Watch it HERE
Photo by Clayton Cubitt
Head Bitch In Charge hits the web on Friday, June 30th!
“A state of human life vaguely defined by the term “Universal Peace,” while a result of cumulative effort through centuries past, might come into existence quickly, not unlike a crystal suddenly forms in a solution which has been slowly prepared.” – Nikola Tesla
If you follow me you have watched in real time an artist having a prolonged PTSD episode, triggered by the election of a man so vile and unfit for the job that the mind boggles. And while the mind boggles the heart tears itself into shreds, the body tightens, a rictus becomes the only semblance of expression.
Friends, I was terrified, not for myself, but for all of us, and for marginalized and targeted people specifically: Muslim, Black, Latinx, Trans, Queer, Female, and even sometimes “The Jews.” That my personal venn diagram encompasses several of those identities is some reason for fear, but mostly my terror was at watching the rise of fascism so clearly, and feeling, as many have, like Cassandra: a being able to see the future who no one will believe.
Many people were in this state – I was not special in this. Some people were afraid for themselves, being the first ones targeted, some people were afraid for others, some afraid for everything. We were all reeling, watching the incremental progress we’d all fought so hard for being dismantled at a pace that left us breathless and unable to cope.
My own PTSD is generational. In living memory, my family was shunned, persecuted, attacked, arrested, enslaved, starved, tortured, and murdered. My grandfather was at Bergen Belsen, the only member of his immediate family to make it out alive – in a coma, weighing 78 pounds. I grew up with these stories. Stories of the camp, the barracks, the nazi officers who helped them, the nazi officers who hurt them, watching his mother die, watching his brother starve. Other kids may have gotten stories about fishing, or whatever granddads talk about. I grew up on the holocaust.
There may not be another holocaust, there may not be concentration camps, but I don’t need those things to happen to be outraged now. The current situation is bad enough. We already have immigrant detention camps. We already imprison more people per capita than any other country in the world and we already know that a disproportionate number of those imprisoned are people of color. Outrage inducing racism already exists, it’s just getting worse.
For the first few days after the election, I couldn’t breathe. I sat in dark rooms, rocking back and forth, mumbling incoherently. At one point I heard a voice ask “Are you ok?” and I realized the voice was my own. The answer was “No. I’m not ok.”
And I may never be “ok.” Not while fascism, racism, terror, violent misogyny reign. Not while laws meant to protect us are destroyed and new laws meant to harm us are put in place. Not while the state uses police to kill unarmed people of color who inconvenience white stability. Not while trans people are denied basic human rights, access to bathrooms, and even the right to exist.
So I am not “ok,” but I am no longer living in constant terror like I was in the first few months after the election. I am scared, yes. Angry, oh very very much yes. But there is also so much love. So much inspiration. The resistance is strong, and bright, and dedicated. So many of us are ready, because we’ve already been resisting, this new administration just gave us a bigger target to push back on. The racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny, anti-science, anti-life beliefs are so strong with the current “powers” that we don’t have to explain them like we used to. If there is a gift it is that the blinders have truly been torn away, and all the things activists have been advocating for are real, are necessary, and are long overdue.
The resistance isn’t starting, it is continuing.
In my most hopeless moments, and there were many, I held on to that quote at the start of this post. A state of peace, of equality, of freedom, could come about suddenly, due to the work of generations of people. Even if we cannot see the benefit of the work we do, we must do it, because we don’t know when that final piece may click into place. We are always one moment away from justice, from mercy, from peace. Even when we feel so removed from each other that our world is tearing itself apart. Even when it feels like hatred is winning, fascism is winning. Even then we work for what we know is right, because what else is there to do?
That quote helped get me through the darkest of the times. Watching millions of people wake up to the resistance helped me through. Meeting people all over the world who are working away, as they always do, to make the world a better place helped me through. Watching my marginalized friends continue to exist and resist helped me through.
All over the planet, scores of intelligent people are working on solutions for our problems, whether in science or in social activism or in art. So many people are engaged in actively making the world a better place that there is hope, even if every news feed is covered in the sickly, horrible faces of men filled with hatred and power and the desire to destroy our lives for their own momentary profit. There are more of us. We are stronger than them. Our desire for life burns brighter than their desire for personal gain.
We are the solution in which justice and equality might suddenly take form. We exist. We resist.
I see you, living, loving, resisting. I see your struggle and your hope. I see your anger and your fear and your dedication to human rights.
I am not ok. None of what is happening politically is ok. But I see light, I feel light.
And it is you.
I began recording the album in 2014 in my NYC home. Then I carried those songs to Berlin where I recorded with Andrew Jigalin. The songs came around the world with me, being recorded and written by me in whatever place I was – NYC, New Orleans, Melbourne, Toronto. In October 2015 I paid for two days at Studio G, then followed up with three days in April 2016. Last week I spent five more days in the studio. There will be final adjustments, maybe some special guests, and certainly, mastering. But the main recording is done! And this is thanks to my supporters – YOU – at MISSION CONTROL and on Kickstarter and on the internet and in the physical spaces I sometimes inhabit with my body and my sounds. Thank you for making ⚡NOISEWITCH⚡ possible. And glorious.
The next steps to releasing the album are many. So many. But right now I have a glittering bundle of sounds we made, me, my friends, my engineers. I will make a post speaking just about them – they are wonderful and deserve their own special post.
