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 →]

Just Say Non: Nazism, Narcissism and Boyd Rice

boyd5_grey boyd_rape

“Boyd’s rather unimaginative sadism used to embarrass me, but then he explained it using words like ‘Weltanschauung'”
Lisa Crystal-Carver, Drugs are Nice [LC, p215]

I last saw Boyd Rice play (as ‘Non’) back in August 1981, alongside Throbbing Gristle (TG), Z’ev, Cabaret Voltaire and Clock DVA as part of the ‘Industrial Night Out’ at the Lyceum, London, which brought together the big cheeses of Industrial Music in what was to be something of a coming out party for the scene but turned out also to be its swansong (it was TG’s last UK concert; they broke up a few months later). At the time Rice presented himself as a Dadaist and prankster though his aesthetic was actually closer to the sub-Futurist ‘instant karma for kids’ noise-racket that Merzbow has since successfully appropriated and turned into a brand / ‘racket’ of his own. While TG boasted of making music from ugly noise, Rice tried to outflank them by serving up the ugliness directly, unfiltered by any obvious concern for form. In fairness Boyd Rice could be said to be among the key players of early Industrial Music, and as a result he perhaps has a shade more kudos than some of the complete musical non-entities we’re generally concerned with around here (Wakeford, Pearce, Moynihan, et al). Rice has declared his Fascism in a number of statements, in his art, and through public actions such as appearing in full Fascist regalia and holding a dagger in a photograph alongside Bob Heick, taken in 1989 to promote the latter’s organisation, the neo-Nazi skinhead party, American Front. He has also appeared on White Aryan Resistance founder Tom Metzger’s cable TV show Race and Reason, where he declared that his friends in Current 93 and Death in June were promoting a ‘racialist’ agenda and emphasised the importance of Industrial and Neo-Folk music for building the ‘Aryan youth movement’.
[Read more →]