“What about a tuba?”: Mika Miko and the telephone

This post is dedicated to Caitlin, who could not wait to talk about this band and the instrument I will highlight when we presented on girls and subcultures in a Girls Studies class we took together.

Speaking of Girls Studies, if you’re interested in reading about on girls and telephones, might I suggest Mary Kearney’s essay “Birds on the wire: Troping teenage girlhood through telephony in mid-twentieth-century US media culture”? While she focuses on girls and telephones, and their mediated images, in a strictly post-war American context, it’s a pretty great piece and very applicable to what I’ll dive into here.

In the documentary Kill Yr Idols, Lydia Lunch rolls her eyes at the classic rock line-up (i.e., two guitars, bass, drums) and says something to the effect of “what about a tuba?” So, in the spirit of that question, I thought I’d periodically post some female musicians who I think are invested in the idea of reconfiguring the standard structure. First up, Mika Miko.

How I love this group. How I cannot wait to grab their new album, We Be Xuxa, which came out today. They’re a bunch of young spunky grrrl punks (and now one boy drummer) from LA. Their songs are super-short. They have two grrrl lead singers (Victor Fandgore and Jet Blanca). Their live sets are fun, loud, and at times conceptual (one of my friends saw them play a show in a tent). Oh, and did you notice that one of them (Victor, born Jennifer Clavin) sings through a mike welded into a telephone?!?!?

A telephone! I know. The signifiers pile up and tilt over. Young girls playing together, probably rehearsing in a band member’s house. Young girls manipulating gendered technologies. Young girls distorting how they sound, making their voices at once excessively girly and conversational, while also monstrous and unintelligible. And finally, young girls doing something besides singing pretty into a microphone — in effect, reconfiguring the microphone altogether. Fabulous.

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2 comments

  1. Caitlin

    I got a dedication! I remember giving that presentation and feeling a little sad that more folks weren’t as excited about the “Business Cats” clip as I was. And then, after I saw “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains” I thought, ‘Damn! I could have made a great connection there’, as that first scene in the video is a direct reference.

    Yay punk rock girls!

  2. Pingback: Lydia Lunch: Diva? « Feminist Music Geek

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