Update: Recording of Barnard Panel Talk on Women in Rock and Metal

I meant to share this back in June, but of course so many things were happening. I was conferencing like a fiend, researching, and finalizing my new job status! On top of that, Vish and I were visiting pre-schools for Ella. Afterwards, summer hit, and all I could think about was fiscal close procedures at work and how to plan for Ella’s birthday.

So with all of that finally behind me, I’ve now have a tiny bit of relief in my schedule and am trying to get back on the horse with blog posting. Some of you might remember that back in May I co-moderated and organized a panel at Barnard College about women in the rock and metal music scene here in NY. It was panel born out of my thesis research. And although I posted about the wonderful shout-out we got from the online magazine, The Tempest, I wanted to share the recording that my husband did of the event.

So without further ado – here’s Part 1 and 2 of Women in Rock and Metal Music.

Panel speakers were: (from left to right) Charlotte Price (co-moderator), Joan Jocson-Singh (me!!), Mindy Abovitz (Tom Tom Magazine), Laina Dawes, (music journalist), Justina Villanueva (photographer), and Cristy Road (artist, musician & zinester)
Disclaimer –  In Part 1 you can hear a bit of my daughter’s babble, but it’s only for about a minute and half.

It gets better. Enjoy!

Part 1

 

Part 2

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On Special Music Collections

AmericanLibraries

Issues of the punk-rock fanzine Slash are included as part of UCLA’s punk archive. Photo: UCLA Library Special Collections – from the American Libraries Rock in the Vault Article – May 2, 2016.

I’ve been talking for some time about the need for a special music collection on Metal music in NYC, so I was glad to see this recent article entitled, Rock in the Vault published over at the American Libraries website. It’s about how university libraries are becoming the new place to go for music archives.

The article mentions both Rutger’s growing collection on rock, hardcore and punk music as well as Cornell’s collection on the Hip Hop genre.

As for NY, we’ve a rich tri-state history on Metal. There’s venues that could offer historical information like L’Amour’s of Brooklyn or even the closed down record store Metal Kingdom in Queens. Ephemeral materials abound in the form of zines, cassettes, vinyls, patches and documentaries. As a metal music scholar & librarian, having physical collections as primary resources is just one way we can solidify and start building our place in the larger academic world.

It would be my dream to start this at Columbia…so here’s hoping I find a way here or elsewhere.   \m/

Shout-out from the Tempest

Lovely writer, Esther Merono Baro, over at the Tempest website wrote up a nice re-cap with quotes from last week’s panel that I organized on Women in Rock and Metal @ Barnard College.  5 women in punk and metal who give zero f*cks about their bitch face

I was glad to see folks enjoy our talk and get insights into the work we do. Hopefully this can become something we do annually!

And here’s some photos from the slideshow I put together of our panelists (some photos courtesy of Justina Villanueva). Unfortunately, Kristen Korvette wasn’t able to make it.

 

Panel talk: Women in Rock & Metal Music

flyer-womenrockmetal

Join the Barnard Library for a lively discussion on gender, race, violence, and acceptance in the NY rock and metal scene with panel speakers Mindy Abovitz (Tom Tom Magazine creator/editor), Kristen Korvette (creator of feminist website Slutist), Laina Dawes (author of ‘What are you doing here? A black woman’s life & liberation in heavy metal‘), Justina Villanueva (photographer & artist), and Cristy Roads (punk musician, zinester, & artist).

Moderated by Columbia University librarian and metal scholar Joan Jocson-Singh, and Barnard Library’s own performing arts librarian Charlotte Price, this event is open to everyone. Check out the Facebook event

Here’s the event page over at Barnard college:
http://library.barnard.edu/events/Women-Rock-Metal-0

Many thanks to Justina for designing this web flyer!

Upcoming Metal Music Conferences, Panels and CFP’s – 2016

heavy metal
Yes I know I’ve been MIA but there’s plenty of reason! Night school, work and metal music events, have taken over. To make up for my absence, I thought I’d compile a list of upcoming metal related events.

emp_pop_conference_2016

There’s the very cool EMP Pop Conference taking place next week from April 14-16 in Seattle. I’ve been wonderfully invited to speak as part of a roundtable called, Noise Breeding Silence- Heavy Metal Voices along with my colleagues, Laina Dawes, Jeremy Wallach, Ester Clinton, Kat Katz and Steve Waksman. Steve is actually the moderator, so you know it’s going to be a great talk! For those of you who don’t know his work – Steve is a professor at Smith College in Massachusetts and wrote the seminal books – Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience and Ain’t the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk. 

grimposuimAlso taking place next week for NYC locals is the traveling Grimposium – a touring festival that brings musicians, journalists and academics together to showcase and foster discussion on all things metal, coordinated by Vivek Venkatash, professor and metal scholar at Concordia University. This latest event is called, The Sign of An Open Eye: Grimposium 360 and will be taking place on April 14th in Brooklyn at MINY Media Center by IFP. Register here.

clap back

On April 30th, we also have Women CLAP BACK in Music and the Arts at The New School taking place from 10am-5pm. Several women involved in the local metal scene here in NY will be there, like the wonderful Laina Dawes! I’ll be helping with moderating the panel called, Navigating Race and Feminism in the Music Industry.
And of course I’ve got to plug this – I’ll be co-moderating an evening talk on Women in Rock and Metal Music at Barnard College the evening of May 4th, 2016 (registration and info page COMING Soon).

Below is a description of the event – ALL ARE WELCOME!

Women in Rock & Metal Music – 
Wednesday, May 4th, 2016, 7 PM – 9:30 PM @ Barnard College – Julius S. Held Lecture Hall.

Women have had an increasingly steady presence as performers, fans and supporters of rock and heavy metal music, although previous studies have emphasized these spaces as predominantly masculine and white. In the 21st century, women still face challenges in participating and negotiating this historical gendering of space. While New York City is quite often perceived as a product of its own bubble of exceptionalism; race, sexism, and authenticity remain problematic areas of discourse for many women who take part in these musical scenes.

An evening with Women in Rock & Metal Music seeks to address these issues, exploring how women of varying ethnic backgrounds, gender identities and sexuality, so often marginalized, navigate their participation and construct spaces of liminality through their art, musicianship and voice.

Please join us for a lively discussion and exploration of gender, race, violence, and acceptance in the NY rock and metal scene with panel speakers – Mindy Abovitz (Tom Tom Magazine Creator/Editor), Kristen Korvette (Creator of the feminist site -Slutist ), Laina Dawes (Author of What Are You Doing Here? A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal), Justina Villanueva (Heavy Metal photographer and artist) and Cristy Roads (Punk Musician, Zinester and Artist).

In addition to these US-based happenings – there are other, just as amazing, conferences coming up – especially abroad. There’s the Bournemouth University Metal Conference on Metal and Politics, being held in the UK on June 3rd as well as the Modern Heavy Metal Conference in Helsinki, Finland – June 30 through July 3rd. You can register for MHM here.

Also in the UK, is the Dark Leisure and Music Symposium taking place at Leeds Beckett University on September 16, 2016. There’s still time for submission as the deadline is May 15th.

Back in the US, we got the Metal in Strange Places conference taking place in the Fall at the University of Dayton on October 21st – 23rd! If you remember from my previous blog posts, I presented my thesis work on Women in NY’s EMM scene at the 2014 conference in Dayton where I met some of the most awesome people in metal academia.

Proposals for Metal in Strange Places are due by April 22nd.This year’s keynote speakers are Gabby Riches, whose book Caught in a Mosh is a great resource that I’ve referenced in my own work and Tracy Reilly who will be talking about intellectual property and entertainment.

As for CFP’s – here’s a list of current and ongoing calls for conferences, journals etc.:

Metal Music Studies (Intellect)
The deadline for submissions for 3.1 is September 10, 2016
The deadline for submissions for 3.2 is December 10, 2016

IASPM’s page for CFP’s (International Association for the Study of Popular Music UK and Ireland)
Various deadlines and CFP’s

19th Biennial ISAPM Conference – Additional CFP’s

Shifts and Turns: Moving Music, Musicians and Ideas – 39th National Conference of the Musicological Society of Australia Adelaide, Australia (November 30 – December 3, 2016)

3rd International Digital Libraries for Musicology workshop New York, NY (August 12, 2016)

Society for American Music, 43rd Annual Conference Montreal, Québec, Canada (March 22 – 26, 2017)

That’s all I got for now!

