Back in late January, I revisited “Making Plans for Nigel.” In a blog post on the best musical moments of 2012, a post-doc in my program compared Santigold’s “Disparate Youth” to the XTC single. Point taken. The riff and the hook are strikingly similar. But knowing that the final semester of course work was fast approaching, and especially knowing that I was putting together an independent study on gender and labor, I kept reflecting on the lyrics.
As a kid, I liked this song. But it wasn’t until I was fresh out of undergrad, editing training courses at an e-learning company, that I began to think of this song as a possible critique on labor (or parenting, but often biological and corporate parentage uphold and recirculate the same ideals). Eight hours under fluorescent lights can do that to you. The song is told (with tongue in cheek) from the perspective of Nigel’s masters, who believe that selfless diligence and deference to management will guarantee their charge’s happiness. Yet as I was preparing for the semester–pulling books from the library, writing reading notes, drafting pre-lims reading lists, revising writing and teaching materials–I kept returning to the line “Nigel is happy in his work.”
Nigel’s masters are speaking for him. They’re assuming he’s happy in his work. But what if he is actually happy in his work? Happy the way Peggy Olson is happy when she’s stumbling out of her office after 6 p.m. to stretch and steal a cigarette from the typing pool. Happy the way I am happy when I’m writing and completely lose track of time. Sure, happiness is a moving target when it comes to labor. Those of us who tend to overwork ourselves must advocate equitable treatment and insist against self-exploitation, especially if we are women and there are gendered expectations that we’ll overextend ourselves. Self-care is real, y’all. As a feminist media scholar who studies gender and labor–mainly because I think the ways in which women’s labor is valued in the media industries needs to be studied, but also to some extent because I’m a woman who is never not working–I keep thinking through the negotiation between loving your work and making a commitment to learning to love yourself.
In many ways, I’ve been thinking about this well before I went back to grad school. Those who have followed this blog from the beginning (i.e., April 2009) know that I came into the MCS PhD program with a very clear idea of what dissertation I wanted to write. Because I was writing it into this blog. While maintaining this space, I reflected quite a bit on my memories of my experiences in college radio. I worked for four years at UT’s station, 91.7 KVRX. During this time, I was simultaneously developing my feminist politics. It was through my involvement with Alliance for a Feminist Option, a campus feminist sorority, that I read Gloria Anzaldúa and Patricia Hill Collins and became friends with brilliant women who were thinking through a lot of the same stuff I was processing. Working at KVRX allowed me to apply my feminist education. Because while I eventually thought of the station as home, I also saw a lot of sexist bullshit go down.
I was one of many of the women on staff could (and did) trade cautionary tales about listener harassment. The most common offense female deejays confronted was the unidentified, disembodied male voice who would call in to inform us—often accompanied by grunting and/or contemptuous laughter—that we sounded sexy. Speaking for myself, I went on the air because I had records to play. I was trying to share knowledge. The amount of research that went into my shows was comparable to the research I do as an academic. Many of the songs I played were from records that were out of print, released on labels that no longer existed, and were recorded by artists—many of whom were women, many of whom identified as queer—relegated to the footnotes of history, if they were even granted such a citation. To reduce my work to the assumed seductive properties of my voice was insulting, and it was an insult waged upon many female deejays. This resulted in me taking down my email address. I stopped giving out the station phone number as frequently during my broadcasts. And I got good at hanging up on rude callers. But each time I did, I wondered if I lost an opportunity to chat with a female listener. Rarely did women call in during my show (at least not women who were not my AFO grrrlfriends). When they did, they usually wanted to talk about who I was playing.
