Cosey Fanni Tutti: Memoirs of a Woman of Extreme Pleasures (Interview and Book Review)

It was back in 2000 that I conducted the interview with Cosey Fanni Tutti published here, for a piece I was writing for datacide on women making extreme music. As a female pioneer of industrial music dating from her time as a member of Throbbing Gristle to her decades of transgressive performance art, Cosey was an obvious and important artist to include in the article. This interview came at a time when I personally was navigating the London noise scene as a young female artist; when it was mostly men on the stages and in the audiences, and women performers were regularly regarded as novelties, taken less seriously than their male peers and the focus of unsolicited sexual attention. Women were involved, but usually backstage in the organisation of events and labels, and when the female was actively presented – by men and some women – it was often as something sexualised, attention-grabbing, or mired in misogyny. As I researched the issue further, some of the attitudes I uncovered in addition to what I’d directly encountered left me so disheartened that I abandoned the piece, put my head down and focused on my own music.

Now, seventeen years later, with the publication of Cosey’s autobiographical book, Art Sex Music, it is timely that this interview is finally appearing in datacide. There has been progress in redressing the gender imbalance in noise and extreme music, but women remain a small and often undervalued component. In the years since conducting this interview, I have become increasingly convinced that the voices of women working in this area need to be heard above their music; loud and with any distortion most definitely self-applied. This is necessary to encourage more women to make music at the extreme fringe and enable those already involved to emerge from its margins where many still operate. Cosey’s body of work and reflections remain highly relevant and play an important role here, as shared both in this interview and in Art Sex Music, a brief review of which prefaces the transcript. [Read more →]