Monday, 8 August 2016

Whatevers!

We are heading on tour next week with Whatevers and Fomo! Whatevers are a new concept punx band singing songs about everyone's favourite 90s teen film Clueless. Their debut ep is out today and you should all get a copy now!

I wanted to interview Whatevers because they're a concept punx band like my band The Potentials, we're releasing new eps on the same day (our ep is out today too by the way), and we're all going on tour together next week and so I wanted to compare notes from one concept punx to another.

Whatevers are a Clueless themed diy pop band fronted by Kandy (guitar and vocals) and Seleena (drums and vocals)


Seleena and Kandy are Dionne and Cher!


How did the two of you decide to move from Yiiikes to Whatevers? Why a Clueless concept band?
Seleena: Alison (Yiiikes! Bass player) had a baby so the band went on hiatus, but we really wanted to go on a summer tour again so decided we had to form another band.
We decided on a concept because we needed to differentiate it from Yiiikes aren’t musically gifted to make things sound that different! Think we toyed with a craft concept band at first cuz we make a craft zine together but then settled on a  mutual love, Clueless
Plus we already had Cher and Dionne’s outfits


  • When you first decided to start a Clueless concept band how did you decide what you wanted to write about?

S: We started by taking the best quotes from the film as song titles and then based the songs round that! We have a very logical song writing process!
Kandy: That sums it up, we wanted the songs to be clueless themed without singing directly about the film/events in the film.

Did you end up re-watching Clueless for research?
S: I did. I was like I know Clueless inside out I don’t need to watch it, I got stuck so watched it with the band in mind. Plus any excuse to watch Clueless!
K: Yep, of course! I have a really bad memory, but Clueless is one of the things that stays in my brain. Any excuse for another watch.



Has writing songs about Cluess made you re-evaluate that film or view it with new eyes?
S: I don’t think so, I think I probably watched Clueless with new eyes a while a go. Most things I loved as a teen I didn’t notice some issues with it til later, usually things like slut shaming or lack of POC characters, homophobia, or even class. But I think Clueless has quite a light hearted fun look at all of those (in the TV series you saw way more of Tai’s working class roots). I mean it’s still a bit odd it’s about a girl who falls for her step brother, but he’s Paul Rudd so whatever!
K: I think it made me appreciate how much there is in the film even more (even though I didn’t do any of the lyric writing).

Clueless is over 20 years old and is a classic. How do you think younger people not even born in the 90s will related to your Cluesless references ?
S: Well I think we have done it at just the right time, the 90s is come back in everything’s gone full circle and Clueless is having it’s think pieces and parody’s, from music videos (FYI not an Iggy Azelea fan obvs!) to influencing high street fashion. So our references hopefully won’t be lost on the next generation and also be appreciated by people our own age.
K: I feel like 20 years later is the perfect time to pick something up as a theme, as like Seleena said, 90’s is totally in. Also, I think the songs relate now even if people don’t get the clueless references, being a teen has the same essence whether it’s with a pager or an i-phone, the themes in our songs are relevant.

We always get asked this a lot as a concept band so I thought we’d ask you this too – do you think you’ll ever run out of material to write songs about as a concept band. If not, what other Clueless things are you dying to write about?
S: we probably will, it’s only a 90 min film. You guys have 7 seasons! I suppose we could watch the TV show, but it was a bit naff! Or have spin off songs about the careers of Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd!
I’d probably take songs I write into the ‘what happened next’ Clueless the 30 something years!
K: Yeah, I feel like we have taken a lot of the main themes in the songs we have already written.


As a Buffy concept band we understand what it’s like having fictional characters be betrayed by the actors who play them. Although in our case we hate both the character of Xander and the actor Nicholas Brendon. How does it feel when Stacy Dash keeps saying the most awful things? Can you still separate the character from the actor?
S: Yeah you have it easier ha! I love the character of Dionne. I think I manage to separate the two because Clueless is 20 years old, where as I’ve only heard of the horror of Stacey Dash’s views in recent years. It’s disappointing I’m not gonna lie. But I still love the importance the character of Dionne. #stopstaceydash #banshitactors
K: What Seleena said, apart from the fact I’m really bad at knowing what’s going on so I haven’t seen much of what Stacey Dash says.




In Yiiikes you wrote songs as a three piece with bass, how has just guitar and drums worked in terms of writing songs. What was recording like?
S: I found it quite easy. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to make our sound ‘full’ but we have worked on so many projects together over the years we work really well together so always know what each other means.
Recording was easier than I thought (we got our friend Steve to come round with his four track!) so was comfortable being in our own space.
K: It was good, definitely thought we were going to sound like there wasn’t enough ‘there’ in terms of the music but the power of a distortion pedal and as Seleena said working together just works! Recording was fun, I liked doing things separately, and Steve was great!