These were not problems my male contemporaries (including my partner, who hosted the blues program and served as music director) seemed to have to deal with. We certainly had allies. But male deejays did not seem to need to engage in the same tactical maneuvers as their female counterparts. It was common for women to serve as co-hosts and/or bring friends and partners to the station for protection. It was less common for women to agree to do a radio show alone and/or in the late evening and early morning when public transportation was unreliable and the streets were empty. Yet amid all that nonsense, I still lived for programming a radio show. I still lived for reviewing albums and going to shows. And I wasn’t alone. So on the one hand, there’s a negotiation for self-worth and equitable treatment. On the other hand, there’s the distinct pleasure of being happy in one’s work, despite (and sometimes because of) this sexist bullshit.
My blog changed with time. I used to update every day, chasing various news items and writing 300-word posts about videos I liked. I don’t do that anymore. I prioritize my time differently. As a grad student, I have to. More to the point, as a grad student I feel like I have to do research and piece together as much context as I can before I attempt to write anything. But I’m also trying to learn to listen to what I need, particularly because grad school provides a lot of opportunities for labor and leaves you with the task of determining whether that labor is beneficial to you. Grad school requires you to make time for things. But it doesn’t give you much time. It assumes that you’ll make these choices for yourself. This can be difficult, particularly if you internalize the ways in which labor expectations privilege masculinized norms of self-sacrifice and individual achievement.
So as this blog developed, I became interested in labor as a subject of study. Maintaining a blog to break up a work day can do that to you. In December 2009, I wrote a short post on music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas. It would ultimately lead me to my dissertation topic. I am a feminist media scholar who studies the intersections of gender, labor, and music culture in a post-network era. I have come to these intersecting subjects of study through my own experiences, questions of identity (or, because intersectionality matters, identities) always come first for me. One reckless habit I have cultivated as a graduate student is not worrying about whether other research projects bear similarities to mine, thus occluding me from committing myself further to particular subjects and lines of inquiry. In point of fact, a number of people have already written on similar topics. I am preparing to write a dissertation about women’s intermediary labor between the music, television, and new media industries. Taking Vicki Mayer’s organizational schema from her book Below the Line, I will pay particular attention to positions such as booking, promotion, licensing, and music supervision.
The last area has already cultivated a sizable body of knowledge within media and film studies (see: Aslinger, 2008; Klein, 2009; Barnett, 2010; Lewanowski, 2010; Anderson, 2011). However, there is still more to explore. We can think through how this field of labor is intertextual and relies upon laborers’ accumulation of cultural capital, fluency in copyright law and business practices, negotiated knowledge of several industries and their distinct needs, and the sensitivity they must demonstrate to the ways in which certain musicians and affiliated genres are deployed to hail particular audiences. Furthermore, supervisors’ labor relies on and has been shaped by the industrial practices of licensing, promotion, and booking. Finally, greater attention must be paid to how labor identities and gendered assumptions about labor shapes this work.
Women contributed a largely ignored history of work in these areas that has only recently cultivated a (compromised) visibility. Women’s work seems to have been delegitimized in these fields for a few reasons. For one, these labor positions are historically perceived as catalysts for struggle to penetrate various barriers to entry. If industrially or culturally sanctioned “auteurs” like film director Wes Anderson and Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner want to place a Beatles’ song in one of their projects and the music supervisor or licensor cannot negotiate a licensing fee that fits within the budget (Beatles’ songs are notoriously expensive to license), the burden of responsibility (or blame) tends to fall on the laborer who cannot ink the deal.
There is also an assumption that labor that relies upon technical skill and is organized by craft unions and guilds is not as valuable because it is perceived as dependent upon and subservient to “creative” labor like writing, directing, producing, and acting, thus “justifying” and reinforcing the industrial hierarchies of above- and below-the-line labor. Booking, supervision, licensing, and promotion all qualify as below-the-line labor and thus tend to be delegitimized. The line between work and fandom is often blurred for these particular laborers, which can cause further perceptual delegitimation within the media industries. Finally, pervasive sexist and misogynistic assumptions remain on what it means for women to enact these labor roles. Much of this work takes place in meetings with artists, label representatives, legal teams, and publishers. Many of these exchanges take place through electronic communication channels, in offices, or in conference rooms. There are gendered assumptions in place even in these exchanges.
