In light of recent events it was really timely for me to come across this video of Gisele Marie, a heavy metal guitarist who also happens to have a vag, on AJ+. Oh, and also is a practising Muslim who wears niqab.
And gives no fucks.
And just does what she wants because the majority of women worldwide are actually free to do what they want whether you like it or not, and no one else’s opinion actually matters so why even bother giving it?
As you can see; girl fuckin’ rocks it with her guitar which is aptly named Polka.
Gisele plays in a metal band called Eden Seed, and has been rocking her niqab since 2009. Gisele converted to Islam in 2009 from German Cathlocism after her father died; and everyone around her was totally chill with her choice and thought she looked badass in her niqab.
Gisele chose her faith for herself, and she chose to cover up in respect to her faith herself.
Some Muslim women choose not to cover up, and wear more ‘western’ fashion, that’s totally cool and respectable to their faith as well.
Some Muslim women choose to be chefs. Some Muslim women choose to be mothers. Some Muslim women choose to be astrophysicists, and some Muslim women like to serve their husbands. Gisele chose to be a professional musician! And 99% of these women will choose what they prefer to wear; whether it be religious garb or not.
You gotta admit; niqab is actually the perfect aesthetic for metal.
I choose to be a musician, graphic designer, blogger, and speed-eater. I wear the clothes I want, and I have the beliefs that I want. Sometimes my skin is covered up completely, and sometimes it’s questionable whether my attire is appropriate in a public space.
And just because this blog is on a roll with stalking Julia Deans, (making my blog the creepy culprit instead of myself…) I have to share this quote I saw her post this in a heated Facebook debate the other day over the ‘burkini’ saga;
‘Coercing a woman out of a burka is as bad as coercing her into one.
It’s not about the burka.
It’s about the coercion.’ – Arundhati Roy
So this actually started out as a post about women drummers in general, but when I got to Meg White I went so fucking overboard about her that I realised I needed to write a post about just her to get my feels out.
So, here are my feels, hums.
Meg White was the first female drummer I was exposed to directly in my childhood.
When the White Stripes first hit the global pop scene, I wanted nothing to do with them. Yep, I was too fucking emo at the time to give a shit about music like this as I was too busy listening to their Red, White and Black teen-angsty counterparts; My Chemical Romance.
I think you could even go as far to say that I strongly disliked them – especially because every dude who thought he could play guitar or bass would haphazardly bash out the riff to Seven Nation Army in the attempt to position himself as as-good-as, if not better at guitar than me. Good god. So naturally I developed an association of loathing for them via my feelings towards these clueless dudes. These.. Cludes.
In retrospect it’s partly a shame – if I’d have been able to let go of my desire to be emo as fuck and also ignore the Cludes being shit, I might’ve had a really cool modern woman drummer to look up to.
But you know what I also would’ve had as a young, impressionable female fan of Meg White and The White Stripes? The narrative that emerged between Cludes that Meg White is shit at drums. And the subtle implications that would arise that women are shit at rock music.
So now looking back, I thankfully avoided that narrative until I was a bit older; the first exposure being when I was hanging out with some guy friends of mine. I don’t know how the topic got on to the White Stripes, but the general consensus was that they were shit because Meg was a terrible drummer and couldn’t drum for shit.
At that stage, a ripe age of very-early-twenty-something-potentially-even-very-late-teen-something, I still didn’t give a shit about the White Stripes. But it did strike a chord with me that they were ripping in to Meg in particular. It sparked a curiosity in me that made me go googling, which yielded hundreds – if not thousands – of results in forums and websites of people (namely Cludes) – just attempting to rip Meg a new vag-hole.
Just quickly, let’s travel back in internet time and find some page one gems.
In this “article” about the “top 10 douchiest drummers of all time” – they list a whole bunch of guy drummers who have exceptionally large kits, or do a gratuitous amount of fills, or show off their technical skills too much for the authors liking. But then Meg is just in there, basically asking whether the fact she sits at a drum kit, performs arena shows, tours the world, and has several commercial and highly-acclaimed album releases under her belt even qualifies her as a drummer. At the end of their truly insightful paragraph about her, they state that if women want to play drums, they should “play it with some balls.”
Err, no thanks. Really happy living my ball-less life right now.
Or how about this really super great forum post from a right Colin Smellyshirt after Meg and Jack performed live on the global stage of The Daily Show that, after saying how shit at drums they thought she was, gracefully states at the end of their grand critique that “that bright red skin-tight outfit was [also] very unflattering on her.”
Oh wow!! How surprising and unexpected – a comment on what a woman is wearing and absolutely nothing about her male counterpart’s greasy hair (sorry Jack. That’s my hairdresser coming out, it’s on me.)
I get it, lots of people confuse being “great” at an instrument with technical and theoretical skill and knowledge. And this informs part of their distate for Meg as a drummer. But we can’t ignore that fact that on top of her simplistic style; she also has a vagina – which historically predisposes her to an extra layer of ridicule based on those features alone.
