SHOW: BLEEP IN THE DARK (11/16)

Take a nice deep breath, hold it close to your heart and let it go, quietly, as if it were a whisper. Gently let your eyelids fall over your eyes and with each deep breath shift your intentions and focus to your ears. Listen hard and inquisitively to your surroundings, these noises are a symphony. Or at least a goofy rag-tag jug band.

Listening is an exercise of patience, of discovery, of curiosity, and sometimes we need a special place to listen where there are few distractions and whole soundscapes, worlds, and journeys to hear.

Danielle Jakubiak, an accredited music therapist with Masters degrees in Music Therapy and Ethnomusicology and one of the four organizers of Bleep in the Dark, understands the importance of creating these special spaces to listen intently. not your boys club sat down with Danielle to talk all things noise, darkness, and the importance of uplifting femme+non-binary noisemakers.

danielle

Danielle Jakubiak
Photo by Alex Pearson

Bleep in the Dark is a live experimental music event experienced in darkness that graces the foggy shore of K’jipuktuk but three times a year. This upcoming event, their final event for the year, will be featuring solely femme and non-binary performers. Danielle highlighted why she thinks this is important through anecdote and ambition.

Danielle was a live sound engineer in Montreal where she often experienced men talking down to her and discrediting her vast knowledge and skills on the basis of her gender – going so far as to blame the mistakes of others on her. In response to this, Danielle wants to create and give space to femme+non-binary people to access, learn, and play with electronics, sound, and noise and take a more comfortable step into performing experimental music of all kinds. Empowering new musicians who experience marginalization is one thing Danielle is always keeping on her mind.

~ A space for anyone to test the water ~

And test the water they do! Bleep in the Dark has provided a platform for many people to not only play their experimental noises for a crowd, but a crowd that they do not even need to look at or be seen by. The darkness creates a shroud that lies gently over and eases the worries of being seen when performing and gives a bolstered sense of importance to the sounds and textures created.

The range of sounds at the upcoming Bleep in the Dark features performances from some new, and some returning, musicians all varying in their scope of experimentation; Layia (Alyson Randles) combines personal field recordings with ambient layers of live vocals and instruments; Possible Williams (Jess Talbot) focuses on ethereal synth loops, sad teenage poetry and ASMR lightness smooshed into sound; Multiples (Anne-Sophie Vallée) constructs lyrical disquieting pop soundscapes through saturated cycles of rhythmic vocals; Amy Brandon who has written award winning contemporary choral, chamber, orchestral and acousmatic works; and finally, Hosta (Kayla Stevens), a noise/drone project that uses electronics and samples from the world around her. While the darkness is intimidating to many – worry not! The darkness will be punctuated by Jess Lewis (visuals) and DJ OS who will be providing tunes to snack, mingle, stretch, and decompress to in between the performances.

bleep in the dark ig.jpg

This event is held to raise funds for CKDU 88.1 FM, and is supported by Obsolete Records, Bromoc Printing, and Glitter Bean Cafe. Make sure to support these local businesses that are helping to incubate experimental art in K’jipuktuk.


Contribution by: Kelly

OUT OF EARSHOT: INTERVIEW #6 – SOF FROM DOXX

As part of the media coverage for Out of Earshot’s inaugural festival on the weekend of August 23-25, 2018, not your boys club will be showcasing some of the truly wonderful people organizing, playing, and performing at the festival in the weeks leading up to it.

For the final interview in this series, I spoke with Sof (she/her) who does vocals for the hardcore band DOXX. She’s a student, bartender, and musician born in Irkutsk, Russia and based out of Ottawa, ON.

sof doxx.jpg

Photo by Aidan Thatcher

How long has DOXX been making music music and how did everyone meet each other?

DOXX has been making music for about 2.5 years now. I met Britt (guitar) early 2014 when she was a TA in one of my first year gender studies classes at the University of Ottawa and we would see each other at shows in Ottawa here and there. Kieran (drums) and Britt are partners and they formed what was supposed to be a one-off show hardcore band with Jeff (bass) for a show Jeff was booking in I believe March 2016. Originally Britt was gonna be doing guitar and vocals but then it was like, no, this music is too fast to do both – who should we ask to front this band? Britt reached out to me because i would go off in the front row of the audience at every show but had never been in a band. We didn’t know each other super well at that point but I’m so glad they did because now Britt is my #1 ride or die. And I guess it was just too fun to let it go after one show. The rest of my bandmates are pretty much born and raised in Ottawa and so have known each other for much longer than they’ve known me. But we’re tight. I’m the baby of the band.

Were the issues that you sing about (capitalism, white supremacy, heteronormativity, etc.) what inspired the formation of this band?

