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Music to #FreeKesha by

It’s a ripple around the world that many of us are still reeling from: a two-year legal battle ended recently for pop supernova Kesha-certainly to be confused with pop supernova Ke$ha-whereby she sought to terminate her contract with Sony based the mental mistreatment and sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of producer Lukasz Gottwald- to be confused with producer Dr. Luke. She lost. Lack of evidence and Sony’s investment in her career cited as reasons to continue trafficking Kesha in the music industry. The photo of her collapsing into tears when the verdict was read has accompanied many a #FreeKesha tribute – led almost exclusively by female singers.

There is much to be finger-pointed as to why male musicians have maintained mum on this, but it’s entirely possible that it continues to be empathy that raises female musician’s voices, because this is by no means the first time a female singer has cloaked her own abuse in her own recording sessions. So while some of us commiserate, other plot, others do whatever it takes to absolve themselves of any responsibility and carry on their sleight-of-patriarchy lifestyle, here’s a #FreeKesha playlist to keep us pushing to see change in the systemic abuse of female creatives, caught between using their talents and tribulations to enrich the world and so few opportunities to do so on a large scale.

#10: Beyoncé – Listen

 

 

It didn’t seem too coincidental that soon after producing this song for the Dreamgirls movie, arguably this generation’s most powerful woman decided to separate from the man who had guided her music career: her own father. The flack she copped was intense for deciding to establish her independence and be a role model for aspiring female businesswomen. It would have taken monumental courage to fire her own father, and her success since the move is a true indication of how important it is to pursue your intuition at all costs.

#9: Rihanna -What Now

 

 

Their relationship was as profitable as it was powerful, until suddenly her battered face flooded the internet. The boycott of Chris Brown was sh0rt-lived and stories of how he was abused have surfaced in contextual isolation of what he did to Rihanna. She went back to him briefly, and upon her leaving him again, spoke to Barbara Walters “When I realised that my selfish decision for love could result in some young girl getting killed? I could not be easy with that…I couldn’t be held responsible for telling them ‘go back'”.

#8: Alanis Morrissette – Right Through You

 

 

It speaks for itself mostly, about how women are objectified by the domination of men in power of various industries. The opportunity for men to call shots according to personal interests is compounded by the fact that there’s no-one to contest them, because they’re surrounded by their peers. This song was the first callout of this kind I ever heard, over twenty years ago and how much has changed?

#7: Lily Allen – Hard Out Here

 

 

A bold song, a Meredith-Brooks-esque reclamation of the B-word. Hopefully by this point in the playlist, you’re not losing hope but galvanising and knowing that it’s all our part to play when it comes to equity in all industries. Whether Allen still has that hope is unclear as she’s retired several times in the face of what is happening to the music industry as a result of profiteering labels and consumer piracy. Buy music people, and not just Taylor Swift’s.

#6: Lana Del Rey – F*cked My Way Up to the Top

 

 

Lana Del Rey spoke in an interview about how this song is meant more to callout public perception that her career should be credited to her sexual relationships with music industry figures over her talent. Del Rey doesn’t deny sleeping around, but was very clear that not one of those relationships led to her record deal. Does this do more damage than good? You be the judge.

#5: Kelly Rowland – Dirty Laundry

Another former Destiny’s Child. Purely for its references to how Rowland’s long-term abusive relationship was long kept from the public eye by herself, her friends, her management team. The culture of victim-shaming does not discriminate.

#4: Tina Turner – Let’s Stay Together

 

Leaving husband and musical partner Ike Turner left Tina penniless and without access to her former hits. She released two albums post-split that performed dismally until this cover of Al Green began her climb back up to the top. I still find it a twist of the universe that a song about sticking with your partner through everything should re-launch a woman who left hers for the better. Perhaps ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It’ would’ve been a better inclusion.

#3: Tori Amos – Me & a Gun

 

Similar to Turner, Amos found herself in a state of needing reinvention when she returned to her compositional roots with the Little Earthquakes album. Me & a Gun is a raw rendition of what it feels and means to be assaulted, what strength of the mind it takes to recover. If there is one hope I have for the recording industry, it’s that they continue to allow these stories to be shared in this way. Now if they’d just stop being at the root of so many…

#2: Lady Gaga – ‘Til it Happens to You

 

A song that went unnoticed by most outside the Little Monster community, but an important message originally written for a film about rape on American college campuses. I imagine this one will need a few repeats for those who take liberty to comment about rape and sexual assault without having experienced it for themselves.

