OUT OF EARSHOT: DAY 3

Day three of Out of Earshot started mid-afternoon with an outdoor show. I arrived at Bannerman park with a dog named Soda and a rootbeer cherry slushee; it was a beautiful day to sit in the grass with pals and listen to music.

Sandwiched between Neil Conway and Dormitories was Renders (ON) – Kelly McMichael’s feminist electro pop project. Joined by her pal Maria Peddle (and later Claire Whitehead), they harmonized their vocals and had a captivatingly silly stage dynamic. Through dancing and high-fives, it was apparent how much fun they had playing music together, and through the lyrics of she’s badass, it was clear how meaningful Kelly’s friendships with non-men are to her.

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Photo by Krystal Morgan

Post-outdoor show, I walked downtown to get a coffee from an Out of Earshot sponser and partner, Fixed Coffee & Baking. With americano in hand, I made my way to the Eastern Edge gallery for a talk by Chris Murdoch (NS) called “Black Dots” about the history and experiences of African-Canadians/Americans in punk and hardcore music communities.

While the talk was informative as Chris traced the history of African-Canadian/American musicians in punk and hardcore, he also shared his lived experience as an African Nova Scotian listening to punk and participating in his respective community. He spoke about having to do what he called, “the racism check”, where he would have to ask whether the music he likes, likes him. He spoke about the ways in which seeing other African-Canadian/Americans participating in punk scenes encouraged him to do the same. He spoke about the alienation he felt from within both the (predominately white) punk scene and the African Nova Scotian community when he started playing in bands.

Throughout his talk he drew parallels to how womxn and trans people might also experience discrimination and alienation in music communities. Instead of the racism check, we do the sexism, misogyny, and transphobia check. We feel safer going to shows and playing on bills where other femme and gender non-conforming people have been booked. We often experience imposter syndrome participating in music communities where space is predominately taken up by cis-men.

It is so important to support local musicians in your community that are BIPoC, femme/non-binary, or identify as LGBTQIA2S+. Show up, buy their merch, book them at your shows – the more space they are given and visibility they receive, the more other marginalized folx who want to participate in music communities will feel safer to do so.

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Photo by Isobel McKenna

Meanwhile, in an alleyway nearby, a generator buzzed loudly as they set up for a sneaky punk/hardcore show – there is something special about the excitment you get for a show you anticipate will get shut down.

Worst Lay (NL) played the alleyway first. Renee Sharpe is an incredible front person; when I spoke with her for the Out of Earshot interview series, she shared with me that she’s always creating what she needs in the moment, and right now, she’s healing. Worst Lay, for her, is punk therapy. Although I was deeply impressed by her ability to repeatedly scream “destruction! love!” without breaking, I think that there was more to this performance than vocal stamina – it’s about surviving.

worst lay

Photo by Isobel McKenna

DOXX (ON) followed their set and as I was disappointed to have missed their set the previous night, I was thrilled to have a second chance to see their set. Stephanie Muise (“smuise”) wrote about their set the night before, “this was the first time DOXX played in Newfoundland and you can tell that it won’t be their last – they were the talk of the town”. She wasn’t wrong – Newfoundland loves DOXX. Everyone showed up again with a kind of excitement as if they hadn’t seen them the night before. They delivered what I assume was a set just as loud and fast as the night before; twice (maybe three times) Jess Barry (yee grlz) had to run in to pick up the crash cymbal that made it off of its stand.

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Photo by Isobel McKenna

The generator powered down and everyone in the alleyway started to clear out; the late and final Out of Earshot show was up the street at Republic. Here we saw Conditioner, Hard Ticket, Doffing, and Surveillance.

Hard Ticket (NL) received a lot of warmth and support during their set as beloved member Meg Harnum (drums) is moving to Montreal and they won’t be playing a show together for awhile. While the support largely came from the crowd (you should have seen the bootleg Hard Ticket shirts Nicole’s (vocals/bass) parents made for themselves!!), much of the support was internal. This is a band that very obviously cares for and supports each other unconditionally.

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Photo by Isobel McKenna

As the final show of the festival came to a close there were many big feelings being tossed around. The organizers (Jess Barry, Sarah Harris, Nicole Boggan, Pepa Chan, Robin Follett, Riley Pike (they/them), Nicole Squires, Becky Gibson, and Maria Peddle) were celebrating an inaugural festival that went beyond just going well logistically. Between sharing and eating food together, supplying water bottles and phone chargers, having naloxone kits on hand, never turning anyone away for lack of funds, having both all ages and bar shows, providing accessibility information, and being some of the kindest folx I’ve ever met, they successfully created a positive, safe, inclusive, and supportive environment for artists and attendees.

❤ ❤ ❤


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A. Basset

OUT OF EARSHOT: DAY 2

I woke up on Friday morning and knew something was wrong. Despite my intention of making it out to every show, reading, and dinner, a stomach flu kept me home that day. Although I regrettably missed Amery Sandford and Pepa Chans zine making workshop, readings by Heather Nolan and Violet Drake, and sets by Emo Pope, Syngja, Blunt Chunks, Eastern Owl, Ritual Frames, Doxx, Frail Hands, and Yee Grlz, I was lucky enough to have some kind pals write about and photograph some of them for me.

