mini interview: joan as police woman!

joan wasser has been around chickfactor’s world for many years. she played at our second ever live gig with mary timony — they used to make an amazing sound together with just violin and guitar and singing, and of course she played in dambuilders, black beetle, etc. these days I see her solo project posters (she’s called joan as police woman) all over london and she’s getting raved about everywhere we look. her real life album is coming out in the states on cheap lullaby records on 12 june, and before that you can find her playing sxsw, headlining her way across the EU and then touring the US and australia (see her website for dates) — joan is busy! — before she starts making another record in autumn for a 2008 release. we checked in with the foxy lady for to see what’s going on…

chickfactor: are the other members of your band scared of you, or are you scared of them?
joan: I think everyone in the band has moods that the others would not exactly beg to experience. but scared? not yet.
which member of your band is the one who gets picked on by the others? it’s got to be the drummer guy, right?
I guess so ben looks like he’s asking for it, doesn’t he? he’s also the most gullible at times, so we can all get him a little riled up. but really he’s also the sweetest.
what’s it like being in a band with rainy?
it’s like getting to the top of mount everest.
do you plan any other identities — joan as astronaut, joan as paramedic?
oh god. I think being a police woman is enough. it’s funny now when I see cops I have a completely different feeling about them. I feel like madonna co-opting all the faggotry for her own uses except I am just using the police dept. sometimes I think they are the biggest bottoms and are somewhere begging to be used. you are certainly welcome to disagree.
you’ve always had fabulous (and at times BIG) hair. do you have any beauty secrets?
ummm, I try to walk in a straight line nowadays it’s easier now that I stopped drinking. also, I know that it’s been touted as a bonus for hair, but I found that beer does NOT help voluminous hair stay voluminous. so stay away from that PBR girls!
got any crushes? what is the secret to getting what you want in love and sex?
I think that loving yourself is the greatest way to get whatever it is you need, in love and sex and in life in general. when you are honestly happy with yourself and the way you carry yourself in the world, it is then that you attract the kind of person you want to be with and you naturally develop the ability to ask for what you want and need. this concept has taken me until NOW to figure out. and I have finally fallen in love. for the first time. because I can now look myself in the eye without flinching. previously, I was just running. I finally got tired enough to face myself. here’s to exhaustion!

thanks to peter momtchiloff for question help!
photograph: courtesy joan as police woman

tie it up tie it down.

who doesn’t love an apron? I have a great collection of vintage ones that my grandma made (some pictured here) and a heavy canvas one from muji that I wear for extreme baking. what happened to aprons? they became a lame novelty item in recent years but they seem like a good thing to make for yourself. we adore this blog that is about all things apronific: tie one on (thanks ms braverman for pointing it out). back when we lived in trendy shoreditch we predicted a full-on apron revival and like many things it’s happening slowly. make one now!

photograph: pam berry

music to your eyes.

I have fond memories of going to the tate modern at xmastime in 04 I believe for the christian marclay evening ‘the sounds of christmas.’ I knew something of his work before that but I was superimpressed that he brought 1,200 actual christmas vinyl LPs to a tent on the thames and there were DJs there using the records. it was pretty fun — you could even flip through them like you’re in a record store. he is one of those people who used to be fairly obscure in the music/art axis but has shot to superstardom in the art world. good for him. we like some of his music-obsessed stuff since we are in fact music obsessive (and what’s wrong with that?). anyway, white cube epitomizes everything that is silly about hoxton but they had the good sense to sign him up so head there if you want to see his latest london exhibition — it’s on till 10 march 07.

images: christian marclay

sidelady to the stars.

margaret white: the chickfactor interview

above: margaret while touring with belle and sebastian (nice sideburns!)

margaret white is an all-around great gal who happens to be an extremely talented violinist and singer. we met as bandmates on a sparklehorse tour in 2001. it was a zany year, and bonded us forever. since then she’s moved from chapel hill to brooklyn and has become an in-demand multi-instrumentalist, touring the world and recording with some pretty fabulous bands: the comas, cat power, belle and sebastian, portastatic, calexico and many, many others. recently she’s done a record with a band called ghosts I’ve met, singing beautiful boy-girl country duets that are so pretty that her dog likes to sing along. interview: kendall meade