#1: Kesha – Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright

Take as long as you need. Seek support if you need it, don’t let this event discourage you from having heart, taking a stand against those who would shame and suppress you. Men, women, trans, null, human, animal. We all can make changes if we step beyond our own fear and look at how we can lead by example in our homes, workplaces, schools, stores, streets.

If you are experiencing violence or suffering, do not hesitate to call 1800-RESPECT (737 732) or Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you know or suspect someone going through trauma, you can contact these services too to be empowered to reach out and show your support.

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What might Australians learn from the political prowess of #Formation

When I woke up this morning, this picture was everywhere.

beyonce-formation-video The song is another step onward from her R&B hook-heavy silky-smooth hit-a-minute days, and the video a staple in the new era of visual statements and moving-picture-vision boards to deliver stream-of-conscious access points galore for the patron. Beyonce has spent a good amount of time and money in shaping a vortex of uber-cool around her. Releasing the I’m-grown-up now self-titled album all in one kamehame-ha motion. Now, much to relief of the more intellectual listener who once took pleasure in her release from discourse in favour a good dance-out, she gives us Formation. A track political and prideful of African-American heritage and the countless cultural neurological pathways it has borne in the collective conscious of the planet. Now onto my umpteenth listen, and seeing the ripples deepen on social media to now include the reaction videos (why?), acquisition and development or merchandising, and intimation of the styles into civilian expression, it becomes important we approach this article abiding by the following:

DO NOT APPROPRIATE FORMATION IN ANY WAY.

Formation is a moment to allow to swell in the one direction it needs to: for the safety and equality of black people and people with black heritage in America today who need to feel the solidarity of the world as they take on modern-day colonialism that a black President couldn’t even coerce the people to demolish. What it has done is brought scrutiny and compassion which must now be leveraged to see reforms and discipline delivered. Queen Bey isn’t the only leader of the pack, and it is not her responsibility to do the work. It is her privilege to inspire and activate the masses. So get onto that.

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All that being said, music has the unavoidable gift of endearing worldwide interaction, and it remains one of the most powerful forces for communication across the world that is still chiefly used to encourage minors to have sex and promote the interests of singers whose financial and fame statuses deliver false goals to the public. Meanwhile in Australia, there is opportunity in Formation to be reminded of components of our patchwork culture that need remedying.

What is the formation, ladies? Is it in the streets outside parliament? Is it postering businesses with no maternity leave policy? Is it breastfeeding your children en masse in a public park? Australian women are in coordinate step with the rest of the world when it comes to inequalities; feminist philosophies and concepts do their own job, but many have lost sight of the synonymic relationship between feminism and women’s rights. The latter should be your way of taking action. Write a blog, make an art, start a conversation out of nowhere, bring it up on dates and in strategic meetings.

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Beyond women’s rights, we too have systemic and endemic problems in how our native and black culture is liberated in this country. That is to say that beyond Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Yothu Yindi and other celebrity faces, our intrinsic relationship with the acknowledged ‘custodians’ of this land is arguably null, apathetic, and tokenistic. Conversations I have about Indigenous inclusions in positions of influence involve the placement of individuals within white systems and conformation to the parameters set by whites in those environments. Is that why we’re afraid to become a Republic? Because we’d lose the excuse of being run by Brits to let Indigenous people actually contribute to lawmaking? Black people in our country die in custody too, they are minoritised and for all their marvellous offering to art and academics, the current selection criteria still cordon them off and siphon their inspiration. Australia’s Minister for Indigenous Affairs was born in England.

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One of the things I love most about the song is how the titular lyric could be read as “now let’s get information”. Education around here still leaves lightyears to be improved upon. Being that our proximity to much of the political, economic, cultural powers of the world is reduced, Australia has long been left behind and influences outdated before they start embossing outputs. But times are changing, and the role of Australia and Australians in contemporary everything is increasing year-by-year. Education must be brought up to code for this influence to flourish, for Australians to access the intellectual hives and resume a position of leadership like it had when it offered its women the vote years in advance of feet-dragging London empire. It was once the case that Australia was like the start-up company innovating around the cumbersome corporates like England, China and America. Now we’re a joke, caught up in politics more in touch with the investors than the actual voting public, and public opinion driven too easily by media and social media motivated by sales over a responsibility to inform.

So start reading smarter, start trying harder, start connecting deeper. If a nation is only as good as its people, then Australians as people had best reinvest in what our nation should be party to. If a nation is only as good as its leaders, then come election time Australians had best vote for the well-equipped, not the well-recognised. What formation you know you perform at your best to make the change, now is the time to get into it.

