How to Flirt on a Dancefloor

PLURI is a Montreal based project that stands for PEACE LOVE UNITY RESPECT INITIATIVE for improving safety and inclusivity on dance floors in Montreal.

Upcoming Events AASK & PLURI present: Community Responses to Gender-based Violence. This Saturday June 17, 2017, 2-4:30 PM at Casa del Popolo, 4848 Saint-Laurent. Featuring representatives from Third Eye Collective, Taking What We Need, Dandelion Initiative & Good Night Out.

Design by Jaclyn Kendall

Design by Jaclyn Kendall

 

Jessica Simps: How did PLURI start?

Éliane Thivierge: The idea first came to mind was when I was in a festival in Germany and I had just written this piece in Rave Ethics (the zine) and I had my notes which were basically like my diary. This festival had open workshops you could just sign up to run and I was like, I could do a workshop about sexual harassment on dance floors “How to flirt on a dance floor”.

Celeste Pimm: [PLURI] was about finding common ground. Pretty much all female and non-binary people, as well as individuals of different racial backgrounds have had certain experiences [with harassment] .

Zoë Christmas: Whether they were electronic musicians or in the raver scene or would go to punk shows at Casa [de Popolo].

CP: For me, I’m a partygoer and a musician and a lot of my friends work putting together parties. I’ve seen some of my guy friends who have a little less of an education in feminism and they are just a little bit more out of touch with the reality of people’s experiences. I’ve seen them accidentally exclude people first hand, I know that they have good intentions and they just needed somebody to make the connection for them.

ZC: It [was] important for the project to have a niche interest not just “anti sexism or anti racism”, it started with the problems inside the electronic music scene.

Photo by Kinga Michalska

Photo by Kinga Michalska

JS: What does it feel like to be part of an initiative, to always have to be the face of the movement?

ET: In front of promoters I totally understand the tension between the pressure to feel professional and accessible, but I think it’s good for our image to look human and accessible and flawed—it’s perfect. It’s really part of feminism, but I understand that feeling too, when standing in front of [promoters].

ZC: [That feeling when you’re at a party but in front of promoters] talking about making out or something (everyone laughs).

ET: When I go dancing I wear crazy clothing and often end up taking off my shirt or not wearing much because it gets hot. When dancing, I can take up a lot of space.

JS: But that’s exactly the point of doing what you’re doing—so you can feel safe and prove that your nakedness doesn’t deny your right to be respected.

ET: Precisely the point, but you still feel that they may judge you for it.

JS: It’s hard being the naked one, but it was that disjunct that was the point. But still when you’re out in public spaces, and you’re at that party and you’re on that dance floor and you take off your shirt cus it’s sweaty and then it’s like “there she goes again!”

"When dancing, I can take up a lot of space."

Zero Tolerance Tee in collaboration with Girl's Club and Devin White. Photo by J Simps

Zero Tolerance Tee in collaboration with Girl's Club and Devin White. Photo by J Simps

JS: Can you tell me about the emotional labour that goes into being a witness for women and queer people who are suffering trauma on the dance floor?

CP: We do get people messaging us like: “I’m at my wits end, you guys are the only people I can think of to ask what to do right now. I’m really hurting what should I do?” For me, I’m not a social worker so I don’t know how to help people with traumatic experiences, but Éliane is really great at supporting people with trauma experiences. It’s also a really important part of our platform to remain neutral and not interfere in personal conflict resolution. We take a preventative approach to harm reduction in events rather than mediating crisis after they’ve happened.

ET: It’s so so so important in these kinds of things to recognize our limits.

JS: What do you hope to move towards?

ZC: One of our projects is to come up with an information package for bars and DIY spaces, adapting them venue to venue, to train staff and management on how to prevent, identify and intervene harassment for people who are at risk. But also, to proactively take notice of harassment, assault, and aggression—it’s subtle sometimes.

ZC: [Celeste and Éliane] Do you want to talk about your dynamic?

ET: When we talk in front of people, I tend to have the voice of the queer and the women in my head, and Celeste thinks of how the structures work.

CP: Who needs to implement what and how to make it work and who we have to be nice to…

ET: Exactly! She’s much more well equipped than I am for that and this combination makes promoters feel represented as well.

CP: We have our good cop bad cop.

ET: I feel much more comfortable being direct with people with social capital because I know Celeste will be nice with them afterwards, so that’s okay.

CP: So far how it’s going is that if promoters have any worries I’m happy to deal with it. If they’re like “omg I heard you might do something risky I wanna talk to you about it and why it’s a bad idea,” I totally deal with that and consider their perspective so they know it’s gonna be okay and we’re not gonna destroy their life.

JS: Éliane, you’re doing the labour with the people and Celeste you’re doing this labour with the promoters, to humour them.

CP: Rubbing their egos, making sure they’re good. We can’t alienate the event creators because we need everyone to work together.

JS: So they still feel in control. It’s amazing how people in positions of power can be so oblivious to all the emotional labour that happens in order for them to not feel threatened.

Photo by Kinga Michalska

Photo by Kinga Michalska

ET: [The first event] was to validate the project to know the community was behind us, but what happened after this was that we had this problem where our material only treated sexual harassment [as an issue] and we wanted PLURI to be intersectional [in addressing race and queerness].

JS: How did you go about tackling the issue of intersectionality from an all white team? (at press time)

ZC:  We’ve had people reach out to represent black people and POC’s on the scene and there’s also the whole francophone scene. There are other demographics where we don’t have a complete team, like recovering addicts, underage people, people with disabilities, people who don’t drink.

ET: We came to the conclusion that it was silly for us to work really hard to get the ear of promoters to let them know what the crowd needs—[if we weren’t yet able to] tell them the needs of other people. One of the solutions has been to get funding, so we can pay collaborators of colour who were talking about racism without having to do that emotional labour for free.

ET: At first we took a lot of time trying to take a sensitive approach to representation.Celeste and I were like ‘we don’t know what we’re doing’ and then Zoe came in and was like ‘Trump got elected we have to do something’, and we we’re like, ‘ya omg okay, do something!’

 ZC: I remember our first meeting all together was the day after [Trump was elected]

CP: And I remember Éliane and I were both like, ‘we don’t wanna do it we’re too scared!’ But we had to do something and decided to do it in two weeks...

 ET: So Celeste and I were like okay, let’s do this.  

Rave Ethics Zine

Rave Ethics Zine

Since the time of this interview PLURI has conducted an event around Community Accountability in Montreal, an event about safer spaces in Quebec City, as well as the events that took place starting in August 2016. They are currently working on a panel event which will take place in Montreal in June as well as starting a “Nightlife Guard” program which will train individuals interested in helping oversee harm reduction at events in exchange for attending the event for free. They are looking for individuals interested in becoming Nightlife Guards as well as project collaborators. Send them a facebook message or an email to plurinitiative@gmail.com

 

 

Keep up with PLURI on Facebook and Instagram @plurinitiative!

J Simps is a tired ass show girl and Queer Femme for the People.

 

 

 

 

BLACK EXCELLENCE

Carefree queer expression and the creative magic of chosen family

by Jessica Simps

All images by Gyu Gyal

It’s summer. Walking down the hall of this warmly lit Montreal apartment, you hear the sound of pop music (maybe it’s Janet, then Destiny’s Child) as beautiful people move around every room trying to find the right shade of glitter. Another two pile on the floor in front of a mirror, lacing up pink feathered shoes and helping the other tie a head scarf. These are siblings getting ready for a photo session centred on chosen family — portraits of black excellence.

