Punk Through Narrative & Identity
Room G.17, Armstrong Building
Jessica Blaise Ward (Leeds Beckett University)
‘Who remembers post-punk women?’
Who remembers post-punk? Its cultural and musical presence in the late 1970s and the early 1980s is often celebrated by many, despite the numerous hardships that British society faced. From industrial disputes and strikes to anti-Thatcherism and youth unemployment, it was a transitionary time in British history. How do we remember post-punk? Established since the 1940s, memory work and oral histories provide an opportunity for this, although they simultaneously raise a multitude of issues, not least from terminology. ‘Individual memory’ and ‘collective memory’ both allow for misrepresentations, although Sara Jones contends that the latter ‘requires actors, both individual and institutional, to construct, transmit, and support particular narratives of the past’. It is hence paramount to ask: who has been permitted to remember? When considering memory alongside gender identity and post-punk, one can observe some of the opportunities that it afforded women, and yet debate continues to contest their ‘empowerment’ and ‘increased’ representation in popular music. Historically much memory work has been conducted by women, whilst oral histories of punk and post-punk have predominantly been written by men. This presentation displays the memory and representation of women through semi-structured interviews, revealing anecdotal nostalgia of post-punk by members of what was termed Generation X (those born between 1955 and 1975).
Melodie Holliday – (Editor & Educational Development Shades of Noir)
‘“It was different” Navigating Punk While Black’
Art Trip And The Static Sound -These guys and girl peddle a type of lo-fi punk that sounds right at home amid the detritus of London’s toilet circuit. ‘The Girl Who’ slinks in with a serpentine bass before getting cut to pieces by towering, scuzzy, chords, while singer Melodie Holliday delivers her witty vocals like a 21stcentury Johnny Rotten ( NME, 2014)
In recent years Melodie Holliday has begun to reflect on her journey in alternative movements such as punk in the UK. Born to immigrant, Jamaican parents from the Windrush era ever since the age of 15 years old when only wearing clothes that she had made herself or others had worn-in previously before her, seemed to be ( and still is) of the utmost importance she has been navigating alternative spaces. Adopting a Punk lifestyle after hearing Ari Up’ s voice singing “Typical Girls”. So what is it like navigating punk and being a lead singer in a punk band while being Black and can anyone do it? When the stereotype is that Black people predominately like R and B what is it like to make sounds that are considered to be just noise by more conventional types? How does the use of critical race theory (Lourde, 1985) inform Melodie’s practice as a punk? Why does she feel that it is important to reflect on navigating punk while black?
Louise Barrière (University of Lorraine, France)
‘A “Very DIY Music” For Punk-Feminist People? Doing and listening to noise music in Ladyfest-inspired festivals’
My paper discusses the links between noise music and punk-feminist scenes, by looking at the Ladyfest network.
Ladyfest festivals generally aim to challenge gender roles within the punk scene. The network draws on a punk-feminist inspiration and specifically maintains several links with the Riot Grrrl movement that developed in the 1990s1. Yet, their musical scope has widely expanded through the years, and Ladyfests’ programs nowadays include punk as well as, for instance, electronic dance music, hip hop or, to a certain extent, noise music.
Drawing on my PhD research, I have analyzed the programs of more than 100 Ladyfest and Ladyfest-inspired festivals that took place in France and Germany since 2003, and studied the place of noise music in that network. During fieldwork sessions, I have attended noise concerts, and had informal talks with artists or organizers. In the first part of my presentation, drawing on the informations I have gathered, I will therefore explain why noise music occupies a place at the margins of the Ladyfest network.
Yet, I made the hypothesis that doing noise music could serve a feminist purpose. My guess was that the DIY dimension of noise music could be empowering for women and queer people who attend such festivals, because it would offer them the possibility to make music without much equipment nor musical knowledge. I thus have organized noise music workshops during various festivals over the year 2019. In the second part of my presentation, I will discuss my assumption by analyzing my experiences and multiple conversations I had with the participants.