I would say a heavy love of hardcore punk is what inspired the formation of DOXX, but these issues you mention are important to me/us generally, so naturally that’s what I end up writing lyrics about. I think it’s sick both if someone starts into doxx because they like our sound and then later get something from the lyrics, or vice versa if they’re really into our “”message”” initially and maybe later get more into hardcore and punk because it’s like, oh i actually really like this style of music and it’s not just all angry violent men yelling about “brotherhood” – maybe this music can be for me? The conversation about representation and politicization is interesting and definitely complicated. I put “”message”” in those quotes above because I don’t really think there’s one distinct message I’m aiming to convey with my lyrics…much like, you know, humans in general, there’s a lot going on in my brain and heart…some of it is contradictory, some of it is political, some of it is about my relationships, some of it is sarcastic, some of it is real serious and affecting, but for sure it is still very personal. Sometimes I feel my lyrics are over-analyzed, almost scrutinized, because of how my identity is perceived. It has made me more hesitant to define myself or our music in explicit ways. We’ve been criticized in the past for not being “queer enough” to call ourselves queer punk(s)…I don’t really know what to say to that. Ask my girlfriend. Actually, don’t. I don’t owe nobody shit, leave us alone (lol). Ultimately, I have some shit to say but also ya girl just loves a breakdown, you know? A decent amount of my favourite punk and hardcore bands maybe weren’t intended to resonate with me and my particular experience of life as a young woman…but somehow they do…but maybe if I went to see one of those bands live I wouldn’t feel totally welcome in the space. Like I said, it’s complicated. I guess the best thing about being in doxx is that i’m able to just say fuck it and take that space for myself and others like me, and I think that was definitely at the heart of the formation of the band.

Do you feel like there is a shift in which bands/individuals are given space in the Ottawa music community?

Yes absolutely! I like to think of this kind of growth as a tension between “being given” space and “taking” space – a mix of personal agency and community support that facilitates the status quo being challenged and shifted. There are many older and more established community members in Ottawa (even some cis white men, lol) who are unfailingly encouraging and helpful and recognize that making active efforts for the inclusion of marginalized folks not only makes our community more vibrant and fun but is just like…the right thing to do. For example, my bandmates, who reached out to me to front DOXX even though I had never been in a band before. There are also hella young/queer/trans/POC folks pushing more established community members to complicate how they understand the world and the scene. Both groups are valuable and sick as fuck and strengthen community. At the same time, there will always be those shitheads who are more about their own egos than community building and helping others learn – that’s fine. It’s obvious to me that that kind of attitude comes from a place of bitterness and insecurity and they will eventually become irrelevant and for damn sure aren’t having as much fun as we are.

Empowering femme and non-binary people to participate and take up space in their respective music communities is really important to not your boys club and so I was thrilled to read in an interview that you put out a zine with Britt for femme and queer youth on how to start a band. What would you say was the most important (or the overarching) message you were trying to communicate?

Most important message: starting a band is probably easier than you think! Just do it! If you have questions about resources reach out to us!

Are there any femme and queer folx in your community making music that you would like to give a shout out to?

Yessssss:

TORPOR

TIGHTLIP

SAILOR JUPITER

Sailor jupiter sadly doesn’t exist anymore but are probably my favourite Ottawa band ever.

OMERTA

BONNIE DOON

OUT OF EARSHOT: INTERVIEW #5 – MEG HARNUM

As part of the media coverage for Out of Earshot’s inaugural festival on the weekend of August 23-25, 2018, not your boys club will be showcasing some of the truly wonderful people organizing, playing, and performing at the festival in the weeks leading up to it.

For the fifth installment in this interview series, I spoke with Meg Harnum (she/her), a musician/artist from St. John’s, NL. Meg has been playing drums in bands for over ten years (The Mudflowers, Punch Table, Hard Ticket, Thelma and Louise to name a few) and has been a drum instructor and band coach at Girls Rock NL for the past three years. In July, Meg was invited to Ojai, California where she was a drum instructor and band coach at Girls Rock Santa Barbara. Meg along with her partner and her two cats, Nanny and Poppy, will be temporarily relocating to Montreal for school at the end of August.

meghan harnum.jpeg
Photo by Shabnam Ferdowsi

Hard Ticket recently put out Same Pal – an EP about friends with shared lived experiences that can relate and offer support during personal hardship and struggle. As it’s an album about friendship, I first want to ask you about when you met Nicole and Mopey, and how the members of Hard Ticket offer each other the kind of support and friendship that this album is about.

I don’t remember exactly when or where I met Nicole and Mopey; St. John’s is a very small city and often living here you know of people long before you really ~know~ them but I am so eternally grateful that I did (meet them). Hard Ticket is like a family, we all offer each other a ton of support and love one another unconditionally and without judgement.

The year or so leading up to the time that Hard Ticket was formed, I was in a bit of a musical slump, full of self-doubt and unsure of my place in the music community. Then along came my Tickies, so upbeat, so posi, so full of love and light and encouragement and it made me feel so much better about everything. It lifted my spirits in a way that only they could.

