tongue in cheek and foot in mouth

Mar 9, 2019

Whateverism and New Music

Originally posted at

Whatever, I don’t care
Rantings from the inside of my head - tongue in cheek and foot in mouth

I have stuck my neck out a country mile here making up my own meaning for a word. Is that OK? Does it even matter? Whatever. I don't care.
In this article, have decided not to focus much on the strictly
political meaning of whateverism ("I will uphold whatever policy decisions the leader made, and follow whatever instructions the leader gave.”), because if you are interested in this, there is a plethora of information out there you can find easily with a quick search. I have decided to think about the idea of whateverism as an opposition to the fundamentalists and traditionalists. To do this I have chosen to think about whateversim in the context of the new music world. I could just as eas- ily chosen pop music culture as a starting block, but that would have been too easy, and I find ques- tioning new music practice much more fun.

Before I get started I would like to point out that I am being a bit of a devil’s advocate here, as I of- ten do on my blog page, however at the root of this is my opinion. Just to remind you what that means before you start needing to put your knickers back on because I am pissing you off for what- ever reason, I would like to remind you what the job of a devil’s advocate is.

devil's advocate (noun)
a person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments.

I thought I was a nothingarian, a person with no particular beliefs,
however as I also have high moral and ethical standards it seems that
I may be a follower of whateverism. Seemingly apathetic, not caring
about the consequences of my actions necessarily, but having ethical
standards yet enjoying eliciting a response. I have used the term
“whatever” repeatedly when discussing my music with others who
largely seem totally perplexed at my attitude to my creative pro-
cesses. I used to play in bands but I got bored. I also hated the way
marketeers appropriated ideas from music to make money. My music
is a big fuck you to traditionalists and marketeers. I actually make
conscious decisions about how I go about this. I am constantly break-
ing the rules about how I make my music, the sounds and the rhythms. If I could count the number of times people have given me unsolicited advice I’d need more fingers....
you could use autotune, to avoid feedback you need to.. use a metronome to keep in time... you should get a laptop and you wont need pedals, you should get Ableton... Why? So I can sound like everyone else and make notes and rhythms that feel safer and more comfortable? Well I explain that I am not interested and they usually persist to which I sometimes respond “whatever” and smile. I love to confuse people like this. It means that they have noticed that things are not quite right.

Consider this. New music these days sometimes seems like covers or interpretations of the early contemporary new music composers. Many a contemporary music academic is classically trained and has the difficult task to attempt to unlearn this in some senses to try to create new music. How- ever, from this platform and a set of beliefs that things must be done a certain way, its is difficult for such people to actually create truly new music. I have seen way too many performances of new mu- sic of the works of early new music composers, or something that emulates this, or using the same tools used by the early new music composers, such as graphic scores. Many are using laptop com- puters and live mix some sounds (probably some found sound they found somewhere). This sounds more like an electronic music producer to me than a new music composer, although the sounds used will of course determine the final result. None of these things are new anymore and are wrapped up in the notion that to be accepted that they must follow a set of rules created in the academic world for what new music is.
Another restriction in the creation of new music is the obsession to name and categorise everything. Musique concrete, microtonal, free improvisation and so on. This encourages the creation of more music of the same kind. I was recently asked to make a track for a harsh noise wall compilation, and it was emphasised that it had to be wall, not just harsh noise. Immediately I am hemmed in and so this project has come to a sudden stand still. It’s really not all that different in its function to say a country music singer songwriter writing new songs that can be recognised as belonging to that genre.
Surely new music can only be new once? Once upon a time the new music composers would have been groundbreaking and exciting. How about ignoring what acceptable notes and rhythms are? No? Whatever. Things are supposed to be in time with each other... why? Also, why do we have to document it with a score? I feel that to create truly new music a person needs to shed the restrictions of these rules (whateversim in the political sense) and state a big “whatever” to all this.
Even if a musician doesn't want to do this as a final result, why not just stop worrying about the structure of the composition and just go with your heart and feelings and see what happens? You don’t need everything to be like something else. You don't have to do everything to achieve some socially constructed measure of success. Stop thinking so much and be yourself. You just might have fun with it. If someone questions it, you can always just respond with “whatever”. 

Mar 15, 2018

PTSD is not cool

As person with PTSD I have started to question if it is currently fashionable to claim to have it. Facebook is full of CWs (content warnings) and TWs (Trigger warnings) for all sorts of things deemed possibly triggering.

I usually read these regardless and rarely do they trigger me.

This is because PTSD doesn't work that way.

I have a suspicion that people are confusing becoming upset or angered by something as a trigger.