Jessica Simps: Who is in the room right now?

Gyu Gyal: These people are my friends, but these people are also black, beautiful, bad bitches. The [photoshoot] concept was basically black excellence.

JS: What does black excellence mean to you?

GG: Excellence itself is to portray your true essence to world. Black excellence is the peak of coloured excellence. It’s everything. It’s my drive, it’s my lifestyle, it’s about my eccentricities, my community, my family here and how we can define it for ourselves. Like Solange’s A Seat at the Table, by now we’re making our own table. I was inspired doing this shoot, and I hope other black people will be inspired by us. Black Excellence is my only rock to go back to, when everything around us is trying to stop us. It feels officialized now, like “fuck black people”. Now more than ever is the moment to show your source of power to other people of colour.

Kwabena Darko: [Us] wearing pink, the pink guns is about the softness of being black. It’s not all about the dangers of gun violence, but affirming our 2000s Britney Spears selves, our Aaliyah selves.

JS: Why did you want to be involved today?

Christopher Antoine: Because we live here [laughs].

Annie Christina: Seeing [Gyu Gyal] thrive as a young woman, I want to be part of that.

Malika Beckford: The concept of an all black photoshoot is so rare, and I love seeing stuff like that. It’s so beautiful.

GG: We don’t see it.

Fanny Salomé: And to be a part of it is amazing and shows that we have to stick together.

JS: How do you feel about chosen family?

GG: It’s the best family. Especially for us, black queer kids, because the culture of our families is not to accept queerness at all, so chosen family creates something we don’t get to have. It’s not my mom’s fault, it’s just the way the system was built. Our families are never going to accept us.

MB: Especially because Western European religion was forced upon all of us, and that all they know in the church is homophobia.

JS: What do you care about?

AC: I like to see POC working in the media, our image is more out there. Diversity we can see. Someone we can relate to.

JS: What does it mean to you to see other black artists and people in the media?

FS: You feel represented.

GG: You feel like you can do it too, when everything else is telling you that you can’t do it. You never see black models. It’s really rare.

MB: I did a video about beauty in the media, and I was walking around and all I see is images of white women. There was one shot that I remember — I went to Pharmaprix and I looked at the magazine rack, and the only covers that had a black person were black magazines. Other than that, it was all white. Growing up, that really messed with my mind — your dolls, everything on the TV was white. I remember in the ‘90s black tv shows were really big, and now they have declined. Are we progressing, really?

JS: How does it make you feel when fashion magazines aren’t openly critiqued as “white media” or even white supremacist media?

Black excellence is the peak of coloured excellence. It’s everything. It’s my drive, it’s my lifestyle, it’s about my eccentricities, my community, my family here and how we can define it for ourselves.
— Gyu Gyal

MB: People get real sensitive when you start to bring that up, and then they get hostile, like, ‘Do you really wanna bring that up’? I only feel comfortable talking about stuff like that with POC because they will listen. In terms of being an ally, you just need to listen and a lot of people don’t wanna do that. It’s really frustrating — you want to spread your knowledge, but you don’t know how people are going to react around you.

JS: It’s traumatizing to try and explain yourself and not be heard.

MB: I used to love speaking openly about how I feel, but then there were a lot of bigots who just don’t want to change their mind, and then it’s just detrimental to my own health. It’s so exhausting to keep repeating yourself.

GG: That’s why you don’t have to repeat yourself ever.

MB: I stay away from that now.

GG: You don’t need to surround yourself with these people. You don’t have to work with these people, you can make your own stuff. That’s what we are doing. This house is really important living in Montreal, to find a house with a reasonable amount of black roommates. To not be the only black person, it felt impossible, until I moved here [and started] working with people who are down to create black art. It’s inspiring, and makes it feel easier and more natural.

JS: Healing happens when we surround ourselves with community. You have a beautiful thing here, this house is a beautiful thing.

Gyu Gyal is a black queer performance-based artist and designer currently located in Montreal. See Her on Instagram.

Fanny Salomé is an art director and photographer. View Her portfolio and see Her on Instagram.

Follow the rest of the family (Annie, Chris, Kwabena and Malika) on Instagram.

MICHELE NOX

You were always a woman

by June Moon

All images by Maikö Rodrig

The lights go on, and there She stands in purple velvet thigh-high boots. The music begins, and Her voice is power at its rawest susceptivity. From my seat I hold Her darkness, renewing into pure light. Michele Nox is the harrowing superstar of transcendental pop music. Her recent release Monolith is wrought with harmonious dualities, and I was curious about how She wields such magic with Her voice.

Michele Nox: When my grandmother passed away, I had an angel around me saying, “How can you turn this into something beautiful?” This made me come out of a depression. I didn't want to feel dark and sad and lonely because someone I loved so much was gone. I started meditating for hours, that’s all I would do. I started throat singing as well, for hours, and that really made me so addicted to that feeling of “Wow, I can feel my fingers, I can feel my feet properly, I can feel the skin on my legs, I can feel my vessels.” 

June Moon: It sounds like someone coming alive.

MN: That's exactly what it was. For such a long time I chased the darkness. I was so attracted to other people’s pain because I thought I deserved to be in pain. I was extremely masochistic when it came to everything. That self-doubt, self-punishment, and self-destruction — I was so bored of those feelings, so bored of bringing myself down every day. I think [by] coming out as a woman, finally I felt this part of my truth. As long as I’m on this earth, a woman is what I've wanted to be forever, so now’s the time to say it. I don't want to look at myself and be like, “Oh, you’re just a guy so this really sucks, this is your life, you’re fucked, you have a penis so that’s it, you can’t change it, nothing’s gonna change . . .”

JM: . . . end of story.

MN: Yeah, “End of story, too bad, go drink something, go get high.” Finally I started respecting myself by saying, “It’s not about looks anymore. Go for your truths, and that will be beautiful.” There are still some things I wanna change about myself, but you know I’m gonna go with it, and see how I get there. 

JM: Let’s talk about divine feminine energy, especially because there’s a snake on the cover of Monolith. How are you playing with that energy having come out as a woman, and how are you engaging with your masculine energy?

MN: It all came rushing in. My first dreams of snakes came while I was meditating, and I was in a relationship that wasn’t working at the time, and I asked for signs. In that dream there were black snakes all over me, and the next day we broke up. I was in shock, but at the same time I was okay because something was really opening up. I would have recurring dreams of snakes, and then finally I had this one meditation where . . . I was the snake.

A woman is what I’ve wanted to be forever, so now’s the time to say it.
— Michele Nox

MN: I looked into what snakes meant, about the divine feminine and also the shedding of so many layers. All the past, just letting go. Finally I was ready to purge, and from there these awakenings kept happening. It was just epiphany after epiphany. I started writing and the song “Seven” came from that experience, where I was calling out to Spirit, and They were saving me. 

JM: Was this a surrendering?

MN: It was a surrendering, and I didn’t wake up and realize, “Oh, I’m a woman now”. It was like, “You were always a woman.” The masculine side that I’ve been ashamed of for the past lifetime, finally I was able to channel and use it to my advantage. Obviously you need to use both. There’s that balance. Now that my album is complete, I feel like I was channeling both the feminine and masculine.

JM: Lyrically, what was it that you really wanted to say with Monolith? Was there a specific narrative that was important to you?