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Sia Talks Healing.

Oh yeah, she’s swinging from chandeliers and keeping everyone guessing now. But any true Sia lover would remember what I’m about to give major snaps for: the spoken word/interview lines on her early-noughties, did-you-blink-and-miss-it-fool album ‘Healing is Difficult’.

I’ll keep this quick-yes I’m serious!-because essentially this article both warrants and encourages a full-album session with HiD. Seriously just chuck it on and let it play out. Although songs like Get Me, I’m Not Important to You and the titular tune absolutely rock your feelings place, I just need to put out there about the goings-on between songs.

Here’s the full script once you take out the tracks:

I reckon fear is like a, sort of, if you, if you’re afraid of something that isn’t there
Sometimes I do have fears
Shakin’ about, like I’ve seen a ghost or something
Sometimes I do have fears

That noise again?!

When I receive something, I just feel good about myself

It’s a saying that my uncle told me, he said
“Treat people how you want to be treated
See your character coming, near you”
And do you reckon it’s scary being judged?
Yeah, I do, but you’ll get the hang of it
I think I’m being judged by myself
So I just think I’ll be judged by myself always
Treat people how you want to be treated

Vampires are known to sneak around
Don’t laugh, please, I actually want to be a vampire when I’m older
*laughs
She laughed!

If you could write a song what would you write about?
Um, I think I’d write about…me!
I did it!
You did it

Now let me make clear it resonates far deeper obviously when you hear it, and I cut it all together for myself but I can’t put that on the internet because obviously. Anyway..

Before ‘We Are Born’ gave us Big Girl Little Girl there was this tender from-the-mouths-of-babes genius. To deliver the simplicity of viewing adult problems as a child, Sia showed depth of talent and craft. Before taking on the music industry, all kinds of self-worth might exist and we’ve all seen how reality television and corporate executive trend-analysis can destroy all that esteem and optimism about the value of one’s own voice. Even if your ambition seems as impossible to mum and dad as becoming a vampire. How can we hope to achieve the first dream when of course we feel ridiculed or misunderstood by idol, family, friend and stranger alike?

Further, children understand far too early in life that before they can decide anything, before they are considered capable physically and emotionally they are going to be scrutinised. Even more so in the digital age. Before even developing awareness about their own gender or identity, they have been splayed across social media and offered advanced (maximum-access, credit-card,chargeable) technology to play with. Of course it’s going to be hard to take on any idioms about self respect and character when early childhood is facing children with failure, pressure to compete, and a performance culture in the West at least. Is all this pressure even there? Marketing and comedy have bred a subliminal nature in almost all of us: the passive-aggressive mechanism, sarcasm and satirical approaches to conflict, slang so far removed from correct communication we barely know what we’re saying (let alone text language), sexisms and stereotypes so subtly ingrained we can’t defend our own children from them. It’s incredible.

So when children face trauma, or children become adults who can’t process trauma, of course a journey as complicated, personal, nuanced as ‘healing’ is going to be difficult. Resilience is immeasurable, in the same way dosages of medicines are right until they’ve caused irreparable damage.

I think there’s a stack-tonne to gain from these moments, especially when interlaced with the way similar concerns appear again in adult life, sung by Sia.

So get a little jazz-grimy. Give this a listen. Share some Comments and Musings. Would love to chat with you.

Keep reppin’ Sia.

From Facebook today…on Transgender Day of Remembrance

Good morning girls, boys, and beyonds. In case anyone had missed it, we’re currently revering Transgender Day of Remembrance‬ for anyone identifying as a gender that disagrees with their physical. This is no disease or malfunction, but a beautiful expression of the soul beyond the body and between the sexes. I pray my lifetime will bear witness to, and lend itself to the end of discrimination, persecution, bullying, butchery or exclusion of transgender people, or indeed anyone outside the heteronormative in how they wish to identify, and who they might consent to love. There’s more than we think there is to this incarnation.

Best way to spend this day was in honour with Tori Amos who used her all request show to discuss gender and sexuality in her songs, and played Fire On the Side to commemorate the occasion. Let no more people be cast aside or dismissed, left to burn or fight for their rights in peripherals of society. Forgive, love, apologise, thank. ‪#‎bg2yx‬.

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I implore Victoria to consider the human rights of these PEOPLE, these SOULS, our children and siblings and mentors and lovers in your vote next weekend. Intersex and asexual people too. Don’t vote just for what you want, but for what’s right.

