Post Punk Classics & Feminist Fanzines – Making Waves Talk
We recently published a news piece drawing attention to the amazing video mixtapes put together by a collective called Rosa Vertov who write & edit the superb, diy feminist Post Punk fanzine Making Waves. We loved the mixtapes; they were journeys through obscure, female fronted punk outfits from the early to mid 80s that were packed with classics we'd never heard – but we thought this was just gonna be another example of us banging on about something relatively obscure for the appreciation of a small group of heads. What we weren't ready for was the post to go viral – it received hundreds of thousands of views, and over 8,000 facebook likes in the space of a couple of weeks.. Clearly there's a thirst for this incredible music. There was nothing for it – we tracked down Camille and Constance who run Making Waves and asked them to talk us about the fanzine, what they're into, how you can get involved, and who's worth checking out now. Here's what they had to say.
Can you tell us how Making Waves first came about?
Camille : Making Waves was born after we’d formed a little group of people who were passionately into the post punk era and the women involved in those bands. We were all like a team, sharing fresh discoveries and songs with each other. We were all from different countries and we hadn’t met in real life, but we were all very devoted to those musical exchanges, which step by step became true relationships. The idea of the zine came out from a discussion I happened to have with Mary Jane on last.fm once. At that time, she was doing the Television Dinner podcasts, and I was putting together songs I loved for the Gunilla mixtapes. But as it wasn’t enough, we were discussing our desire to make something more concrete with all the people involved in our little "researchers team". Mary came up with the idea of a zine focused on these issues ! We then started to contact some people that might be interested, like bloggers and stuff. The first issue was literally conceived and implemented by all the persons involved. Everyone was sharing ideas of content and dealing with the way it should be edited and distributed. The main idea of the zine was to discuss the place of women in music in a feminist perspective, but also to get our beloved bands to be discovered by a larger audience than just our little fans’ circle. Obviously, it was also a way for us to learn more and more about those bands, their music and what they became.
Making Waves coincide also with the urge, at some point, to build something out of all the things we have discovered. So, that’s how it became one of the first projects of the organization we then created with Constance We were both sharing, collecting, and archiving so much stuff!
Who does what on the fanzine?
Camille & Constance: We put the zine together, meaning we are the ones who are collecting every piece of what will form the zine, and who deal with all the practical aspects (diffusion, printing, format…) which is sometimes very pleasing (we are always really excited when someone new joins the team !) and also very annoying on other aspects (like asking someone again and again for his/her contribution, dealing with deadlines, finding money to publish it…). But Making Waves is above all a collective work. It’s formed of a team of contributors of many different kind of people (young and not so young, female or male, from different countries…) they are a passionate mix that we have contacted or who have asked to participate. Every contributor is doing their article/interview and the layout by themself (though we can talk about it and provide some help), but we want everyone to be aware of the full content of the issue and who the persons involved are, so we can discuss the whole thing together. We are always looking for new passionate people to join in, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you want to contribute ! (Yes, it’s a call for submission for Making Waves #4 !)
Are there any fanzines that inspired you ?
We were looking for zines in which we could find interviews of bands from the 80’s that we were listening to, so we found out about Brass Lip for example, No Class, Eccentric Sleeve Notes, or Mental Children, which obviously inspired us in creating Making Waves. Shocking Pink, and also the Spare Rib magazine, of which we can now find all the issues online ! More recently, we could talk about Osa Atoe’s zine called Shotgun Seamstress, from which the interviews and the commitment are really inspiring, or Maximum RocknRoll for its longevity and the fidelity to its editorial line.
What inspired the video compilations?
Camille : When we were discovering a new band, we instantly started looking for videos or live footages ! We were trading songs but also videos, interviews or pictures. So I started to collect everything about the bands I love, and so the videos. First like everyone as saving them as “favorite videos” on my Youtube channel, then by saving them on my laptop. One day, I got an email from Marie-Pierre from Julie Tippex. I guess she just came across my YouTube channel. She started to get in touch with me soon after. A few precious discussions and exchanges later, we found we had a somewhat similar way to approach music in general, which one could call romantic and devoted.
