Tamra Davis, Sini Anderson on hand for some 'Spring Breakers' and Julie Ruin insight
AUSTIN -- "I'm definitely not writing 'slut' on my stomach any time soon," Kathleen Hanna says.
It's the day after the premiere of "The Punk Singer," the documentary that centers on Hanna's music legacy from the origins of Bikini Kill to now, as the 43-year-old artist prepares a new album under the band name The Julie Ruin. Hanna had just seen herself on the big screen at SXSW, first as a kid, a teenaged feminist, up through Riot Grrrl, the media circuses, a solidfying Third Wave, marriage, (solo act) Julie Ruin, Le Tigre and the sad steps away from the stage due to crippling illness.
That history, of course, contains the times where Hanna literally markered the word "SLUT" across her bare midriff, which was part of a "character I was playing. I was a feminist performance artist first. So it was a seven year performance piece," she says, smiling, referring to her shocking and inspired stint fronting Bikini Kill. Conclusion: "It's really weird to see a younger version of yourself."
On this day, Hanna's sitting with "The Punk Singer" director Sini Anderson and producer (and longtime friend) Tamra Davis talking about archival footage and, y'know, crying. As you do. As a powerful and confident woman on film and in life, it had been enlightening for me to see Kathleen Hanna cry in "The Punk Singer"; after so many disheartening and epic details of her life unfolded, it was during a home-video shoot of her talking about her battle with Lyme disease that tears started to fall.
Hanna refers back to her "dork manifesto," "Burn Down The Walls That Say You Can't," that commands: "Cry in public." When voices in reality TV to the election trail continue to condemn crying as a failure on the part of the cryer -- most frequently women -- Hanna and her cohorts counter that it's assurance that it's fine to "feel."
"There's a stigma of if you're a woman and working at a job you can't cry because they'll see you as weak... as an animal, you'll be torn apart," Hanna says.
"We're criers, as women. My goal was to make you [the audience] cry," Davis said. "As women, we have to show our control of our emotions, that we're not always acting from that zone."
"There's something really different about a really really strong person to emote and not be a victim, and be in their power and say 'this is what I feel like," Anderson says. "[Hanna] was sick, pushing through and showing up. Showing that being strong enough to emote then recover, that can only inspire other people. I think that's punk rock."
Hanna is a big fan of another performer who one wouldn't necessarily designate as "punk rock": Beyonce. "I love seeing her legs. I enjoy her outfits and costumes, and I wore outfits and costumes..."
But there's the elements of female superstardom that just don't add up, Hanna warns. She talks about a time when she saw Pink performing at the MTV Music Video Awards, "hanging from a trapeze, dumping water on her herself, boobs lit on fire," you get the picture. That's Pink, y'know? But then there were "guys coming out in jeans and a jacket. I was like, what do we have to do next? Knifing ourselves?"
Pop stars have to keep "ratcheting it up" in order to garner respect from the performance world. "Why do we have to prove we can multi-task?"
Then there's a flip side, and that's when we talk about "Spring Breakers," which premiered at the same time as "The Punk Singer." "Rob purity of a Disney Queen... and then it's like 'yay!'," Davis says, shrugging and shaking her head.
Check out what else Hanna has to say about body image, "Girls" creator Lena Dunham and about the personnel of The Julie Ruin, which will be releasing their new album "around" June 15 through their own record label.
Susanne Sundfør guests on this bland electro-ballad for the Tom Cruise sci-fi
However, this electro-ballad is likely to play over the end credits, so get your coat: the generic "I've been waiting for you / waiting for a sign / (something something)" lyrics don't do much for singer Susanne Sundfør's pretty, hearty voice, and the climax feels like all-artifice, less gentle and subtle than M83's Anthony Gonzalez' usual hand on the beats.
Possession, betrayal and marriage, plus the band schedules a tour
- Critic's Rating A-
- Readers' Rating n/a
I'm kind of in love with this new music video for Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Sacrilege." So much that, if I can't have it, I'll destroy it and feel justified in doing so.
That part of the fantastical plot that follows the central character, played by model Lily Cole, whose "look" of innocence and mischief plays into the ultimate fantasies of the men (and one woman) around her. The clip plays backwards, telling the story of just how a young girl like her and a young man get bound, shot and left burning to die in the middle of a field.
There's a literal take on this story -- that she actually does fall into bed with all these men (and one woman) -- but I think what directors of Megaforce are trying to convey is how lustful fantasies lead one to feel ownership over women, a possession of them and the feelings of betrayal when they can't be had. Each scenario plays out specific to each's delusion, with costumes and action and even position. (Guess who they had in missionary! It's sacrilege!) As the characters watch what the ydesire burn, there's a flicker of justification, as if it were her (and the man's) fault.
The twist to this beautiful woman's inability to be "had" lies at the end of this short film, or rather its beginning. Appropriate for the day, no?
It's pretty hot, and not just because of the flames. Well played, sirs.