With someone who actually has PTSD this is annoying and it certainly doesn't help someone who actually has PTSD who has a desire for people to understand what this actually is.

I was raped and beaten repeatedly over a few months by an ex, threatened with crude weapons, locked in cupboards, stalked for almost a year when I left. I am a smart woman but once in this dynamic it is very difficult to leave out of fear for worse. The perpetrator makes sure you know this. I am a very resilient person and I was strong in the face of this. What tipped me over the edge was the people that are supposed to protect me being the health professionals (psychiatrists) and police officers telling me that I was being paranoid that this person wanted to kill me who then went on to murder my mother. The court case resulted in a hung jury and then in the second court case (just imagine going through this twice) deciding he was not guilty on the grounds of insanity. The psychiatrists in question were there in court saying he was paranoid schizophrenic after telling me I was paranoid. These people released him from the mental hospital despite my begging them not to.

PTSD reared its ugly head. PTSD is the result of being unable to make sense of events and more importantly being unable to do anything about it. Feeling helpless despite what appeared to be common obvious sense.

I had been raped before and I coped by assuring myself that it was not my fault. At this point I did not have PTSD. I was just pissed off. Similarly being harassed by guys and having sex when young with people that I regretted didn't cause me this much pain that I got PTSD.

Not everyone is as resilient as me, and its true that a lesser assault can cause PTSD. People who have experienced abuse as a child will almost certainly develop PTSD and this is terribly sad.

Back to my point. Triggers are caused by different things for different people. So a warning about content, that usually reads like a news story, is not necessarily a PTSD trigger. Sure it may be upsetting, unsettling and angering.  I have no doubt of that. Being harassed at a gig or someone acting in a sexist manner or unfairness in the workplace are frustrating and wrong, but I struggle to understand how that would be the cause of PTSD. Surely people have the strength to cope despite the injustice. Maybe I am wrong and I apologise if that is the case. I would suspect something else more sinister prior would have lead  to PTSD

PTSD triggers are unpredictable or may be related. My trigger causes a full visual of my mother being stabbed. It feels like I am there and helpless to stop it.

For me it can be as simple as seeing a knife block or seeing someone that looks like my beautiful mum, or reading someone talk about how the justice and legal system is fair and good. I can watch a TV show or movie with shootings, but I can't handle knifings. I can watch serious documentaries about rape but I can't stand anything that glorifies extreme bloody violence, or see a blood splatter even in a serious show about forensics. A cowering dog really upsets me because I retrieved the family pet from the family house shortly after my mum was brutally stabbed. I saw things that no one should ever see in that house.

People from war zones, places of extreme violence, lived a life of no safe place as a child, witnessed abuse of a family member and was powerless to do anything... These things will certainly cause PTSD. Extremely powerless situations. You lose or never had the ability to change the situation.

PTSD will cause symptoms that I know very well.

I sometimes ask people that say they have PTSD about what symptoms they have. I expect to hear certain things. I know what they are. I am dismayed by how often a person who claims to have PTSD doesn't have any of the symptoms. What they do have is anger and a feeling of being violated. This is very sad, and I hope they get the life skills to cope and get on with having a better life.

I was not diagnosed with PTSD till 4 years after my mum's death, but had it well before then, and my goal ever since has been to live a full life despite. Its not easy but it can be done to some degree. It takes a ton of motivation and its well worth it. I am proud that I have not ever been a junkie, never wanted to cut myself. I have contemplated suicide. Through this I have learned when it is worth sticking up for what I believe, and I do. I have a strong sense of justice and I am outspoken. I have dedicated my life to trying to improve the quality of my life by doing that for others.

I have had two people tell me that that "its cool" or I have "hip cred" by having the experiences I have had. I was disgusted. Its not cool and hip cred is shallow.

Tonight I hope to sleep without the same dream. Tonight I sleep in a safe loving place.

Jul 29, 2017

That moment when you delete your post because you are worried about....

your job
your future job prospects
the possibility of a future fascist government
the possibility of an invasion by a fascist country
what your family might think
your travel prospects
your gig opportunities
being labelled
alienating people
how people may use it against you in future

Feb 2, 2015


"Biological hazards, also known as biohazards, refer to biological substances that pose a threat to the health of living organisms, primarily that of humans."

Well, that pretty describes my close up Biohazard experience. The only threat though was to the band member himself.

My room mate in New York was always getting asked out on dates by rock stars. This time it was some guy from Biohazard. She was freaking out about it and considered not going. Then she asked me to come along like some kind of ugly girl chaperone. I thought this was worth a laugh so off we went.