However, a good bit of this work still takes place at industry festivals like SXSW or backstage at concerts. As scholars like Sara Cohen have noted, such cultural spaces are historically off-limits or available in a restricted capacity to women because of minimal concerns for individual safety to, from, and at a gig, which is usually booked after-hours in poorly-lit metropolitan areas with limited public transportation and parking accommodations that many of their male counterparts rarely had to consider (Cohen, 1997). Hence why a number of artists associated with the riot grrrl movement repurposed second-wave segregationist practices by holding female-only shows or insisting that male audience members stand in the back. Hence why more shows were all-ages events in repurposed performance spaces that took place earlier in the evening.
Because there remain pernicious assumptions that women and girls simply entering into a venue space must have heteronormative sex-based ulterior motives for contact, as the idea of women and girls who turn their music fandom into a livelihood (coupled with the cultural degradation of groupies’ labor and the sexist assumption that women and girls at a concert must be groupies) is unconscionably foreign to many people. What is more, there is an assumption that all people go to a concert to hear live music. As I’ve written (and will continue to write) since January 1, 2012, there are consequences for this not always being the case.
What does this mean for my scholarship? By extension, what does this mean for this blog? Or what some of you might really be asking: where’s your post on Beyoncé? Good questions all. I’ve thought a lot about Beyoncé as a site for understanding race, gender, and labor. Beyoncé has always been known for fancy footwork. This is really just an extension of how closely she controls her own image. A friend asked why Beyoncé ”let” Michelle Williams take the lead on their new single. My catty reply: “Beynevolence. That’s what her fifth album will be called” (I say this as a fan, B’Day 4 life). I keep thinking about the intense coordination of the Destiny’s Child reunion, the Super Bowl half-time show, the GQ cover story, the HBO documentary, and the announcement of her world tour. A lot of interesting discourse came out of this confluence of brand positioning. I thought Leah Carroll’s comparison of Life Is But a Dream and Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning was especially interesting in terms of their particular evocations of “realness.” I also thought about Beyoncé advantageously comparing herself to an athlete in her GQ cover story (a connection photographer Terry Richardson extended because his dick has no imagination).
I like Beyoncé. A major part of what I like about her–aside from her voice, songs, performances, and music videos–is her insistence of control. However, some may argue that such a need for control keeps Life Is But a Dream, which she directed, from functioning as a proper documentary. It often shuts down moments where we might learn something about the subject. Beyoncé won’t offer much detail on her relationship with her father and the decisions she made to be her own manager. More to the point, for all of her insistence on female solidarity, professional agency, and sexual fulfillment, Beyoncé does not seem to have much of a relationship with anyone. We barely see her with Jay. We see her with her nephew, but not her sister Solange. We see footage of her singing “Lovefool” with Kelly and Michelle from their Destiny’s Child days, but then they’re clapping for her from a distance at an awards show. We see a few moments where she asserts her authority backstage, but many of those are dropped in with little context and quickly backed away from. These are ruptures that demand questions the documentary can’t or won’t answer.
As I was watching, I kept thinking about bell hooks’ critique of Madonna: Truth or Dare and the ways in which the Material Girl pathologizes her back-up dancers in terms of race and sexuality and elects herself as their white savior (hooks, 1999). No such intervention from Beyoncé. However, as someone who is especially excited about her all-female band, I was sad to see little connection between Beyoncé and the Sugar Mamas. Furthermore, I was flummoxed by the scene where choreographer Frank Gatson orders Beyoncé’s dancers to sew their hats into their hair. A friend noted that one of the women he yells at is Ashley Everett, one of the pop star’s choreographers and dance captains. This scene gave me pause for a few reasons. For one, it’s a rare scene where another woman’s labor is acknowledged. For another, it’s a tense scene between members of the touring company and the interplay of race and gender frames the tension. Furthermore, Beyoncé is not in this scene. This distances herself from the labor that also helps create “Beyoncé.” Yet at the same time, this scene was included in the film by either Beyoncé or her editing team. Thus there is an acknowledgement of the dancers’ labor, yet Beyoncé’s connection to that labor is unclear. Being able to make those connections would help us better understand the star’s labor, as well as the surrounding labor that makes her stardom possible. But speaking to those absences and ruptures is a start.