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Violet Drake took cool command of the room at Broken Books. Though she tackled difficult topics such as violence, sexual assault, alienation, and dysphoria, she addressed the crowd with a certain gentleness. Her poetry was heavy, impactful, important. You could feel the weight of it in the room. For me, the most powerful aspect was how she brought her characters to life with their accented Newfoundland voices. These voices drew soft giggles from the crowd, yet they spoke harsh realities of judgement and ignorance, reminding me of every “it’s only a joke b’y” I’ve ever heard. Violet’s poetry is rooted firmly in Newfoundland soil, but it is not afraid to dig up a little dirt.


GUEST CONTRIBUTION: Samantha Fitzpatrick

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After hiking up Signal Hill and eating tacos at the Eastern Edge gallery, I headed to The Republic to see the late show for Out of Earshot day 2.

Yee Grlz (NFLD) started their set with my absolute favourite track who’s protecting who. They played all the songs from their new EP mercury retrograde, which should be added to your end of summer playlist immediately. Catherine Roberge also introduced their song imposter syndrome by saying “This song is about thinking and worrying you won’t be good at something but then doing it anyways – it’s about saying fuck it and having fun with your friends!”, a sentiment Chris Murdoch later echoed during his presentation Black Dots on Day 3.

yee grlz

Photo by Isobel McKenna

Frail Hands (HFX) played next – opening up with the song image of you from their newest split with Ghost Spirit (CA). This was the tightest set I’ve ever seen Frail Hands play. It’s rare to see a skramz band playing a punk festival but this is the perfect example of the inclusive and diverse nature of Out of Earshot. My favorite part of the set was at the end when vocalist Dawn parted the crowd like a sea and took up the space she needed for their final and most emotional track every volatile thing.

frail hands

Photo by Isobel McKenna

DOXX (OTT) closed the show and played the absolute ripper of a song STAB RISK from their most recent EP. At this point all the dominion beer was sold out at the bar which could possibly explain why I don’t remember the exact order of their setlist. This was the first time DOXX played in Newfoundland and you can tell that it won’t be their last – they were the talk of the town. Their set left me wondering how music so mean (see: chain) can come from the sweetest people you’ll ever meet.

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Photo by Isobel McKenna

VOLUNTEER CONTRIBUTION: Stephanie Muise (“smuise”)

OUT OF EARSHOT: DAY 1

I arrived in St. John’s on Thursday afternoon with a few hours to spare before the first events for Out of Earshot. It wasn’t supposed to rain, but it started to drizzle as I made my way to Eastern Edge Gallery for the artist dinner and first show of the festival.

I met so many kind and wonderful organizers, performers, artists, and friends of friends as I ate my (delicious) tofu burger. It was quickly obvious that the organizers of Out of Earshot were attentive to creating a supportive, comfortable, inclusive, and safe environment.

Nicole, from Hard Ticket, was hosting the first event. With Amery Sandford’s (BBQT/Baby Bunny) installation behind her, she took the stage to acknowledge the land, review the code of conduct, thank everyone involved, and introduce the first act of the first show – Hopscotch.

Hopscotch (NL) is a trumpet, bass, and drum trio that captured my attention because of the way they play with volume and space. Many of their songs started quiet with a lot of empty space, and as the song progressed they filled that space through dynamics and added percussion pieces. It was dramatic in a way that inspired me.

Claire Whitehead (TO) followed Hopscotch and gave another dramatic performance. Half of her set was her solo project, called Claire de la Loopa, where she used her loop pedal to build up her songs using violin and guitar. I felt lucky, in a way, to be there and bear witness to the way she creates music.

Closing the Eastern Edge show was Baby Bunny (NL), also known as BBQT (QC), but with members Sarah and Noah. Although it was so sweet seeing Amery bounce around with her art installation behind her while wearing the custom guitar strap she made for herself, my favourite part of any Baby Bunny/BBQT set is the way Allison sings along while playing drums.

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Photo by Krystal Morgan

Following Eastern Edge, I walked up to Water St. to get to The Ship for the late show with Lo Siento (NL), Property (NL), Rabies (NS), and Laps (QC).

Lo Siento started as soon as I had arrived. Pepa Chan, a musician and artist, was playing between two of her installations of soft plushy toys strung up to the ceiling from the floor. My favourite part of this set was when everyone shouted “no! no! no! no!” along with Pepa during No Tengo Remedio.

Following Lo Siento was another local band, Property. It was during this set, specifically during a song about St. John’s, that I recognized how supportive St. John’s is of their local music scene. They showed up, wearing Property shirts, and stood as close to the stage as possible to sing along with Sarah Harris.

Rabies, from Halifax, played next. I was able to interview Rachel (guitar/vocals) prior to the festival and in this interview she explores the feelings she had before she started playing music. She wrote, “it’s so easy to feel embarrassed”, yet at this show she took the center of the stage and played with confidence that assured us she belonged there.

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Photo by Krystal Morgan

The first day of Out of Earshot came to a close with Laps (QC). Although, quite honestly, I couldn’t make it to the end of the night because I was coming down with a flu, I was able to see Laps earlier this week in Halifax. Stephanie Muise (“smuise”), who was at their show at The Ship said, “their sharp tone and chaotic riffs reminded me of North of America; they proved that math rock is very much alive and well“.


STAFF CONTRIBUTION: Nikki A. Basset

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.

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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.

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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.