We met this guy outside the movie theatre. He was already drunk and smelly at 11am and kept trying to stick his tongue down her throat. He had a six pack of beer with him. We bought popcorn.

So in we went... and I can't even remember what the movie was. We sat down and no sooner had the movie started when we realised that he had already downed the six pack.

He passed out. We watched the movie and then we left. We left him there snoring.

I reckon if I played in this band I would have to drink myself stupid too.

Jul 17, 2012

Girly soundy stories

Having worked as a sound engineer, doing live and studio sound in the past, I have frequently been astonished by some people’s reactions to having a girl doing the job. I was never one for good behaviour at gigs and had a great time as result. As a result these stories below were always a good story to tell your mates later.
Once I was setting up a band ready to record. I got the guys in the band to set up their music gear in all the appropriate places. Turned on all the studio gear, put a fresh reel to reel tape on (yep, ‘twas some time ago). Got out all the microphones and stands and set them up. Plugging things in, lugging things around, marking up the instruments on the desk for each track for which mic it matched and so on. Once this was all completed I asked the drummer if he could go sit behind the drums and start hitting the drums so that I could do an EQ on each drum. He ignored me and the boys cracked open beers and lit up doobies. After about half an hour I asked them when they wanted to get started. The response I got was... “Shouldn’t we wait for the sound guy to show up? Maybe you should give him a call?” So I asked them who they thought I was. “Well, your boyfriend is pretty late. Tell him to hurry up.” So I told them, “I am the sound guy”. You should have seen their faces. Another time, I was doing live sound, and this “friend of the band” kept telling me to “do this” and “do that”... that I should bump up some particular frequency, quoted in numbers, on some particular instruments, and it was unrelenting. I queried him... “How do you know all this stuff?” He said he read it in some magazine. So I said, “Alright then, you do it. I am off to the loo and to get a beer.” So there I was standing at the bar watching this guy, enjoying my beer, and he was shitting in his pants. He kept moving knobs and buttons but then putting back how they were. He started looking around for me. Eventually I felt sorry enough for him to go back. “Where the hell have you been? Thank god you are back.” “Oh, I was having a beer. I figured you were an expert and knew what to do.” Sound story number three. I was mixing a very loud punkish band at a scooter club convention and the scooter girls, who prefer ska and Motown, were disturbed by the sound and volume and kept coming over and screaming at me to turn it down. So I did. I put all the faders on zero. It didn’t make two shits difference. So there I was, having a lovely time, getting screamed at again, and I started laughing my head off. I let them yell for a bit more and then showed them that everything was on zero and they couldn’t understand it. Not one bit. They just got madder at me, so off I walked to the dance floor for a bit of a sway while they stood at the desk freaking out and they came and physically dragged me back to the desk. So I literally turned it off and showed them this, but of course it was still loud as fuck. At this point they finally clicked on and left me alone. No apologies mind you. Never is when you are a soundy.

Jan 24, 2012

I like a good burlesque show, but is it art?

I ask myself this question because our local Fringe Festival has had a penchant for burlesque two years running. The first year it made sense as they had acquired the perfect venue to showcase this kind of performance but now I find myself longing for some real cutting edge confrontational art events.

So rather than delve straight into talking about burlesque I thought I would consider what is a Fringe Festival. In my mind such a festival is largely not curated and happens on the fringes of a main festival which is curated. This means that a fringe should be available to one and all, professional or amateur to participate, in any art form.

I feel it should be a platform for artists to be able to try out new and risky ideas.

So, if a Fringe Festival is largely one “art” form, then it probably is curated and not really a fringe event.

Given the open nature of fringe then burlesque should be welcome to be a part of the event, but if this is at the expense of diversity then I start to question what is going on.

As a female performer who is quite comfortable with my body and not a prude by any means, I would like to see more women involved that don’t feel the need to show some tittie in order to be involved. Or vice versa..... guys that want to simply create without feeling pressured to be a particular kind of show man.

So is burlesque art? There are a million sites that talk about the art of burlesque, but the references are the same as the art of strip tease. Maybe this is something that burlesque artists need to address? There is also an art to cooking. But does that make it art?

Art is well known for its ability to encourage dialogue. Some of the burlesque shows I saw at the fringe last year succeeded in this respect. They had messages in their show, albeit in a satirical manner.

So.... See you at the burlesque. I’ll be having a bevvie and enjoying myself immensely, but I don’t know if I will feel like I am at a fringe art event, but I will be having a good time.

And just for invasion day in a couple of day (Australia Day)... here is a swell image to get you in the mood.