Wednesday, 19 September 2007

cadaverine magazine url

these lovely folks have published "Reading Naked Lunch in Tokyo" so you can have a mosey on their site if you wish...
they cut the last line "when i was in tokyo i read naked lunch" rendering the title meaningless, but whatcha gonna do!
sian xx

freelance wise - articles have appeared in metro, and im currently working on one for the guardian, have recently written for DRAMA and am busy making plans so watch this space!

cadaverine magazine url

these lovely folks have published "Reading Naked Lunch in Tokyo" so you can have a mosey on their site if you wish...
they cut the last line "when i was in tokyo i read naked lunch" rendering the title meaningless, but whatcha gonna do!
sian xx

freelance wise - articles have appeared in metro, and im currently working on one for the guardian, have recently written for DRAMA and am busy making plans so watch this space!

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

ladyfest bristol 2007 - the music

this will also be appearing on the rockfeedback site, at
Ladyfest Bristol 2007

Sian Norris

After many months preparing, organising, hosting meetings and fundraisers, finding bands and artists and venues and volunteers, Ladyfest Bristol 2007 took place on the 27th August until the 2nd September, in venues all over the city.

Ladyfest launched with an exciting and diverse line up at the Cube Microplex, a venue that has become synonymous with Bristol’s DIY music and arts scene, and which was heavily involved in Bristol’s Ladyfest of 2003. The night saw the opening of one of three art exhibitions, featuring work by London illustrator Susie Hogarth and Bristol based Lady Lucy, and an installation in the ladies loos created by Ladyfest organisers Liz Payne and Emily Dawson entitled “What do you See when you look in the Mirror?”. The work was designed to get women to look at themselves and write their responses, as well as provoking response by covering the toilets in articles and collages discussing women’s relationships with their bodies.
The Launch opened with a film by Lady Lucy that tracked her skateboarding around Bristol, followed by a speaker from the Bristol Fawcett Society, a charity that raises awareness of gender issues and runs campaigns helping women and men challenge sexism in society. Then the night moved on to the music. First up was Bristol based and Ladyfest organiser Gaptooth, playing her brand of politically motivated but upbeat electro pop songs, with the help of her sampler, guitar and microphone. Gaptooth has bucket loads of presence up on stage, chatting and interacting with the audience, and her tunes are just so god damn catchy, as the perfect pop song should be. It goes deeper though, with lyrics such as ‘the right to vote, did not set you free’ (Ladykillers) and ‘send them our carpet bombs for free’ (These Machines’), Gaptooth isn’t afraid to use the stage as a platform to raise debate and provoke a reaction. And as part of a line up for a festival whose aim was to “provoke thought and discussion on gender issues”, her inclusion makes perfect sense.
Everyone sojourned to the bar for a while to drink ginseng beer and hear the stylings of DJ Blackrainbow, who specialises in “music you didn’t know you loved”; a heady mix of Asian underground, two step, drum n bass, beats from the Balkans and a host of world dance and electro music, before heading back to the auditorium for the rare and much anticipated performance of Anat Ben David.
Accompanied by exciting visuals and the original DykeRider on drums, Anat pulled out a stunning and dynamic performance. With huge and complex beats and a voice that almost assaults the audience, she commanded the stage. Her songs are witty and angry and demanding. Visuals included her duetting with herself on the “things I can’t give you are useful, things that I can…aren’t!” – a defiantly feminist record about how women’s “usefulness” is valued, particularly in terms of her lesbian perspective, – dancing in gaffa tape (reminiscent of my favourite Chicks on Speed track!), and joined by multiple Anats on the screen to sing “We’re having a good time”. Anat Ben David doesn’t do solo shows very often so not only was it an exciting performance, it was a privilege to see her.