5 Reasons Why Tomorrow Needs Tori Amos: An Open Letter to The World’s Successful Artists Past, Present, Future

You don’t necessarily need to be living under a rock to be missing one of modern music’s greatest and most lasting figures currently leading a nomadic movement across the planet. Tori Amos is finally back in Australia, presently delivering yet another epic tour for Unrepentant Geraldines her fourteenth studio album; seven dates include two phenomenal shows with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and an all-request show (that’s right, throw in whatever you want!).

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Having discovered Tori not too long ago myself, I have been making the most of this visit and am repeatedly completely blown away by this artist-the calibre of whom is dwindling or developing depending on how you choose to look at the industry, creative consciousness and contemporary demands on musicians. It strikes me that in the same way we have all mourned and deeply missed the likes of legends recently passed, I sat in stalls of these shows knowing that this creative master would be incredibly missed and not likely succeeded by another quite like her. Sustainability is not the objective of the global artistic industry, let alone the commercial end, so I feel it within my faculties to use what technical savvy the timing of my birth has afforded me to address some things about Tori Amos, those she is like, and those like her. Precisely, I want to make clear five reasons that this type of art be an expression we make as prominent as possible, and remind widely of the value it brings and pervades.

NB: stay with me on this, I know we Ears With Feet (Tori’s version of Little Monsters est. 1996 for those of you playing at home) can be on the intense and sometimes obstinate side but this is an open discussion about music, artism and life. I’ve just used a favourite for a lens. Thank U.

1. She’s a Griffin
Like seriously, and I know that might make no sense to you, but if you’re across the mythology of griffins then you’ll be nodding right now. What I’m getting at here is that according to mythology, it is impossible to tell a lie in the presence of a griffin. When I first met Tori at a Meet and Greet, the sensation of absolute authenticity was both onrushing and incapacitating. I confirmed with many other people I met at the event that it’s a common feeling, as though when faced with her, all you can do is be your ultimate and original self. I lost all functions of articulation, syntax, humour, conversation, anecdote or connectivity. Now I imagine that for some, that simply becomes them for a humble and grateful individual, innocent at heart; I know for some it’s a swift reduction to tearfulness and overwhelm. For me, it was a lot of stumbling words (from someone paid to talk and personally coached in rhetoric!). This is really a thing, there is a whole page dedicated to anecdotes entitled Tori Turned Me Stupid. I believe this is simply due to the concept of Tori providing an open, completely generous and present essence. I have no idea how this woman can come into a group of intense, oft-far-travelled, some traumatised, all excited and potentially anxious people, bringing with her no expectations into the throng.

I feel that presently, many an artist (and almost exclusively a celebrity), strategises their goals around the platform of character (think Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Sacha Baron Cohen, Australia’s Chris Lilley, even Lorde), and are frequently linked to the greats who also seemed to dress up in new identities. But it is my perspective that Madonna, Prince, David Bowie, Kylie Minogue to an extent, and yes Tori Amos all transitioned into new creative incarnations from a place of intimacy, not luminosity. I got the sense that every new dimension to these artists’ reinvention actually came from a lived place, as opposed to a separation from or extension of self. Hopefully we see this going forward from performers getting their commedia happening!

2. The Secret is the Piper’s Pipes
There is a special look of confusion that crosses people’s faces when I tell them that what really hooked me into Tori was her drooling. But the fans get it!! At the end of the day, artists like Beyonce, P!nk, Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Darren Hayes, Sia, Kate Miller Heidke will stand up with the Jeff Buckleys, and the Stevie Nicks’, the Shirley Mansons, Dallas Greens and Annie Lennoxes of the world because each and all push their voice continuously, breaking and re-setting their instruments to have a strong and diverse life on shelves and in hearts. When Tori drools in shows, it is always at the moment where the note is so powerful, and so emoted that whether she chooses to or not, the music and the sound takes any and all priority over the spectacle or the appeal. As it happens, I find it incredibly sexy! Now we may buy the work of musicians, comedians, actors that make mark of the time in which they rose to prominence because they remark on the development of industry and content. But Audrey Hepburn can be watched any day of the week, as Marilyn Monroe can if you’re not a Hepburn fan (yeah I’m calling out that dichotomy!). Having fans is one thing, a following quite another. But few artists have a force. You don’t need it to be big, and in spite of trend you don’t need to give it its own corny eponymous nickname, you don’t even need it to identify itself. But if that’s what you want, then the work of the mastery of the instrument is up to you to do, and to share, and trust. Many an artist lost momentum and fell quickly off the rising star platform because they didn’t believe in themselves enough to work on their craft. Reality television will have a bit to answer for on that front (watch the “losers” of those shows: Ella Henderson, Adam Lambert, Jessica Mauboy, Justin Timberlake, even One Direction-loathe though I am to reference them).