I’m taking an independent study on gender and labor for my pre-lims and dissertation. I haven’t come up with my pre-lims question, but I’m noticing many themes. Some include: the processes of deskilling through technological changes and historical materialism, the assumption that women’s wages are supplemental for a family income, the identity-based connections between production and consumption, the struggle to articulate worth, the contingent visibility and shaping of race and gender by work environment and industrial definitions, paternalistic labor practices and educational opportunities, unions’ sexist obstructions toward female laborer participation, women entering into identity-based competitions with other women, the expectations of motherhood, and the contingent coalitions female laborers form and continue to form despite various oppositional forces. I’m also noticing that not a lot of media studies scholarship deals directly with gender and labor, though this is changing. I’m putting together a mix CD for the indie study. The act of curating a mix is useful to me, and I might be able to pull out a question by thinking about gender and music as sites of labor. I’m struggling to find songs that don’t treat these subjects as inevitably vulnerable to exploitation and subjugation. I’m looking for music that gets at the nuances of negotiating a love for labor with an insistence not to self-exploit. Here are some songs I’ve chosen so far. I welcome other suggestions.
In a recent interview with Jessica Hopper, Claire Boucher (alias Grimes) revealed that the song “Oblivion” addressed the constant sense of dread women deal with as they embark on a “masculine world associated with sexual assault.” Boucher was writing from her own experiences as a survivor. This was highlighted in Mark Richardson’s write-up on Pitchfork’s 2012 Top 100 Tracks list, on which “Oblivion” was named song of the year. On Slate’s Music Club 2012, Lindsay Zoladz put “Oblivion” in conversation with Angel Haze’s “Cleaning Out My Closet,” a harrowing song about the rapper’s personal history with child abuse.
Much like Zoladz, upon reading Boucher’s response, I heard “Oblivion” with new ears. Or rather, it confirmed my suspicions. Stripped of its robotic sheen, Boucher reminds me of Roy Orbison, an alien with an arrow in his heart, particularly with lyrics like “when you’re running by yourself it’s hard to find someone to hold your hand” and Boucher’s phrasing on the line “I will wait forever.” But I could never take these words at face value. The menacing, queer-masculine Casio chorus that overwhelms the song’s second half wouldn’t let me. Nor would the lyrics that bookend the song. Boucher begins with the admission “I never walk about/after dark/It’s my point of view/that someone could break your neck/Coming up behind you always coming and you’d never have a clue” and concludes with the foreboding promise to “see you on a dark night.” Nor would the video, with Boucher in a football stadium and a locker room amid a gaggle of sweaty, undressed young men. When I read Boucher’s interview and processed her intimation, I didn’t say “aha.” I nodded silently to myself. “That makes sense,” I thought. “I knew it.”
Misogynists might hear an erotic thrill in “Oblivion” and surmise that women like being caught. What’s powerful about this song–indeed, why I kept returning to it–is the unsettling juxtaposition of romantic longing and looming endangerment. But the presence of both elements doesn’t mean Grimes is compromising her need for consent. Rather, she’s expressing the constant negotiation and reconciliation women and girls have to do as sexual beings who are treated as objects and marked as easy targets by people who wish to do them harm simply for existing. “Oblivion” is about what it means to desire–often an ongoing internal debate–while keeping your guard up because of what your gender or sexuality represents to others–often a forced external battle. In Molly Lambert’s excellent review of Mad Men‘s “Mystery Date,” which uses the Speck murders as a thematic linchpin, she questions one character’s rape-fantasy pitch by suggesting that the woman in this scenario “wonders exactly what terrible, violent, and life-altering things would happen if she stopped looking out.”