Next there are videos to make and shows to book and merch to manufacture and schedules to plot. All good things. My booking agents at Mile One Touring are wonderful. My show page is going to start filling up. (Save these dates for now (NYC 10/28, NOLA 11/04, SLC 11/16, Denver 11/17)
Music photographer Hayley Rosenblum came by the studio to capture some of what happened:
Today ⚡NOISEWITCH⚡ is Kickstarter’s “Project of the Day” – which means that if you look at the very front page of kickstarter.com you’ll see this project there. It’s a big deal and I’m so honored. I’ve been using Kickstarter to fund projects since 2009 and I think they’re an incredible company making great things happen in the world.
My next album, NOISEWITCH, is halfway done. The second half of the recording takes place in August 2016. You can hear snippets of songs in the video above. I want to get this music into your ears as soon as possible! For this to happen I need to know there are enough of you wanting my album to take the leap and finish it.
Pre-order in Kickstarter:
And share share share!!
I wrote a quick self-care list for a friend. These are the first things that came to mind.
I’m a very tactile person who works on computers too much. I also have enormous amounts of self-doubt, while also being highly motivated and ambitious. Whee! Here are some things that help me.
I paint when I don’t feel good and it always helps. Watercolors are my favorite. I love the way the color moves around. I don’t care about making anything good. I just paint. Making something with my hands, away from the computer, is the best.
This is another thing that makes me feel instantly better. Touching plants, being around plants. Sitting in grass. Taking my shoes off in grass. I like to sit on my fire escape and “hold hands” with the gingko tree that grows out the front of my building. I planted some basil on my fire escape and watching them grow makes me happy every day.
Sometime this one works and sometimes it doesn’t. But when it works it is great and it’s worth trying. Wear something fancy for no reason. Put on lipstick. Dance by yourself in the living room. Or go out for a walk.
Eating really nice food. I need a lot of protein and sometimes I just haven’t eaten enough. I feel best on a high protein, mostly greens diet. I don’t subscribe to any particular diet fad, people should do what works for them, but all my body wants is greens and red meat. Bison and kale for every meal would probably be ideal. Or the still beating hearts of my enemies. Wheat and sugar make me almost instantly sad, tired, bloated, and grumpy. I love them so much, but they are death to me.
Working out every day. It’s so easy for me to get too busy or push it off, but for the past month I’ve worked out every day, even when I really am way too busy and/or depressed. It works.
Self-care isn’t easy, especially when you feel horrible about yourself, but it’s really important.
Life isn’t linear. When I look back, it’s a jumble, and a jungle. I wanted it all on a neatly ordered graph, up and up and up, things getting better and better. It doesn’t happen that way.
Success (or progress) isn’t linear. Success isn’t a smooth upward line on a graph, success is a tangle. It goes up, it goes down, it gets snarled. You’re eating cardboard and then you’re the toast of the town, eating toast covered in caviar and gold. And then it’s cardboard again.
Love isn’t linear. You fall in love and everything feels so high. Then you fall out, or the high is gone, then things get hard. Then you’re annoyed. Then you’re bored. Then you love again. Maybe you’re in love the whole time – it happens, but still things are hard, the high is gone, the hemispheres too far apart. Love doesn’t fit on a graph.
Art isn’t linear. We expect artists to always get better, bigger, shinier. But many – if not most – artists, falter, stumble, make something awkward or maybe even bad. Maybe it’s just not something you like. Art and artists don’t progress ever upwards in a clear trajectory of success and better art. (With a possible exception for commercial art produced by giant committees – blockbuster movies, pop songs, etc… but even then.) Your art will not always get better. Sometimes it will plateau for a while, sometimes it will get worse. Art is a lifelong process. And life isn’t linear.
We expect so much from ourselves and others and life. We expect up and up. But we’re all tangled and if there’s any up it’s fucked (up).
I’m still falling in and out of love and life and art, still getting tangled in the path. I want up, but sometimes I’m going down, or sideways, or not moving at all. And for someone like me, not moving feels like death.
But maybe it’s a cocoon, and I’m just preparing for the next phase.
My recent show in San Francisco was life-affirming. It was beyond wonderful to play with those musicians, in that venue, for that beautiful audience.
The show was so packed people were hanging from the rafters!
Meredith Yayanos – theremin and violin
Murray Campbell – Oboe and violin
Jennifer Rannells – voice
Ritual song – Kim starts solo, band walks in with candles
Jewel at the heart of everything
to be touched
hand to mouth
anyone at all
Je M’en Fous – Zoe and Kim duo surprise
The World is Mine
Encore #1 – Ritual song #2
Encore #2 – Kim solo – The Well
We set the stage with candles. We cast our first spell. The songs flowed from there. The set started quiet and moody and ended with bombastic songs like HBIC and World is Mine (both coming out on my next album!)
My sister Zoe showed up as a surprise for my mother’s birthday and we performed together for the first time since 2009! It was very silly and very fun.
The encores focused the set back into a spell casting ritual with a guitar loop and layered vocals, accompanied by violins and bells.
After the show people thanked me for the spells.
We all ate delicious pie that my sister Alex made.
I was overjoyed, renewed, and loved everyone.
I will be coming back to San Francisco in the summer! Stay tuned!