This Saturday I had a photoshoot with the absolutely incredible Dr J – go here for more information and glorious pictures – so here are my new headshots, both alternative and classical. I couldn’t recommend Dr J enough – fun, relaxed, beautiful results. You should totally book them now.
Archive for the ‘alternative music’ Category
Late but not forgotten – please consider this post an enormous thank you (shall we capitalise? oh, go on then) – THANK YOU!
We raised €385 for Transgender Equality Network Ireland, wore some incredible costumes (“50 Shades of Grey” won my heart) and danced our arses off to the Time Warp.
HUGE thanks to all the artists – Hel Gurney, Kat Gupta, Sandra Alland, Jacq Applebee and Squid and the Krakens – they supplied a whole smörgåsbord of emotions and all of them were delicious.
Please go and read a lovely review we had here – and, for those of you who are thinking of coming to the next edition in February, I wanted to share an anonymous review that might possibly have made me misty-eyed. Thank you guys – you’re the best.
This is the most beautiful thing going on in London. It’s about community and love and art and passion, it’s about trans and/or genderqueer people making art that fortifies you against death culture (by which I mean a culture that wants a lot of us dead) whether by making you laugh or cry – either way you are reminded that trans people matter profoundly, that life matters profoundly, and that art matters profoundly. One of the gifts of Transpose is inspiration – seeing people up close making their art (their music, their song, their poems and stories and movies and pictures) makes it more possible to go home and make your own. One other gift of Transpose – possibly the most life-saving one it has to give – is community. Many people who come to Transpose get to know each other. If you come by yourself, and feel able to introduce yourself to anyone, please please do so – there will be other people there who want to meet you!
October 26th 2013
Gallery Bar, ULU, Malet Street, WC1E 7HY
7pm to 11pm
£5 on the door
Hallowe’en is my absolute favourite holiday ever, so I’m a little bit overexcited about the fact that I get to combine it with the latest Transpose. Costumes of all kinds encouraged but not mandatory – I’ll be baking for the entire audience, but please feel free to bring candy/snacks, because Hallowe’en isn’t Hallowe’en without an overwhelming sugar high.
An amazing roster of trans and trans-allied artists: words from Hel Gurney, Jacq Applebee, Kat Gupta, Matt Reuben and Sandra Alland – films by Sandra Alland (featuring Nathan Gale) and Sophie Norman – music from myself and mystery band THEY CAME FROM THE SEA (who sound uncannily like Squid and The Krakens). We’ll be holding an auction (if you have anything you’d like to donate please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org) – and if we raise enough in loose change there might be a dramatic reading of some terrible ‘erotica’ for an hilarious/spooky experience.
This time we’ll be raising funds for TENI (Transgender Equality Network Ireland) – the next few months are crucial in the fight for trans equality in Ireland, and it would be wonderful to give them any support we can.
The venue is wheelchair accessible with a properly adapted toilet. Quite a lot of people will be going on to White Mischief or Shenanigans, so travelling buddies will abound.
I’ll be coming as The Gender Binary – this is your one and only chance to see me in fishnets and a lacy bra. I hope you’re as excited as I am.
“…I was hooked in one, as they took apart, with bitter grace, the media /academic obsession with and delight in the downfall of stars and idols.” – Neil Gaiman reviews The Indelicates
“The vocal talent was unquestionable…it was magical. It was like the opposite of watching X-Factor.” – Gay Times reviews CN Lester
“Ruckus was had, disdain for humankind was entertained, and a massive applause followed. This was an utterly spellbinding performance — not to be missed!” – edfringe review The Mechanisms
Just in case you’ve somehow managed to avoid my constant chattering about this, I’d like to invite you (ever so cordially) to join us this Friday, June 28th, for the London Pride edition of Transpose. It’s everything that Transpose normally is, but BIGGER – but still for charity, and only £5 on the door.
We’re back in the gorgeous Cinema Museum with videos from My Genderation, storytelling from Roz Kaveney, Jacqueline Applebee and Hel Gurney, art and a videobooth from the Translations project, art from Claudia Moroni and Sara Moralo, poetry from Lyman Gamberton, AJ McKenna, Kat Gupta and Elaine O’Neill, and music from me and Wild.
This time we’re raising funds for You Are Loved, the trans suicide prevention project – I don’t need to tell you how important that is. The more people through the door the more money they take come – so please come, and bring as many people as you can.
And rather old news to some of you, I’m sure – but I just realised that I haven’t written up the results of March’s Cinematic Edition of Transpose.
First off, and with the most enormous thanks to everyone who came and donated – we went past our target and made £460 for PACE – how awesome is that? And we couldn’t have done it without the Cinema Museum giving us such an amazing venue for such a low price – if you’re in London please make time to visit – or, even better, take in an old French movie with a slice of cake and some real ale.
