chickfactor celebrates its 15th anniversary this summer and even though we’ve slowed down a lot for a number of reasons, we do still have readers so I keep it going. a lot of things happened in 1992 when we started: nirvana + grunge + hole; riot grrrl hit the headlines; I moved to new york and worked at a rock magazine (where they actually used a photo of a model instead of a real riot grrrl when they ran their silly piece; perhaps a real riot grrrl would not consent); I went to my first new music seminar and my first cmj (which were, to me, at that time, pretty damned exciting); chickfactor-approved bands like pavement, my bloody valentine, stereolab, the wedding present, heavenly, lois, eggs, etc etc etc, were kicking the pop world’s ass; I even attended a taping of the jane pratt TV show where the subject was riot grrrl and the featured act was bettie serveert. lots of people were starting small labels, the music industry almost seemed excited about music too!
now it’s 15 years later and things really have changed. the rest of the world might be hating america right now, but many people who live there are changing the big monster for the better. of course music has changed in some ways for the worst (no one releases 7-inch singles anymore; bands don’t have time to develop before they’re hyped to death because there isn’t much of an underground). but in the same way the US has given birth in this century to ladyfest and a new generation of small artists who are crafting their way to making a living, it has invented something I very much wish had been around when I was a girl: the girls rock camp. so far the first and most famous was the sleater-kinney-approved rock ‘n’ roll camp for girls in portland, oregon’s summer camp, but others are here now too: willie mae rock camp in new york city, which has produced the already-famous superduo called magnolia; chicago rock camp; girls rock philly in the usa. sweden is getting europe started with popkollo girls rock camps in various locales around the country, and I’m involved with some cool london ladies in attempting to jump-start rock ‘n’ roll camp for girls uk. please send us british pounds to get the whole thing rolling. a few organizers are heading to the portland conference this month for people who want to learn how to set up a girls rock camp in their town.
if you wish you were between the ages of 8 and 18 so you could sign up for a girls rock camp but you are already too old, there is now a ladies rock camp in portland as well, which takes place april 27 to 29. all that american idol / x-factor is all well and good for mindless entertainment, but the only way to be a girl rocker is to write some songs of your own and rock. so sign yourself, your mom, your daughter up now.
can’t seem to find the right valentine’s message for your paramour? I’m sure stella marrs can help. check out her beautiful postcards and start bombarding the object of your affection with these romantic messages. stella’s work has gotten more political these days — no other artist has taken on health concerns and environmental issues and presented the argument against harmful chemicals in home and personal products in such a clear cut and effective way (stop using them unless you want cancer, that’s the gist) — but as you can see on her website she covers all of life’s big subjects.
postcards: stella marrs
the brit awards. how silly are they? I hear that even the nominees have to pay like £750 to get in! is that a scam or what? no wonder no one wants to go. well, the silliest thing about it this year is the international female category where we have beyonce, pink, xtina aguilera and nelly effing frittata up against none other than our very own charlene “cat power” marshall! hoo boy. does this mean grammys and oscars are next for miss chan? the thing is, back when I worked at time out new york in 1995, we did a story on hot local acts to watch and I chose cat power. I interviewed her (I may have been the first non-fanzine to do so) and I mentioned that she’d recently opened for liz phair at town hall and she had blown liz phair away. then I got a letter from some angry reader who told me I was full of shit and that cat power was terrible at that town hall show, everyone could see that! I guess we can wait until cat power becomes the first lady of chanel, until she appears in a wong kar-wei film, until she conquers all to admit that she might be one to watch. (this post is for that reader (and for gerard, who really “discovered” her), natch.)
photograph: gail o’hara for chickfactor
that’s right, gang (especially you new yorkers!) the lovely ms phoebe bluesky summersquash is starring in a play in new york city! the girl has multiple talents and loads of acting experience — I believe she was even one of the famous ‘silvermen’ in sarah silverman’s backing band and she was also the slacker cartoon voice on some mtv hit show!
the play is called savage in limbo (written by john patrick shanley, directed by jocelyn burrows)
also starring jocelyn burrows, erin cross, brant cunningham + andres monroy
february 14, 15, 16 and 17 @ 8pm, at the michael weller theatre, 311 west 43 st, suite 602, between eighth and ninth aves
tickets $18; for reservations call (845) 551-1199
here’s what they say: ‘a tragicomedy in one act, it’s a romp in the bronx at a bar where everyone is 32 and going nowhere not so fast. featuring a virgin with a pack of cards, an oversexed and under appreciated hothead, a barkeep with a santa suit, a failed nun and a handsome italian hot shot looking for ugly girls. you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but most of all you’ll be glad you’re not stuck in their situation…or are you?’
so grab your anti-valentine’s day party date and go.
