It’s been a personal project of mine to try and find more Chinese artists to listen to, specifically artists and bands that often sing in Mandarin. So I made this mixtape a while ago and this is the first side. I’ll be sharing the other side soon. Enjoy
I got a lovely feature on Weird Canada’s New Canadiana page. Thanks to Marie Leblanc Flanagan for the beautiful words and to Emily Traichel for the translation
Been dreaming underground, been breathing under while soft bones feed the green. Saskatoon’s respectfulchild pulls strings through and up, looping you to the golden haze. All good things end in death, all good things come from death. A voice warming distant like prairie sundogs, trickle beats like footsteps rippling around grasping holes. Not all loops return to where they began, some pull upward.
Par les mains pulsantes de Marie LeBlanc Flanagan:
(Traduit par les rêves germinants d’ Émily Traichel)
Ses rêves germinent sous terre, sa respiration sous la surface tandis que de tendres os nourrissent le vert. Respectfulchild de Saskatoon fait traverser les cordes et les faitt monter, vous bouclant à la brume dorée. Toutes bonnes choses prennent fin dans la mort, toutes bonnes choses viennent de la mort. Une voix qui s’échauffe, lointaine comme des parhélies de la prairie; des rythmes ruisselants comme des bruits de pas qui ondulent autour des trous agrippants. Ce n’est pas toutes les boucles qui retournent où elles ont commencé, certaines se relèvent vers le haut.
I got a feature article in the Star Phoenix written by Sean Trembath on April 9th, 2016. I have a few extra edits of my own I’d particularly like people to note:
– Let’s stop using the word “caucasian” to mean “white” because the two are not the same. We live in a world of white supremacy, white privilege, white guilt, and white violence. You don’t get to use the word “caucasian” to deflect away from that politically privileged position. People of the Caucasus region do not benefit from white privilege the way white people do.
– I want to reiterate this quote from the article because it’s especially on my mind these days: “What can the [men] be doing to look at themselves and figure out what’s implicit in their culture that’s leaving other people out?”
– Dear white straight cis man friends, this is my question to you, because I know that the fellow trans and cis women in my life are doing lots of work to address this issue, to make space for themselves and for future generations, and I want you to know that this work can’t be done just from one side. We need you to figure out change too.
– Lastly, just a reminder that the music scene is just a smaller version of society. And society is messed up with misogyny, colonial violence, white supremacy, transmisogyny, racism, A LOT OF THINGS. Trying to deal with them on a massive societal scale is really overwhelming. But starting smaller within our own communities is likely more conceivable within our brains and our own capacities. Let’s figure some stuff out.
Here’s the full text from the article:
As a child taking piano and violin lessons, Melissa Gan was surrounded by plenty of girls and a wide array of ethnicities. Now, as a member of Saskatoon’s music scene, she wonders where they have all gone.
“That’s who I want to find in our city. I’m sure they exist and we should be welcoming them,” she says.
When Gan goes to a show, she knows it will be mostly men and mostly Caucasians.
“Even if a few more come, and say I’m not the only Asian girl there, you can still count us on your hand. I want to get to the point where we don’t need to count things,” she says.
She used to struggle with how to represent her political views in her music. Her solo project, respectfulchild, is mostly instrumental. She can’t spit political rhetoric like a hip hop artist.
Only recently did she realize just doing it was important.
“Me just being here, I’m making space,” Gan says.
No one could argue she belongs. By the end of high school she had earned Grade 10 certification for both violin and piano from the Royal Conservatory of Music. She played in competitions, performed classically and was in a jazz combo as a teen before making her way through the indie rock scene once she hit university. She has appeared on stage with and on recordings by multiple local groups, most notably Little Criminals.
Her early attempts at solo work were difficult. She wasn’t attracted to writing lyrics and found the sound of just her violin wasn’t working for her. Once she decided to explore what kind of sound environments she could create, things started falling into place.
“I bought all my friends’ old pedals and I just started experimenting,” Gan says.
The results are ambient, ethereal and sometimes hypnotic. She says people have described her tracks as “underwater music” or “fairie music.” These descriptors might confuse you, but only until you hear the songs.
She recalls her first show, played in a local basement. After she finished her first track, she looked up to see people had lied down and were fully tuned in to what she was doing. She has played one or two shows a month ever since.
As she participated more and more in the scene, she found herself better understanding the feelings of otherness that have always lingered at the outskirts or her experience. She has become very concerned with representation in the music scene.
“If there’s a show that’s all women, or just not cis-men, you take notice of that,” she says.
“On the one hand that makes me excited, but at the same time, we don’t say, ‘Ooh, an all-male lineup.’ “
A big part of the responsibility falls on the males who make up such a dominant chunk of the scene, according to Gan.
“What can the guys be doing to look at themselves and figure out what’s implicit in their culture that’s leaving other people out?” she says.
The problem isn’t only on the stage. The crowds are usually just as white and often just as male. Gan says there needs to be a focus on creating an environment where the less-represented music fans — and she is positive they exist — are comfortable participating in local culture.
“I don’t want to fill quotas. It’s not about those numbers. It’s the type of values that are being understood and demonstrated, both for audience members and people on stage,” she says.
She admits she doesn’t have all the answers, but says it is important for everyone involved to at least consider how they might be contributing to the problem.
