Musings on metal and its evolving demography

Posts tagged “feminism

2016 EMP Pop Conference

I have so much stuff to post about, but I’ve been really negligent in updating my blogs for months. Apologies!

Anyway, here’s one item. Three weeks ago, wifey & I flew to Seattle so she could speak at a panel at the EMP Pop Conference. This year’s title was From a Whisper to a Scream: The Voice in Music. She sat on a panel called Noise Breeding Silence – Heavy Metal Voices.


Panel participants, moderated by Steve Waksman

Here’s the description from their website:

The EMP Pop Conference returns with its biggest roster of presentations yet, looking at the ways music lets us hear voices: singers, to be sure, whether virtuosos or idiosyncratic originals, but also other types of vocalizing. How do instrumentalists insert their selves into their music? When the dominant voices in our songs change, what changes with that, from personal identity to collective messages? A switch in voice—from croon to rasp to rap to Auto-Tune—alters everything it reaches. 

In dozens of panels, all free to the public (though we strongly recommend advance registration), we’ll explore musical voices across genre and time period: soul singers and rock singers, singers of exotica and Mexi-Cajun blues. Panels on goth-punk wailer Siouxsie Sioux, warbling rapper Future, and pop-rock duo Hall & Oates. Synthetic “vocaloids” and challenges to female decorum. Singing across lines of color. Good bad singing and bad good singing. Vocal coaching. Southern accents.

And here’s the description for the panel wifey was on:

Metal remains fixed as a quintessentially white male hetero form in its most visible artists and presumed demographic. The emergent field of “metal studies” has begun to document metal’s appeal to women, non-white, and LGBTQ audiences, and to millions in the developing world. This panel considers to and for whom metal seems most to be speaking. Do metal’s various subgenres (death, black, doom, grindcore, etc.) all draw on the same underlying voice? Are different strains more or less inclusive? How do questions concerning metal’s inclusivity look different from a global vantage? What can we learn from participants who occupy non-dominant positions relative to core constituencies?



New Study Declares Folk Metal Racist and Sexist, Sort Of

Metalsucks just posted an article about a paper written by metal scholar Karl Spracklen and published in the Metal Music Studies journal. This particular issue was dedicated to gender, race and class (wifey was going to write a piece for it about ethnicity in metal in the NYC area, but her thesis work made it impossible to finish in time). I haven’t gotten to read the original paper yet, but the Metalsucks article said:

“The basic idea of the study, which was written by Professor Karl Spracklen and published in the journal Metal Music Studies on gender, race and class, is that by focusing on ancient European myths full of Scandinavian warriors who enjoy wenches and mead, folk metal bands create a ‘safe leisure space’ for white European men who in recent decades have been forced to share their power and privilege with women and people of other races.”


An Open Letter to Mastodon regarding your Thanksgiving t-shirts

Its been said that the more we change, the more we stay the same. Wifey just sent me a link to the following post, which I found both interesting (on the part of the writer) and sad (on the part of Mastodon).

Irony, or Mastodon's idea of a happy Thanksgiving?

Irony, or Mastodon’s idea of a happy Thanksgiving?

It was written at the end of November 2013 and centers on a t-shirt that the band is selling for Thanksgiving. The writer is a Native American who was at a Mastodon show. I’ve seen the image that bothers her before. I always thought it was satire, but I can understand how its offensive to both women and Native Americans – and with her being both, its probably a double-whammy… especially coming from a band whose music she enjoys.

The response from many people on Mastodon’s Facebook page is also sad. It seems that unless many people are directly violated, they don’t have a sense of compassion or consideration for anyone else. I wonder if any of their responses would be different if their own mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends or daughters were attacked? I’m not even sure if they have the social understanding to conceptually apply the horrors of brutality to people they care about and see what it could mean, and then learn from it enough to not attack or insult others without provocation.

In this instance, even though I look at the overall metal community as an evolving entity and an extended family, I feel let down. I also feel like a lot of people need to get punched in the face.