The acts were absolutely wonderful (Jason Elvis Barker, My Genderation, Wild – check them out) – the audience was fabulous (thank you) and a good home was found for the William Morris Tampon print – I couldn’t be happier.
Do watch this space for some rather exciting news about the next Transpose – and, until then, watch and share My Genderation’s fantastic video made on the night. Thank you again.
Another song from the upcoming album Aether – there are exciting things in the works for the video of this one…
No hold – mercurial bounds – which rules will we play?
A very good game -
What was said, what was seen? Who gets hurt in between?
What gets lost in the way?
And I don’t know what I know,where we are, what you want -
You come and go -
With these sparks like little blows.
Twin poles – an unshakeable round – and what will you do?
A slip of the hand.
A halt at the pass. I know nothing lasts -
But didn’t want that with you.
And I don’t know what I know…
Left cold – unworkable ground – and what will it mean?
A very good game,
A slip of the hand – who to fold, who to stand?
Who got hurt in between?
And I don’t know what I know…
Two months into the year, and already in need of a holiday – just as it should be. If you want to come support one of the events I’ve been working so hard for then that would be just fabulous – three alternative gigs and one new opera (fun fact – my character has an STD – yes, they really do). Play your cards right and I’ll buy you a drink.
March 3rd, 6pm onwards
March 11th, 7pm onwards
March 17th, 4pm
March 20th, 9pm onwards
Another year is upon us and, therefore, the time for another Transpose. So please grab your diaries and make some space for an evening of trans artists and friends making beautiful things to raise money for an LGBTI charity – the fantastic health and well-being organisation PACE.
Transpose: Cinematic Edition
March 3rd, 18:00 – 22:30
The Cinema Museum, SE11 4TH
£5 on the door – all profits to charity
Adding to our usual format of coffee+cake+wine+flirtation, we’re taking advantage of our incredible location to shine the light on trans filmmakers. Wresting control back from the typical ‘tragic trans narrative for cis entertainment’ documentary is our headlining act, My Genderation.
The wonderful Fox and Lewis (from Channel 4′s My Transsexual Summer) are going behind the camera to create a unique film documenting the true diversity of trans lives – trans people celebrating trans people, with nary a ‘sit in front of mirror applying make-up to sad music’ shot in sight. Get your questions ready for the Q & A session following the screening of material so far – and maybe stop by the video booth to make your contribution to the project.
Also on a cinematic theme will be the work of filmmaker, artist and comedian Jason Elvis Barker. He’s recently performed at the Tate Modern and the Schwules Museum in Berlin. He is also one of the programming team of the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Jason likes corduroy, slippers and proper puddings with custard. He dislikes it when people’s noses whistle when they are sitting next to him in the cinema and doesn’t understand skinny carrot jeans.
As usual, I’ll be providing the ‘sit quietly and feel thoughtful’ acoustic music – and I’m delighted to be joined on the singer-songwriter side of the night by Wild.
Wild has long played guitar and written songs. First composing and performing live for theatre, Wild finally stepped into the spotlight last summer as a singer and songwriter. Drawing strong influence from folk, country and blues, the poetry of Wild’s songs is deeply shaped from a love of nature and the wilds, and bringing their stories to life. When out of the woods and in the city, Wild is creating acoustic/electro fusions with singer and producer JMOMCOCO in Ret+Blu.
Of course, the main reason for the event is to give me an excuse to shake you down for money to help support LGBTI people in need of healthcare, advocacy services and victim support – so, once again, we’ll be holding an auction. No kisses this time round, but if you’ve got something you’re able to offer then please drop me a line at email@example.com – for my part I’m donating a course of singing lessons and a coffee + book date at Foyles – I fill you full of coffee, you tell me what books you like, I buy you a book and we eat cake to celebrate. I’m also offering cover songs for £10 each – 4 songs up for grabs (feel free to record) – email me to let me know what you want.
The Cinema Museum is wheelchair accessible (with a wheelchair accessible toilet – for some reason some venues don’t include both?) – and the standard door policy applies: don’t make assumptions and please be excellent to each other. You don’t have to be trans to come along – just a wonderful person. So come along, bring your friends (bring LOTS of friends) – and help us have a wonderful time.
My singing teacher shared a video with me this morning that I found extremely helpful, demonstrating just how much of a change relaxing and opening up makes on the vocal mechanism and on the sound – the difference between a high, tight larynx and a lower, released one (with a nice, floated tongue). The whole video is invaluable, but if you want to see just how much of a difference it makes, have a look from 3:20 onwards:
As promised, an update on the (gradual) research I’m doing into the effects of testosterone on vocal production in FAAB people (with a soupçon of information on singing for other trans people, MAAB and FAAB).