So years went by and I still didn’t give a shit about the White Stripes until earlier this year when I moved in to a place in which one of my flatmates has an electric drum kit set up in our music room, and my partner started wanting to jam with me and encouraging me to have a go on the drums.
I had not really touched a drum kit since I was around 10 years old (when I learnt drums briefly for a year) – unless I counted the occasional private sit-down at Dan’s drumkit where I would attempt rock beat 1 for about 10 seconds and just wish I could be swallowed up in a hole at the embarrassment of how I’m not just smashing out the confident beats and fills and just killing it.
So usually when I sit at a set of drums, my natural reaction used to be a complete meltdown. I can’t drum with overt technical and theoretical skill, so therefore: I cannot drum.
Until my partner said these 7 words to me when I got really frustrated ant my technique (but also secretly enjoying just rolling with it): “No, it’s cool. You’re like Meg White”
What comes naturally to me, my natural instinct at a drumkit, is completely primal and child like. Using the floor tom as the kick pattern. Using the kick drum as a counter rhythm. Bashing the kick, floor and snare simultaneously because fuck it and it feels good. And because I have natural rhythm, I can make it work.
And this is exactly what Meg White did, as well.
THIS. The way she double hits the hi-hats in unison with the double snare hits – is exactly like me. I can’t get complete limb independence, but who gives a fuck! Just fucking drum with passion and to the song.
Jack White said about his rhythmic counterpart; “She was the antithesis of a modern drummer. So childlike and incredible and inspiring.”
I love that – the antithesis of a modern drummer. That right there sums up why she made so many Cludes feel so fucking uncomfortable. Her style CHALLENGED them. Her style proves that you can just do you, do it well and with complete confidence in yourself, and TAKE OVER THE WORLD.
And the fact she was a woman backs up Jack’s statement in 2 key ways;
1. A ‘modern drummer’ would 99% of the time conjur images of male drummers
2. Her being a woman meaning she was the literal antithesis to this ‘modern drummer = male’ imagery
So thanks, Meg, for making me feel like I can forge my own path exploring the drums and (for the most part) keep at bay the feelings of inadequacy whilst my subconscious tries to hold me up to the standards of the male-driven narrative that puts the weight of respect on to highly technical skill over pure creativity, exploration, and the hard-working ‘doing shit instead of talking about doing shit’ artistry.
And I hope more women and young girls see women like Meg and that encourages them to just give it a go and create their own style and confidence on the instrument of their choice!
Now I think the White Stripes are great. And they would be nothing without Meg White.
Being a young recording artist myself, I have already been in my fair share of studios; and it struck me that I have not worked with a woman in recording before, or really ever seen another women in my vicinity whilst in that environment.
The only other direct exposure I can think of for women in record engineering and producing was a TV ad years ago for the Open Polytechnic or something where there was a girl student talking about all she learned there about recording that she was going to bring in to the “real world.” I wonder what studio she’s working at now?
As you may be able to tell from the incredible video above of Sylvia talking about “Adventure Recording” and all the mental microphones and microphone techniques she has – she is well known for her quirky and creative approach to recording to create unique manual sounds.
You’ll also learn she is a killer illustrator as well! She has released a book called “Recording Unhinged” – in which she’s drawn all the illustrations for it as well.
Doing a bit poking around the internet about Sylvia, I noticed she too gets her fair share of bullshitty man-splaining and condescension despite her very apparent authority and talent in record producing.
I loved this comment I found in response to that which I could not have put in better words myself: “Gotta love the internet shitlords who seem to know better than a Grammy award level producer/mixer/engineer. Take your barely veiled misogyny and go listen to Undertow by Tool or Gilt by Machines of Loving Grace and realise this woman’s got bigger balls than all of you put together. Sylvia’s credentials are bulletproof. ”
Last week, I received a message from my lovely friend Katie Thompson, who linked me to a post made by Amanda Palmer, in which she makes fun of an email received from her agent where a festival booker is unsure of booking both Amanda and Regina Spektor – since they both have vaginas and play piano.
“I am tempted to ask if they have the same problem when they are confronted with two bands who BOTH contain men playing guitar” she says.
This is a dynamic that has irked (good word) me for some time, harking back to when my band were a baby trying to break on to the scene, and we were told we wouldn’t be able to break-through because it was ‘taking the piss’ of Paramore.
Though it was implied, it’s actually fucking true: there is no way there can be more than one pop-rock band fronted by a white girl at any given time.
If you hadn’t caught the memo, seemingly there isn’t allowed to be any pop-rock bands fronted by non-white girls at all…
There can’t be more than one woman with one particular musical skill set (i.e. playing piano. Or singing. Or playing guitar. Or having… hair) or hell will freeze over.
The apocalypse will be brought upon us.
Or even worse; Donald Trump will win the US election.