MN: I think it’s very important to express that sensitivity is actually strength, and being vulnerable is actually so liberating. You can open up — not necessarily spiritually, I’m not trying to force anything down anyone’s throat — but you are so strong when you are relaxed. That alignment of respecting your contrasts, respecting your man side, respecting your boring side, all these characters come together. What I wanted to explain in this album is that even death is beautiful. A monolith [is] a structure. It could be a tombstone, or it could be this massive, powerful place where you go to pray. The reason why I chose that name was to honour death and honour strength, power, and being alive in alignment with a spirit.

Michele Nox is a storyteller and radical conjurer of Spirit. Listen to Her new album Monolith and follow Her on Facebook and Instagram.

June Moon is a poet, performer, and provocateur. Listen to Her music and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. 

EXCUSE YOU, I’M NOT A BOY!

Asking queer androgynous women for emotional labour? You can expect an invoice

by Ruth Narc

All illustrations by Samantha Garritano

“You embarrassed me last night!” said one of my work superiors.

This is how my chef de cuisine reacted after I had brought my girlfriend and her dad to my job so we could eat some of the best food Montreal has to offer.

“I tried to make it up to you with a group hug at the end of the night,” I joked. “I even pressed my boobs against your back to make you feel better! I bet you didn’t even notice.”

“I didn’t because I was too busy trying to press my dick up against your girlfriend’s leg!”

I laughed, because part of me felt like I had instigated the comment. In making a joke about my body with my co-worker, maybe it was warranted that my girlfriend’s body be thrown into the humorous mix. However, the place I laughed from was discomfort, not actual humour. I knew that if I were to share this moment with my girlfriend, she would not find it funny that I had entertained a joke promoting rape culture.

This is the tension experienced by queer androgynous women — being forced to navigate a socially constructed gender binary we don’t fit into because of the way others read us. While at work in a restaurant kitchen, there’s an assumption that I will perform “white cis hetero male” because I “look like a boy”. I’m gay, but I know what misogyny looks like. In a male-dominated space, I find myself in a predicament. I’m expected to conform to a culture of objectification because I’m a paid employee. My superior making a joke about pressing his dick into my girlfriend’s thigh is not only inappropriate, but also forces me to make one of two choices — stay silent, or put in emotional labour.

And what are we, as queer androgynous women working in the service industry, supposed to do when patrons at our work misgender us? Are we supposed to impose our gender theory education (or lack thereof) on such liminal interactions and risk the shitty tip the client might leave us? Or do we just let it slide because as literal paid servants we aren’t supposed to make the paying client feel uncomfortable? And what if Chad from West Virginia leaves a bad Yelp review because the “boy-girl” called him out while he was trying to enjoy his $20 sandwich? Haven’t figured that one out yet, either.

So here I am, expected to perform “white cis hetero male” because that aligns with my aesthetic, while on the other hand I’m also expected to perform duties that are placed on women, specifically emotional labour. I’m supposed to teach my superior, be patient. I’m supposed to create a loving and non-violent environment supporting vulnerability so I can address his rape-culture joke or his misgendering comments, and then sidebar to explain what these things are and how they negatively affect women through male action and speech.

I sure as hell am not being paid for my emotional labour, and in teaching I risk the loss of my actual source of income. Encouraging men to think about the world in a less patriarchal way is something I’m willing to do, and something I actively work at doing. But we need to acknowledge that women are expected to perform this emotional labour. More often than not, they are the ones who initiate the dialogue and call men into the discussion.

Recently a close male friend of mine was burglarized in the night by an unidentifiable man. After the incident, he told me how he realized that he could not only have been killed, but had he been a woman, there was a good chance something worse may have happened to him. For the first time, through experiencing trauma, my friend showed signs of beginning to understand how women feel. He didn’t understand why he hadn’t been taught that certain actions and words lead to the perpetuation of rape culture, or how patriarchy worked to mould his reality and thus his understanding of the experiences of women-identifying or femme individuals.

I’m gay, but I know what misogyny looks like.
— Ruth Narc

For an hour I performed the emotional labour of passionately deconstructing misogyny and patriarchy to my male friend, and I was happy to do so. I explained to him how the issue goes further than action, how it’s embedded in our speech, and he nodded his head, not even realizing that I was using his own past misogynistic comments and actions as examples.

“What do you think people think when they see you . . . like, quickly, when people walk by you?” he asked.

I replied, “Oh, well, people definitely think I’m a boy.”

And he goes, “I think so too, but I didn't realize . . . “

You didn’t realize what? That I’m still a woman who has a vagina that she likes, even though I dress “like a boy”? That I identify as a feminist? That I perform emotional labour?. Yeah, you’re welcome. You can expect my invoice.

Ruth Narc is a queer, gender non-conforming anthropology student and skateboarder who “looks like a boy”, but really prefers sticking to “she/her” pronouns. She’s still just a “girl” living in a binary world.

EVERYTHING IS GOING TO SHIT

This election Girl’s Club and Tramps Against Trump join forces in New York

by Dre

Tramps Against Trump

It’s a pretty wild time to be alive. We’re only a couple of days away from knowing whether or not the American people will actually elect a fascist toupée with a thing for recreational sexual assault and a horrifying natal chart as their 45th president. Although it may weirdly feel like we’ve gone all 1933 Weimar Republic for a minute, it’s 2016, and when the stakes are this high, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.

No one knows this more than Jessica Rabbit. We talked to the Brooklyn-based activist about Her Tramps Against Trump initiative, an American offshoot of the Canadian movement Sluts Against Harper, and as the election draws ever nearer She had this to say.

Tramps Against Trump

“All these political tensions and racial tensions in America are rising,” She explains. “Donald Trump is the definition of American capitalism [and] embodies that imaginary American dream, [where] women are in the way, or Mexicans, or immigrants. None of those people are in the way. It's the broken system that doesn't allow space for mobility.”

Recent crises like the clash at Standing Rock have illustrated that the rights of historically marginalized groups are appallingly far from receiving the respect and attention they deserve by governmental institutions and the people in charge of them.

Jessica Simps

“America is fucked up!” says Jessica Rabbit. “We have this . . . man running for president and his racist, bigoted, misogynistic, hateful words [could be] translated into law. We have Hillary in the middle embodying this white feminism . . . The violence she’s produced internationally under the Obama administration — she's been on the wrong side of every historical moment.”

This is no ordinary election. This is not your standard Democrat-vs.-Republican polling station deliberation, and every American who treats it as such will be doing a grave disservice to their country and to the principles of democracy it is founded upon. If you planned to vote for a third-party candidate, we urge you to save it for the next election. Every pen that will hover over ballot bubbles on November 8 is a loudspeaker and a weapon. The grim reality is that every vote not cast for the only person who has a chance of ousting Trump from candidacy is a vote for Donald Trump.

Sluts Against Harper

“Our options are just so bizarre,” She says. America is really broken . . . That's so scary to me and so unsettling. Where am I?”

You can be present. You can help as Tramps Against Trump, Sluts Against Harper, Girl’s Club and Goth Shakira partner in New York to ensure that someone who has proved that he has no respect for women and their bodies never gets to govern over them. “Trump has notoriously used women's bodies as accessories or the butt of his jokes,” explains Sluts Against Harper founder Jessica Simps. “We are willing to place our bodies in his line of fire, using our physical presence as a form of agency, not accessory.

Tramps Against Trump

“There may be nothing more terrifying to Trump and his campaign than women who he cannot shame for their bodies, because it is our belief in the validity of our bodies that feeds our power.”