Tuesday hosted Ladyfest Totally Unplugged at the Lansdowne Pub in Clifton. No amps, no speakers, this was a night for women, their voices and their guitars. Lacuna was first on the line up, melodic voice singing about nostalgia. She was followed by Poppy, whose nasal twang and chatty lyrics are completely captivating, singing about tea and biscuits with a knowing look to her audience. Rasha Shaheen pulled out her ukulele to give a brilliant performance. I would go so far to say that Rasha is one of the best female performers in Bristol right now, with songs taking us from Saudi Arabia to Bristol’s Montpelier. Her voice is just sublime, lilting and seductive whilst still having a great power behind it that brings up the hairs on your neck and completely hits your emotions. “Fingers” is her stand out track for me; it encapsulates so much desire and longing, whilst being so simple in its execution.

Ladyfest aimed to cover as many aspects of women in music as possible, from electro and folk on Monday and Tuesday, to punk and riot grrl at the Ladyfest Mix Tape. The night opened with the debut gig of Blue Tobias, a female two piece with keyboards and vocals. For a first gig they were polished and received an enthusiastic reception, with nice use of samples and harmonising, singing about Dick Van Dyke – excellent! They were followed by Shut up Sonya in a balaclava, who mixes hip hop and riot grrl to sing eclectic and energetic tracks about cheese on toast, chavs, friends, anxiety and shoplifting. Drunk Granny and Venus Bogardus brought a punkier element to the proceedings, with loud guitars and a brash stage presence that got the crowd dancing.

I missed the Lipstick Live show at the Louisiana which featured The Mentalists, Manic Cough, Colliding Lemons and the Panther Girls, and Girl Wonder’s Reggae Special, as I was attending Zuleika Ziegfield’s Cabaret of Curiosities and another performance from Rasha, so next up on the musical line up was Ladyfest Live at the Thekla on the Saturday. Bath based Hysterical Injury was on first, and was brilliant. Really fresh sounding, a hint of PJ Harvey, quite stripped down (the band has three members, guitar, bass and drums) but with influences from a range of genres, hints of electronica and bass driven sounds, to create an overall effect that lifted it from your average grunge rock affair.
Corey Orbison are Ladyfest Bristol alumni and have been playing here and there on the Bristol scene for the last few years, band members Mike, Lisa and Irene (formerly of Lesbo Pig) familiar faces to people who hang out in CafĂ© Kino and the Cube. They take their music back to the routes of punk and riot grrl, high pitched shouting vocals from Michael, whilst Lisa completely bangs it out on the drums – they are confrontational and loud and demand the audience’s response. They aren’t for the fainthearted, and their songs have a clear political motivation that was delineated by Michael’s speech about his place in feminism, and how the band want men and women to come together and support one another as feminists, instead of hurting each other, as is so often the case.
The gig’s headliners, London based 586, have been compared to Art Brut and Arcade Fire. Although I didn’t get the last reference (because there are girls in the band?) they were brilliant. Red lipsticked and feisty lead singer Deborah amazed by playing synth, violin, melodica and percussion, whilst her absolutely lovely voice, accompanied by Steve’s, belted out songs about money and monkeys, small town living and paranoia, mixed with “disco dilemmas and punk politics”. Kind of nu rave with the use of synths and sampling, but still resisting categorisation, the five piece of Deborah, Steve, Simon, Grant and Samantha are fun, brash, loud and exciting and about to start touring with the Soho Dolls.
The Thekla gig was supported by Ladyfest Socialism with organisers Chicks with Decks playing their brand of riot grrl, indie and electro – basically spinning all the tunes they like to play, followed by Tight Fit, who got me dancing to BOB by Outkast – fantastic track!

So there you have it, a whistle stop tour through the musical delights of Ladyfest Bristol 2007. It wasn’t just the music though, the festival comprised of craft, singing and feminist workshops, and Open Day at the Feminist Archive South, storytelling and spoken word events, debates, three art exhibitions and a children’s Mad Hatter’s Tea party. “We wanted to make a festival that everyone could enjoy, with a diverse and accessible programme that was open to everyone,” explained the organisers. “And we think we succeeded.”

