Friday, 28 January 2011

RIP David Kato

Moments like these shatter me. Sometimes, I forget that being gay/queer/trans is still such an burning-torch-and-waving-pitchfork issue for the right wing nut jobs of this world.  Because I live on a patch of the world where my sexuality isn't illegal, I cannot make peace with the truth that people still bleed to defend their right to love and be loved. Maybe its a Western privilege, maybe its a survival instinct; because mostly we all just want to get on with living, and to exist in a space where your queerness is a constant source of fear/shame/danger sux.

Kato's death has me thinking about the question of OPTION, and how much of this we have when we chose to celebrate/fight for our queerness, openly. Moments like these file down my bright, queer universe to a sharp, acute point and I lay flat, thinking about how the English language will never be big enough to verbalise the seas of love and respect I have for people like David Kato. RIP.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Almost posted this photo last week but decided not to, on the basis that even the hotness of Rose and Ms Rose locking lips could not distract from Amber's migraine-inducing shirt.

Changed my mind.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Tea with the Queen - Minaj in London and hip hop's future.

Can't help but marvel this week as the UK press slather to get a glimpse of Nicki Minaj's weave-on-weave majesty. Semtex talked about being "in the presence of greatness" when she guested on his show, the UK urban Twittersphere has had her trending, and her legions of boob-baring fans are so frenzied she's been kicked out of The Dorchester. It's rad that a female MC can generate this much hype and respect, especially when our homegrown rap talents are so woefully discouraged, and I've been thinking a lot about whether Nicki's shock waves will have a lasting, game-changing impact on the hip hop community worldwide.

It would be a travesty to have Minaj co-opted as a token - that mighty female rapper of the Noughties, the proof that the gal dem have broken the glass ceiling. I don't think female rappers are that rare, endangered breed that music historians, patronizing rap fans and even well-meaning hip hop heads have consistently cast them as. Lack of permission and encouragement are certainly determining factors in the number of women that are bold enough to step up to the plate, but it's more about that closed drawbridge that the round table of white, hetero male record execs have set up, filtering the talent and maintaining a one-in-one-out revolving door policy for the sistren.

Notice also how the very few female rappers that do get shine with the majors are ultimately denied the commitment to brand longevity that is afforded to their male peers. Labels, as a rule, are uninterested in building solid, lasting careers for their leading ladies - DESPITE the fact, as Minaj continues to prove, that there is A/ a crazy wide demographic who are desperate to see/hear talented female MCs, and B/ that it would profit them financially. They refuse to let their female MCs be anything more then disposable, ancillary investments, and it stinks.

The UK hip hop community has often taken cues from the US, frequently to its detriment, and I know I'm not alone in hoping that Minaj will offer a more productive and radical import value, a catalyst for positive industry disruption. Her feminist and queer values were initially clumsy, frequently buffeted by media politics and systematic class/race/gender restrictions, but radical and exciting all the same, and clearly striving to voice a pro-woman, pro-queer rhetoric. I like to think her neon pink power will be a laser beam, Batman-style symbol in the sky for female hip hop talent everywhere.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

And so it begins.

Glowing, heart-palpitating moment on the 65 bus route last night via a loose leaf, scanned copy of a book intro written by Ann Powers that a friend had sent me. 
I’ve just handed in notice at my part-time office job of three years. It was low-income, quiet and demanded very little of me. I’ll miss the safeness of it, but I’m done with stagnating. I have a plan, held together with safety pins, an old copy of Plan B, and a bright-eyed, cynic’s hope,  to make music journalism a full time career, instead of the part time one I’ve been eking out alongside the office job, lovingly, for the past three years. 
The unemployment climate in the UK and the dire state of print journalism as whole means I’m up against cruel odds. As Powers says, “The elegy for writing has become a literary sub genre in and of itself”. Being female, queer and working class in an industry that favours the heterosexual, white, middle class male definitely doesn’t help, but I think these obstacles make it even more important for me to push forward. Leaving the comfort zone for unpaid internships and no guarantees makes me feel a little like those wandering blues musicians – no big machine to back you up, no trust fund, no sure thing – just a heartfelt desire to add your own humble song to the world and pay the rent at the same time. 
I came across the music critic Jessica Hopper a few years back and continue to enjoy her work. I admire her style, her intellect and the sense of uncompromising self-belief I get from her writings. As a young wordsmith feeling outwards for the legacy of older, accomplished writer/journo types, I needed a reflection of my own vulnerabilities, an example of another women writer who had felt what I am feeling and still managed to manifest a place of security and abundance within this beatnik community. I dig Hopper's work, and I’m claiming Powers’s intro as a timely, golden omen. She taps in to almost everything I’ve been fretting about, biting my nails over, and hoping for.  Sometimes affirmations arrive exactly when you need them, and I think acknowledging these little, unexpected sign posts are the best way to navigate the chaos.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


Necro, on his deep understanding of race issues, cultural appropriation, and how hip hop is about "all the black rappers that sold their music to white youth". Jeeeeez.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Anna Calvi


"I'm definitely not shy with my music. I think there is a huge sexual element involved. I try to give everything of myself when I play."

My first interview for The Guardian was published today. I talked to guitar virtuoso and gothic chanteuse Anna Calvi about her debut LP and you can read all about it by clicking on the above text.

I've been attending Calvi's London shows sporadically for the last four years; she's shifted her direction, evolved her sound, and remained intense and thrilling. I feel that quiet, indulgent, bystander sense of satisfaction gained when the universe recognizes a desire that is just MEANT to be heard.  I love the way she makes no bones about getting her kicks when she performs. She plays  like she's bypassed all those "rules" about girls and guitars and just TAPPED IN to her instrument, kind of at-one-with-it but still the leader, prima inter pares. She makes me excited about guitar music in a way I haven't felt for a long time.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition

Wears The Trousers has been asked to join the initial judging panel for this year's Emerging Talent competition at Glastonbury! Full details here. Bands have a week to get their tunes in. Get movin'!

Friday, 7 January 2011

2011. Fresh diaries, healthy desires.

This week has involved major protest from my body, as early office hours resume after the festive break and the various toxins of holiday indulgences/ailments dissipate grudgingly. We finally have enough money to do some way overdue refurbishing, so we're sharing our space with some lovely builder types and the Council wallpaper is pealing away like old skin. Everything is covered in dust and I'm spending a lot of time brushing smears of it off my clothes.  I have high plans for this year. Gonna manifest good, solid things out of the flux.
Also, my first two reviews of MMXI, Anna Calvi's debut LP for Wears The Trousers, and Ciara's Basic Instinct for The Guardian.