SHOW ME YOUR RIFFS – Volume One – An Introduction – Going Beyond Gender

ShowMeYourRiffs

“I don’t limit the idea of myself to gender I’ve always fought against that. On “Horses” it says “beyond gender” because I don’t think of myself as a “female singer” or as a “female artist.” A lot of people think it’s a strong feminist point of view to say you’re a female “this” or a female “that” and to me that is really confining. I mean you don’t say “A Male Painter.” You don’t say “Picasso, white male painter” you know, he’s Picasso, he’s an artist. So I don’t really like to confine myself with gender. To me, when it comes to the strongest people you don’t even think of their gender. A lot of the great performers both male and female are strong because you can feel both their masculine and feminine rhythms.”

Patti Smith

This quote best illustrates the feel of what I hope to discuss with my “Show Me Your Riffs” series.

This series is focussed on all of the wonderful human beings who have influenced me over the years and further strengthened my understanding and desire for gender equality. Throughout this series I will be interviewing a lot of artists who I admire and whose music I have loved for a great many years. I’ll also be interviewing a bunch of newer artists who are also currently inspiring me and whose music I currently love.

Riot Grrrl is at the centre of my beating heart.  As a male, my connection to Riot Grrrl music occurred because I could not stand or tolerate the male ego that exists in the rock band landscape. For my whole life I’ve felt fairly alienated from modern male culture and the definition of what being a man is. So when I discovered the sounds of Riot Grrrl it just flawed me. It connected with me deeply and changed my whole perspective on what musical expression could be. It was raw and about equality and it plugged me into feminist culture and that is something that I care deeply about to this day. All of my influences as a musician are female and they extend beyond just the riot Grrrl scene. It all started with my mother and her love of Carole King. Carole King was the first time I heard that roar and Tapestry is a Riot Grrrl classic if you ask me, essential to the history of the roar. I know a lot of people talk about Bikini Kill who is important to the history but for me my favourite Grrrl band was “Heavens to Betsy.” This was Corin Tuckers first band and they were a two piece that only ever released one album that was called “Calculated.” It is in my top eleven albums of all time for sure, just a vital piece of art. It is so incredibly raw and just flat out rocks. Corin remains one of my heroes in life and I still believe that Sleater-Kinney is the greatest rock n roll band ever. This whole series is named after a phrase she coined.

Part of my fight and mission is to make sure that we have gender equality in this world, especially in the music industry, which is where I do the bulk of my work. So this is about opening a dialouge with a range of artists that I admire to get different points of view and to discuss quite deeply, the art of making music.

At the end of the day, I just want to be Patti Smith and Kim Gordon. They are my musical heroes and they have taught me how be the best artist I can be. Patti taught me how to be a poet and Kim taught me how to sing and play guitar. I love them both deeply. Through this series I hope to understand a bit deeper why as a male artist I take my creative influence from primarily female artists.

I look forward to sharing these interviews with you over the coming months.

Big Love to you all xo

By: Dan Newton

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