by Steffen & Verena
These Interviews were conducted in 2003/2004 as part of a research for a paper at the University of Göttingen | Germany on gender networks and music.
What do you do?
I started a band called Slumber Party in Detroit in 1999.
Please describe your political ideology/standpoint?
I am distrusting of governments and politics in general. Governments lie. And many people willingly and ignorantly lie for them. Living in the United States, and in Detroit specifically, and before that originally from rural Minnesota, I cannot help but be aware and ashamed and confused by the varying degrees of poverty and wealth and the strange distribution of opportunities.
Does your political standpoint influence your music?
My political opinion encourages me to play music so that I might selfishly feel a degree of separation from “regular life“. It gives me a sense of freedom from desires and wants that I observe others to have. Those desires and wants that seem unattainable and unworthy of much of a struggle. Also, rightly or wrongly, my politics and music, as I’ve described their relationship in my life, give me a sense of purpose, and at times license to feel “beyond it all”. It is also this sort of mind frame that keeps me from being very ambitious where one might be with music in its industry.
I distrust the industry, do not want to be hindered by it and am reluctant to offer a great deal of respect for many people involved in the music industry, including musicians.
My politics do not come out in the lyrics obviously, but rather infiltrate as a function of my attitude and approach to creating and performing. Like the approach to nearly everything in my life. My morals and my convictions. The fact that I have convictions. Having said that, I must also point out that I take my music expression seriously, and everybody elses I guess, too, but I keep a sense of humor about music and surely recognize the borders and limitations of its range of relevance.
Is there an international network that you find important for your music?
There is no formal international network, which is necessarily important to my music. If there is one that I am compatible with, I am unaware of it. And I would love to be a part of it. But if it were organized and effective in some light, it would probably be corrupted — power corrupts. Although, if McDonalds can globalize why not scrappy musicians? I am, however, sincerely influenced by artists and scientists and statesmen who have been described to do some wonderful things …some just smart and some uniquely contributing to the “betterment of humanity”. Globally and locally. Even maybe only, importantly, touching their close family members‘ lives. I loosely consider those that I have in mind to be part of an international network — each of us can come up with individuals to nominate, famous and not famous, spanning time and disciplines.
Did you experience gender-related problems?
Gender politics is an issue that I must deal with and must also ignore in order to deal with it. Every woman struggles with priorities. There is it seems to me a struggle for women, mostly when we are emboldened to be less shy and young, to be accepted by men particularly even mostly disregarding women who it appears have little influence in society anyway.
We set out looking for equality, respect and success legitimately — trying to be as good as, honing our skills and our temperaments and disciplining our thinking like any human being who strives for accomplishment with a degree of quality or excellence. However, we are often easily confused when we feel the need to address and measure topical matters. What a women is inclined to think about and cherish is not always what a man would deem interesting or appropriate. Women and men are cruel and ignorant to disregard or ignorantly regard matters that are often more in the thoughts of women than men. It is it seems a catch 22: with little respect or consideration given to a range of ideas and styles for the reason that they have come from people traditionally due little respect — women. There are many songs about getting the girl or boy and getting laid. Laura Nyro never had a chance when she wrote and sang about children. There are exceptions I am sure, and aware of some of them. But it is an issue that is still disturbingly prevalent in the music industry. I’ve even seen reviews of guitar playing on records that sounded like chants on the grade school playground: “you hit like a girl.” Women play a role in keeping the spirit of this alive.
At some point in each of our lives I think many of us have judged girls negatively for being girls. I’m discussing bourgeoning educated thoughtfully provoking striving females. Judging ourselves for being girls.
Men and boys, women and girls are all at times naive and inexperienced and unknowing and unwise. But these are adjectives that more often generally raise a feminine personae in our minds. Anne Sexton said in 1962, “The best compliment a female poet could receive is she writes like a man.” Whatever had influenced her to say that was reconsidered or debunked in her mind as she in 1969 changed her opinion, “As long as it can be said about a woman writer, “she writes like a man” and that woman takes it as a compliment, we are in trouble.” At the start of this response I mentioned that I must ignore it — the issue of gender politics — I must to some degree like all other obstacles and distractions and bothers to get anything done. For myself.