In April, you put out a two-song EP under your solo project scrambled meggz. One of these songs, 2 little lazy eyes, is a song about friendship with Pepa Chan (of Lo Siento and Ribbon Tied). You sing about how she inspires you – I’m wondering if you can share a little bit more about this and more broadly how other women/non-binary people in the St. John’s music community inspire, support, and empower you.

Pepa Chan is one of my favorite people on earth. She is so unbelievably kind and talented. And strange. A true freak. In the best possible way. She is bursting with creativity. Everything she does is just so distinctly ~Pepa~. She is strong and resilient and a wonderful friend. I love Pepa.

St. John’s is full of amazing women & non binary folx doing incredible things, making beautiful music/art and just, like, making shit happen. All of the board members at Girls Rock NL, SWIM, The Out of Earshot committee. I feel inspired all the time by the initiative taken by all of these rad folx to create such an inclusive community for us all to exist in. I am so thankful to be given so many opportunities to play, teach and contribute. Everyone is so supportive of everyone else’s endeavors, it is a beautiful thing.

During your time working for Girls Rock Santa Barbara and Girls Rock NL, did you experience and build similarly supportive friendships, and furthermore, did you witness these friendships being built among the girls attending the camp?

Holy heck, yes, absolutely. Teaching and band coaching at Girls Rock NL/Santa Barbara has been, at the risk of sounding totally cliche, life changing. It really has. The level of support and understanding  that each and every person I have worked with at camp provides is unbelievable, to the campers and to each other. Watching the kids at camp get to know each other and encourage each other is so absolutely heartwarming and inspiring.

On a final note, I was wondering if you would be comfortable sharing what friendships with womxn and people with other marginalized gender identities means to you.

I have been so lucky in my life to always find myself surrounded by the most bad-ass, powerful, talented women/non-binary friends and I think there is something very special about that. The constant encouragement and love from my bandmates and friends and girls rock family has made me a much stronger and more confident person. I am truly very blessed.


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A Basset

OUT OF EARSHOT: INTERVIEW #4 – VIOLET DRAKE

As part of the media coverage for Out of Earshot’s inaugural festival on the weekend of August 23-25, 2018, not your boys club will be showcasing some of the truly wonderful people organizing, playing, and performing at the festival in the weeks leading up to it.

For the fourth installment of this interview series, Samantha Fitzpatrick spoke with Violet Drake (she/her) who is a poet, graphic designer, speaker, and activist based in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Her work explores queer and trans intimacies, embodied trauma, and place-based poetics. She has engaged with academic, activist, and artistic audiences through conferences, workshops, speeches, and performances; most notably and recently as a cast member of the critically-acclaimed production ‘transVersing‘ (produced by Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland & For the Love of Learning). Her debut chapbook ‘estrogenesis‘ is forthcoming (2019).

violet drake

Photo by herself

What inspired you to apply for the Out of Earshot inaugural festival?

I think OoE’s pledge to represent emerging, DIY, and otherwise marginalized art forms is fantastic. I have an ever-growing desire to share creative pieces of my experience as a trans Newfoundlander with the world, and to meet and build connections with other artists across differences of experience and/or discipline. One very fulfilling aspect of my artistic practice is the ability to find – and to some degree begin to know – those who connect with my work, on- or offline, whether or not they are artists themselves. It helps me continue to touch and be touched by others, and moves me to keep making art, both independently and in collaboration with friends or colleagues.

You identify as an author, an artist, and an activist. How do these identities intersect in your work?

All of my creative work is informed by my entangled experiences as a writer, graphic designer, and activist. I have been writing poetry and designing digital media for over ten years, and have been visible as a local trans feminist activist for six. Both my ongoing activist labour, and the creative process that I cultivated throughout my adolescence, have led me to do things and meet people I never would have imagined as a young trans girl in rural Newfoundland. I am continuously inspired by the various forms of art with which I am engaged, the places I find myself in, as well as both the stories told and methodologies used by other artists.

Several questions consistently guide my artistic process: Why do I tell specific stories? How did I arrive within a particular moment? Who does or doesn’t have access to my work? Who is present? In this sense, both my thinking and creating are always political. In another way, I feel like I am just following the dreams of a weird 13-year-old kid that spent most of their time inside on a computer doing whatever they could with photos and words to pass the time, to make sense of their life, to dream a world of their own.

Your poem “Bookworm” presents books as safe spaces, avenues of escape but also realms of endless possibility—from Narnia to Hogwarts. It also suggests that literature can help us understand each other’s realities. How has your own writing allowed you to better understand yourself?