Tramps Against Trump

Tramps Against Trump

Tramps Against Trump

Tramps Against Trump

Tramps Against Trump

Jessica Rabbit is an activist, sex worker and artist living in Brooklyn. Get involved with Tramps Against Trump and follow Her on Instagram.

Jessica Simps is a Montreal-based visual and performance artist who founded the movement Sluts Against Harper.

Dre is a vial of rose hip oil.

JANE PENNY

TOPS girl in charge possesses Her experiences and isn't getting stepped on

by Jessica Simps and June Moon

All images by Maikö Rodrig

Jane Penny’s vocation is supreme. It is esoteric in its nature. When She sings, the virility of Her tonality remains mystical, representing to me a freedom of subjectivity. As the lead singer of TOPS, Jane re-enters conversations that girls have been left out of, acquiring authentic metamorphosis in the process.

My destiny is no longer paralyzed by caution because women like Jane Penny exist. My admiration for Her musicality and intelligence is boundless. She’s so bad.    

June Moon: You’re working on a new album right now. A lot of your past lyrics were really heartbreakingly sad, despite the “fun” of videos like “Change of Heart”, “Double Vision”, and “Way to be Loved”.

Jane Penny: I’m inspired by the strength of negative emotions more than positive ones, even though I feel the range of them . . . I like to work in pop as a form, [but] there needs to be some meat . . . as a female artist, I feel this urgency to address certain things. So the new record definitely has a lot of that in it, too. Some of it is even unconscious . . . like a meditation on certain ideas of womanhood and youth, the struggle of having a perspective as a girl.

Jessica Simps: You’ve mentioned that finding the Montreal community was important to you, and how a communal connection with an audience is important to you. How do you resonate with Girl’s Club?

JP: I’ve been in Montreal since 2007, and there was a time when something really exciting was going on in this city. There was no doubt that there was almost this galactic energy around; it was undeniable that something was happening here. But there was a straightness and a whiteness and a certain privileged access to things that I feel put all of us in those situations where we could pursue art. As much as I do think it’s really cool what was happening then, even in that moment I remember feeling like, “If this is progressive, then where are we?”

JP: This shouldn’t really be the most applauded thing out there. Growth and evolution of human beings, to me, that’s truly inspiring. Girl’s Club and The Editorial Magazine, if you compare them to something like Vice, are coming so far in terms of quality and having other voices represented. The people here now — it’s a lot more diverse. Sexually, the idea of being a super-straight, monogamous person doesn’t even make sense to people in their 20s now. Girl’s Club represents an evolution, and Montreal containing all of that is really inspiring to me.

JS: What are the things you want to talk about with the album you’re currently working on?

JP: The way women’s bodies are policed, teen girls, the idea of perversion or objectification or violation of women. There’s this idea of these predators capable of acts of violence, and that they hold the knowledge of that act, or the understanding of what that is and then girls are just these beautiful flowers in a field being stepped on. I feel like women actually understand and possess those experiences way beyond the perpetrators of them. [With] all of these experiences that women understand, there’s a constant conversation about them that we’re not a part of.

JS: How can you say what you want to say and make it palatable enough to be received and sold?

JP: The pleasure aspect of music is really forefront to me, and certain . . . My experience has been that a lot of girls resonate with the music, and girls will thank me just for doing it and being out there. That’s the best thing. That's enough for me.

Jane Penny is a vocalist, instrumentalist, and lyricist. Listen to TOPS and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Jessica Simps is a hot girl online and the founder of political campaigns Sluts Against Harper (#votes4nudes) and Tramps Against Trump.

June Moon is a poet, performer, and provocateur. Listen to Her music and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. 

 

ALLYEE

Undeniable and to be seen: The pleasure according to Her

by June Moon

All images by Mary / @mariannederson

Allyee AKA Jessica Rabbit is carrying a torch — Her body. She is an activist, sex worker, and artist leading Tramps Against Trump in the US. What do I see when I look at Her? Power. Presence. Warmth.

It’s 11 o’clock. I can’t hang around too long at this hour because all the men imagine what a nice girl like me is doing here, and I’m not sanctioned to speak as they’d think I was asking for it. What kind of girl am I, anyway? What do they see when they look at me? On what account must I be giving something away? I like engaging with my sexuality as a reference point for what I have say, and how I want to say it. But how can one avoid the danger of navigating sexual tensions through my art in this male-dominated world?

Allyee: There's no winning, it can be lose-lose. That’s what I've been really struggling with. We get criticized for being sexual, and then we're sexualized. We're so sexualized our whole lives and when you take it and empower yourself, it's like, ‘Oh, my God. You can't do that. You can only do that for us.’

It's so hard navigating that space, especially being an activist. I’ve had a lot of the activist community reject me because I’m engaging in sex. It’s so ironic! How do you win?! It shows how important it is to take that space back. Femme phobia is something I've been getting more and more into recently. Femme women are told that they're not serious. Women can be beautiful and sexy and powerful, it doesn't have to be one or the other. We've sexualized femmes and then don't allow them the space to be sexual themselves. For most people, sexuality generally defines a part of our life. Wherever you exist on the spectrum from asexual to sexual, figuring out how to express ourselves and communicate in our own mediums is super important in this repressed society.

I'm interested in making erotic art, but it doesn't mean I'm gonna have sex or be erotic for anyone. That’s putting someone in a sex worker role who's not even there, and making them make that decision without any context, background, control, or consent.

June Moon: An immense unveiling of my politics and my potential comes from the oppression of outside expectations.

My new hype is about not wanting to be equal to men. Men aren’t really acting like anything I want to resemble. I want to be better, I want to bring the bar up.
— Allyee

A: Sex work has been one of the most powerful things for me, because in this context I get to explore different things and take on different characters. It's helped me so much in my personal life, navigating different boundaries with new partners and figuring out what I want and what I don't like. Girl power has given me my whole; it's changed the game. I started really challenging femme-on-femme jealousy and bringing my women crew together. Consistently who's there for me and who gets me is my girls, my women, my mom. Realizing that women are my peoples, and speak my language. They know what I'm going through.

JM: Another valuable reference point that has been an anchor in conversations among women is our learned and enforced girl hate. It’s so not our truth. We want to be surrounded by each other and supporting each other all the time. There's an uprising as we claim this space together.

A: It's amazing to see girl jealousy taking a centre spotlight in feminist and activist circles. I'm a polyamorous person and jealousy is super hard for me (lol), but I'm really thinking about what I’m so scared of. Looking into myself, I'm scared that I'm not enough, that I'm not pretty or cool enough. I think there's a sea of beautiful, powerful, smart women, because we have to be! Connecting and finding these women all over the world, and building this community together across boundary lines has been so good for me.

JM: There's this sense of urgency — we're all exhausted. Sometimes I can't breathe. I can't do this anymore. I can't live like this.

A: I get put into the man-hating feminist box a lot, [and] I don't hate men, but I do like using extreme tongue-in-cheek examples for comedic effect, or to help people critically think. My new hype is about not wanting to be equal to men. Men aren't really acting like anything I want to resemble. I want to be better, I want to bring the bar up. I think equality to men is a way to cater to men, and feminism in that way fails me. We can all do so much better.

JM: I like that a lot.

A: I know actual man-hating feminists who put me onto that [category], but they also come from much more abusive backgrounds, and I understand their anger. People who don't understand their anger aren't understanding the wounds that they hold and the trauma that they hold that produces that anger. I think that anger is justified. A lot of women in this world have varying experiences with abuse, and the anger produced from that is valid on any spectrum.

