Monday, December 28, 2009
The Nicky Click
About 10 months ago, when we first started this blog, I got a really nice message from the "queer-femme-parody-artist-comic-funny-sexy-feminist-over the top-kitsch-persona, whom transgresses gender roles" whirlwind known as Nicky Click just dropping us a line about how she liked what we were doing. It meant a lot to us to get a vote of confidence from someone who was out there making cool stuff for our small subculture within a subculture.
Since Nicky Click had been involved in the queer underground and making music electronically for a while, I decided to ask her a question on how she felt riot girl has influenced the queer electro scene for YoungCreature. Not only did she answer, she wrote an essay - literally! Her essay covers everything from her personal influences to her thoughts on queer women performers to her label Crunks Not Dead records putting out outsider music.
Besides reading the essay, you can check out her new video for "I'm On My Cell Phone" (which will be debuting on Logo soon) and a yet to be released remix of her song "Drop Uh Huh"!
After the cut!
The question- how and why is the current electro queer girl movement related and built up/influenced by other past women’s musical resistance movements?
I feel so passionate about this question, as I have personally benefited and learned from those women who put themselves out there as artists of all kinds, amongst hecklers and sexism. They have paved the way for nickyclick and so many others.I believe the need for these intentions and actions, girls taking it in their own hands is a true inspiration. They command and reverse the gaze, the idea of who can be center stage in a male dominated musical scene. They enter without invitation or need for approval, speaking and invoking passion and agony vocally, that other women can relate to, and see a reflection of themselves in. Their music provides free therapy when the feelings we have cant be put into words. We should never forget those trailblazers.
I had to go back in my head to recall all the female music genres that were in my world the last 16 years, and have influenced the nickyclick persona...not to say there aren’t tons more others enjoyed!
My memory and or influences/heroes or stuff I have heard about:
It went from 1950’s Etta James and Bessy other woman with be (more than an mystery Ingrid book) and The Shirelles, The Supremes, and then 60’s Janis Joplin, Yoko Ono, Carly Simon. For the 70’s all I want to say is Abba and Tina Turner. There is a past and current lesbian folk scene with Phraanc, Melissa Ferrick, Indigo Girls, kd lang, ani difranco, bitch and animal, and the Lilith fair, Michigan [Womyn's] fest. And yes, ESG! Yes! Dolly parton! Yes! Bonnie Raitt! Yes! Patti Smith! Yes! Da Brat! Yes! Stevie Nicks! Madonna! Punk girls like Wendy O, Nina Hagen, Laurie Anderson, Lene Lovich, and The Slits along with riot girls; like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Sleater Kinney, are my two biggest influences, with some musicals and top 40 hip hop mixed in.
I also loved the cute twee scene with The Softies, Lois, Cub and Bis. I was also really into the queer core scene with bands like like Team Dresch, The Need, The Haggard, The Butchies and Tribe 8. Hole, Tribe 8 and PJ Harvey were my hardcore ladies bands. I got down with the outbreak females. MC’s like MC Lyte, Missy E, Lil Kim, Salt n Pepa. I was at some point into female singer/songwriters such as Sarah McLachlan, Tori Amos, Ani Difranco, Tracy Chapman, and Erykah Badu.
I am also becoming a late fan of the Techno scene; I love Mel C, Robyn, Tatu, Annie, DJ bam bam, Lady Miss Kier, Robots in Disguise. And other important female bands that pop into my mind are; The Gossip, Le Tigre, Tegan and Sara, Lady Sovereign, The Organ, MIA, Fannypack, Erase Errata, Santigold. Obviously I was highly empowered by the electro clash scene with Tracy and The Plastics, Chicks on Speed, Peaches, Uffie, Anna Oxygen, The Blow, Princess Superstar.
I am also intrigued by over the top pop ladies like Britney Spears, Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, and especially Lady Gaga ( all of whom I can count as influences in some way and am proud that the GaGa has officially come out as a queer feminist!)
So, Somehow in my mind this is what I knew off and listened too, what influenced ME, but I am “just a girl into girl music;” so obviously this is in no way “a complete history;” I am not a rolling stones writer or anything! LOL
So now in almost 2010, we have a current huge queer electro music scene with lots of female solo artists with no live instruments, completely being queer and stripping it down so the performance is your words and body. I feel like this scene has been boiling and developing for 6 years, and I would say ScreamClub were one of the pioneer bands of sparking this wave. Now nearly everywhere I look there are amazing lo-fi girls and queers making music with no concern of a “finished product” or having expensive equipment and lots of money. There is not as much as a weird look from the sound guy when I plug in my iPod band, as there was five years ago!
But, too me, no wave or voice could exist without the other.
