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Body Image Events Music Nottingham Uncategorized

Ugly Music by Ugly Fem/mes

Bringing a semi-recycled two-week old Facebook rant-ish into the wild. Last week, Gemma Wicks and I had a meeting with Kristy Diaz (Nasty Women, Track 7) and she brought up a similar comment. About how even in the experimental, radical, queer-friendly circles of music, arts, and media, beauty stereotypes were still perpetuated and conventionally attractive cis white women were still favoured.

A few Saturdays ago, the fabulous Steph Horak and I went to Nottingham to a field recording and production workshop facilitated by Aja Ireland aka AJA. It was held at The Malt Cross, a multi-level pub and arts centre famous for having its own sandstone cave. We played with chains, drumsticks and all sorts of obscure musical instruments on the walls and tubes of the cave, recorded some of the sounds and later went back to the classroom so AJA could show us some of the things we could do with the files on Ableton.

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She also showed us her setup. So many drone otherworldly pedals.
In the meantime, something kept bothering me. Three-quarters of the students were your average men. Most of them were asking the questions. Then almost everyone else was young and stunning, like out of a NYLON magazine fashion spread. Same with the examples of performers mentioned.

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AJA in her raw splendour. Picture by Xenia Onta.
I was drafting a long rant about how, in the noise scene, people who weren’t men happened to be conventionally attractive, white and skinny. Grimes, Pharmakon, Jenny Hval, Cosey Fanni Tutti in her hayday, Aja and Steph themselves, and that we needed more ugly fem/mes making ugly music. I was gonna say that even the Japanese sinewave queens like Sachiko M could swap clothes with the Western primitive curls and still fit in them.

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Hail Wavy Mum. Sachiko M picture by Carmen Chong.
But then it would’ve been hella hypocritical because:

  • At least this wave of noise beauties is teaching us beasts how to carry on through workshops, videos, etc. like AJA’s workshop, which I’m mega thankful for!
  • Here I am wearing one of AJA’s costumes designed by LU LA LOOP who also designs for Grimes, so even murderfats can make a murderous mess on stage and look alright at it.

lulaloop-synth

It’s just a matter of being noticed by promoters/venues/festivals/media/artists looking for openers, and not being patronised I guess? Trolololol. Like, bitch, I ain’t gonna eat your backline. I’m mostly vegetarian.

If you have any examples of “ugly” women and non-binary folx who make experimental, noisy, “ugly” music, please let me know. The closest I can think of is ANOHNI, but she doesn’t make the music – tho the audiovisual concept is hers. Her last album was produced by Oneohtrix Point Never, who is a freaking genius but yeah, show me your queer fats fiddling with pedals, plz.

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And the Oscars didn’t want dearest Toñita singing her own song at the ceremony because of course they didn’t. Picture by Rafa Rivas for AFP.

 

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