I wrote “Bookworm” for all of us who have used literature to cope with, and imagine futures beyond, the varied trauma of our social and political worlds. I also wrote it as a love poem to the kid who sat out during gym class with a novel in hand, and the teen who found the strength within the pages of their introductory sociology textbook to finally come out as trans to their parents. For me, there is no greater method through which I have learned more about myself than the tangled joy of reading and writing. I have loved books since I was old enough to read, and I am forever grateful to my childhood and teen self for never ceasing to consume as many stories as their heart desired. I have always been, and am now more than ever, moved by the power of storytelling to create possibilities for both readers and writers.

I think that regardless of age, gender, class, and other markers of difference, books can be a beacon of hope for people who are struggling. Stories and theories offer us multiplicities and possibilities. They can encourage us to enter a world beyond the chaos and violence of our lives. We can also find ourselves in the stories we read, and recognize our strength and courage to face our world beyond paper with a willingness to make it better – to imagine, think, and desire otherwise.

In a previous interview (Rogers TV), you talk about poetry being a way to “facilitate connection” (4:13).  How does your work help connect people?

When I write and perform, I think about the vulnerability and intimacy I share with an audience – whether that includes those who engage with my work on the written page, or those who hear my voice shift and see my body move during a reading or performance. Poetry is an art form I use to both create and sustain an emotional bridge between my life history and an audience with whom I bear witness. I can only hope that new thoughts, feelings, and/or experiences arise in our convergence. In this vein, I see my work as a tool to foster connection between not only an audience and me, but also those present in the lives of anyone my work touches.            

Daze Jefferies referenced your work in a recent article, “Crossing Lost Ends: Writing Trans Women’s Histories in Newfoundland and Labrador” (WORD 29.2 Spring 2018), suggesting that it was helping contribute to the beginnings of the documentation of “trans [Newfoundland and Labrador] women’s lives” (p. 10). What are your own thoughts on trans representation within our province’s cultural spaces, literary or otherwise?

I think that trans representation in Newfoundland and Labrador is never simple. It is complicated by the long-gendered politics of archival documentation that re-member only a handful of (patriarchal) lives. Subsequently, the stories of many people in our province – including cis women, as well as Indigenous, working class, and queer and trans communities – have been lost over time. The creative work that Daze and I produce is absolutely informed by Viviane Namaste’s extensive research on trans archival invisibility (see her 2000 book Invisible Lives).

There is an enormous and irreparable erasure of trans people, especially trans women, from the historical record of this province. Do I think our invisibility is intentional? Not outright, but our archival absences speak to the power and reach of cisnormativity across both space and time. The erasure of NL trans history must be understood as a particular kind of trauma that has consequences for generations of trans people with and beyond us right now. This is why, as Daze argues in “Crossing Lost Ends”, that it is so important for trans women in our province to make our lives visible when we feel emotionally prepared and resilient enough to do so. As we inscribe our histories in our own words and on our own creative terms, we can begin to remediate archival anxieties and trauma.                

Acknowledging how we are ruptured in place and time is just one way for us to meet this hurt and answer to it. When Daze says that trans women in NL are “situated within torn cartographies” (10), she means that all of us are trying to find just where and how we belong in a province with very little visible trans history. If our historical lives were ever written here, they are on a missing page torn from a precious book. That is why trans art, writing, and performance matter. Ultimately, I share my art because I want to make it easier for young trans people here to understand that they are not alone. I want others to find solace in my work. Beginning to stitch together a comforting quilt of trans histories and temporalities is a crucial part of our communal healing, no matter how torn the edges of its patchwork appear. I must stress that this is a deeply personal and political project for both trans communities and the people who love and live alongside us.

You’ve been involved in lots of exciting projects lately, including performing in and, soon, being published with transVersing. Would you care to talk a bit more about that and any other arts-based projects you may be working?

I am certainly ecstatic to find myself working in different artistic spaces throughout the province, my favourite of course being the opportunity to work with my transVersing family. I am honoured and privileged to be a part of the ground-breaking force that is transVersing – a project that further pushes theatrical boundaries in NL by showcasing the talents of trans youth.

Outside of the transVersing world, I am sharing some of my poetry on Aug 14 at Ask Me About My Feminist Agenda, an open mic night organized by local feminist company Persistence Theatre. You can also look for my poetry display at the local feminist art show Feminisms {Re}Framed taking place between Aug 24-6 at St. Michael’s Printshop.

Further, I am currently completing my debut chapbook, estrogenesis, with a publication date sometime in the near future. It is the brainchild of my past four years of living-growing-being, and I can’t wait to share it with the world.

What can an audience expect of your performance at Out of Earshot?

Expect an invitation to learn more about what it means to live, love, grow, and exist as trans in this province through poetry. My poetry can be emotionally challenging, but it showcases my absolute truth. I want the audience to connect with me, unfold with me, and gain insight about my life and work. I hope to conjure questions, sate curiosities, and create possibilities for all of us to begin to imagine and design a world that is more uplifting for trans and gender non- conforming communities.