How could we as women not be influenced by the image and feeling, the music and community that rose around those artists and waves of music? For sure riot grrrl is the most obvious influence to the electro girl scene right now. I believe it is an extension of their ideals/actions in many ways. Their reaction of anger within the male dominated music scene, and need to put their music out there publicly, is a huge example of this. Both waves were based around the organization of a community of girls who teach themselves and others. My personal experience within the current electro-queer-feminist music scene currently steams from riot girl ideals like an anger of not being visible or represented within the music scene as women. And once again a wave starts, created as not only a resistance, but owning it, growing through the creative process. I was lucky enough to learn and progress publicly, with support from the community, and often not……but a strong will to not confine myself and fight back male music standards.
On thing that is not different currently, is that because some of us are trying to be taken “seriously” as electro artists, and are written of as jokes or something to be written of as not deep. There is a double edged sword to lofi queer electro performance that I enjoy yet hate. One side is that some queers and women in the audience see lofi as an accessible form of expression for themselves. The other side is that is seems so accessible that everyone thinks they can do it…….hence, the tokenizing from male live instrument standards of what music and performance art should be. Very often, just because we don’t use live instruments, we still conquered drum machines, beat programming programs, audio recording programs, and mastering. Yes, the beauty is that the end result is definitely less produced and feels more personal and heartfelt. I see using a trashy old karaoke machine as a way to fuck the idea that you need to learn live instruments, and you can really start from anywhere just from anything. I used a tape recording device to do my first scrap recordings and then on a karaoke machine my girlfriend gave me. As with Riot grrrl, electro queer girls in communities nationwide started helping each other, sharing skills, not judging, collaborating, sharing ripped of software.
I started creating with no intention of performing, but as in a new way of creative expression. I always believed in Miranda July’s idea of using whatever you have to be creative. WHATEVER. Just start and break it out. I use my music as a way to express and process my emotions about life and how that relates to being a queer femme and feminist, by challenging ideas of parody and humor along with politics, satire, and kitsch.
I was tucked under the wings of Scream Club, an already international star duo of electro queer pop. Cindy Wonderful encouraged me and gave me boot legged computer programs and helped me in an empowering way to build what I felt with NickyClick; opposite to my internalized ideals of what may be perceived as rational songwriting and performance. In Olympia, WA 2005, Scream Club and Giles O’Dell formed Crunks Not Dead Records, for outsider music of any kind. I soon became involved, and the first full length album out on the label was my first album “You’re Already a Member.” Now coming into 2010 we are an established collective and international electro queer feminist label!
Same as riot girl in the way that I and many other gals were not encouraged to take music classes in school, I was intimidated because the classes had always been filled with boys, this felt ostracizing. Meanwhile, I was always obsessed with females who made music, inspired. All the bands I listed above were my soundtracks, but I never considered the option of creating my own soundtrack.
Everyone I dated was a musician, but I never tried. Ugh the girlfriend in the audience watching her flame, I wanted to switch places and be on the stage. Then I moved to the West Coast, and boom I was surrounding by a new resurgence of girls making amazing art with no apologies. And they weren’t competitive, just welcoming and open to sharing skills. In the sense of breaking down the idea that you don’t need to have some standard of stupid professionalism to keep you quiet, is definitely a riot girl themed concept. This time it is more about a girl going out on her own and doing it away from producers help, and joining together internationally as a community (thank god to the internet for that aspect of finding each other)
The end result has been for me personally a dream come true. For some reason, I have this need to publicly share my story, and it makes me feel great that I have people out there who feel connected, inspired and validated by my music. And of course, the visual gaze of an audience seeing a girl shake it on stage to an ipod confronts all sorts of sexist music world parameters. And yes, encourages others to try it; and perhaps question why they have been oppressed by internalized ideas of how music should be performed.
My motto is to love and believe in what I create, no matter who gets it or not, being totally serious about my creative concept and message live means that those who are in the audience will at least look, maybe not be able to look away, maybe it opens their mind, or at least they are in some way intrigued and opened up too music and DIY aesthetic. Perhaps these non-preaching to the choir, as awful as they can be audiences, are my current goal, to command attention and be one woman doing that.
That is what NickyClick (which has been been loved and hated, always ever changing) means to me, but The Click is influenced by all women’s music genres whom I have been lucky enough to discover. I love it when the freaks have people who get them and vice versa!
Thanks for being an inspirations, ladies, feminists, and queers.
Thanks also to my musical muse, Mr.Owl, who continues to provoke my mind with thoughts and new ways of thinking. He is no chopped liver.
Video by Peter Pizzi
Nicky Click vs. Timezone Lafontaine - Drop Uh Huh