Listen to 'Diane Young' and 'Step' in the meantime
Fans of Vampire Weekend are going to have to wait a little bit longer for "Modern Vampires of the City." The XL set has been moved from May 7 to May 14.
The band, in the meantime, has two new songs to peruse. I like "Step" a bit better -- it's mouthy, vigilantly uppity, and a fun little outing into the world. "Diane Young," however, maybe bring in some new listeners who may only think of the NYC-based band as a bop-rock country club. Everyone can join.
Drop octave and grab your gun. Or don't.
(That's sex with dollar signs)
- Critic's Rating B-
- Readers' Rating A-
Vanessa Hudgens has unzipped a new track called "$$$ex," which was inspired by her newest film "Spring Breakers." That's "sex" spelled with three dollar signs. Harmony Korine's film could essentially be explained in similar terms, though a smiley face would also be acceptable.
Hudgens leads with a cheerleader rap that Sleigh Bells would applaud, reporting the mischief that a guy with a "condom in his wallet" gets up to. The themes of girls becoming women, innocence becoming foul play and beauty getting ugly also show up in this blissfully short track; the jump-rope rhymes urges its subject to "stop being so clever" with the infantilized purr turning into the f-bomb and a sexy screech. "Don't mistake my kindness for weakness," she chants. On it.
Skrillex was the composer on "Spring Breakers" and his inspiration can be heard in a dub-step breakdown. Pop producers Rock Mafia helmed.
50 Cent doesn't think his music promotes gun violence
Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent combined for a tour stop over the weekend, so it's only right that they appear together in the video for Fif's latest "We Up" track.
The two sit fireside in cabin, playing mandolins and a hearty game of Risk. Haha, just kidding, they're rapping on the rooftop of a beautiful California condo by a pool with the season's hottest accessory, Bored Women.
50 Cent originally had another guest on the track, but took the third verse for himself after all and allowed Lamar to take the cake regardless. The "good kid" reveals that he can get away with murder (see: manslaughter) though he has a bit of a Bob Lefsetz complex with the end of his rhyme: "I'm on Instagram looking at your favorite singer / Debating on should I fuck her or jump on her single."
"We Up" is on 50 Cent's forthcoming "Street King Immortal," which will get a new drop date soon.
Meanwhile, 50 Cent was a guest on yesterday's "Sunday Morning," talking about rap music and gun violence, saying that songs like his don't glorify gun but reflect a particular reality.
"If you were doing that and you weren't actually experiencing it, I would say you were glorifying it," he told Tracy Smith. "If you're drawing from something from your actual experience, isn't it art imitating life?"
Babes in ski masks doing horrible things to boys
- Critic's Rating C+
- Readers' Rating n/a
What is it with girls in ski masks these days? At SXSW this year, bikini-and-mask-clad babes on motorcycles were driving around Austin, though it was tough to tell if they were promoting the Pussy Riot documentary, the Kathleen Hanna doc "The Punk Singer" or "Spring Breakers" (or Spring Break, period).
In the music video to Fall Out Boy's newest concoction "Phoenix," there's beautiful women donning the creeptastic attire again, this time to abducted the four-piece rock band and mostly torture them. But this isn't a cute game of cat and mouse: Patrick Stump literally gets his hand chopped off, Pete Wentz takes a syringe to the neck and a falcon is involved somehow. I'm not sure why. Maybe the band took up falconry on break.
In any case, a briefcase: don't take it if its not yours. That goes for both rock bands and inexplicably sadistic women.
'Brennisteinn' sounds like a welcome warning
Sigur Ros' last album was a little more abstract than most of their output, so maybe the Icelandic band has decided to re-incorporate some rock structure to their dream-like forms. Enter "Brennisteinn," a new song and music video from the band's forthcoming album "Kveikur." The thing is a monster. It's a very weird, exciting, morphing jam, but it's also louder than what fans may be used to -- of course, until it segues into Jonsi's floating bridge.
"Floating bridge" may be one of the topographical features on the planet the video's set on; the splashes of yellow and dripping silvers are strewn throughout the black-and-white landscape. Far out. The video was helmed by Andrew Huang, who -- and this may not surprise you -- recently directed videos for Bjork, for her "Biophilia" project.
Band opened for Depeche Mode
If you were one of the thousands of excited people to see Depeche Mode at South By Southwest this year, then you probably also saw Feathers. The Austin electro-pop band had the honor of opening up for the veteran crew, and don't doubt they had a good time doing it.
Band leader Anastasia Dimou sat down with me before SXSW began, to talk about what's so inspiring about the festival, and what it was like to shoot the video for "Land of the Innocent," featured in the interview above.
Feathers also features Courtney Voss of Missions, keyboardist Kathleen Carmichael and drummer Jordan Johns from Sound Team on top of alternating members Destiny Montague (Shock Cinema/Midnight Masses) and Alex Gehring (Ringo Deathstarr). The group's debut album, "If All Now Here," will be out on April 15. Another video, "Soft," is featured below, should you want more (and you should).