Lambert identifies with Sally Draper, linking the character’s fear with her own recollections of the Polly Klaas abduction. Though she doesn’t address this in the piece directly, Lambert has probably felt the evil of assault in her adult life. I know I have. And I need to be careful with my language, because these aren’t my stories. I also need to be careful that my words don’t reinforce the myth of strangers lurking in the shadows, because statistically people are more likely to be hurt by friends and acquaintances. But I’ve had friends who were harassed on the street. I have friends who don’t feel safe on their own university campuses. A roommate cryptically implied an attack over a solemn brunch at Denny’s after a night out turned into a nightmare.
Of course, I have my own stories. I’m a survivor too. And as an adult, I’ve had multiple experiences of men barking at me (often from the safe distance of the passenger seat) while I walked to the grocery store, went out for a jog, or headed to a show. I remember yelling “don’t touch my fucking hair” at a stranger while I was outside of a bar with some friends in New Orleans. I remember being proud that I had the instinct to articulate my rage. Likewise, I remember being grateful that I had people around me while I did it. I also remember being furious that my guy friends who were chatting inside about Eastbound and Down had the luxury of walking to their hotel after 2 a.m. with minimal threat of harassment. What I remember in all those incidents–especially as I get older, the stories pile up, and I clutch my coat tighter–is that I was lucky.
In fall 2006, two family members were assaulted. The effects of this trauma were catastrophic and far-reaching. During the early stages of the aftermath, my partner’s mother gave me Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear. I didn’t read it. At 23, I thought I was immune to pop psychology. As I get older, I keep thinking about the relationship between fear and bravery. I used to think bravery meant fearlessness. Last year was the first time I lost a friend in an assault. Esme’s murder was the defining moment of 2012 for me, and most likely one of the most significant events in my adult life. It’s hard to articulate the influence of Esme’s passing. I struggled with coming up with ways to express my grief. There weren’t words for it. I couldn’t write about it. Any attempt to turn it into something else felt shallow and opportunistic. As a feminist, I know that intersectionality is both an essential yet volatile framework. Esme’s murder brings up unresolved issues with gender, race, and mental health. I didn’t know what to do with people calling the African American male suspects “monsters.” I didn’t know what to do with the identified assailant killing himself. I didn’t know what to do with knowing that my friend would most likely be alive if she weren’t a small, attractive young woman. I didn’t know what to do with believing that Esme was brave for walking home from a show in her neighborhood instead of entitled to such freedom. But Esme was brave in so many ways, perhaps especially in her kindness.
Last fall, I read Circuits of Visibility, an anthology edited by Radha S. Hegde about gender’s relationship to transnational media flows. Hegde contributes a piece about Indian Hewlett-Packard call center employee Pratibha Srikantamurthy, who was raped and murdered by a cab driver on her way to work in Bangalore. As I read this piece, I understood why a feminist academic like Hegde felt it necessary to write about it (and why it’s still relevant). I feel the feminist impulses of lending visibility and articulating rage in my bones. But I felt like any effort to use my work as a platform or outlet for my confusion, anger, and sadness over Esme would be self-serving and almost as hollow as the UT’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ awful co-opting of Charlie Chauvin’s Esme logo. It wouldn’t bring her back. The act of writing a proper conclusion was especially vexing. I didn’t want to paper over the reality of her death by focusing on her bright, young life, nor did I want to dwell on the brutal facts of her murder. Furthermore, the case was open at the time. But drafting a conclusion felt like lying. Even if the Austin Police Department closed the case–which they did in late December–it couldn’t make some of my friends feel safe to walk alone at night. It never could. The damage was done. Words were useless.