First, obviously, a proviso or two. My research, is it stands, is a combination of anecdotal evidence and theoretical exploration. Given the time and the opportunity I would love to do something more formal – but, for the moment, everything I know is based on working with my students, cis and trans, and all the pedagogical works on singing I can get my hands on and find time to read. What I know about the voice I know as a singer, not a doctor – background here, if you’re not a regular reader.
So, with that out of the way…
…When I first started writing about this, about two years ago, this was the situation as I understood it:
Trans guys can keep a singing voice, though, depending on age and level of vocal expertise before hormones, there seems to be an astonishing level of risk. Too many men lose their ability to vocalise altogether. I haven’t heard of a single incident of a classical singer going through this process, and I have yet to read of a trans guy keeping a vocal range and quality after T that would leave him capable of singing in the classical style as a professional.
Well, I have yet to hear of a professional classical singer going through the process of taking T and emerging as a professional classical singer on the other side. But I have, I’m very pleased to say, now heard and taught a few trans men on T who’re singing beautifully as amateur singers. Of my students (hi students!), none were professional singers before T – but all are now more than capable of singing in amateur classical choirs should they want to, or as folk/alt/rock/blues performers (hint to students to whom I have been dropping hints). The majority have found voices in the baritone range – but I’ve also had a few tenors, and a bass. Again, reminder that this is a self-selecting group (men invested enough to singing to pursue lessons) – but I haven’t heard a single case of a ‘lost’ voice. In fact, the problems they’ve had in singing appear to have the same root as the majority of the problems my others students have, one that I certainly share and have to work on in my own singing – of having a high, tight larynx, of trying to deliberately sing from the larynx, rather than relaxing and using the whole body as an instrument. It was that tightness and stress that was causing my cis male students’ voices to crack and strain – turns out it was the same for the trans male students too.
Linked to that general problem, of trying to deliberately force out the sound from the throat, was the one of getting used to a different size and placement of the larynx. It was a problem I’d work on with my adolescent cis male students, and I figured it was worth trying the same approach with my trans male students – it seems to work. Many people are taught to belt rather than to sing, and get used to trying to control what the vocal mechanism is doing (again – this was the case with me) – they create the sound through deliberate effort. Problem is, when the larynx grows and moves into a slightly different placement, you’re left unable to do what you used to do and, therefore, unable to sing. Pitching becomes particular difficult for those used to pitching ‘by feel’ because ‘the feel’ isn’t where it used to be. The only solution I’ve found to this is what I work on with my teacher – hearing the note before singing, and allowing the breath to reach it, rather than trying to force a sound out – of relaxation and visualisation, not ‘vocal’ effort.
These are only hints and questions – but I do wonder if, maybe, a lot of what we assume about T and singing isn’t correct? That the stories of people losing their voices utterly might, in some cases, have had happier endings with a good teacher and time to work on a different technique? I know we’ve all heard the classic choir boy story to support the idea that male adolescence is a crapshoot when it comes to the voice – I heard it from my father: start puberty with a beautiful treble, voice breaks, never sing again. But I haven’t heard that story from anyone invested in singing. The majority of male classical singers I know were choirboys – some of them had a period of several years where their voices were too all over the place to sing, and some had an easy transition from treble to alto to tenor. They all had good technique to get them through. Again, I’m not claiming to know it all, or saying that losing your voice at adolescence can’t happen – just that the only people I know who talk about it happening to them didn’t work on the issue with a singing teacher or two, but just gave up.
I’m sorry I can’t give a more definite answer, and tell people whether or not it’s safe to risk their voices on T. Another factor with my trans male students on T is that the oldest is not quite 40 – I don’t know if the same would hold true for someone beginning T at the age of 60, for example. What I can say is that things seem far more optimistic than I initially thought they were. Again, for me, taking T is out of the question – but that might not be the case for every singer, whether amateur or professional. I suspect that, if I only had my alternative singing to worry about, I would now feel that taking T was worth a shot (pun intended).
Before anything else, I would advise anyone reading this, of any sex or gender, to find themselves a sympathetic singing teacher if their voice matters to them. I feel it’s worth noting that, with my trans FAAB students NOT on T, the same work on opening up and relaxing the body, and getting away from deliberate strain on the larynx, helped them to find notes lower and richer than they knew they had – the same with my MAAB trans students (on HRT or not) with their higher ranges. Find a good teacher, invest in your technique and, if you’re having real problems, consider seeing a laryngeal specialist. And the very best of good luck, whatever path you decide to take.
Answers to questions after the jump: