Welcome to Week-Whatever in the big brother/sister PP lockdown showcase. Today we have something quite different, a little bit musical, a little bit performative, and more than a little bit rebalancing the gender imbalance in the music industry. The videos of her band The Unsung are a great watch. This all comes from Genevieve Carver’s Verve Poetry Press book, ‘A Beautiful Way to be Crazy’, which you can buy here. Oh, and download sales from the band’s music will go to ‘Refuge‘ the domestic violence charity. So without further ado, here’s Genevieve:
“I’m a poet, but music has always formed the backbone of what I do. Song lyrics are always creeping into my poems, and in the past I’ve written about people whose death was caused by music, and the relationship between music and mental health. I perform in a gig theatre ensemble along with three multi-instrumentalist musicians (Ruth Nicholson, Brian Bestall and Tim Knowles) called The Unsung, and our latest show, A Beautiful Way to be Crazy, explores female experiences in the music industry. My debut poetry collection of the same name was published by Verve Poetry Press in February 2020.
Women make up just 30% of the music industry as a whole, and as little as 2% in certain, usually more tech-heavy roles. I decided to talk to some of that 30%, and gather together some of their experiences. I interviewed almost 50 people, including cis-gendered, trans, non-binary and intersex individuals. I spoke to singers, instrumentalists, sound engineers, producers and events promoters, covering genres from classical to folk, electronica, rock, pop and jazz. I interviewed performers in a sex workers’ opera, internationally touring DJs and members of an all-female band of adults with learning difficulties. My aim wasn’t to get famous names but to talk to women who lived and breathed music in their everyday life, either professionally or at an amateur level.
The show I ended up making, combines the themes I pulled out from these interviews with my own personal experiences. It weaves together music from my incredibly versatile band with original spoken word, readings from my genuine teenage diary entries from 1999 (aged 13) and audio clips from the interviews.
Two tracks from the show are currently available to watch in full:
Human Being – a pop song:
Little Green – a Joni-Mitchell inspired lullaby:
The book that has been published by Verve includes the whole sequence of poems from the live show, as well as other poems from my performance repertoire covering themes including hangovers, roundabouts, existential dread and why I don’t do yoga.”
Champagne, Cocaine & Sausages
“I want champagne, cocaine and sausages” – Nina Simone.
I am Nina Simone’s anger
I am Etta James’s veins
I am Ani DiFranco’s middle finger
I am your little sister’s bedroom door.
I am the ripple in the pond
I am the rip in your jeans
I am wild and unwashed and broken
I am not taking it lying down.
I am shit at lots of things
I am difficult
I am wrong
I am tied in knots I’m free
I am simply trying to be me
I am frightened
I am flawed
but I am here
and I’m not going anywhere.
I am Kate Bush’s treble
I am Jacqueline du Pres’ tremble
I am Polly Harvey’s pedals
I am Kathleen Hanna’s rebel.
I am Clara Schuman’s manuscript
I am Stevie Nicks’s sleeves
I am Alanis Morisette’s misunderstanding of irony
I am Bjork’s clenched fist.
I’m just a girl
I wear my hair in curls
I wear my dungarees
down to my sexy knees
I am sugar and spice and all things
deep and lost and painful and real
I am fighting to be heard
and not only seen
I am a woman, phenomenally.
I am Tori Amos’s cornflakes
I am Sinead O’Connor’s skull
I am Taylor Swift’s reputation
I am Madonna’s youth.
I want champagne, cocaine and sausages
I want it all and I want it now
I want what I cannot have
I am hungry
I am greedy
I will bite off more than I can
vomit back into the void
it’s a new dawn
it’s a new day
it’s a new life
and I’m feeling ready for it.
I am the reason the caged bird sings
I am the thorn in the side of the boy
I am the fat lady telling you it’s over
I am spinning
I am floating
I am so close to the edge
I am busting at the seams
I am everything you ever hoped you’d be
so take a piece, just try it
there’s too much here
for you to even make a dent in me.
(*Alexandra Wallace’s photography can be viewed here)