Dude. Jason Derulo sounds like The 1975 sounds like Chris Brown sounds like Joe Jonas sounds like Justin Timberlake. But we don’t have a shot ‘coz we sounded a bit like Paramore?
But Amanda Palmer potentially can’t be booked for a kick-ass show because Regina Spektors already on the bill?
I’m also recalling Keane, Snow Patrol, and Coldplay all being allowed to co-exist and sound like the exact same melancholic piano driven pop rock at once…
Female rock critic Evelyn McDonnell says in this article, “The men of power who are in this industry have this internalized, institutionalized sexism. They see men as having economic power and therefore get billed [over women].”
But I’m not convinced that’s the only factor.
I think it’s also that women in mildly similar genres or using similar instruments are simply not allowed to successfully co-exist in the psyche of people on planet earth.
Case in point: have you EVER IN UR LIFE watched a female-fronted, marginally pop, rock band on youtube and then read the comments? (This goes for other genres, but this one is relevant 2 my experiences)
Pretty sure you just described a band that actually sounds nothing like Paramore. Huh.
Paramore should sound like not-Paramore!!!!!!! Makes total sense.
Again, just cause there is a woman singing, doesn’t mean it sounds like Paramore.
Believe it or not – i found this one on a Garbage music video.
On one of their songs from the 90s.
These two were found on the same video…
Ohhh I didn’t realise that’s how they got famous – I totally thought it was because they write really great pop songs and work fucking hard! Thanks for your insight. (Okay this one is a bit off topic but…)
And just because it looks like my blog is turning in to a “Emma loves Julia Deans a lot” fest, here’s the woman herself weighing in on the topic an article about Fur Patrol a few weeks back;
So it seems we can only handle one woman doing one particular thing at a time.
Alright. It’s time for a women-in-rock history lesson. FYI I just learnt of this story a week or so ago – and it had me both cracking up at the social cliché of the situation, and also raging at the system that was taking away shit from women in music back then – and still is today.
Goldie and the Gingerbreads.
Sparkly jackets and big hair: you can just see Amy Winehouse and Adele all up in this.
So, not the coolest band name on earth, but, a band with a pretty cool story!
As we know, there were shit tonnes of “girl groups” in late ’50s/early ’60s, but Goldie & the Gingerbreads was a bona fide rock and roll band and, get this: the first all-girl band signed to a major record label. Ever!
Epic. (not Epic Records, just epic in general… it is epic they were the first band to be… you know what I mean).
Look at Goldie getting to be all cool with her exposed neck while the rest were forced to endure the horror that is turtle necks.
The Gingerbreads were formed when singer Goldie met drummer Ginger later in 1962. How rockstar are those names by the way? Another reason for me to curse my un-rockstar name of Emma (said in a drab tone to exaggerate effect, please).
Goldie had never met a female drummer and thought an all-female rock band would be fucking cool. She was right.
Then they added a keyboardist called Margo and and a guitarist called Carol. Those names make me feel better about my predicament.
The band’s first single was “Skinny Vinnie,” released in 1964.
I was kinda hoping this song would be making fun of a pussy-ass-guy but it turns out she loves him. I guess it was the 60s.
After seeing the band at A PARTY, Atlantic’s chairman signed the Gingerbreads to Atlantic subsidiary Atco (lol you don’t see that shit happen anymore).
They were then sent over to Europe for some reason, where members recorded “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat,” which was a Top 30 hit in the UK. Can’t shake a stick at that!
Goldie & The Gingerbreads enjoyed their greatest success overseas, touring with The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Beatles – holy shit balls.
So, now to the classic stitch up.
After G&TG fucking nailed it in the UK with “Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat”, they decided that they should definitely take that shit hot track back to their homeland of the US and nail it there, too.
BUT IN STEPS BAND WITHOUT VAGINAS, Herman’s Hermits (The 60s – wtf is wrong with your band names), and their shitty penis-version of the SAME SONG.
Just mere weeks before Goldie and her posse were about to drop their version in the States, Herman and his bloody Hermits release their version to great success, fucking up G&TG entire career and sending them in to financial ruin and legacy-oblivion.
In no way has this image been tampered with. This is what Herman and his Hermits looked like.
No shit, if you google the song ‘Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat” – the Herms’ come up. Not Goldie and her delicious Gingerbreads.
Back then the recording industry worked different; writers wrote songs and artists recorded them. So I get that Hermy didn’t steal the song and claim it as their own OG – it just blows my mind that there weren’t any sort of legalities in place to protect Goldie’s recording of it for a certain period of time while they were enjoying success with it.
But the insult to injury is that despite Goldie and the Gingerbreads having an incredible legacy of being the first ever all-girl rock band signed to a major label, when you google the name of their biggest hit, they don’t even come up first!
I can’t find any comments from Goldie or her band members about the classic stitch up the Hermit’s did on them, so I’m guessing they went down the route of the right hand side of this graphic which, I guess, is to be expected in the 60s.
Girls, always be the image on the left. Protect your ideas, protect your content, protect yourselves!