“If we’re not trying then obviously it’s going to stay the same.”
I have a difficult relationship with my body. There’s this disconnect between what I think I should be, and what I actually am. I used to only think of my body image issues from the perspective of being a woman because society’s beauty standard is misogynistic, it’s against women. It exists to tell women that we should be beautiful, but that we aren’t.
More recently, I’ve realized that there’s more to my story than just being a woman. I’m realizing that the beauty standard isn’t just misogynistic. It’s white supremacist, it shows us that white ideals are what is beautiful. It’s cissexist. It shows us that beautiful people only exist in a binary of being either men or women. People in that in between space don’t exist. It’s fatphobic, it’s transmisogynistic, it excludes everything that is beautiful in us.
I am neither white nor am I binary. I’ve been trying to fit my body into an image that was never made to reflect me in the first place.
All of this serves to tell me that my body is wrong. That I am wrong. And that I need to change.
I often feel guilty for being a “bad feminist” because I don’t love my body which by extension means I don’t love myself. It feels like I’m a sell-out to the beauty industry, that I’m letting them get to me, and they’re winning.
I think people will look at me and see that I don’t wear make-up, that I don’t comb my hair, and think that I don’t buy into these beauty standards or care about the way I look. And I really wish that was true. I think it’s why I try not to participate in these body grooming rituals. It’s why I put myself in photoshoots while simultaneously feeling terrified of how my picture will turn out. It’s why I wear outrageously ill-fitting clothes. These are acts to convince myself that I don’t care about my appearance by actively doing the opposite. But not all insecurity looks the same, and not everyone handles it the same way.
I don’t want anyone to read this and tell me, “Oh but don’t worry, you are beautiful!” because that’s not the point. This isn’t about me. This is much bigger than me. I don’t want to be comforted as fitting into this standard. I don’t want a beauty standard to even exist. I know that’s a difficult thing to conceptualize because it’s something that has surrounded us for so long in such a normalized way. But I think we’d really be selling our imaginations short if we don’t think that something else is possible.
I want to love myself, whether I am beautiful or not. I want the same for you.
Profile name: respectfulchild Description: “Non-binary Woman of Colour, violin and noise maker, always with an apple”
Seeking: Friends More specifically: Friends of Colour Especially: Female, Queer, Trans Friends of Colour
Seeking friends who like music (Ex: the respectful, non-culturally appropriative kind, etc.)
Seeking friends to go to shows together
Seeking friends who make music, so I can be front row every time you play
Seeking friends who make art that isn’t based around the experience of being a straight white man
Seeking friends who have a complex relationship with their race and this “multicultural” country
My status: it’s complicated, but I’m open to new relationships
I have grown tired of listening to music made by white people, hearing poetry made by white people, seeing art made by white people.
It is everywhere.
I woke up this morning and tried to name the people of colour in our music scene. I got to maybe 12. When I listed the women of colour, including myself, we fit on one hand.
Is local music just a thing for white people, especially white men?
on race & identity
My life is bound to race. It doesn’t matter if I’m consciously noticing it in some sick-twisted way to intentionally alienate myself, or if I’m just trying to enjoy the show. I feel it. It finds me.
I once told a friend, “There are times I forget I’m Asian until it gets pointed out to me.” And they responded, “I forget you’re Asian all the time!”
I know they didn’t mean harm, but their words denied an essential part of me and made me realize how white-washed I have become. At the expense of being a part of this white arts scene, my cultural identity is fading and I’m blending in as a result. Race may be a social construct, but it’s also essential to my identity.
I do not want my Asian self to be ignored and erased, so don’t tell me that it doesn’t matter and that we’re all the same. I also don’t want my Asian self to be the only thing you see in me. I am Asian, and I am proud of it. But I am also so much more.
I need to be seen as Asian, but not only seen as Asian.
How often have I attended a concert, only to be hit with the realization of the sexism and racism in the music or in the room. How often have I been one of the few to notice these things. How often have I been one of the only women of colour present. How often has this made me feel discomfort and fear.
How frustrating and terrifying. How alienating and disappointing yet again.
It makes me not want to attend shows. It makes me feel lonely when I do.
I worry that I don’t belong. Telling me otherwise means that you are missing the point. This isn’t about just me. This isn’t about what you personally want to say to me. It’s about what this scene says to me and people like me. It says that this space is made for white people, and you can enter it, but you have to conform to us. It won’t come to you.
It’s not that people of colour don’t like local music. It’s that most of us feel that we aren’t meant to be there.
What about the other women of colour that we don’t even know because they’ve never felt comfortable enough to attend a local show or play in a band?
They don’t see themselves on stage. They don’t see themselves in the crowd.
I want to go to poetry, an art reception, a concert, and not feel in the minority.
I don’t want to feel like an anomaly. I don’t want to be a delicacy.
I need to see more of me in those around me. I need to know I am in a space that is safe from sexism and racism, but also a space that I can relate to. I need a space where I feel safe to express and enjoy myself. And I am not the only one who feels this way.
This scene is white by default. This scene is male-dominated by default. This scene is straight by default.
Our culture is white, male, and straight by default. This scene is just a reflection of that.
We need to switch off our default culture. We need to be intentional about what culture we want to create. Otherwise this scene will default to white, and me and my new friends won’t be there.