Once you see, it doesn't go away. Take space and time to take care of yourself, because activism on any level is super exhausting emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.

Allyee is an activist, sex worker and artist living in Brooklyn. Get involved with Tramps Against Trump and follow Her on Instagram.

June Moon is a poet, performer and provocateur. Listen to Her music and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

NAADEI

A seasoned collaborator's solo venture tackles cultural appropriation and honest relationships with women

by Dre

All images by Stephany Hildebrand

Where do we put all of the girls we could have been if we had only believed in ourselves a little bit more? Our psychic filing cabinets have the tendency to remain untouched, but Naadei cracked hers open and the result is a body of work that is pure and unadulterated Her. After time spent in France and Miami recording and collaborating with prominent artists such as French rapper Booba, Wyclef Jean and most recently 2 Chainz, the Ghanaian-Canadian released Her I'm Fine EP last winter. The EP represents not just a culmination of a rich breadth of cross-cultural experiences that only a Montréalaise could have, but a proverbial middle finger thrust in the face of creative self-doubt.

“I had this idea in my mind of what I wanted to do . . . I had been doing music for a long time but always on other people’s projects, you know, like featured on this, featured on that,” She shares. “And then I was like, ‘I wonder what I sound like when I do what I want to do.’

“It was so weird because I had, like, no idea if it was even good. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done because I really meant what I wrote. It was traumatizing [but] it kind of just validated that I can do this and it’s not too bad.”

Not only is I'm Fine not bad — it’s important. The standout track is “Lisa”, which uses a close friend as inspiration to describe a wealthy white girl devoted to trap music culture and aesthetic in a way that some may consider problematic. According to Naadei, it raises questions about how cultural appropriation can exist in a grey area.

“[It] became a person who’s not necessarily Lisa, but kind of embodied a phenomenon that’s omniprésent,” Naadei explains. “It’s a part of the culture we’re consuming, and is it okay or is it not okay? . . . Are you allowed to claim the culture? Are you not?”

In the small town in northern Quebec where She spent most of her childhood, Naadei was “not only the only black person, but the only non-white [person].”

The debate “is something that’s also part of me, because when you see me, I’m black, but I grew up in a super white environment, my mom is white, so it’s always something that I’ve been in the middle [of] . . . Because I’m such a melting pot myself.

I have the most complicated relationship with the women in my life. I feel like that’s where you draw most of your inspiration from as an artist, through things that you don’t grasp properly.
— Naadei

“I didn’t want to take a position because I don’t have the answer, but I was happy that I could raise the question in a song that’s very fun. Not everybody’s gonna pick up on it, and it’s okay, because if you just want to dab to it in the club, it’s cool. But if you want to listen to it and be like, ‘It’s true, this is happening, how do I feel about it,’ then you’re more than welcome to ask yourself the question.”

I'm Fine's other tracks also deal with the complexity of relationships between women, from the “Selma” interlude to “Angie”, which expresses maternal feelings for a struggling younger cousin far from home.

“I have the most complicated relationship with the women in my life,” says Naadei. “ I don’t have a dad, so I don’t have that many guys around me in my life [and with] the friends I have that are guys, relationships are very simple, like just . . . tranquille, compared to the relationships I have with women.

“I feel like that’s where you draw most of your inspiration from as an artist, through things that you don’t grasp properly.”

I'm Fine shows a courageous maturity. It represents a bold step towards authenticity and vulnerability, and a kind of self-awareness that inspires.

“Before the EP came out. I felt like the furthest thing away from fine . . But I’m completely incapable of holding the things that I think inside. It’s out of my nature. So I usually say it as I think it.

“For me, it gives me peace of mind — that’s the most valuable thing in my life, peace of mind.”

Naadei is a singer. Listen to her on SoundCloud, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Dre is a naked red light bulb.

BEI KUO

“What's wrong with being naked?" Artist and entrepreneur Bei Kuo talks about the power of nudity

by Jessica Simps and June Moon

All images by Danny Scott Lane / @dannyscottlane

What is it like to be the hot girl, to be that naked girl on the internet? To play the games, get more followers, to be the flirt and use the game of misogyny against itself? On Instagram, where followers are social capital, using your body as a tool is just smart economics.

Jessica Simps met Bei Kuo, an artist and entrepreneur who grew up in Taiwan, online. After the Sluts Against Harper campaign She reached out to Jessica, one naked woman to another, looking for some solace and confirmation that our presence and our nakedness was, well, important. Jessica fell in love with Her sense of play — She has fun with Her own skin and laughs at your gaze. And why should play be interpreted as for the eyes of the other rather than ourselves? To play with one’s own image is to have a beautiful relationship with one’s own body.

June Moon: Did you start out with nudity in your work, or were you trying other things?

Bei Kuo: I was just really trying to get more connections [with photographers and models] and gain more followers, trying to play this social media game for the preparation of launching my lingerie. After doing this for a while, I start getting some "interesting" comments on social media. It makes me think more deep about the relationship between my body as a woman and what society projects on women. But after exploring more about nudity, the feedbacks that I receive makes me start questioning — “What is wrong with being naked?” Those feedbacks kinda keeps me posting nudity to just see what's kinda of stuff the Internet gonna throw on me.

JM: The eyes are “a way in”: Who are you looking at? Who are you speaking to?

[Being naked] doesn’t mean that you are allowed to sexualize me as an object.
— Bei Kuo

BK: I always feel my Instagram is how my boyfriend sees me everyday (of course, not every single picture). It's never been for anything or anyone when I standing in front of the camera. I have never been on a set and thought, "I am gonna pose like I'm on Playboy cover," or, "I have to look hot in the pictures." Those pictures are just me being me, doing things that I think are fun and playful.

JM: How has your relationship with your body changed?

BK: I don't really think it has changed much. Before modeling, I was already very comfortable with my own body. I knew I don't have skinny long legs like all those models, I got this weird-looking nose and these tiny boobs and booty. I knew I wasn't a “society-standard” sexy girl, but I don't want to be one. I grew up in Taiwan and lived there for most of my life. Back home, no one ever think I'm a pretty girl and because of that, I learned in a very early age that I have to deal with the body that I've been given to, love and accept it all. I've never wanted to fit into the society anyways. But the weirdest part is that, after I moved to New York, I became this exotic and unique-looking Asian girl. Especially after I put myself in front of social media. I feel my non-society-standard "Asianness" becomes fit in and I hate that, but enjoy it in a weird way. It sounds so embarrassing but I've never had that in my life!

JM: Artists address cultural concerns in a perceptible, visceral way. How does it feel to be a guide? Your work mixes personal and political complexities together. How do your emotions resonate?

BK: I didn't really expect these two questions come to me. I don't think I am leading something or doing anything political. Maybe I'm just being naïve and don't realize that i'm onto something special? If nakedness is the powerful aspect, then I feel fine with that. I say, what's wrong with being naked? Why is being naked somehow such a rebellious act? As long as we see nudity as an organic thing, maybe naked bodies won't be so sexualized and there won't be so many cultural concerns.

JM: Describe the thin line in between porn and art.

