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Archive for November, 2009

I’ve wanted to ask Annie these questions for awhile about her experience of being a woman musician, and how she sets up her sound with her band, Hysterical Injury. I thought it would be a good idea to whack these answers on the blog, so others too can benefit from this lady’s wisdom. Thanks Annie for answering! Here it goes…

Please introduce yourself and your projects…

My name is Annie Gardiner, I am one half or the noise-pop duo Hysterical Injury I play bass and sing. I also sometimes do solo shows with my own set of songs. It is still noisy with the same bass set up but i use
pre-programmed sounds on my laptop to break up the sound live. I also do
a bit or recording of bands and producing.

Can you give us some background to your experience of playing music.
What got your started? Where there any barriers that you faced as a
woman and what strategies did you use to overcome them?

I come from a musical background and so music is in my blood. I played
violin, I played clarinet as a teenager also but i wavered with interest
in these instruments…they seem stayed and uninteresting, maybe that’s
a teaching fault at school or whatever particularly as I was subjected
to things like John Cage, Glenn Gould and Eric Satie as a very young
child at home. I kind of wanted to explore stuff that wasn’t obvious. I
dont know if rock and punk music constitutes ‘non-obvious’ for my
generation maybe for the /actual/ punks but not second/third generation.
I was certainly into sound and noise and I like the way bands like Sonic
Youth interpreted that in a song format. My father had alot of guitars
at home and I was complaining I was bored one day so he gave me a bass
guitar which he bought from Woolworths before I was born and said ‘If
your bored you’ll learn that!’ He provided no lessons as he was
self-taught and was a firm believer in your own exploration of an
instrument and sound, however, he was on hand for all sorts of valuable
info which was extremely lucky!

[photo by Peter Dickinson]

Once I started in bands it was suddenly a boys world and they weren’t as
accommodating or encouraging as my father which I found stifling and
couldn’t understand why..for years!!! I was ready and serious about
music from about the age of 14 and found it very hard to be taken
seriously in bands, perhaps it was the age group, prehaps gender its
hard to say, but it was a surprise to me because I hadn’t experienced
these things in classical music when I was in orchestra’s etc. I didn’t
make the link that it may be because I was female for a LONG time
because I simply thought that was absurd! I dealt with it by moving and
searching for people -boys and girls- that were serious about art and
music. When I went to University to do Fine Art I met some amazing
people there who I am still in touch with and it was like i was
released! People who just knew what you were talking about and were
‘lets do it’! Girls who knew more about music, guitars, gigging than any
man I’d ever been in a band with previously! I also met incredible men
who were just into the creative process and didn’t care about gender –
it was all about making something – art/music together – and that was
the point! Hysterical Injury is me and Lee and it works just fine.

Do you ever feel intimidated by the terminology that is used in
describing musical processes in male dominated music scenes?

No, I dont feel intimidated. I have learned to be equiped with facts and
knowledge.

Please can you describe your sound set up on stage and how you came to
set it up like that?

Well, currently with Hysterical Injury I have two amps – one lovely
Ashdown transistor 150 watt bass amp combo and a very old (41 years)
Ampeg gemini valve guitar amp. I run my bass guitar through these amps
simultaneously via a loop I make through different pedals. Just over a
year ago we had a guitarist who left and Lee and I were faced with
either quitting or getting another guitarist. We chose neither. I
borrowed a Zvex Fuzz Factory pedal from a friend because Rob (our old
guitarist) had used one and I loved the sound. It turned out I could get
incredible dynamics with it especially if it effected the guitar amp
only! Lee and I went through practise after practise trying different
things. I wanted to have a really gorgeous clean dancey type bass sound
that I could sing over that could then be boosted to hike the intensity
of the song using different noisy pedals. It is exciting to explore
making the songs sound full with just two people.

Could you talk in detail about the pedals you use.

I use two pedals at the moment – Zvex Fuzz Factory and a Tech 21 SansAmp
Bass Drive. The fuzz factory is an analogue, hand made pedal by Zachery
Vex who lives in New York and is famous for making boutique obscure
sounding pedals. There is a Gate control and a Compressor control on the
pedal which help create some really broken up sounds that I’ve never
heard anywhere else. Check out the demo here:

I actually wrote a piece of music called ‘Airport’ for Attack!!!!
magazine using just this pedal and its incredible oscillation facility –
i used it in 3 part harmonies of fuzz! Listen here.

