One of the more disturbing things about the Rampage of the South was the number of audients who felt the need to ask me “are you a man or a woman”? When you’re standing there in a bustier, short pants, fishnets and thigh-high boots and some people are not quite picking up the gender signals, it does make you a little worried about your self-declared femininity. I tried a number of responses to this:
– “well, I’m certainly more of a man than you are.”
– “which would you prefer?”
– “buy a CD and I’ll tell you”
– “I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours”.
But none of those felt entirely convincing. This might just be a backwoods of the South Island thing – but I don’t know that no-one in Auckland or Wellington isn’t thinking it, just that they’re polite enough not to yell it out and not drunk enough to approach the performer after the gig.
But one audient in Milford Sound had a way of putting it that I found much more pleasant: “You know who you remind me of? Vince Noir from The Mighty Boosh.”
"Heart beats fast like a tiny machine."
And of course that’s a massive compliment. The Boosh’s act is, of course, comedy written by and about musicians, and of course we all love Gary Numan (who’s not only a pop star, but he has a pilot’s licence. Imagine that!)
“I am Electro Boy. I am Electro Girl. I am the Great Confuser. Is it a man? Is it a woman? Oooh, I’m not sure I mind…”
But… yeah. Vostok Lake is clearly tapping into that vein of glam-rock androgyny and genderfuck which goes back to David Bowie… hell, further back, to Little Richard. Even Kate Bush wrote her songs from a male point of view occasionally – eg. her cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man” which doesn’t change the words at all.
So be it. Deliberate gender blur (thank you Kate Bornstein) is now an acknowledged part of the Vostok Lake experience. We are, after all, a cyborg act. Computers don’t have gender. In the 22nd century, the future of Weightless Music, gender will be optional. Let’s make it happen.
A small list of references that only three people in the world will get, but those three people will laugh insanely at for hours:
Going up into the mountains
Gerry the General
Caroline the Cougar
Fritz the Pokey-man
What’s the haps?
Dorita and Mardotha Go To The Supermarket (commentate a rugby match, teach a pre-school class, etc etc etc…)
Vostok Lake is not easy-listening or feel good music. It is challenging listening and feel-alive-for-the-first-time-in-years music. Vostok Lake is not a fashion accessory, or will not reassure you that everything is just fine. It is music of danger, challenge, defiant individuality and high standards. Vostok Lake may annoy you or piss you off, but it will never be forgettable or ignorable.
We want to change the way that music is made and received live, just like the Internet has done for recordings. If you listen to Vostok Lake you are becoming part of a movement. If you pay Vostok Lake money so we can do this more often and with better equipment – or, better yet, form your own project with which we can pool resources and collaborate – then you are a leader of that movement.
The sinster Mr VB Bakerman gives his own audio-visual account of the Vostok Lake / Scarlett Lashes tour. It’s hilarious and makes me sound much cooler than I actually am. Including pictures, the best of which I will snaffle and put on the website at my convenience.