And if I wanna fuck someone, it will never be you, honey.
— Bei Kuo

BK: People got turn on by the weirdest things nowadays, the thin line seems to hard to define and I don't think I can draw you one. Everyone has different standards. If you see my nudity as art, I will give you a cutest smile and tell you thank you :). But if my work make you hard, then I guess it’s porn to you. But it doesn't mean that you are allowed to sexualize me as an object, and definitely not okay to send me your dick picture. We are on Instagram trying to work, not on Tinder trying to get laid. And if I wanna fuck someone, it will never be you, honey.

JM: What is your work like in relation to your desires?

BK: Working for myself as a model and a lingerie designer definitely make me happier compared to working for someone else. It presents more challenges and I don't know if everything is going to work out well, but I am feeling positive about it.

JM: How do you process the reaction from others?

BK: I used to get a bit upset when people make comments about my works is too porny. They make me feel I should be ashamed about it. Making art and making porn, why can't they coexist? Art, nudity, porn and even sex. People love watching and doing it, but why so judgemental when we put those things together? Society needs to treat them in a healthier and open-minded way. What's so shameful about making art and making love? I stop getting upset when I realize the judgement of nude work is all subjective.

The other time that got me really sad was that some girl made a comment saying that She's not surprised if I got raped by 20 guys ‘cause I questioned, "What's wrong with being naked?". I was so shocked that it's 2016 and this girl who's on Instagram who's actively using social media made a comment like this. Maybe She grew up in a culture that women were not treated equally? I almost got raped when I was a kid, luckily almost. Was I dressing slutty and running around with my pussy showing? No, I was only 10 years old. The reason that got me so emotional is because She actually tried to justify the act of rape by blaming it on woman. Rape is rape, how can you blame it on the victim instead of the one who commit the crime? I normally don't mention too much about myself on social media but I actually think getting reactions like this, it's quite good, because I get the chance to talk about things that I think are important.

Having a body, whether it be nude or clothed, never gives anyone else the right to it, not with their gaze, not with their hands and not with their words. It’s almost impossible to survive in the world as a woman and never fear someone else will take advantage of your body.

It’s an even scarier but powerful position to put yourself in when you embody the naked girl, the one who shows Her skin willingly, makes you look Her in the eye and understand that She is everything. She is the beautiful, the luscious, the wicked and the intelligent artist who no ~ would not fuck u even if u tried.

Bei Kuo is an artist and entrepreneur. Check out Her lingerie line The End and follow her on Instagram.

Jessica Simps is a hot girl online and the founder of political campaigns Sluts Against Harper (#votes4nudes) and Tramps Against Trump.

June Moon is a poet, performer, and provocateur. Listen to Her music and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. 

MONICA KIM GARZA

This Georgia painter's vibrant bodyscapes teach us about self-care, wholeness and the sacred geometry of a woman

by Dre

Monica Kim Garza

Have you ever stopped moving fast and found yourself gently carried forward instead? Monica Kim Garza knows. From the full-bodied figures Her work depicts to a portfolio that encompasses paintings, drawings, ceramics and mixed-media pieces, She reminds us of abundance.

The result is a tangible testament to a life unconstrained by borderlines. Her Mexican, Native American and Korean background and travels to Asia, Africa and South America lend Her paintings an “anywhere, but here” quality that is all at once nuanced and relatable.

The bodies depicted in Her work are brown yet ethnically ambiguous, the colours prismatic and earthy. Skin tones meet shades of sunset, blending transnational identities and lifetimes and placing them amidst the landscapes within which they are so often experienced.

Monica Kim Garza

But for now, Monica is home. A year ago, Monica moved back to Her southern U.S. hometown from Brooklyn.

“I feel a lot better in Georgia because I have so much more time for myself,” says Monica. “In New York I had a day job and was doing my art and working full-time, and I had a lot of anxiety from being so busy and trying to manage all this stuff. I remember I was sitting there and was praying to God being like, ‘I really need something to perk me up’. And then I opened my email and there was something from 5Boro.”

The universe provided and the result was a collaboration with the NYC-based skate brand, producing a line of skateboard decks featuring Her signature babes in all their blessed corpulence.

Monica Kim Garza / 5Boro NYC

She has since taken the time to create in a space that may be far-removed geographically from Her contemporaries, but intrinsically connected to them through the internet.

“My biggest fan support is in Europe, New York, and California . . . I think here in Georgia the art scene is [dominated by] very traditional art, or ‘safe’ art, and the other one would be super-rap culture art, and a lot of people do like my art, but that’s as far as it goes.

“[The internet] is how I’ve been able to do shows in Germany or Switzerland and New York, which is fine for me. Honestly if there was no internet, I would be forced to stay in New York.”

Monica Kim Garza

Her connectivity allows Her to circumvent the more banal realities of being an artist in a major city, as well as honor Her own energy resources.

“I’m an introvert,” She shares. “I can talk to people whenever, but I hate being fake and I hate having to network when I actually don’t want to. I would probably be way ahead if I was in an art community and networking, but it feels nice to know that opportunity isn’t there for me here. I guess I really like this feeling of detachment."

Monica inspires us. It’s not about the acquisition and accumulation of as many shiny stones as we can fit in our palms, but fullness. Wholeness. Balance. If you’ve made it this far, treat yourself to that kind of long, deep intake of oxygen that fills the belly and quiets the mind. And take care of yourself first your art will be okay.

Monica Kim Garza

Monica Kim Garza

Monica Kim Garza is creating and resting in Georgia. See more of Her work on Her website and Instagram, and purchase prints, totes and tees designed by Her on Her online store.

Dre is trying to catch more feelings this summer.

GIULIA MARSICO

A New York graphic artist’s provocative collages humourize and absurdify the male gaze

by Dre

Giulia Marsico

Giulia Marsico sees vaginas everywhere. Upon recognizing the “yonic” (that is, the female counterpart to phallic) nature of everyday objects, sights and structures like hallways, Giulia endeavoured to find a way to represent their analogous relationships to women’s bodies. Now, Giulia subverts the ubiquity of misogyny by transposing innocuous images of things like architecture and coffee cups onto pornographic stills, cleverly interrupting objectifying gazes with humour and absurdity.

“It’s conflicting. I feel aroused, but this is so gross, what is this? I feel aroused, but this is also a water fountain,” She laughs. “Why? Why am I feeling aroused? It’s fun.”

Right now, the 26-year-old Chicago-born artist as is readying Herself for a career-defining move to New York. In the midst of a life that took Her around the country and left Her without an IRL creative community in which She felt She could flourish, Giulia found companionship and a receptive audience for Her inventive collages online. And for close to a year now, this Gemini goddess has been grappling with Instagram notoriety. 

“Instagram is my personality spikes. Most of the time I’m very levelled. But I’ll have these moments, these bursts when I’m listening to crust punk or whatever and am high-energy . . . I’m a highly sexual person, but I don’t get around . . . I’m very sexually overt on social media, but in person, I don’t feel like I come off that way.”

Giulia Marsico

Giulia’s art also speaks to how certain “female-coded” bodies are objectified without consent, with real personal consequences. 

“[I] have big boobs and a big butt [and] people look at me and they sexualize me, but I don’t ever feel like I’m as sexual as my art is,” She shares. "A lot of stuff that I post is very open to interpretation . . . Whereas in person, that’s not how it is at all. I’m very opinionated, I like speaking my mind all the time.

“[On] Instagram, I [could be considered] an egotistical or hyper-sexual slut. But when you get to meet me and see me in person, it’s just like, ‘She’s a normal person.’ I’m still trying to figure it all out.”