That last sentence is only a half-truth. As a writer, I recognize that the right words, persistently shaped by thoughtful research and personal insight, have tremendous healing properties. Summer Anne Burton’s “The Year Without Esme” found the words I could not and, importantly, shifted the grief outward to focus on how other people mourn and remember this miracle of a person.
Last year, I had trouble finding an outlet to express my feelings and turn them into something else. I fell out of the habit of writing. Well, this isn’t exactly true. I wrote. I completed revisions on an anthology chapter. I contributed reviews for Bitch Magazine and The Moving Image. I wrote four posts for Antenna and a post for In Media Res. Last week, I submitted an article for review. Next month, I’m due to submit another one. And then there’s all of the writing I didn’t share–term papers, weekly responses, notes, presentations, student feedback, marginalia. I channeled my creative energies elsewhere. But I questioned the validity and utility of my words in ways that I hadn’t before. In the past, I always savored conjuring sentences from my laptop like a sorceress manipulates the sky. But now, it feels like a luxury. Now I recognize the immanent critique’s connection not only to self-indulgence but to writer’s block.
Hopefully, such questioning leads to personal growth. Last year, other people’s words resonated where mine could not. I was struck by Angel Haze’s bracing candor, Fiona Apple’s poetic violence, THEESatisfaction’s off-hand introspection, Lower Dens’ muttering, Marisa Paternoster’s bellowing, Nicki Minaj’s blatant disregard, Santigold’s pop genius, Georgia Anne Muldrow’s incantations, Cat Power’s maturation, Grimes’ relentless shapeshifting, Icona Pop’s maniacal glee, Signif’s real talk, Yoko Ono’s couples therapy, Crystal Castles’ icy protest songs, Purity Ring’s heartfelt odes to abjection, and Julia Holter’s celestial hymns. I was particularly taken with the music and words that forced me not to look away, even when it scared me.
What I learned last year is that fear and bravery are usually connected. Fear is the manifestation of uncertainty over unknown entities or prospects. Bravery is the resolve not to be thwarted or to harm out of fear. It doesn’t mean we lose the fear. It just means we don’t let the fear consume us. It’s a difficult commitment and it never resolves itself. As Ann Friedman points out, we can’t guarantee social progress with premature proclamations that we’re moving forward. But let’s try to be brave this year. And let’s be good to each other so that we don’t have to be afraid.
Last week was a whirl of wind. This week is whipping up quite a gust of air as well. But I don’t want any more days to pass without referring you all to a post I wrote for In Media Res. Wrapping up the site’s excellent week on hip-hop cinema, I curated a post on Lizzie Borden’s film Born in Flames in relation to Invincible, Jean Grae, and Tamar-kali’s tour of same name. Do check it out.
Some readers have been back in school for at least a week (hi, mom). But in Madison we start after Labor Day. Today also marks my first day TAing a new class and the first day to my last year of coursework. For many people, today represents possibility–new teachers, new classes, new school supplies, new misadventures. There’s a lot riding on it, which is actually why I prefer the second day of school. But I’m ready to get back to it. I chose my outfit, packed my lunch, and went to bed early. I also picked out some “plate” music.
Next week, my graduate program is playing a kickball game to start off the new year. As an attendant of many ASL games, I understand the importance of selecting the right song for coming up to bat. The use of pre-recorded music at sporting events fascinate me wherever I’m watching, particularly when it heightens our collective response to people challenging themselves and others to win. Remember when Aly Raisman scored lower than expected on her balance beam final and the judges scurried to review the routine after the Károlyis challenged them? During their brief deliberation, Katy Perry’s “Firework” blared in the background. That song was on a loop during the Olympics, but in that moment Perry’s song called attention to the “liveness” of the moment. It played in real time as part of the diegesis and thus sounded radically different.