GUEST CONTRIBUTION: Samantha Fitzpatrick (she/her) is an arts administrator, writer, and avid volunteer. Her poetry has been published nation-wide in magazines, journals, and anthologies.

OUT OF EARSHOT: INTERVIEW #3 – RACHEL FROM RABIES/SURVEILLANCE

As part of the media coverage for Out of Earshot’s inaugural festival on the weekend of August 23-25, 2018, not your boys club will be showcasing some of the truly wonderful people organizing, playing, and performing at the festival in the weeks leading up to it.

For the third interview in this series, I spoke with Rachel (she/her) from Rabies (vocals/guitar) and Surveillance (vocals/bass). Originally from rural Ontario, where she grew up on her family’s farm, she is now living in K’jipuktuk (Halifax, NS).

rachel rabies.jpeg

Photo by herself

I’m curious about your initial introduction to playing and writing music. What inspired you to start making music?

Both my dad and brother are talented bluegrass guitar players and many of my family members are musicians or music fans, so music has always been a big part of my life. As a teen, I went to a lot of shows and always wanted to perform and play in a band, but I had no idea how to get started. I played acoustic guitar a little bit (my brother and dad had helped me learn some chords) but I was mostly playing Tegan and Sara covers secretly in my room, and playing in a band seemed impossible. I thought it was an impenetrable world to me and I was too embarrassed to admit that I wanted to participate.

When I got a little older, I continued to go to shows and my desire to play didn’t fade away. I spent a lot of time talking about this with my partner Dave (guitar in Surveillance/drums in Rabies), who had been playing music since we were teenagers. Together we worked through a lot of the complex feelings and emotions we had around playing music and everything that was holding us back from being creative.

He supported me, and helped me push through my fears, and together we started the band Surveillance when I was in my mid twenties. He really wanted me to have a bass because I could play it just one note at a time so he got one for me for about $80 on Kijiji. Dave had a few songs already written that he had imagined playing in a band, so I learned those songs on the bass and we practiced them together in our apartment.

We have a broken “Fender Jam” amp with a really distorted setting and I loved playing my bass through it – the distortion covered up my mistakes, and it just sounded big and bad in a way that I really liked. I’d practice the songs that he’d written, and we’d also have “Free Jams” where we would encourage one another to stop worrying and just play.

Dave and I did work on some songs together in our early days, but I don’t exactly remember how I started writing songs on my own. I was practicing alone pretty often and I would just hear combinations of notes that I liked, and sing over it. Sometimes because singing and playing at the same time was too hard, I’d open GarageBand on my computer and record the bass line, and then sing over the recording. I added different tracks, and would just experiment by making demos. I think the first song I ever wrote for Surveillance on my own was, “Bud” and I remember playing the demo I’d made for Dave when he got home from work. He was just so excited – he has always been my biggest fan. The encouragement really motivated me and eventually I figured out on my own that I love writing songs, but it was really hard not to feel self-conscious. Over time I became used to the idea that I was a songwriter, but I am still working on building my confidence as an artist.

I eventually started playing guitar through the same distorted “Fender Jam” amp, and I picked up my guitar everyday single day for a really long time – practice has always been really important to me. I still don’t have a lot of technical knowledge and I think that is my next step – learning the names of the chords and notes that I’ve been playing for years. Doing it kind of backwards has really worked for me.

So, now that you’ve broken through a world you once felt was impenetrable, what would you say to youth that feel the same way that you did when you were a teen?

I think for anyone who wants to play music – whether they’re young or old – the best thing you can do is just try. Get your hands on some cheap gear and get started. It used to drive me bonkers when people said this to me, because I felt so vulnerable and confused, and starting from scratch is extremely hard. It’s so easy to feel embarrassed. When I found a way to practice that felt okay, and found some like minded people who made me feel empowered, I was able to actually visualise myself playing in a band. If you can’t find those people in real life, look to musicians and bands that you love. Explore the world of musicians and their history – there are a lot of inspirational stories out there.

It’s also really important to find a way to enjoy playing because there is no way around it – you have to practice. So experiment, and find a way that works for you – whether it’s learning covers, trying to play along to songs you love, taking lessons, jamming with friends, writing serious or silly songs, or just slamming on your instrument to make noise – just find something that feels right and keep it up.

And remember that anyone who tells you, or implies to you, that you’re not good enough, they’re wrong!

I read on the tumblr page that Rabies started as solo project, and later developed into a band – can you tell me a little bit about the formation of Rabies?

I can barely remember how Rabies started, even though it was only about three years ago. At the time in my life (my early/mid twenties) I was feeling pretty down. I tend to having really strong feelings about things in general, but I really only like sharing that side of myself with people that I trust. I’ve always been very private. I felt that through music I could express some of those feelings in a theatrical, kind of overblown way.

