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 am the lyricist and singer. Sometimes I play guitar. I do booking and publicity. Along with guitar player David Lester, I come up with interesting new ways to evolve. Recently we have added an art show and lecture to our performance events.
Touring Art Exhibit:
Inspired Agitators & the Pantomime Horse
Classroom and Workshop events
Quicktime video of an art show, performance and workshop event
Recent Iinterview in HIGH HAT
Please describe your political ideology/standpoint?
Feminist and anarchist. Positive, determined to inspire people towards creative self-expression.
Does your political standpoint influence your music?
Mecca Normal is celebrating 20 years since our first performance. Longevity has become a political issue. We continue to challenge ourselves. We are calling our touring art show a “play” — the theme of the play is the presentation of political ideas within art (music, writing, theatre, etc) — bringing political vision into public sphere in the form of art.
Sometimes it feels like there is a pressure from society — an expectation — to stop making music and art because we are in our mid-forties. This is what we do. It only gets more interesting.
Is there an international network that you find important for your music?
Our network is made up of individuals from a variety of backgrounds. An association to Riot Grrrl is sometimes helpful in making things happen… in other situtaions we work with literary connections including small press publishers… we like to add contrast to regular rock shows and we search out places to play music in art galleries and exhibit our art work at rock shows! After 20 years, there are still ways to be playful the staus quo.
What do you think connects the members of this network?
Internet lists, bands that tour, interviews in magazines, traveling art shows (Drawing Resistance in North America), community-run art spaces and a network of small clubs — bands who play these places have a translated status around North America. If a band plays such-and-such club or opens for the so-and-sos then they are worth checking out.
Are you an active part of that network? In what way?
I sometimes feel isolated, but I suspect that some people see me as being part of something that they feel isolated from. So I assume that many people, no matter how connected and well-known they seem to be, probably feel outside of the action. I feel I can contact venues, bands and labels and ask for some assistance or information related to getting shows across North America. Information, requests and opportunities are being circulated on a variety of email lists.
In what way do you think globalization influences those international networks?
I have a sense that as a community of cultural activists — musicians, writers, publishers, labels, gallery curators are aware of globalization and are involved in understanding and monitoring shifts as they occur.
Did you experience gender-related problems?
In my guitar work with other musicians I find that my experimental playing is often credited to the men in my projects. I write novels, lyrics, and articles on underground culture. I am a visual artist. I play guitar. I sing in a moderately successful band. I feel there is a underlying level of negativity surrounding the quality of my creative output based on the fact that I’m a woman.
There is resistance to taking my work as seriously as a man’s would be taken.
I have rarely been referred to as funny, sexy or attractive — I have been labeled with the singular role of angry feminist. Men consider me intimidating because I am successful and attractive. Men seem to need to feel more powerful and succesful than women. I am a threat to those standards. Women seek out powerful and creative men; these qualities are magnetic and desirable in men. In women they are scary and odd.