Do you like recording or prefer playing live?
S:  We’ve been lucky in that any recording we have done has been by friends in our space, so I didn’t feel all ‘argh what am I doing’ but I hate hearing my own voice! Much prefer live cuz I am a bit of a show off.
K: As much as I liked the doing things separately bit of recording and it has always been quite relaxed, live is much more fun, also a show-off (even though I tend to go quiet on stage).



Whats the future of Yiiikes, and will you be playing music or making art together again in the future?
S: we’re still gonna be Yiiikes! And hopefully be making music again soon. The next thing we work on will definitely be art related as we haven’t done that for a while.
K: Yeah, definitely still gonna do art and music as Yiikes!

Apart from Clueless what other bands have influenced your songs?
S: oh, aside from the Clueless soundtrack ha! Tacocat, Kitten Forever, Upset, The Potentials!
K: Yep, those bands!

Do you like any other concept bands?
S: The Potentials are my faves!!!!! The Home Alones, are 14 Year Old Girls a concept band, maybe sorta? MCR aren’t a concept band, but they’re fans of a concept and I’m a BIG fan of them.
K: Harry and the Potters!!! And obvs The Potentials.  

Yiiiikes was an art collective and when you played live there was a visual element to it from the costumes you’d wear to the specially designed drum skin you made, and the songs were often extensions of themes and ideas in your exhibitions. Will Whatevers be just as visual, or is this totally separate to the art you both make?
S: I think it will, not as much as Yiiikes! Because we set out as Yiiikes! To be equal parts a band and equal parts art. But we both come from art/craft backgrounds so it will feature a few visual elements (mainly merch, outfits and videos!!)
K: Visual but in a different way, as Seleena said being from art/craft backgrounds our strengths lie in design/craft/visuals so we’ll be using them!

In Yiiikes you had a song called Don’t Touch My Hair and Whatevers have a song called I don’t wear polyester hair which is all about loving your hair polyester or not and telling anyone who tries to touch it to fuck off. What other real life subjects do you sing about through the lens of Clueless?
S: all the themes everything I ever make is about ha! Race, class, feminism, not feeling like cuz you hit yr 30s you gotta stop fighting for stuff or being passionate about stuff.
K: Yep, all of that!

You go on tour with us and Fomo next week! What are you most looking forward to?
S: EVERYTHING! Hanging out with everyone, seeing you all play every night, seeing friends in other towns, having a laugh, buying all The Potentials merch!
K: All the hang times, food and seeing ace bands play every night.



The Whatevers tape Totally Buggin is out today and you can see them on tour with my band The Potentials and super megababes FOMO in one week on the Sick Sad World Tour!





Saturday, 6 August 2016

Sick Sad World Tour!

Pretty soon I'll be getting in the partymobile with my band The Potentials, and our mates The Whatevers and FOMO and going on a week long summer tour and so of course there's a tour zine too!

We've made a compilation zine together with interviews, top tips, puzzles, comix, and a special guide to tour pilates!


The zine is a tour exclusive, meaning we've done a limited print run and won't be printing anymore after tour, so once they're gone, they're gone. So come see us on tour if you want a copy!


We went on a summer tour last year with Yiiiikes! and Joyless Fucking and it was the most fun ever and we knew we really wanted to do it again. So we used up our last bits of annual leave and planned an 8 day trip with our mates and now the countdown begins!


Art by the bloody wonderful Polly Richards

We are also releasing our new ep on Monday 8th August on Keroleen records. It's beautiful, check out the artwork that the incredibly talented Jack Fallows created:


I'm dead excited for our ep to come out. We recorded it a couple of months ago during a weekend when I had tonsillitis and a massive chest infection. The good thing about recording is that I now have a cd to remind me for life of chugging lemsip between takes and not being able to breath through my nose or swallow properly or sing or talk at all. Thank god for reverb. 


Planning a tour can be a lot of work and asking promoters to put on three totally unknown out of town bands is a BIG ask. It's been fun and challenging and tiring (although I will never understand promoters that agree to put you on but then never ever ever answer your emails or phonecalls. Promoters that are also in bands themselves so would understand how stressful that could be). I think planning our summer tour last year has definitely made us all better gig organisers ourselves as the diy scene is so reciprocal and it's made us think a lot about how we put on shows and how to accommodate touring bands. There are so many people that are incredibly generous with their time, willing to put us on, find us floor space to sleep on, borrow us equipment, and feed us vegetables so we don't get scurvy and we are so so so grateful. But most of the work for this tour is over and all that's left to do is to hop into the van driven by our good mate Kathleen of Scratch that Itch zine, and cross our fingers for hash browns and cool tour pets along the way. 