3. They Ain’t Heavy, They’re FaNily
Every family has one oddball, except the Toriphile Ears With Feet family who has maybe one straight-lace. Without belabouring the point about fandom, what I have loved most about attending a Tori Amos tour is the people you meet; the diversity amongst them, the openness to meeting one another that Amos herself delivers by osmosis in all she does to communicate with her fans as though they are old friends (seriously I felt like we were reuniting, not first interacting). The fan-crew itself as open and fair with each other for the most part, and I have heard many a recount of how Tori brings her committed listeners into the energy of the entire production, sharing them amongst privileged audience positions and picking up conversations at one meet and greet you paused at the last. Even the crew and tour team make a note of remembering you cross-tours. This is a power all big acts will have the choice to wield, wear or wish for, or perhaps just enjoy. Your choice.

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4. Every Day is a School Day
What I enjoy most about Tori’s music is how it manages to be so personal, and yet to the neophyte eye, so vague or obscure. Tori’s references go from art, to nature, to myth, to religion, back to literature then pop culture then true crime into lived experience via botany and politics hanging a left at historical events. I feel I know more about America by listening to Tori than conducting myself through thirteen years of formalised education. I certainly know more about myself.

Sure artists should use their talent to express themselves, doubtless. But what truly impresses me is an artist who can not only express themselves, but also contribute to the knowledge bank of their listeners, viewers, contributors. Artists like Bjork who teach musicology, like Amanda Palmer who has made and continues to make an art form of collaboration itself, Sinead O’Connor’s spiritual tutelage, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam who refuse to dumb down their craft for the buying power of everyman. Tori Amos was accepted into a premier music conservatory at the age of 5. She’s a freaken progeny, but she’s seen no take-out for lording it over us with that knowledge. She shares it, divides and distributes it to us in music that is made for the smart, for the deeper perspective.

5. #itsneverover
I don’t know if Tori Amos was ever destined for obscurity. A shaky start with an 80s pop record that she turned around into piano-power 90s icon-hood just shows how much she was meant to become what she is today: creating from a place of self-awareness, self-authorship and self-honesty. The Unrepentant Geraldines tour has celebrated her early-fifties years. A time when even the invincible Madonna is facing upturned noses and pursed lips (technically the way she always has, but now for age not outrage), when Prince’s philandering status overtook his most recent creative projects, and questions about whether Kate Bush’s stage tour earlier this year would have held the weight it did if it hadn’t been preceded by the mysterious and thrilling hiatus are avoided by fan and ignorant alike (no knock to Kate Bush-woman’s incomparable).

Now sure at the meet and greet a lovely woman of about 40 years old walked over to me and said “I’m sorry to be asking, but…who is she?”. I feel that what has made Tori’s half-century release such an indomitable and wicked worldwide attention-grabber is how this woman has taken on the tech! Delivering on the #unrepentantselfie and using instagram clips to make the evolving video for her third single ‘Weatherman’. Continual photo updates and a diversification into twitter AND tumblr has brought new relevance to this femme du force. One meet and greet saw an age range of as young as 10 through early twenties, mid-thirties, late sixties and beyond (and in a completely different way from a Taylor Swift concert where the parents have to go). To evolve your penetration is a mark of humility and confidence in the ongoing value of your work and we subconsciously receive that as listeners and viewers. I think this is why digital age artists are doing the same thing but in reverse to show their own (d)evolution: I give you Taylor Swift’s polaroid album cover, Katy Perry’s hippie lovechild vibes, Coldplay’s art-ode to Fleetwood Mac. Now remembering that what flew Tori, faltered for U2, but we will love them still for their bravery, and generosity at the heart of traversing this new and light-speed changing environment to create in.

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Unrepentant Geraldines Australian tour dates continue Tuesday 18th November in Perth, Thursday 20th November in Sydney (Request Show) and Friday 21st November in Brisbane. Details can be found at toriamos.com and you may want to jump aboard the good ship undented.com for insider scoops and updates.

Big love. Forgive, Love, Apologise, Thank. bg2yx.

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photos courtesy of Andreas Heuer and Rip it Up, AU Review, adelaidenow.com.au, Tori Amos and Ben Hughes d’Aeth respectively. Please contact me with any permission concerns.

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