Giulia represents a cohort of fourth-wave feminists who are not only displaying their work, but performing it online and living it through real-life extensions of their internet personae. In making art and performing an online self that draws elements from Her own sexuality, Giulia has had to navigate the tenuous territory of a public platform where everybody can have a say — whether they understand the message behind Her collages or not.

Giulia Marsico

When it comes to the integration of photos of Her personal life and self with Her creative output, Giulia comments that “Sometimes . . . I would rather just stick to art. But at the same time, I want people to know who’s behind it. I like how people know it was me . . . The pictures of me came before the art. I’d like to still maintain that.”

Her experiences raise questions about whether or not an artist’s social media presence can be considered a form of performance art. Recently, Giulia debuted a piece using a photo of Her own body. “I do like that idea of integrating myself into it,” She says.

Besides collaging and preparing for Her move to New York, Giulia is keeping busy designing merchandise for musicians and taking part in the Tramps Against Trump movement. She has this advice to impart to budding girl artists:

“Don’t be afraid to be who you want to be. Just keep pressing forward, pass that self-doubt and continue to be as creative as possible.”

Giulia Marsico

Giulia Marsico

Giulia Marsico is a graphic designer and visual artist who will soon be collaging and flourishing in New York.

Dre aspires to be the patron saint of coat check girls and stray bleached hairs.

DREAMBOY

What will She teach me about love? Montreal producer and vocalist Esther Isabel speaks from Los Angeles

by June Moon

All images by Maikö Rodrig

There’s an ephemeral silence found in loneliness. Outside my window, a tree made visible by the light swells with life. Beyond the leaves, I see the sky. Whether or not you believe in love, the complexities of our desires make us ache. I talk with Montreal musician Esther Isabel, who performs under the moniker Dreamboy, as She experiences a new phase of life that has brought her to Los Angeles to perform and rejuvenate. Her Endings EP leaves me in a bodiless state vast in the nature of Self. Up close, I see that endings are a process of becoming.

June Moon: You’re taking a creative rest in LA right now. Are you also feeling an abundance of inspiration being outside your regular Montreal life?

Esther Isabel: It’s true, I feel more aligned with my purpose. I feel we get overwhelmed with small things that don’t matter, like interpersonal relationships and social drama. There’s so many of these teeny distractions that aren’t really meaningful. LA is big enough for everyone who wants to be here, whereas Montreal you’re always bumping into your ex, or his girlfriend, or the guy that you had a really weird time with.

JM: I wanna get into Dreamboy. Did Dreamboy start in Montreal?

EI: It started when I moved to Montreal. It was like early 2012, and I was obsessed with Tumblr. It was the first time ever that I had moved away from my parents’ house, so I was a bit shy and on the computer a lot. My roommate and I became friends and started jamming, and that’s how the project started. It developed into a solo thing. I guess it was always a solo thing, and just some ideas were passed back and forth.

JM: The aspect of the project being a solo thing, is that conscious or casual?

EI: Pretty consciously solo, I think everything I do is solo. When I was younger I wanted to be in a band like the Mars Volta or something, [and] that’s not my strength, per se. But I think musicians and the music world are always mistaken about solo stuff anyway, ‘cause no one really makes anything in a solipsistic void. Once you’re done your songs, you always collaborate with people along the way in the different processes of finishing. It’s definitely an expression of me solo, but it is still a casual project, and I don’t know how long it’ll be around for. It’s very specific in its world too, I think it has a universe surrounding it of feelings and visuals.

JM: Can you describe that world for me?

EI: I think before I started it I was actually making visuals, I was painting and doing collages, sculptures and installations, and they were really steeped in this idea of the archetype of Ophelia, the tragic female figure. I was involved in this art collective at the time, and I think Dreamboy, She’s less of a tragic figure, and more someone who accepts the tragedy in relationships and in life and is empowered by them. I think that projects are really interesting when they’re multi-disciplinary, when they are a world, as opposed to one-dimensional. When people are listening to Dreamboy I want them to feel like they’re there, in a world that has touch and smell, and a feeling to it. That’s why the visuals and the videos are important. I’m actually really excited to work on merch.

JM: In turn, are you, Esther, empowered by the experience of Dreamboy finding that sense of empowerment?

EI: Doing Dreamboy definitely made me more empowered cause it got to the bottom of those Ophelia ideas, that weren’t actually Ophelia ideas, but more like Joan of Arc. I was young when I was exploring those earlier ideas, I didn’t quite understand the scope of my emotions.

JM: Understanding my desire is a predecessor to actually going deep and figuring out what I really desire because there are so many veils and layers of armour that I’ve inherited from being born a woman.

EI: That’s what those early sculptures are about, they were steeped in that idea of that inherited pain and sadness that women have.

JM: Tell me a little bit about the live aspect of the project.

EI: I’m kind of into this idea that my physical body, and my look, are signifying to a certain type of woman. I’m blonde, I wear short skirts, or whatever, and I play the guitar and sing in a way that’s really ethereal or in a way that’s really aggressive. I’m into challenging people, I’m actually really happy to embody a certain look, but I do like the idea of a “Playboy blonde”-type girl playing the guitar. This live show is about dancing and having fun, but also about having a woman guide you through the experience. I think anything that I do will inherently be from a woman’s perspective, at least at this point in my life. Seeing me live, seeing me sing, is seeing me be very vulnerable, but also super strong. I think it’s a badass show for sure.

JM: Competition – I think that’s one of the things I’m letting go of this year. The weight of jealousy, and comparison is inevitable, but letting it pass through me is something I’ve been trying to do because there’s always going to be people who are above you, and people who are below you.

EI: Comparing myself in any way shape or form to anyone else is something I’ve definitely let go of, and it’s made my life so much better. Everyone has their path. You can’t be on someone else’s path – it doesn’t work. Everyone has their own lessons to learn in time. I don’t even perceive people as being above or below, everyone’s just walking side by side, some faster, some slower. It’s cheesy, but what people say about the journey being the destination is true.

JM: I’ve been trying to grasp the notion that things are non-linear, you have no idea where your opportunities are going to come from or where you’ll find inspiration. Letting go over and over again.

EI: It’s the best.

JM: So, channeling that energy into your project, how is it collaborating with people along the way? Is that the fun part of releasing something?

EI: The fun part for me is showing myself how much I do myself, and how all the ideas and concepts are mine. One of the most fulfilling parts is mixing and mastering ‘cause then the songs really come to life. Hearing them actually step into your vision, and spending hours and hours in the studio. Making music videos is fun, ‘cause it’s bringing your visual world to life, and it’s a challenge ‘cause you always have a budget. So it’s like, how are we gonna make this happen with ten dollars, and then we did, with, like, eight dollars. [The video for] “On That Dark Cold Morning” turned out exactly as I pictured it, which is so satisfying.

Dreamboy [is] someone who accepts the tragedy in relationships and in life and is empowered by them.
— Esther

JM: More about “the inheritance”. Do you feel like because you’re a woman, and you’re putting yourself out there artistically, that you feel you’ve inherited the body politics and feminist politics, and if so how do you engage with those?

EI: I got people being surprised that I produce my own music. That’s so offensive. I wonder if men ask other men “Oh, did you make that, or did you have a girl helping you?” It’s just unfortunate when people ask questions like that. But people have been very supportive with the whole project in general; everyone’s been so nice. The main thing that speaks out to me is making sure that women are supportive of each other in the music world, and not being competitive or catty.