 

Individual Thought Patterns: Women in NY’s Extreme Metal Music Scene – Castrator

Castrator logoOn the research side, things have been coming along nicely..or at least until I’m told the famous, “hey, this isn’t going to work…your topic is too narrow/broad, you won’t be able to finish this at the Masters level, etc. ” I don’t know why, but I feel that statement lurking behind some shadowy academic in my future. I’ve been told that its the natural thing for advisers to critique your work until you’re in fetal position. I remember art school being like this. In light of this very real fear, I’m going to try and keep the optimism burning.

Last night I had my latest interview with a wonderful woman who was part of the metal scene back in the day. She’s a media personality now, working with an urban music label and moonlighting as a front woman for an indie rock band. She had lots to say that helped inform my study with regard to women and where feminism lies within NY’s metal and hardcore scenes. One of the common patterns arising from my interviews with women in NY’s extreme metal music scene (EMM) has been the diversity of backgrounds. I’ve met with a variety of women coming from all walks of life, varying ethnic backgrounds, and a range in age from 18 to 40. It confirms that metal’s reach is truly global…especially here in NYC, which is already rich in diversity.

As far as the compiling and writing portion of my thesis, all I can say is that it’s coming along. I’ve managed to organize my thoughts into a draft table of contents/outline. I’ve been working on parts that come easily to me. One of the sections that I’ve written about was about women and their re-appropriation of the death metal music scene. I’ve attached a small part of of my draft below. I’m currently editing and refining it based on one of my professor’s comments, but hopefully the majority of it will be part of the final thesis. I thought it would be nice to bring to light my happy discovery of the NY band Castrator. They’re significant in their pursuance of leveling the male-dominated NY death metal scene. I wholeheartedly support women with this agenda.

Re-appropriation and the Changing Discourse

 A number of the women I conducted one-on-one interviews with were musicians in the extreme metal scene. I interviewed two members from the New York City band Castrator, Carolina Perez (drums) and Mikaela Akesson (guitars). Castrator is an all-female band who play death metal, one of the styles blanketed in the extreme metal category. The other members consist of M. S. (vocals), P. S. (guitars) and R. M. (bass).* Not only do these women represent a multiplicity of ethnicities, they are a rarity with regard to actively choosing to create an all-female line-up, unique in the EMM scene. The band’s construction allows the women to create a space in metal in which expectations of gendered identity either fall by the wayside or become fuel for songwriting. The experience of performance for them paves the way to transgressing masculine space and sexualized gender tropes and subverting the normative patriarchy of the scene, rather than reinforcing them.

The band’s name, as well as two songs on their demo called “No Victim” and “Honor Killing” also serve to transgress the genre. Naming the band Castrator fits naturally with the death metal image of morbidity and the macabre; however with women behind the name, it gains a new appropriation, hinting at the inverted expression of female masculinities (Halberstam 1998).

Their lyrical content is a direct opposition to the current masculinized death metal hegemony and yet adheres stylistically to the genre’s sound. An example of this can be found in the lyrics to the song “No Victim,” which tells the tale of a man’s attempted rape of a woman. The tale is told from the woman’s perspective in which thoughts of “always in fear” and “trying to be brave” position the woman as victim. However, as the end approaches, the discourse undergoes a complete reversal – the woman overpowers her attacker and takes his knife and ends his life, “the knife from his hand she grabs, stabbing him multiple times”. When I asked Carolina about her thoughts behind writing this song, she said, “every woman has the fear of being raped and it shouldn’t be like that”. There are, in fact, many death metal songs, penned by men, glorifying rape. Some graphic titles include Cannibal Corpse’s “Fucked With a Knife”, “Stripped, Raped and Strangled” and the evocative “Entrails Ripped from a Virgin’s Cunt”. She said that with this band she wanted to show the EMM community that women “could play as brutal and as fast” and that “they like death metal music for what it is”. This mode of practice allows Carolina and her band to destabilize the gender norms of EMM by reclaiming masculine space for their own.

*Initials used for anonymity

Conferencing the Extreme Metal Way…

Just a quick update on my recent academic excursions. My thesis was accepted for presentation at two conferences and I presented on them in the last two weeks. I talked about my on-going research on Women in NY’s Extreme Metal Music Scene.