I was lucky enough to go see m ward (who I can say I totally adore as the comfort food music of choice these days, oh I really do) and portastatic (aka mac) at the town hall on 26 january 2007 in new york. it was on a superfreezing evening and our feet froze all night long, but oh was it all worth it. portastatic played a go-betweens classic and also one of our fave tracks “I wanna know girls” and margaret white the subtle sidewoman pulled out all kinds of instruments and made it all sound super for a duo.
I have to admit I had only just seen m ward one time, opening for mlle neko rochelle case at london’s lovely koko, so it was glorious to have him play a proper set, mostly alone. he needed a haircut (but he’s still pretty foxy), and he slumps around and he only looks mean the way he does in photos some of the time — the rest of the time he makes funny (not smily) faces. I know some people say he appeals to the deadhead noodle dancing crowd (oh what an awful thing to say) or he is only for the ladies but I know this just isn’t true. he may be getting a little too slick (going on the road with norah jones I hear) and I hope he doesn’t get so full of himself that he may burst, but man oh man he’s a good thing happening right now, not like these mediocre pansies flooding the streets of my current place of residence. go m ward. that daniel johnston cover is about the best thing I’ve seen in years…. (but why was conor oberst on the stage with him looking rather pale and ill?)
I hope someone at moma and the national portrait gallery is paying attention to his amazing body of work. oh and his other art ain’t bad neither!
photograph: tae won yu (natch!)
dump is a lazy band from brooklyn. they never do enough music for the kids. they go on the road with some other band, which is really annoying! get to work, dump. for chrissakes, we need a new dump box set. we tracked down the dump guy for an exclusive interview.
cf: where is my new dump album?
dump: it’s not done yet.
cf: what has dump been watching on tv? now that dump is a tv star who has starred on the gilmore girls and the simpsons, what other shows does he want to be on?
dump: I’ve been watching heroes, the wire, lucky louie, pitagora suichi and talk sex with sue johanson. I wouldn’t mind being in the audience of a judge judy.
cf: what is dump eating on the road with his other band?
dump: I’ve been eating cuban food in miami, somewhere near the corner of stab whitey and kill whitey. bbq from dreamland (the tuscaloosa branch, but delivered to us in birmingham) was stout and soulful. I couldn’t find anything to eat in orlando so instead I bought records (eddie bo, skull snaps, chubb rock, beach boys “breakway” 45, released the day I was born!). fried chicken in tallahassee. very good cheeseburger at pete’s in knoxville. jonathan marx brought me cookies from nashville’s best bakery, becker’s.
cf: what does dump download, listen to, watch, whatever, on the innernet?
dump: recipes, sports scores, directions, occasionally music, “can’t stop the bleeding,” hardcore pornography, flipper videos on youtube, and streaming wfmu.
cf: where is my dump box set? badges? promotional vinyl carrying case?
dump: I don’t know where your dump box set is. same goes for the badges. I don’t even know how to address the matter of the promotional vinyl carrying case. those would all be pretty cool, because the first two things could fit inside the third thing, and you could carry them all around like that, and then it’d be really easy to know exactly where they all were. but I haven’t made any of those things yet.
cf: why is dump ignoring the fans? when will he deliver the goods?
dump: I’m not ignoring dump fans, quite the contrary. I finally started a dump myspace spage, where I am conversing freely, practically like a normal person. I’m posting new, unreleased and hard-to-find songs there from time to time, as well as original artwork.
cf: normal, hmm? ha ha, keep trying.
dump is on myspace apparently, but we would prefer a new vinyl product
just like dead can dance, pipas have become one of those bands that reside in various locales, currently lupe is in london and mark’s in brooklyn. we caught up with the big-haired chanteuse/songcrafter/multi-tasker lupe nunez-fernandez and she was kind enough to answer our mini-interview questions. she says that they plan to record a new album in march, “might play some shows after that,” have cds for sale and t-shirts (the sorry tour design) and maybe a bag or two via pipasforthepeople.com…..
what is the weirdest thing someone has said about your new album sorry love?
that it’s too long. no just kidding, I think I dreamt that. the weirdest thing anyone’s said is that they thought we’d broken up! you go quiet for a while… no people, we’re here to stay, at least for a while.
what do the pipas fans look like?