Come see us!


Saturday, 2 July 2016

Making zines

I made a little video documenting the process of making zines, from writing and drawing, to cutting and pasting, folding and staping, then hopping on a train to zine fests to meet other zinesters and get inspired by other people's zines.

I made this zine during Northwest zine fest, thanks to everyone that kindly let me film them. And thanks to NW Zinefest organisers for organising such an awesome zine fest.


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Zine workshop at Pride

So it feels like the world ended.  I can’t watch any more rolling news, I can’t watch the bbc blame everything on Corbyn or talk about the working class like they are a different species. I can’t talk to my racist nan who voted leave. I can’t see another England flag in the streets waving it’s stupid nationalistic pride in my face. I can’t stand politicians that can't fucking engage with people outside of London or learn how to talk to people rotting away in poverty, and I can’t look away from the constant reports of the rise in racist/xenophobic attacks, abuse, and intimidation.

I’m angry and I’m scared and all the zines and music and writing I make feels so frivolous and trivial this week.



So Saturday morning was not a great day to get out of bed and go do a zine workshop. Honestly I just wanted to stay under the covers and put a sad Springsteen album on (probably Nebraska or Tom Joad on repeat) and not really face the world. It was London pride, but I didn't have any pride in a Smirnoff sponsored pride (I don't drink), with an RAF flyover (I have no pride in military), and if anything I'd hoped to scrape together enough energy to attend the queer picnic in south london led by qtipoc. But first I had a zine workshop to attend.

New zine I made for the workshop explaining what zines are and how to make them

Gosh comics very kindly asked me to co-host a zine making workshop for pride with the wonderful Rachael House, an artist and zinester I’ve long admired. One of the first zines I ever got was one of her Red Hanky Panky zines, so it was ace to be able to do this with her. The idea was to get people to stop for a bit and make an lgbt zine about pride, sexuality, gender identity, bodies, crushes, or anything at all. On a day like last Saturday I wanted to encourage people to come and make angry angry queer zines about Orlando, about Jo Cox, about the referendum, about being queer and muslim, about how QTPOC bear the brunt of the majority of LGBT violence, about immigration, about refugees, about feeling queer and European, about Smirnoff sponsored pride, to get out some of the anger we were all feeling.

I ended up making a mini comic about what it's like to not feel queer enough:



In reality a lot of people made much more positive zines, about hope, about love, and relationships, about what pride means to them, so maybe it’s good not everyone was as angry as me. Like this lovely person who made a zine addressed to their unborn nibling about being a cool gay aunty:





Some of us made angry and critical zines, but regardless of what zines we made we talked constantly as we made them, talking about the referendum, about racism and xenophobia we had seen, about Orlando, about Jo Cox, about corporate pride, about how scared and angry we were. We talked about the demonisation of the working class, about ageism, about not feeling queer enough. We also talked about comics and The Lord of the Rings, about fanfic, and about school, about music, about punk, about books, about clothes, about art. We shared our coming out stories, we talked about our relationships, we talked about bi-erasure, we talked about gender queer identities. We talked a LOT and it was so needed.


It was a small but lovely crowd, and lots of people made their first ever zines with us. 



My partner even came and made his first ever zine:




The first thing that nearly everyone said as they sat down with us was 'I don't know what to write' or ‘I can’t draw’ . Rachael had great advice that the drawing only had to be strong enough to hold the idea they were trying to show. It didn’t matter if you couldn’t draw, if you had never written anything before, making a zine was about sharing ideas and people really got on board with that. 








Sitting round a table in one of my favourite comic shops, getting angry and sharing ideas and making things with people was so needed. Staying under the covers and listening to sad songs is ok too, but I'm glad I was able to get out and make things and feel productive and talk and escape for a bit. 



Thanks to Gosh comics for having us, and thanks to everyone that came and made their first zines, they are all so rad!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Northwest Zine Fest 2016

I wanted to post a quick self-promo post about how it's Northwest Zine Fest tomorrow and come and get my zines blah blah blah. But it's been a really hard week and I'm just feeling drained.

The massacre at Pulse club of mostly LGBT Latinx people and the straight/cis/white washing of that attack; the murder of Jo Cox and the inability to call such a thing a terrorist attack because the terrorist was white with a 'history of mental illness'; TERFS (trans-exclusionary radical 'feminists') bringing the transphobic argument against trans people using public bathrooms to the UK; and the general feeling of islamophobia + racism + male violence + toxic masculinity+fucking brexit, all mixed in with seeing fucking England flags everywhere I go this week because of the football has got me in a slump that's so hard to shake.