My songs aren’t typically overtly political, but they are usually written about my general confusion about the world, and informed by my feminist perspective. And you know, over time my feelings have grown and changed so sometimes some of the things I wrote about in the past are not necessarily things I feel now. Some of those feelings I wrote about are still very important to me (For example, the song “Rabid” is about being a settler living on indigenous land), and others were written about certain feelings or circumstances that have since changed (For example, the song “Celtic Frost” was written when I was feeling very insular).

For most of these songs, I just wanted a different feel than we had in Surveillance, and I had written a lot of them – enough to start another project. I knew I wanted the songs to have synth so I asked one of my dearest friends and favourite people, Jeremy Costello (of Aquakultre / Glenn Copeland / Special Costello). We played as a three piece for a while and decided to add bass. We didn’t want to ask just anyone to play bass, we wanted someone who would align with our approach and asked one of our close friends whether he knew anyone that played, or wanted to play bass that could join the fold. He recommended Bria Cherise Miller, who had never played bass before, but through our practice together she has became a close friend, an incredible musician, and a very important person in our lives.

As part of the Halifax music community, do you feel like it’s been an inclusive and supportive experience? Are there ways in which you feel like it could improve or be safer?

I can’t speak for the Halifax music community as a whole. I have witnessed and experienced various levels of inclusion and support, and over time an awareness of inequality and prejudice in the scene has been revealed – but this has certainly not been resolved. The scene continues to be divided, and at times deeply confusing and disheartening.

With that said, I have found, and continue to find many musicians, artists and organizations here who have helped raise myself and others up to feel included and capable (special shout out to members of the band Century Egg for being especially supportive). There is still much work to be done.

I personally believe that the best course of action to build a stronger, safer community is through direct support. Send messages of support to people who you think are doing good work, help new musicians book shows and access gear, break down the “skill” illusion, act as a mentor to people who are learning, encourage people to open their minds to different genres of music and experimentation, talk and learn about the history of imperialism, racism and sexism in music, question the sketchy bands and dudes and people, and try to create show line-ups that are actually good – not just based on who your friends are.

Outside of music, are there any other community involvements you participate in that empowers marginalized or vulnerable people (whether intentional or not)?

Over the years I have worked and volunteered for a number of community driven initiatives and organizations aiming to support marginalized communities, however I feel that the most impactful work that I’ve done has been in my personal education, and in the relationships and friendships I choose to foster and grow.

OUT OF EARSHOT: INTERVIEW #2 – RENEE SHARPE

As part of the media coverage for Out of Earshot’s inaugural festival on the weekend of August 23-25, 2018, not your boys club will be showcasing some of the truly wonderful people organizing, playing, and performing at the festival in the weeks leading up to it.

For the second interview in this series, I spoke with Renee Sharpe (she/her), a long-time feminist punker living in St. John’s and singing in Worst Lay. Her active role in the community starts from a place of creating what she needs and inviting other marginalized people into the space who may need it too.

worst lay 2

Worst Lay

I want to start this interview by asking about your introduction to playing music and participating in the music community, specifically the punk scene.

I’ve been in playing in punk bands since I was a kid, and I’m 36 now. It’s been my favourite way to hang out with my friends and write lyrics that are true to the specific community building I’m interested in at that moment. As a long-time feminist punker, it’s always been my focus to create spaces that are kind of like “yo, you are welcome here if you are into anti-oppression frameworks” from within in the punk scene. My favourite way to do that has been to play in bands and invite people to play in bands with me; I take whatever is upsetting me in the moment and I get real loud about it. I’m a loud kind of woman, and I’m usually the one with the mic. Punk is one of the ways that I can have the mic in the community, and give the mic to others who are pretty under-represented. Punk is definitely not my defining point in life, and it holds less and less importance to me. It is a youth subculture that gets on my nerves, but I do find myself sticking around chasing that feeling that only a ripping band with friends can give you.

Can you share a little bit about the formation and origins of Worst Lay?

Worst Lay came from feeling pretty isolated and is one of a series of things I’m doing for myself to not feel so alone in a predominately cis male scene. So, it started as one of those things where me and my real good friend Mara were just talking about what bums us out, the darkness that we have in our gut, and just not having access to things like counselling. From this I just felt like we needed to start a punk band, but Mara has never been in a punk band, like, she’s in Hey Rosetta!, so even though she’s the biggest punker I know, she has just never been invited to be in a punk band. I told Mara that we should just make some dark noise and talk about what bums us out; it could be our healing process. We then invited our friends Pepa and Jono to start the band with us. Like anything I do, it just ended up being your typical in-your-face, short, fast, and loud punk band which is my favourite thing in the world.