The Tech 21 pedal I use for bass boost and overdrive for my bass amp, it
is also an analogue pedal and from New York, and can turn a guitar into
a live wire or keep a deep warm bass tone. It has amazing eq on it as it
is from Tech 21’s character series. Here is a cool video about the PARA
driver – I have the Bass Driver which is slightly different but i saw
this and its very close :

Do you have any advice for women wanting to get a bit teccy with their
set up, but don’t know where to start?

Just get experimenting! Research a little on the web – there are
hundreds of demo’s of pedals on youtube. If your into bands for a
certain sound find out what they use. I prefer analogue stuff because it
sounds wilder and my experience with digital fx is that they tend to
have a restraint on the amount of unruly noise you can get. You want
something with a bit of wildness…maybe?! And if you get funny looks in
the guitar shop cos you’re not what the metallers expect then take it as
a compliment and get empowered by it!

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Hands are the best medicine

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On Saturday, December 5th we will be filming a trailer for my book, Adventures in Kate Bush and Theory, being published in March 2010 by HammerOn Press.

If you live in the Bristol area (and even if you don’t!) you are welcome to come and take part in the dance. No experience or skill is necessary. Just enthusiasm and a love of the Bush!

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Dancing will take place from 4pm-8pm at 9 Bath Buildings, Montpelier. Hope to see you there!

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Fierce Liverpudlian queer performer Ste McCabe played the Drunk Granny song ‘Everyone Hates Queers’ from our 2007 album Postcards for Auntie Julie on his two hour radio show on Internet radio station, Dandelion Radion.

Ste is quite a radio personality. Babbling to listeners between the songs he lovingly plays, whilst taking sips from his fake Lambrini. The radio show is being broadcast throughout November. You can also listen to songs from bands like Husbands and classics from Smartypants.

Go on, have a listen!

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Homeopathy, eczema, update!

Committed readers of this blog (ahem!) will be aware that I have been taking the homeopathic rememdy ‘Sulphur’ to try and manage my eczema condition. I have to say, those little pills really do work.

Although I am not completely eczema free (I’m still a bit scabby and if I sleep in your bed for a night I will probably bleed over the sheets), my embodied quality of life has improved no end. My neck for example, which previously was in a constant state of itchy inflammation is calm and does not hurt at all – at all! Every moment I touch my neck and it doesn’t hurt I feel this sense of relief and joy.

In my extreme states of frustration with having eczema, I often wished I had a new body. I would sit and cry and feel sorry for myself, paralysed with itchy grief. Now it seems I do have that new body I desperately wanted. The deep pain and shudders I used to experience everyday have gone. I can actually feel my body not hurting – it feels calm, rested, healthy.

Of course I am still applying the avocado oil to make the skin extra smooth, but even without it, my skin may be dry but it does not persistently ache. Hallejeula!

I don’t want to get complacent though, as for me winter is the time my eczema will be at its best because of the cold (being hot and hot weather makes me scratch!) The real test will be in the summer when it gets hot, to see if my quality of mobility can be maintained. Reports will follow.

In the meantime I am working myself up to my first enema – a good clean out of your intestines I have been reliably told is very good for chronic skin conditions. I am working up to this though, but I am sure it’s only a matter of time. Or maybe I can finally get to grips with linseed tea – a globby concoction that makes your skin all oily if drank consistently everyday. Giving up wheat is also on the agenda as this also can be bad for eczema.

The important thing is, from being in a totally desperate and suicidal state about living with this condition that seemed to never get better, heal or stop, I am position now where I feel like I have some control over it. I write this as words of hope for other sufferers, and invite people to share their eczema surviving stories with me here.

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Salzburg….part. 1

I’ve just come home from a week in beautiful clean aired Salzburg with, ironically, a stinking cold. Here is a photo diary (with explanations) of a very fun and inspiring time.

Part of the reason I went to Salzburg was to attend the annual Civil Media conference which is basically a breeding ground for new media geeks who endlessly swap twitter tips in order to improve their citizen journalism. Great stuff, ultimately.

Even better is their participation remit – they pay for travel and accomodation for conference participants up to 200 euros which enables many people to come and give papers or simply immerse themselves in the worlds of the micro-media milleus who attend.

In other words, you get a nice free trip to Salzburg, a free dinner too, and get to meet lots of cool people from all over Europe.