chickfactor: who are you playing with now? all the a-listers, no doubt…
margaret: oh, but of course! I guess the ones that are kind of the constants right now are portastatic, kevin devine, jennifer o’connor, ghosts I’ve met, and of course mascott. and then there are always the random shows I get called in for – a few weeks ago I played with calexico at lincoln center and had a blast – and I’m hoping that there will be many more of those kind of things. they keep me on my toes! makes my life a bit crazy and scheduling can be a bit tricky at times. especially when you factor in the day job as well…but luckily all the people I play with are extremely understanding so if I have to miss shows I don’t get in too much trouble!
what are your favorite cities to play in/visit?
hmm, that’s a tough one because there are so many that have their individual good memories or friends or places, ones that are walking-friendly are definitely a plus since I usually don’t have any other transportation on tour! the ones that immediately jump to mind are portland and seattle (probably mainly because I was there last week). I have friends in both of those so it always makes it fun, and the cities themselves just feel really comfortable and friendly. chapel hill is a given because I lived there for 11 years so I have tons of friends and I still think of it as home since I can walk anyplace and probably know at least half the people there. and athens feels like home since it’s the nice southern college town and I know where to go for the good veggie food options. oh, and london and dublin are filled with friends and there have been some great shows in both, plus I’ve gotten to actually spend more time in those places! I always smile when I think of edinburgh because of that carousel you and scott and I discovered on the sparklehorse tour, best pound spend on that tour!
please tell the world about your singing dog.
he’s the best! he’s so talented. I think I’m going to have to bring him on tour with me and we can sing duets. maybe when ghosts I’ve met goes on tour. samson loves singing to those songs… I got him last january from one of the shelters in new york and he was somewhere around 2 1/2 or 3 years old. the first time I heard him sing I thought I was imagining it because it was just really briefly when I was getting ready for work one day. I think he was feeling shy since we didn’t know each other well so once I noticed he stopped. it was probably another month or so before it happened again. the first song he really got into singing was sloop john b from the beach boys pet sounds (of course) album. now he’ll sing to tons of stuff. not everything – he’s selective – but a lot. countryish songs, or really anything with harmonies. and the other morning he was singing along to opera on npr. it sometimes makes it difficult when I’m trying to learn songs (like for the calexico show the other week) because, though he doesn’t sing all that loud, he blends in well so it’s harder to pick out the parts I need to learn… he’s just amazing because he actually has really good phrasing and sings pretty much in tune! I took a little video on my phone a couple weeks ago and played it to musician friends, in part so they would believe me, and everyone was duly impressed with his talent!
north carolina vs brooklyn?
right now I’d have to say brooklyn. I really love north carolina and am so happy that I have reason to go back pretty regularly since portastatic is based there and pretty much any tours through the south go to the triangle area (raleigh, durham, chapel hill). it’s great to see everyone and I have so many amazing friends down there, and I do still think it feels like home a little more than brooklyn. but I love it up here and really have no desire to move back south, at least right now. plus so many friends are moving here from north carolina and other places that sometimes it feels like chapel hill here, and of course there are way more of the random recording and show opportunities here for me. with touring it never really mattered where I was living since it’s all traveling anyway, but for one-off gigs and whatnot it definitely helps to be in the big city!

margaret and kendall playing a chickfactor gig (mon gala papillons) in london, 2004.

margaret and interviewer kendall out on the town.

photographs: courtesy of margaret white; alistair fitchett

girls on film.

several very chickfactor photography exhibitions are happening at the international center of photography in manhattan. the woman who inspired the statement hairdo of chickfactor cofounder pam berry, louise brooks, is getting a special show devoted to her ahead-of-its-time style.

also on show are the ebullient images of hungarian lensman martin munkacsi, whose work we hadn’t seen before.

the real fashion elite.

london fashion week, woo hoo! does anyone care that neon is back, along with the neo-rave movement (I can’t even type that silly term without giggling), along with silver, gold, metallic, bronze, futuristic, goth, black, and all the other deadly dull trends that are peddled each year? there is also a big fashion photography show at the national portrait gallery in london for anyone who really believes that kate moss is an icon. for the rest of us, there is a far more spectacular show at the michael hoppen gallery called fashion where you can view some of those stunning images that inspired all of today’s tedious designers to go and rip off retro 20th-century style because they can’t seem to come up with much that is new. some of our idols, such as man ray, william avedon, louise dahl-wolfe and others, will be on display from 6 feb to 2 march, so put on a lovely chapeau and go.

photograph: william klein

boss lady.

artist and frock designer andrea loest has exhibited some of her fab creations at various chickfactor events, and people are always dying to buy them until they realize that, since andrea sews on each sequin individually and spent a gazillion hours on these things, they are worth a lot! but she has started making more affordable versions of her character-driven shifts and such, so you can now actually get one in her online shop. she lost a lot of artwork in hurricane katrina, so buying one of her frocks is an honorable act indeed! supporting the arts! and who doesn’t want a lady boss dress? I know I do. (hopefully in the future they’ll be available in more, um, larger sizes too!)

more evidence that we live in a silly and unjust world (like we needed it).

the brit awards were last night (kinda like british grammys). cat power lost to nelly furtado in the international female category. bob dylan lost to justin timberlake in the international male category. I hate the scissor sisters more every time I am forced to hear their cloying pop hits. I can’t tell snow patrol from take that, which means no matter how hard I’ve tried I will never be british. I know both acts have had ubiquitous (and hugely mediocre) hits in this country. I can tell lily allen from amy winehouse, but I am still not convinced that either is gonna change the world (lily’s dad is really good in bbc’s robin hood, I have to say). in 2007 music seems like a very, very sad and bland time for music indeed. I was in topshop yesterday when “how soon is now?” came on and that was surely the best song I’ve ever heard in there. does anything from now even come close? I ask you? anyone?