I ended up singing, and I’m 36 now, but one of the lyrics is like, “I’m 35 years old / I piss in my pants / all these men / why am I still here”. I literally piss in my pants now that I’m 36 and yelling in a punk band (haha), like why am I still here, in punk? It’s still predominantly men in the scene, but for me, it’s punk therapy. That’s what the lyrics are about. It’s my favourite place, punk, it’s the easiest place for me to work from as kind of a springboard for what I care about: justice. So even though, since I was like 18, I ask myself why I am in a scene that usually disappoints me, it still gives me the freedom to do whatever I want and create the community I feel like I need at the time to heal and work against the patriarchy collectively. So, that’s been my work in punk since I was like 16. It doesn’t work and it usually disappoints, but we build community where we can get it. My community work extends far beyond punk, and I’m working more on healing and being soft these days – but I’m still here.

Where did the name Worst Lay come from?

The name Worst Lay comes from one of our songs, Candy, which acknowledges patterns in relationships that I’ve had with men where when I don’t want to fuck, they say that they would be depressed, sad, or bummed out if we don’t have sex. So then I would have sex with them to save our relationship. That’s the worst lay. It’s about consent. It’s the worst lay to have sex with someone when you don’t want to.

As an active member of the music community in St. John’s, could you describe to me ways in which the St. John’s music scene is inclusive and safe, and ways in which it, like any other city, could improve?

I lived in Montreal before I moved back home a few years ago. In Montreal, we had a very hot and inclusive scene. We were just very queer, very anarchist, very “on it”. We definitely still had lots to work on with our lack of representation, but it was the most inclusive, diverse, and supportive scene I have been apart of. We put on this thing called “Band-Off” where we would invite people from the community who wouldn’t always necessarily feel invited out to shows. People would come, we would put our names in a hat, and then that was your random band. We did that a few times and it significantly increased the amount of women, trans folx, and (ideally) other underrepresented people that would come out to our shows, pick up instruments, and play in their own bands. So I brought that home to Newfoundland. When I arrived I was looking for the women and queer folx, but with no surprise, it was my usual disappointment with the scene. I wanted to see the kind of bands that I like, and hang out with people that I can relate to, so I did a “Band-Off”. It worked. I did it a few more times, and since then, there have been so many women, queers, and politically charged freakers and ragers playing in bands and making music. It wasn’t just me, obviously, there were other groups like St John’s Womxn in Music (SWIM), Girls Rock, and now Out of Earshot. There’s still work to do – it’s still real white. There’s a lot that can be done for diversity and being inclusive without tokenizing people. It’s always about sending out that invitation, and making sure everyone feels like they are welcome if they want to come.

Finally, I wanted to ask you more broadly about the ways in which you promote a safer and more inclusive community outside of the music scene.

Totally, yeah. So, I’ve been taking Wen-Do Women’s Self Defence since 2002. My first experience with it was fucking revolutionary, and I’ve now been teaching it since 2011. From a feminist anti-oppression framework, it basically looks at the way women experience gendered violence and it starts with an acknowledgement that women can, and know how, to defend themselves. When we – by we, i mean, cis women, trans women, and gender non-conforming folx – fight back, we actually get away effectively. We are stronger and smarter than the world tells us. We talk about how to protect ourselves and support others in the community that have been targeted by bullying and harassment, have experienced sexual assault, and are in abusive relationships. Then we move forward with physical defense strategies that are made for our bodies (just as they are) that can be used against someone that wants to hurt you. This person is probably someone you know, or is someone in your community with power. We aren’t looking for that racist trope – that tall, dark, stranger in the bushes – we know that it is usually someone we know and trust who we need to defend ourselves against. It is crucial to understand the realities of our experience and name them, so we can give ourselves permission to act and get to safety. Wen-Do is an acknowledgement of this, and it’s an empowerment piece. It’s quite incredible. It’s what I do.

I also host the Renee Sharpe Show, which is my favourite thing. I invite people on – who are definitely not punk (haha) – and I celebrate them. I like celebrating people and making them feel good about themselves; I like giving them a spotlight. We just shoot the shit. It’s cool. It’s my thing.

I guess finally, I’m always trying to create what I need. I’m hosting something called Hold Space, an active-listening workshop that acknowledges how a lot of us are feeling isolated from a lack of community. Hold Space is a thing that I think can help us all figure out how to hold space for each other. I will give a short introduction on what it looks like to actually active listen and how that can feel for a lot of us that need that. The other part of it is working through how you can actually ask people to hold space for you. If you feel like no one hears you, or you (like myself) are the person in the community that everyone goes to, it can be difficult to learn how to ask for that support. It’s kind of like an exercise in community building 101 and how to better support each other. Another part of it is kind of like speed dating. We have chairs set up, we move every 5 minutes maybe, and after asking for permission to hold space, we practice active listening and accepting that support. You don’t spend that time thinking about what you are going to say to fix their problems; you just be that person for them that listens. I think it’s going to be really cool and I’m excited to try it out.