When you participate in a sporting event, music is just as enveloping. It can also give you a window into the player. The sounds and lyrics people use to create or convey a certain attitude during competition says quite a bit about them (even when they pick Eminem). For me, selecting “plate” music for a kickball game was soothing, as the sport is the root of a number of gym-related childhood traumas. But I bump “plate” music wherever I go. Here are some songs that make me feel invincible, especially on days heavy with expectation.
Last Saturday, I finally delivered the DJ set I knew I had in me. I was disappointed by the show I gave on the eve of my 29th birthday–a set beleaguered with technical difficulties, disjointed transitions, and frayed nerves. By my assessment, the seams showed big time. But last weekend at the Alchemy, I was in the zone. I attribute my success to:
1. Setting up my first four songs ahead of time. Some day soon, I’ll incorporate a laptop into my setup. Later, when I have disposable income again, I’ll invest in more up-to-date equipment. But for now, my current setup consists of two turntables and a two-disc mixer I inherited from a friend. This setup leaves me vulnerable to skipping. A way to avoid this problem is to give yourself enough time to cue every track. This can be hard to do in a live setting where the venue, its sound system, and its patrons are variables. DJs have to keep the party going. This can be difficult when someone comes up to the booth to start a conversation about your equipment, Lil Wayne, or his/her burgeoning hip-hop career. Factor in a few missed cues and skipping problems and it’s that much harder to recover. The key to a successful evening is to always be ahead of the mix instead of running behind it or flailing underneath it. This requires a cool head and quick instincts. So making sure my first four songs were on point before I started gave me ample time to prepare the rest of the set, as well as field requests and chat with folks throughout the night.
2. Working with a mix. Some DJs who use laptops work exclusively from a pre-constituted mix. Ugh, why book a DJ if s/he’s just going to push play on an iTunes mix? That said, it’s nice to have an anchor. So I burned three mix CDs and kept one of them in the mixer at all times. When I played all the songs I wanted off one mix, I switched it out with another. Now, I integrated these mixes with other records and played off the crowd, the venue, and whatever I wanted to hear at any given moment. I also shuffled the order I played the songs on each mix CD. But I always had a batch of songs at the ready and this kept me from running around and constantly switching out material.
3. Practicing with the equipment. I’m just starting out as a DJ, so I’m still getting used to working with two turntables and a mixer at once. But I’m more confident each time I do it. This goes for playing music as well as setting up my gear. My partner and I share our equipment. He’s deejayed quite a bit more than me. I had him coach me in our kitchen, but I break out the equipment and practice alone. He still helps me cart the equipment–not because it’s too heavy or intimidating, but because he’s a supportive partner. And I ask him to stand in the audience while I check my levels. But I’m really conscious about gender stereotyping around technology, so I learned what every plugin connects to and why and am learning how to cue, cut, mix, and fade between each song on my own.
4. Believing in myself. I had a good time on Saturday. I loved what I was playing. I had conviction, which I hadn’t really found during my first two sets. The audience responded by cheering, dancing, and making out (!) to my set. They got into what I was playing, in large part because I was enjoying myself so much. You get what you give. Part of this had to do with demonstrating greater fluency with the material. I’m working with the genres of soul, R&B, and hip hop in part as a challenge. I’m invested in breaking down rockist traditions of taste hierarchies and white privilege, especially those circulating (unintentionally or not) within punk, post-punk, and riot grrrl, which are genres I know a bit better. I do research as an instructor and scholar, largely so that I can learn or unlearn about things beyond my intellectual comfort zone. I listen and learn to destabilize. Why not turn that skill set toward deejaying?
Also, this is the music I need to hear and share right now.
In the future, I’d like to post my set lists here. I’m taking a class on digital production this fall, and have set this as a goal for myself. I will probably use SoundCloud or 8Tracks, but am open to suggestions. For now, fans can access last Saturday’s set list through Feminist Music Geek’s Facebook page. I’ll leave you now with a few songs that I especially loved playing. Don’t hesitate to put in your requests.