Last year's Spleencoffin compilation "Ladyz in Noyz" really blew my mind. I knew there were a lot of talented female musicians but to have them all collected in one place was just awesome, and the person we have to thank for that is Marlo Eggplant. It should come as no surprise that Marlo would be the brains behind "Ladyz in Noyz", given her propensity for transforming anything and everything into musical instruments. Between running her new distro, Corpus Callosum, and attending grad school, I managed to ask her a few questions.
Noise music is relatively new. I have only been doing noise since 2004. I have been doing music for 17 years but mostly in the vein of punk, lo-fi, and folk. It seemed like a very logical transition from lo-fi. Because of the sizzles and fizzles of a four track and accidental sounds from recording. The sounds alone really tickled my interest. I also got really sick of the confined nature of traditionally structured music. I myself was bored with instruments (cello, voice, and piano) with which I had formal training. I felt that I was getting trapped into rehearsed schticks when improvising. I was already interested in avant-garde composers so it didn't seem like so much of a jump. Timothy Wisniewski (of Spleencoffin) and I began making noise together in 2004 with Hazardous Guadalupe. Spleencoffin was born as a way to distro music we had been recording and to support our friends.
Originally I started LiN just to find away to keep in touch with women I met on the road. I grew up in Baltimore where I felt most noise musicians and those who attended noise shows were mostly male. With the exception of Carly Ptak and Lexie Mountain, I really hadn't met any women who were interested in experimenting with noise. I didn't meet other women into the same aesthetic of playfulness and noise until I went on tour with Hazardous Guadalupe. I met several women who also grew up in insular situations where they generally did not have female cohorts. After speaking with HNY (Social Junk), Bonnie Mercer (the Grey Daturas), Germaine (Josh Taylor's Friends Forever and Old Time Relijun), and Leah Peah (Head Molt), I felt more secure in releasing a comp that celebrated the presence and the diversity of talent with the women who create and perform. I thought the compilation would be a great way for us to keep in touch and to give other women the opportunity to meet.
Earlier I had the opportunity to get a copy of Women Take Back the Noise
(an impressive and excellent compilation by Ninah Pixie), I was blown away by the caliber and breadth of artists she had gathered. I had the same hopes for the compilation.
I did not expect the negative responses to the project and how some seemed to be offended by a women only compilation. In a scene that has the ability to question the rules of what is sound/music/noise, is it really that strange to examine how gender plays out within that scene? From the response I received, it seems most women do not leave their gender behind when they make music. (Marissa Magic's essay "On Screaming" in the LiN zine insert speaks to some interesting points.) It doesn't qualify the music. It is part of us as is the rest of our identities when we make music. As artists, we can make decisions for the context in which we want to be seen. If we want to celebrate our gender, it shouldn't offend anyone.
An addendum to the LiN comp should be coming out this spring on Corpus Callosum (marlobean.etsy.com), a new distro/label by Marlo Eggplant. So far, Corpus Callosum features Adrien Barbobott, Paid in Puke, WTBTN, and Sharkiface.
I don't really see the process of noise musicians as gendered as much as the language we use to discuss what we are working on. Seems as though the women I have spoken to seem to be more open to discussing their thought process, using analogies and anecdotes to discuss how they completed their piece. Then again, I have recently meet more artists who are overall interested in talking about their processes. So I am really not sure. Maybe it is what draws us to noise as opposed to men. I know that one of the reasons I do this type of music is in order to escape our overly verbose culture.
I also wanted to add that gender plays a part as much as any experience that adds to identity. So, for instance, my experience as a woman affects my music because it is part of who I am. Just as much as being a first generation American or as a crafts person. Gender does not define music merely influences the experience of a musician.
Oh and that bit about noise being an escape from an overly verbose culture. I wanted to elaborate. I sometimes use samples in my music. So the use of words is another instrument. The sounds of letters and the sounds of the voices are, of course, verbal. But I personally like to use them more layers of sound. I also make other types of music where I use lyrics as the momentum of the piece. So this is just more for my "noisier" musics.
I am originally from Baltimore. My heart lives in Baltimore. Plus my folks live there. I really love Baltimore. It has become more popular after Nautical Almanac and Dan Deacon of Wham City moved there which has been really good for new music. Baltimore has a lot of hidden gems as far as venues, arts, and thrift store records. I have started a new distro called Corpus Callosum which is based in Seattle because Seattle has trapped me for grad school. Spleencoffin will still live on with Timothy as a Baltimore based label.
The name Spleencoffin came out of a card that I received from Timothy when I had my gallbladder taken out. I had already had my appendix out so technically as far as "optional" organs that one does not need for absolutely functioning, my spleen is the only organ I could get removed. I believe Timothy had drawn some type of coffin for my gallbladder.
The cat is the official Spleencat. Her name is Scaredy. She is purple and turns orange in the summer. She is sweet. Unfortunately I am deathly allergic to animals but I love animals especially cats. Therefore I am destined to a world of hugging things that make me sick.
Since I have stopped working with Spleencoffin, I already work with everyone I want to!! Actually there are people from history that I would have loved to have worked with like Yoko Ono, the Slits, or Karen Finley. Although my goal is to find the lesser known acts and somehow be instrumental in getting their music out there.
I go to school to become a naturopathic medical doctor. Although I have had to take a break from school because of formaldehyde poisoning from the cadaver lab.
My favorite experience on the road with Hazardous Guadalupe is when we played a place in Atlanta called Lenny's, with the Grey Daturas. I met Bonnie Mercer and discussed how awesome it was to meet another female musician on the road. Then we drank a bunch of beer. Then some guy named Sexually Active Corpse opened for everyone. He proceeded to do weird karaoke and urinate all over the stage. A bunch of guys started slamming each other on the floor and spilling beer. Then HG played. We were so confused by the opening act. The Grey Daturas played and some weirdo tried to steal Bonnie's black converse off her foot. She kicked him in the face all the while riffing it up. Atlanta rules!
I would like to encourage people to continue to check out artists from LiN and some other hidden gems on Corpus Callosum Distro
and that if there are any other women out there making noise who are looking for a distro or would like to trade, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Oh and please check out the LiN addendum to be released mid-June that includes many stellar artists like Empty Remains, Mass Ornament, Poundland, Froghat and Sofaqueen, Leah Peah, Kawaiitely Please, Suzie Zuzek, buckets of bile, Panty Bag, Medique, Paid in Puke, and Marlo Eggplant!
-- Eden Hemming Rose (11 June, 2009)