Saturday, 15 September 2007

debbie, my heart is yours

my boy and i were talking about debbie harry last night.
ok, so it is a bit of a cliche to love her right now i guess, with her being lauded by all the magazines that i hate as a style icon, a photo of her and her luscious lips below those shocking cheekbones plastered next to a photo of mischa barton wearing aviators, "because blondie wears them". but i don't care, i've loved her for a while and i keep loving her now.
maybe it is because i grew up loving madonna. so yeah, she was a solo artist, but like debbie they were both women with brash confident sexualites that pandered to no kind of shit and was just them, being women, being sexy, doing what they did best. ive had this madonna argument a lot, with people telling me that madonna and her sexuality wasn't empowering, it was pandering to men's fantasies and i shouldn't get wound up by the pussycat dolls and girls aloud, and then say madonna is empowering.
which is a load of bullshit. i just flat out don't believe that madonna or debbie harry were pandering to male fantasies. because their whole sexuality seems to me to be based on themselves as women, celebrating their sexiness, celebrating the fact that they are comfortable in their bodies and not trying to impress anyone. debbie was hot in a baggy black t shirt, no make up and a relaxed attitude. pussycat dolls are desperate in an attempt to live out a fantasy that completely ignores being natural. debbie was a natural.
she doesn't have a strong voice (altho, stronger now than before) but she belts out a song like she fucking means it. and we forget how revolutionnary it was to have a GIRL singing in a male rock band. there still aren't that many out there. she brought a luscious femininity to rock music, she made it playful, and poignant, and fun. but without compromising on quality.
and she was so stylish.
you read interviews now and you realise what a strong woman debbie is. she forged a place for herself in a man's world and she worked her arse off to get to the position she's in, and you get the feeling that this is a lady who has had shit thrown at her, and never took it. take when she came back with blondie and "maria" and was criticised for putting on some weight. who gives a fuck, she looked great and she could sing good tunes, i didn't hear anyone saying the band were looking quite grizzly. did she care? no, she just made the album a success. or the crit she got for having been a bunny; when we don't criticse men for the fact that they still buy playboy and still fetishize bunnies (what IS that? rabbits? it isn't like men use the rampant one...), instead of yelling at a successful woman for being a bunny, why don't we yell at the society that commodifies women's sexuality into big eared format!
well, anyway, whatever, i love debbie harry. i think she's hot.


i really love baking right now.
am i becoming domestic?
well, when the butternut squash muffins taste that good, what does it matter?


ugh, i can't believe it is another beautiful sunny saturday and i am sat here in work. again! i seem to be working saturdays all the time! at least this is a real bona fide shift that i will get paid for this month tho. but it doesn't make me feel that much better. im sitting in last night's clothes with no make uo and my manager has just dropped off next term's weekend rota. i think, i know, i have to leave here soon.
sooo, just sitting here, just sitting here, looking for jobs. if you would like to offer me a job then call me up. i'll wear red lipstick to the office every day and work my librarian 50s hitchcock heroin chic for you.
all the jobs i want are in london but all the life (or, a good two thirds of it) i want is here in Bristol. The magazine i was just writing for are desperate for staff, and i think they'd be loads of fun to work for, but i can't leave my home. i love this city like i do a person, with a huge, all comsuming and encompassing passion for walking down its streets. i love the fact the old beautiful buildings are juxtaposed with modern monstrosities, i love the river and the dutty swans, i love being able to walk everywhere in relative safety and peace, headphones in, head up, feet bouncing over the pavements (altho, i don't love my new trainers, i miss my old gazelles) and i love seeing the people i know wave at me as i dance past them.
i can't give that up to be a fashion assistant on a magazine in the ditch.
i think i want to set up my own business, be my own fashion assistant. but i don't have any money.
so, it looks like it will just be me, sitting here, not in the sun, wishin and hopin.