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A Basset

OUT OF EARSHOT: INTERVIEW #1 – SARAH HARRIS

As part of the media coverage for Out of Earshot’s inaugural festival on the weekend of August 23-25, 2018, not your boys club will be showcasing some of the truly wonderful people organizing, playing, and performing at the festival in the weeks leading up to it.

For the first interview in this series, I spoke with Sarah Harris (she/her), an Out of Earshot organizer whose role focuses on tech/sound and general festival coordination. She is from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and is currently a student at Memorial University studying Folklore and English.

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Sarah Harris – Photo by Lawyna Vawyna

As one of the organizers of Out of Earshot, can you first first tell me a little bit about the origins of the festival and specifically what motivated it’s formation?

From my perspective, Out of Earshot contributes to and was formed out of a wave of community-based DIY initiatives in St. John’s such as Band-Off, Girls Rock NL, St. John’s Womxn in Music, the RPM challenge, Fresh Riot, and more. Many of these initiatives were formed in response to a lack of representation in the local scene and a lack of resources and spaces available to womxn, queer, trans, and marginalized people in music and the arts. As a result of these initiatives, the past 2-3 years saw the proliferation of local bands led by and fronted by womxn, queer, trans, and marginalized people. Out of Earshot is about bringing folx and bands from other cities into this community that we’ve created so that we can showcase local bands alongside like-minded touring bands, take in new music, and learn from each others’ experiences. For touring bands, Newfoundland is certainly not an ideal tour-stop (especially when you’re booking a DIY tour) so a festival like this is really important to connect St. John’s to the larger Canadian DIY scene.

How did you get involved, and what is your involvement?

As I recall, festival organizer Jess Barry invited a whole bunch of folx from the music community to get together and chat about a prospective new summer festival. I was super stoked on it and asked to be involved! Eventually the large group dwindled and became the current organizing committee. My role for the festival itself will focus primarily on tech/sound engineering and gear coordination. In the time leading up to the festival we’ve met in our small group to discuss programming, fundraisers, code-of-conduct, and general organizational stuff. We are always learning from each other, our community, and other festivals in Canada!

Can you tell me a little bit about the ways in which Out of Earshot practices inclusivity and upholds their code of conduct?

Out of Earshot operates with both a mandate and a code of conduct in mind. Our mandate guides our programming decisions, the spaces in which we choose to hold our events, and the kind of role we aim to play in the community. We mandate to program our festival and events with diversity in mind. That means prioritizing spaces for women, non-binary-trans, and queer folx on our lineup and at our events.

Throughout the year, organizers have reached out to other community organizations to encourage broader participation in our events. In order to reach folx that may feel barriers with participating in the music scene, we try to offer a variety of fundraising events such as Clothing Swaps, Pop-up Food Stands, and Karaoke. In the interest of keeping things financially accessible, Out of Earshot offers a PWYC option at events when possible and offer free festival passes to various community organizations.

Our Code of Conduct outlines our safety and inclusion policy for conduct at our events .Out of Earshot events have a no tolerance for abuse, discrimination, or disrespect of any kind. Many of the festival organizers are involved in community work outside of the festival and some have experience and specific training in areas such as naloxone training, applied suicide intervention training, and sexual assault crisis training (peer support/active listening).

We are always learning from other festivals (OXW, Lawnya Vawnya, and Slut Island to name a few) and resources such as Project Soundcheck in order to learn do better in encouraging safer spaces. We also encourage feedback and ask anyone with any questions, concerns, or suggestions to get in touch at outofearshot.fest@gmail.com.

Are there ways in which you practice inclusivity and empower marginalized groups in your community outside of Out of Earshot?

I moved back to St. John’s in 2016 after a year in Halifax. At that time, a lot of awesome womxn run organizations were starting up and I was super eager to get involved. 2016 was the first year for Girls Rock NL, a rock camp for girls and gender non-conforming youth. I joined on as an instrument instructor that summer and have taught at the camp in subsequent years. That same year, Joanna Barker and Kate Lahey started St. John’s Womxn in Music, a community arts organization which is dedicated to prioritizing spaces for women identified, two-spirit and non-binary folk to acquire and share conceptual and technical knowledge about the music industry. Through SWIM I’ve offered workshops on home recording, guitar pedals, and live sound. Through these workshops and sessions I’ve also had the opportunity to learn from so many amazing folx from our community and from away. In 2018 I joined the board of directors of SWIM and co-presented, with Lawnya Vawnya, a workshop on multimedia performance facilitated by Maylee Todd (Toronto). Always down to share knowledge/chat/jam/troubleshoot!

What are the overarching goals and long-term plans for Out of Earshot?

Out of Earshot is an incorporated non-profit organization and we intend to build on the festival and grow each year. At the moment we’re focusing on putting off our inaugural festival to the best our ability. We intend to build a sustainable festival model and develop relationships with other music festivals and labels in Canada and really help connect St. John’s and Atlantic Canada to the larger Canadian music scene.


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A Basset