*Banner from MACI website

*Banner from MACI website

The first presentation was at the North East Popular Culture Association conference (NEPCA) in Providence where I was happy to sit on the panel titled “Music and Dance in Popular Culture”, with Professor Jeff Cain from Sacred Heart University as the moderator. I was joined by students Bethany Fagan-Good from SUNY Brockport who presented her paper on “Erick Hawkins Aesthetic: Finding the Dancer” and Matthew Scully from Tufts who presented on “Chester Himes and Frantz Fanon on Blues: Toward a New Humanism”. Each paper was interesting and I was glad to get my feet wet, so to speak, with conference presenting. As an aside, if you’ve read my blog before, I’m pretty enchanted by Fanon’s work, so much so, that I wrote a paper about his inspiration on Fela Kuti and Afrobeat and the correlation with how both Afrobeat and Norwegian Black Metal arose out of the same political and religious oppression. Just sayin’.

In any case, it’s been sometime since I’ve presented or talked in front of an audience. My tenure at Columbia University began in 2012 and because of my new role in Acquisitions, I’ve haven’t had the luxury of teaching classes like I did when I worked at the Met. There’s actually a lot of cross departmental work I miss from my old days there, including providing reference, teaching classes, and cataloging (believe or not!). My current position is more about management, finance, and making sure items are getting ordered and received in a timely matter!

Me at MACI conference

Me at MACI conference

The second conference I presented at was the Metal and Cultural Impact conference (MACI) which took place at the University of Dayton in Ohio. This by far, was one of my most enlightening and engaging conference experiences. I met so many metal music scholars whose work was not only inspiring but fascinating, not to mention I was getting to meet scholars whose work I reference in my own thesis. The topics presented were captivating.

Some highlights included the presentations from the scholars below:

Kevin Ebert – “But that doest help me on Guitar!–Unraveling the Myth of the Self-taught Metal Guitarist
Dr. Imke von Heldon – “The Pagan Reunion Awaits: The Construction of Cultural Identity in Norwegian Metal Music
Dr. Ross Hagen – “Pay no Attention to the Man Behind the … Ritualism and Depersonalization in Underground Extreme Metal Music”
Dr. Carl Sederholm – “Answering Cthulhu’s Call: Exploring Lovercraftian Cosmicism in Extreme Metal
Dr. Jasmine H. Shadrack – “Femme-Liminale: Corporeal Performativity in Death Metal
Megan McCarty – “Aesthetics of the Brutal: The Voice, Listening Practices and Affect in Extreme
Alex Skolnick – “Louder Education with Alex Skolnick

The conference started on Thursday (11/6) and unfortunately I was unable to see the presentations on Thursday as my flight was rescheduled. This was upsetting because with my new obsession with all things gender-related, I missed out on keynote speaker Amber Clifford-Napoleone’s presentation on “Queer Metal Matters: Metal, Sexuality, and the Future“. Fortunately, I did get to speak with her the next day, which helped to alleviate my guilt of missing her keynote address as well as school me on some interesting aspects of queer theory.

Also of great note was getting to see the provocatively creative exhibition by librarian and metal scholar, Brian Hickam. I was happy to meet both Brian and his colleague Elizabeth as they’re both Librarians! Really..I’m sure you can feel my excitement. Brian curated the exhibition titled, “Masked Performance: Facepaint, Head Coverings, and Masks in 21st Century Popular Culture”. He spoke about his experience with metal as both an avid fan and scholar and how he inevitably drew parallels with the use of masks in culture and in heavy metal music.

I also made some new friends, especially Laina Dawes, who also presented on the Women and Metal panel. I’ve mentioned her before on this blog when I brought up reading her book, “What are you Doing Here?: A Black Woman’s Life and Liberation in Heavy Metal“.  She discussed the rampant violence towards women and women of color in the extreme metal scene through her presentation entitled, “The Music or the Message? How to Love Music that Doesn’t Love You Back“.

All in all, we even got some help from two metal scholars when our rental car wouldn’t start! Thanks Jamie and Kevin!

Hopefully, the future of metal music studies will see an increase of scholars bringing relevant issues to light within both the metal community and mainstream society. Attending this conference helped to validate my ever evolving interest with metal music, gender, and anthropology. So to my fellow metal colleagues–Keep up the great work!

Finally–A video taping of me presenting at MACI. My husband taped it with his cell phone and we uploaded it to Youtube with hopes of disseminating my research. It’s not the best sound recording quality but it helped me reflect on honing my presenting skills.
Thanks & Enjoy!

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3