Red Chidgey and Elke Zobl had the good idea to invite a range of queer/ feminist media practitioners to this year’s conference, luring them sp they can be interviewed for their research project. There was a happy gaggle of us hitting the conference, and Salzburg as a whole, for 3-4 days.

I am always impressed how even simple zine exhibitions look really good, and Elke & Red’s was no exception, containing many interesting zines made by feminists and queers transnationally.

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What is great about Civil Media is being exposed to inspiring projects like the ‘Wilkommen in Salzburg’ radio show, a multi-language radio show written and produced by migrant women living in the Salzburg community.

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The show is broadcast in five languages – German, Russian, Turkish, English and BSK (Bosnian, Croation and Serbian) and covers a range of subjects from multi-cultural cooking to domestic violence. The women spoke of the empowering experience the radio show played in their lives, and it was inspiring to hear of women coming together to work on a project across linguistic and cultural differences.

The next presentation I went to was about the student occupation of universities throughout Austria in protest of the imminent neo-liberalisation of Austrian university education (only today did I read in the British newspapers that universities here are planning to hike tuition fees further for students – rubbish!)

The occupation – and the new media methods the activists deployed to spread communiques amongst their fellow protestors – is pretty impressive. Later on that day I visited the occupied University to show some support.

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One of the most inspiring (and truly shocking, in the best possible sense) women I have met in a long time is Sarah Diehl. A passionate and committed reproductive rigths campaigner from Germany, her film Abortion Democracy has been touring the UK, Ireland and Poland in the past few months.

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Sarah gave an interesting talk that pointed to how, despite all the possibilities of new, open access media for connecting activists and groups, right-wing, pro-life groups such as Doctors for Life are using them to mobilise their political agendas with alarming ease.

Sarah also took part in the ‘Feminist Media Production in Europe Panel’ with the very cute Yori who does Trouble X comics, Cris from Migrazine and Nicole from Swiss based women’s radio show, Radio Lora. You can watch a video of the panel here.

Red chaired this session and demonstrated the points I was making about long tail marketing and Print-on-Demand publishing by flaunting her long eye brow tail. Impressive.

longtail

In the evening we hit the streets of Salzburg….

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…On our way to see Daniel Kahn & The Painted Bird, a klezmer, Brecht (and Sound of Music) inspired anti-alienation and show tune band which, despite being all men (gasp!), were pretty amazing.

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Michael Winograd played some of the best clarinet I have ever been lucky to witness. Youch and yum!

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Talking of the Sound of Music, the local art gallery were obviously making a bold statement here:

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On Saturday morning Red and I went along to challenge the pro-lifers who congregate at the hospital the first Saturday of every month. In Austria, like in Germany, it is illegal to have an abortion but you do not get punished for having one. Recently in Salzburg all the doctors in the city have grouped together and refused to perform abortions.

In many countries and cultures, despite laws allowing women to have an abortion (or at least not punishing them for it), negative and religiously motivated attitudes towards abortion (as killing life, so on) make it difficult for women to access services and the correct information (a point nicely demonstrated by Sarah’s film which shows that despite abortion being illegal in Poland, more women have access to it than in South Africa where it is legal).

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In Salzburg, abortions are available to women in the city because a doctor from Vienna comes to perform them every week.

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After the demonstration, Red & I walked back to the hostel, taking some snazzy snaps of Salzburg on the way.

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We met up with Tea Hvala who facilitated the ‘In Other Wor(l)ds’ collaborative science fiction workshop which was hilarious, so much fun, and is documented here.

Tea’s last name in Slovenian means ‘thankyou’ which means her name says ‘Tea thankyou’ in English, which I think would be a perfect way to live. She told me that people in Slovenia don’t get the joke because they call ‘tea’ ‘chai’, but some of her friends still call her chai.

We went into town and sat on the Marina Abramovic sculpture which encourages the people of Salzburg to sit and meditate amidst the busy city. The chairs you can sit on are pretty uncomfortable (but who said enlightenment should be easy?)

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The big tall one looks pretty impressive, and is a friend to pigeons who live in the city

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Then Tea, Red & I went to the Mozartiem to sneekily practise in the posh music rooms. We were in search of a harp but all we could find was a Steinway

tea_debs_laughing

Rock!

tea_debs_piano

It was fun and naughty (fun because it was naughty).

Well, that was about it for me and Salzburg this time, but here is a photo of a Mozart ball, just in case you ever wondered what one was.

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