that you die because/You have no face.”
IT’S 2013 and much of the music media still hasn’t shaken the assumption that any successful female musician must be controlled by a man. Female artists who appear too fully formed arouse suspicion, their clearly too-studied alternative tastes provoke disbelief that a woman could be naturally credible of her own accord. And even when it’s not explicit, it’s there: I’m sure it was written with good intentions, but last year, The Stool Pigeon (RIP) published a timeline of Savages’ short career to date – useful when researching an article for sure, but it left no stone unturned to just make sure they were the real deal.
Once it’s been established that sure, Savages’ love of Blixa Bargeld and Sky Ferreira’s affinity for Suicide is sincere and self-nurtured, the fact that they assert themselves becomes the next stick to beat them with.
I understand that Savages’ approach may not be to everyone’s tastes, but I’ve read and heard so many people disparage them as precious for the simple fact that they exercise their right to be in control of their career. When Jehnny Beth wrote her Tumblr post about the totally rational ambivalence she felt at Savages’ Mercury Music Prize nomination, a good half of the response was, ooh, hark at her. Even once they break the forces of suppression holding them back, straight-talking, game-eschewing female musicians are so often interpreted as uppity and ungrateful, as if the fact that some boring men who essentially work for a bank like your record is any kind of validation.
“Today when you are a young band and you’re doing rock’n’roll you have to be on time, you have to be good students,” Jehnny said to me. “Show up on time - well that’s important anyway - but you’re not setting the rules.”
“Once they realized I was fighting back, they didn’t like it,” Sky told Nitsuh Abebe at New York Magazine. “It was like being grounded all the time.”
In the end, they both triumphed. “We managed well and I’m quite proud now,” Jehnny told me. “I think to have recorded our album now in this situation, exactly how I imagined it is a fucking accomplishment.” There’s no doubt that their respective battles, however awful, made both records what they are. It’s strange to imagine how either record might have sounded once upon a time, but the fact that we can hear the versions of Silence Yourself and Night Time, My Time that Savages and Sky Ferreira wanted us to hear truly is something to be grateful for. Now they’ve won their fight, proven that they were right all along, it makes me wonder what their second records will be like. A walk in the park, by comparison.
Elliott Smith died ten years ago Monday. This fact means a lot of different things to a lot of different people; for me, it means that it has also been just about ten years since the first time I published a piece of “music writing,” which is not something I used to put quotes around but now increasingly feel the need to do. I had been writing about music and pushing it out into the world through LiveJournal entries and self-made webpages for years and years before October 2003, but there was something about a byline, even just in a tiny liberal arts college’s tiny weekly student newspaper, that changed how I thought about myself—as a writer, as a person. It would not be entirely accurate to say that I was an Elliott Smith fan at the time of his death; I was more familiar with his general belovedness than any of his albums. That week I went to one of my first newspaper staff meetings and when the Arts & Entertainment editor asked if anyone had story ideas I chirped something about Elliott Smith having died and that possibly meriting some kind of tribute. The idea wasn’t to write the story myself, because I didn’t think I deserved to write it myself; it had more to do, probably, with seeming cool (and useful, and smart) to the rest of the staff, these people who I thought were so cool—they were all upperclassmen and knew their way around campus and had long-standing in-jokes and knew how to put together a newspaper, all of these things I was desperate to fathom and have as parts of my own self. I figured they already knew that Elliott Smith had died and that one or more of them had a wrenching, heartfelt ode set to run—but (not that I would have recognized or copped to this at the time) I just wanted them to know that I knew, too. Shockingly, they did not know, not one of them. And so I found myself in the position of having to explain not only that this person had died, but who he was to begin with. I left the meeting with the assignment. What I wound up writing was maybe an ode, at most half heartfelt and probably only wrenching because I had no idea what I was doing but was trying so hard to know. The newspaper was print-only then so it’s not online now, and even though it’s probably sitting in an accordion folder at my house or my parents’ house I haven’t yet felt brave or stupid enough to go dig it out. Having said that, now I guess I have to. Anyway, I am feeling pretty great about not lobbying harder to digitize the newspaper once I crawled my way up to editor a few years later.
It’s not entirely a coincidence that this week, ten years after all that, I sent some emails to a couple friends and a couple editors telling them that I think I am going to take a break from “music writing” for a while. This is not the result of some fit of pique; I’ve been thinking about it for months now. And with all the stuff coming up about the tenth anniversary of Elliott Smith’s death, I was thinking about him and where I was then, and that first “real” thing I wrote, which now seems to have happened on the far side of a vast gulf. Music writing hasn’t been the core of what I “do” for years—not since I was at Paste, really, and even then it was not all I did—but for some time it was the main thing and the thing that, if anyone knew of me, they probably knew me for that. I have been described as “a music writer” more than any other kind of writer, and for some time I thought of myself primarily as one, even when I was writing (as I still do) about many other sorts of things. In part I never felt like shrugging off the title even when it seemed misapplied because it was something I had wanted for so long and for so long never thought I would actually be able to claim.
Well? What do you do?