At that moment, she was working on a Club Julie night in Nantes, France, which included a Young Marble Giants concert. She asked me to compile some of my favorites videos in order to broadcast them on several small TVs that night. It was back in 2010, and she asked again one year later for another Club Julie night (with ESG!)
I guess they are also a very complementary follow-up to the Gunilla mixtapes. I collected videos in the same way that I was collecting records and songs. To my opinion, this is definitely another way to give those bands the recognition they deserve.
We are currently working on a selection of videos, this time as a duet with Constance, for the next edition of the BBmix festival next November! This time, we are focusing on the English DIY scene from those days. I might make other playlists thereafter in 2016, when I’ll find some time for it.
Where are you sourcing your videos from? There's so much stuff we've not heard!
Camille : Most of them came from Youtube or Internet more broadly! They are basically accessible for everyone, but because of the impressive amount of videos available on Internet, it’s almost impossible to find out about one particularly, by chance. So the thing is that you have to look for them, and sometimes look hard! Some of them are also from movies or documentaries. I actually remember buying the DVD of the documentary about the Portland DIY scene only because I've heard that there were some video of Neo Boys in it. We couldn't find any images (neither pictures nor videos) of this band at that time! When I get the DVD, my computer was actually at a critical edge of its lifetime, so I tried to watch it and to send snapshots to Darryl (dedicated researcher, Neo Boys big fan and involved in MW since the beginning), but it kept shutting down constantly! That was really frustrating… I found a bit later that there were also a live footage of Jungle Nausea (one of my personal favorites) in it !
Constance : We are also always looking for some videos / films whose existence is known but that we didn’t get the chance to see yet. Paul Kelly if you hear me, I'm dying to see "Take Three Girls" !! I hope we can organize a screening one day. People often think that internet is the safest place to keep stuff alive, that’s so wrong ! Many videos disappear, while others appear. Fortunately Camille keeps everything!
Camille : It’s all saved in a hard disk, which is actually also a really precarious solution (another unfortunate experience!) I must add that i’m looking for this TV appearance of Amy and the Angels (London based band with the legendary Stef Petticoat)! From what I’ve found, it has been included in a documentary called “Sexism in Language”. It should be possible to see it in the US Universities, but at that time, I couldn’t find anybody that had the chance to watch it ! And I’m aware that I’m not the only one who desperately wish to see it !
What are your personal favourite amongst the videos?
Constance : I really really love them all and it’s almost impossible to choose. The Lizzy Mercier Descloux’s video however have a very special little place in my heart. I have a very vivid memory of my first listening of “Press Color”, it represents my first entry into a new kind of music, that I found both disconcerting and super exciting. A strange coincidence also happened : I had just seen "The Party" – the Blake Edwards’ film – at my friends’ place. They just kept on playing again and again the scene with the bird… So, during the song "Birdy Num-num" it was a little bit like all my thoughts were mixed in a very strange and funny way. Much later, after listening and replay every first records Lizzy Mercier Descloux and Rosa Yemen have made, this video appeared on Youtube and completed my total fanaticism. Fire is one of my favorite track to make people dance. The way Lizzy is dressed (with her Malevich costume!) and how she dance… it's an absolute perfection. Each time I see it it makes me really happy instantly. The name of the association is also a tribute to Lizzy Mercier Descloux since Rosa Vertov is a song from Rosa Yemen. There are also a few of my favorite videos that are not in these playlists yet, but they’ll probably be part of Camille next selections so I’m not gonna ruin the surprise !
Camille : The first thing that comes to my mind would be those images that came out from nowhere. I mean, those excerpts from documentaries or film which are the only traces of bands that have existed for a really short time and even sometimes never released anything! I think of the Dykes in this great movie directed by Stephanie Beroes, the Idle Idols in this Neo Zealand TV show, or Software in this belgium student film called “Jungle New Wave”, recently unearthed by Constance. Sometimes it’s just a few minutes but it’s always unexpected discoveries, and their spontaneous character naturally participate to their priceless charm.