 Doing your day job with people that might not talk about these things or talk about them in a wrong way is hard. Listening to family members talk incorrectly about immigration and racism is hard. Feeling everyone just carrying on as normal is hard. This week is nothing new,  and racist and lgbt attacks and murders happen all the time.

 I attended the vigil at Vauxhall Gardens on Tuesday night for the victims of the Pulse massacre which was organised and led by LGBT London Latinx. I hugged my chosen family and held them close, I cried, and it was cathartic and powerful. I went home last night after hearing about Jo Cox and I cried while my partner hugged me and I couldn't even stand up. I need my people around me this weekend. While it's not the real world and terrible things are happening and I can't even think about the referendum next week, I just want to exist in my queer bubble this weekend with my mates and with people who matter and aren't necessarily going to say the wrong thing, who are going to acknowledge the shitness of all of this, and who feel just as drained as I do.

So I'll be at Northwest Zine Fest tomorrow, flogging my photocopied bits of tat, chatting shit about Bruce Springsteen, pretending for one day that I can draw and it's ok that I made a comic with no drawing skills, and talking with people who get it and make stuff and feel drained too. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's new zines and seeing people be creative when I know it's not always easy to do that. I'm looking forward to reading about people's lives, seeing their art, seeing the new things that they have made. And  I'm going to read my stupid YA fantasy book on the train about a bloody magic stone, I'm gonna treat myself to some percy pigs, and I'm hopefully gonna  have a day where my chest doesn't feel so tight.

Art by Saffa Khan

Northwest Zine Fest is tomorrow Saturday 18th June, Islington Mill Salford from 11:30 - 4:40pm.

Monday, 23 May 2016

She saved the world, a lot.

My new zine, Bite Me, is here! It's a Buffy the Vampire Slayer zine and includes pieces from the now out of print Slayerfest zine with some pieces on why I hate Xander, an ode to technopagans, and an extract of a Buffy/Faith fanfic I wrote when I was 17, as well as contributions from Megan Pickering, Polly Richards, Zak Kilburn, Sarah Broadhurst, Stef Bradley, Sofia Hicks, and Ingrid Boring. 



The zine was made to celebrate one year of being in my Buffy concept punx band The Potentials but as I'm in the middle of burnout to the max, it's a little bit late. Soz. You can get copies from me at Northwest Zine Fest next month or from my online zine shop here:




It's a year since we sacked off the Buffy rpg Shahnaz, Zak and I were supposed to be playing and started a Buffy themed band instead! 

I'm not in the habit of celebrating birthdays of bands I've been in but this one felt a bit special. I've always played keyboards in all the bands I've been in, and I think I've always just been dead scared of playing guitar because it is so unnatural to play and I really should have started when I was young and didn't give a shit rather than when I was 30 and anxious. My teenage guitar was beautiful but unused. It had a bis Starbright Boy sticker on it, and I used to download tabs for green day and hole in the college library, but didn't know how to use them and couldn't make my fingers do what I wanted so I gave up. It was a really nice bis sticker though.

So it's been a year since I picked up a guitar for the first time, and I haven't really gotten any better than that first practice, but I have stuck with it and had so much fun and played shows and written songs with my mates and played with lots of ace people. Diy punx have been dead kind to us in the last year and it's felt pretty special and I'm glad we got to throw a birthday party with some of our favourite people like Molar and Just Blankets and Junk. We played pass the parcel, got gifts to Lewisham Food Bank, and forgot how to play some of our songs. It was the best!

Apparently it has been 13 years since Buffy went off the air, and somehow a telly show I used to be obsessed with at school still means the world to me. Enough for me to be in a Buffy band and write zines about it. And while it's dated in some pretty bad ways and there are plenty of problematic aspects to pick apart, the show is still fully ingrained in me. I was at school when Buffy was, I went to 6th form when Buffy went to college, I came out as queer around the same time as Willow, and I'm a big fan of living in the past apparently. Last week I'd had the worst day at work and felt so angry and frustrated and tired to my bones and I came home and watched the season 5 episode Checkpoint so I could watch Buffy tell the Watchers Council to go fuck themselves. It's a security blanket and was exactly what I needed even though I've seen that episode a billion times and could quote it by hear. Who hasn't wanted to throw a giant sword in the workplace?




Thursday, 12 May 2016

Zine reading

I had the best time taking part in the pop up zine library and zine readings hosted by Salford Zine Library a couple of weeks ago. Here's me reading some pieces from my zine Me and Bruce (and my dad) #2 which is all about how I've appropriated the lyrics of Bruce Springsteen to be about my dad.




"My dad goes to way more hardcore punx shows than I do and thinks I'm ridiculous for liking My Chemical Romance"


You can see the full recap plus videos of readings by Steve Carlton from Salford Zine Library and Seleena and Em from Poor Lass here:


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