many different ways. too tall too short too skinny and too fat all rolled into one, and let me tell you, they always look damn good. they always look like they’re high on caffeine. generally they look happy. they usually go for the natural cruelty free look. big hair and glasses. you dig what I’m saying? can’t complain.
we hear that mark powell is the pipas fashion stylist. what does he tell you to wear?
he tells me all sorts of stuff but it’s pearls before swine, I never listen. I used to try to cleverly mis-match t-shirt slogans, like he’d wear his ‘I’m an army wife’ shirt and I’d obviously reach for my ‘sweet burger’ number (my other band. I mean my other-other-other band gail!). in general the plaid button down look never fails. I won’t include my mariachi shirt in that category, that’s not such a popular number in our dressing room. I wanna dress like pidg [mark’s nickname] and one day I will.
where have you received the best vegan food and or hospitality on tour?
well many places! our recent show in leipzig was unexpectedly preceded by our friend’s delicious vegetable gratin — so decadent, total stick to the ribs sort of half, double, and quadruple soy cream involved. we were practically licking the dishes. everyone treats us too nicely. germany in general fantastic for vegans — it’s the land that produced among other things green peppercorn streich, now a staple in our tour bag. if you’ve never had this… gothenburg was extraordinary this past time, we stayed with our heroic friend who is a vegan chef in his free hours… so it was a long and delicious 4 course meal, including the biggest artichokes we’ve ever seen and homemade swedish waffles with lots of sauces. genoa for the farinata (deliciously unctuous savory chickpea crepe bought at a bakery at 3 in the morning). finland, finland, what did we eat in finland? great coffee across the street from kiasma in helsinki. barcelona for annika’s gorgeous toy kitchen stocked with all kinds of friendly delights. madrid for, um, churros. utrera outside seville gave us ajoblanco, that vinegary white garlic soup otherwise known as the nectar of life. athens was good to us — good beans eating in, good beans eating out, and ecstatically good olives all around. if we look back over the last few years, it would be hard to overlook australia and california as wholes — best tofu scrambles, flat whites, homemade baked beans, waffles, etc etc. in new york I find there is too much fake meat, too much tofu, too much salt. not complaining! but things don’t have to be the same always. we also enjoyed the humble diet-like vegetables in tomato sauce and garlic rye croutons in estonia. as long as there’s something to put in our stomach — preferably involving bread, olive oil and coffee — we ok.
for more details on the dyn-o-mite duo, head to pipas blog and pipas site
photograph: gail o’hara
for those of you who may be in manhattan on sat 27 jan, the dashing dudley klute (who is most famous for his exuberant performance of TMFs classic ‘the luckiest guy on the lower east side’ as well as being a new wave mini superstar in belgium known as kid montana) will be participating in a breast cancer benefit show called ‘covers for the cure’ at joe’s pub at 6:30 pm. a variety of artists will perform songs made famous by lady artists who have struggled with breast cancer. the handsome mr klute shall be performing ‘as tears go by’ by marianne faithfull, and others will be performing songs by such luminous pop goddesses as olivia newton-john, dusty springfield and dudley’s fave lady kylie minogue, among others.
oh vashti, how I wish you would play a show in london without that little fella adem. he was there last year at the barbican, faffing around onstage while you did your delicately gorgeous thing. he was there at conway hall last summer. I understand that he has been a supportive pal during these days of your career revival, but every time you play with him he really starts to believe that he belongs on the stage with you, that people might have actually come to see him when in fact they are just enduring him until you get on the stage. during the show at the roundhouse in london, for example, he did his thing which makes no sense to me (can anyone explain it? can someone please explain to me why this domeheaded buffoon is on domino? why is he doing an in-store at other music?). he preciously cradles his toy instruments (and believe me, I have nothing against toy instruments); he sings in his over-the-top robbie williams-impersonating-bono style; he performs his own songs that are as dull as dishwater; he makes sentimental comments that hurt the ear; the music behind him might sound lovely but at the very core he and his songs are mediocre at best, unbearable at worst, but mostly I just want him to develop some self-awareness, to go away and leave you, vashti, so you could take to the stage without him there distracting the audience. these other allegedly folkie folk (juana molina, vetiver) at the roundhouse in january for this ‘nought degrees of separation’ event were neither as distracting nor as heinous as the little adem, but they don’t deserve to be your band either. please, vashti, consider playing on your own, with your own adorable guitarist, you don’t need this community behind you (if you do, have them over for dinner). sincerely, chickfactor