Or else, I would say this Occult Chemistry video, sent one day by Edu (MW team) and that came like a gift in my mailbox. As I already loved their EP, seeing that video was a real treat to me!
Who's been the most memorable person/ band to interview?
Constance : Interviewing people is an exercice that I find pretty difficult. I don’t think I’m actually good at it but I’m trying to get better each time ! It also depends on what people want to tell you or what they want to speak of. The first interview I made was probably the worst but it was really exciting because I’m a huge Dolly Mixture fan and also because it was the first issue of Making Waves and we were all so thrilled about it. All the interviews I made start with a little story and some investigation (it’s actually one of my favorite part) it’s like finding lost records. All the part of the process are great, most of the time I’m pretty disappointed with the result, but I as said, I’m trying to get better ! And it is always rewarding in some ways. Talking to Sylvie Leber was great, she’s really nice, I hope we can meet someday. She sent me the last Toxic Shock records she had about one year ago. I also briefly met James Hoare who nicely invited me to a Veronica Falls concert, and Federica from Kitchen Legs Records is gonna make an article for MW#4 !
It’s hard to make some good interviews by email, I would rather have real discussions. That’s why, for the next issue of Making Waves, I made an interview via Skype and I’m also thinking about a new format, something between an article and an interview… We'll see about the result !
There's a massive interest in the music you cover – do you think it's been ignored by mainstream media?
Camille : That’s a tough question… I would say that it’s all about this peculiar music. I mean it had clearly rejected all the mainstream codes through production conditions as well as through the music itself, which is a mix of genres that play with dissonance and slightly off beat pace. Why should it be covered by the mainstream medias at that time ? How could they support those oddities that are not really fitting the “mass taste”, if such a thing exists ? This can also explain this renewed interest for this uncommon music, as it is basically something different that some of us could look for.
Constance : And it is also part of their identity. For music it’s generally more on personal blogs that we find a better echo, because they escape from the temptation of objectivity and completeness to present the tastes and point of views of a person. It’s a relationship to music in which we find ourselves more, it’s more sensitive. It’s more like a fan approach, a labour of love. I find most of the reviews in the press terribly boring, not to mention the standardization that goes up with the form of writing and the perpetual resumption of same formulas, which become almost gimmicks. Thankfully there still are some big blogs that escape that !
Camille : It’s also more demanding, it takes time and it requires effort to look for a record that only had 300 copies released in 1981. In the flow of information supplied by Internet, it’s easy to find yourself lost and confused! Therefore is the importance of blogs, podcasts and mixtapes online made by fans or devoted people, those generous souls who take the time to rip their discs and to share them for free. Getting in touch with this post-punk era is obviously something that you would rather do through meeting others than just on your own. So this is basically all about the people that are interested in this special music, this is not only about providing random informations in a easy way – like mainstream media would eventually do – but a sincere culture of sharing cultural artifacts that had not been sufficiently put to light. Not to say that one is better than the other, but those are two radically different approaches.
Are there any bands at the moment that you think capture the 80s post punk sound – or develop it?
That’s funny because we thought of the exact same list of bands without consulting each other! Here are the bands we were thinking of :
Moss Lime is a band from Montréal consisting of three girls, they are touring Europe very soon, and we host their show in Rennes on november 27th.
Gauche is the new band of Mary – who first suggested the idea of doing a fanzine together and who also plays in so many great bands like Neonates and Downtown Boys with Daniele from Priests (among other great artists).
Sneaks is from Baltimore, she released her first LP a few times ago on our friend’s label Danger Records and we also hosted one of her shows when she first came for a short tour in France.
Lithics Osa Atoe send us the link via the Making Waves Facebook and we instantly loved it ! They’re from Portland.
The World is a band from Oakland that we don’t know much about.
Where's the best place for people to keep up with what you're doing?
Our website : rosavertov.net (soon to be translated in english!). We are also on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/rosavertov.net and https://www.facebook.com/makingwaveszine/ and Twitter – @RVertov / @MWzine.