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Mentorship Monthly Update (2 & 3 & 4 & 5)

So my original plan was that I’d post an update about the Holophon mentorship once a month but as usual my intentions ended up getting completely waylaid by seasonal depression and the fact that doing the work often feels more important to me than documenting it. So here is a quick overview of the last few months.

When I first met with my mentor, Saskatoon-based artist Ellen Moffat, I had completely different intentions in terms of what kind of project I’d be making. In the introductory portion of Ellen’s workshop we were asked to present a bit of what we were working on at the moment/what our plans were for the mentorship. I played a short clip from my performance at the Killjoy Club.

I guess my original intention was that I’d so something less over-the-top intense and more pleasant? I also assumed that I’d be working with the guitar (and pedalboard) as my main instrument, exploring different extended techniques as well as looping different tracks together on the fly with a loop pedal. However, Ellen’s workshop – in which she presented her current performance set-up which involves a collection of objects, contact mics, and a Max patch controlled by an iPad running Lemur – changed my mind as far as instruments and other sound sources go as we spent about an hour or two playing around with contact microphones.

A lot of my time in the workshop was spent bowing the above contact mic’d saw and fooling around with different reverbs. This has become one of the main sound sources in my project, along with a series of cassette tape loops and my voice, all run through a series of effects pedals.

In January, Homo Monstrous was part of Making It, Difficult, the 4th iteration of Performatorium, Regina’s annual festival of queer performance. Our performance, a live blog of which can be found here, and the festival more generally, did a lot in terms of making me examine my desire to pull away from making work that is considered difficult.

Although I really want to question why I deal with the more often than not dark subject matter I do and why I feel the need to talk about bummer-y things or overshare, and although I do think there’s a certain level of “cred” that’s given to artists and work that’s seen as hardcore or whatever, I’m not entirely convinced that it’s something that really applies to trans women in the same way it maybe does a lot of other folks. I’m not entirely convinced that anything I’d make or do – whether pleasant or not – wouldn’t be considered too much.

So the performance I’m working on as part of the mentorship is sort of a live remixing of Goodbye Horses, the song from the Buffalo Bill scene in Silence of the Lambs. I’m thinking of this remixing and noise performance as sort of an act of channelling or exorcism; a way of speaking back to a cultural touchstone that was really my introduction to the idea of trans women and therefor something that has been a bit of a spectre hanging over my head since I was around 11 years old.