JM: I think the cover of the EP is so appropriate, and tying that into you wanting people to feel like they’re there in a world, when I listen to the EP I feel like I’m in the sky. The songs reminded me of all the possibilities that exist in the sky. Sometimes you’re floating and it’s ethereal and weightless, and other times it’s stormy, scary, and dark.

EI: Those purple skies where you’re like, am I gonna die today? Those skies. I snapped that photo, and the inner cover of the actual tape copy has another sky that people might recognize. There’s two skies, east coast, west coast.

JM: What are you trying to let go of in 2016?

EI: Not anything in particular. In 2016 what I’ve been into, is being smarter, which is being kinder to yourself and others, not being closed-minded, and taking it easy. Taking it easy is so important. I feel being a control freak and being stressed out about situations all the time is not gonna make them good. As The Eagles say, “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy”.

JM: Before saying goodbye, what’s next? What are you dreaming of for Dreamboy and Esther?

EI: I’m really excited to do a full-length, more piano-based. I’ve been really craving to be near the piano. I don’t know if it will be under the name “Dreamboy”, but just aligning myself more with the idea of integrity and truth. I think truth is key word for me, I don’t think anything I do is untrue. I feel like the project made up for being misled.

Esther is currently in LA taking a break. Her Dreamboy EP Endings is out on tape with Atelier Ciseaux (s/o Remi!). See more of Her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and SoundCloud.

June Moon is a poet, performer, and provocateur. Listen to Her music and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. 

DANA KEARLEY

When life as a girl feels like a horror film, this Vancouver artist illustrates it

by Dre

Period by Dana Kearley

Weird girls rule the world, and we do it by finding ways to survive in places that are pretty good at making us feel like we don’t belong. Some girls dance, some girls scream, some girls cut off all their hair. And some girls draw.

Dana Kearley is one of us. The Ladner, B.C. native moved to Vancouver at 23, where She has been residing for the past five years. Her work, which encompasses drawings, illustrations, paintings, and zines, deals with themes such as mental health, sex work solidarity, and menstruation as interpreted through a darkly absurdist yet distinctly feminine lens.

Eggs by Dana Kearley

And She’s a seasoned vet. “I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil. It’s always been my go-to. I remember getting in trouble . . . in kindergarten, like I wouldn’t hang out with the other kids, I’d just be at the crafts table,” She laughs. “I was like, ‘I just wanna make things!’”

Her future endeavours involving DIY publication were foreshadowed at an early age, making “children’s zines” featuring prehistoric fish that both terrified and fascinated Her.

Two Women by Dana Kearley

“Horror has always been the kind of thing I’ve been interested in. When I was a kid, I remember being really intrigued [by] things that scared me,” She explains. “I had this encyclopedia of deep sea creatures that I would look at constantly, but they were so scary!

"I just remember being really scared while looking at the images, but I would close the book and then look again. I guess I liked the feeling of being scared, but knowing you’re also safe.”

Bathtub by Dana Kearley

As She grew older, Dana drew inspiration from Her lived experiences with anxiety and the role of women in cult horror classics like the 1983 release Sleepaway Camp to create the visceral, body-focused nature of her work.

“So many of the main characters in horror movies are females, and what they go through is so real and it does happen in real life,” says Dana. “Anxiety and horror go hand-in-hand for me, because I struggle with mild anxiety . . . and it’s like the fears are almost like reality in a horror film.”

I Stand with Sex Workers by Dana Kearley

A key element of Dana’s work involves the horror film trope of the “final girl”: “You often see that the female is the one who wins or comes out alive.”

The result is a gorgeously unsettling blend of striking colour and controlled chaos that proves that the macabre and the feminine are far from mutually exclusive.

“I love being the weirdo,” says Dana, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

From My Sketchbook by Dana Kearley

Dana Kearley is an artist, illustrator, and devoted hamster mom. See more of Dana’s work via her online portfolio and follow Her on Instagram.

Dre is a heart-shaped glass box of acrylic nail powder whose sun and moon both happen to be in Aquarius.

OURI

Producer and multi-instrumentalist comes up in one of music's most notorious boys' clubs

by June Moon

All images by Michael Brock

I woke up at sunrise and entered Maze. I love waking up with the Sun because I’m reminded that I have permission to start over. Taking into account nature’s cycle, Ouri was instrumental in setting the tone for my day. Her music is power of breath, a booming of energy that dawns in the atmosphere. Possibility, peace, and ingenuity form out of formlessness.

We had heard about each other through friends, but I couldn’t imagine what she’d be like until I heard her music. Her EP Maze was released last year, and it resides alongside a few other precious stones on her SoundCloud.  Her domain is refined, glassy – she soothes my garden fresh. The last track of the EP leaves a vapour trail and I catch myself following the lines in my palms, thinking how everything exists in a fluid state. 

Ouri is a Goddess of knowledge and art, beholding significance and urgency because she has always been fighting. Do you know why? Are you familiar with Her politics?  Can you recognize if you are part of Her resistance? Do you want to help make the world a better place? Listen to Her.

When the people of India fought for independence, they needed to believe that they could navigate their own future without interference from the British. The British were asked to realize they were masters in someone else’s home. As a woman, as a feminist, and as an artist, I utilize the same non-violent, non-cooperative approach that led India to freedom. I want men to surrender their power. When Ouri arrives to soundcheck, treat Her with respect – She knows what She is doing. Do not assume that because you are a man She needs your help – despite your best intentions, She finds this disrespectful. Why don’t you step aside, sit back and let Her do Her thing? Watch Her. Celebrate Her.

After many mornings with my dawn-Goddess, whose harmonies relieve the turmoil and confusion of my anxieties, whose melodies envelop beyond the pleasures of my senses, I rejoice in the spirit of Her offerings. I finally! get the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Ouri for my radio show, and Her presence is dripping with artistry. Her politics rest on the tip of her tongue, on fire when she lights a cigarette. She can see the fight that remains, and every day she makes Her music: discovery in the chaos. And lucky are we to witness Her at work. Ask anyone who has seen Her perform – Ouri is unforgettable.

I feel like boys support each other so easily and I’ve learned to not trust women and to be in competition – I hate this. I want to have girls around me, supporting each other, all the time.
— Ouri

As we hang, she answers my questions and tells me Her stories with determination, humour, and vivid candor. I learn that she was a lost, young girl in Paris dreaming of being a DJ, a producer, a composer. After Her parents divorced, she would fight with Her Mom who “invited” Her to leave the house and go study somewhere else. Friends told Her Montreal was a great place to make art and be a musician. It doesn’t take long for our conversation to lean into our mutual frustrations about being a woman in the industry. We talk about our oppression and how it influences our interactions, our expectations, our everything. Here’s one of my favourite things she had to say:

“It’s such an individual game. You’re trying to be the best, but when you’re in a group you’re so much stronger. I feel like boys support each other so easily and I’ve learned to not trust women and to be in competition – I hate this. I want to have girls around me, supporting each other, all the time.”

This is an important point of reference, the learned notion of girl hate that keeps us isolated and submissive as women. Luckily, Ouri and I feel the change, in our minds and in our practices. “It’s love and freedom, and letting go. It’s the beginning of the Age of Aquarius.”

 

Ouri is an electronic producer, DJ, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and Goddess. She plans to release as much music as possible before fall.
Listen to Her music and follow her on Facebook.


June Moon is a poet, performer, and provocateur. She hopes to make music with Ouri this summer.
Listen to Her music and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.