Introducing the PhantomFemme

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PhantomFemme is a Queer-Crip, intersectional Feminist riff, in words and music – sometimes together and sometimes separately, on the story and character of the Phantom of the Opera.  It is the name I’ve (finally) come up with to describe my gender/Disability/Deformed identity, so I took it as a stage/pen name as well.  I’ve loved the Phantom since I was ten, because his story, especially as told in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical,  spoke powerfully to my own experience of being different as a Disabled person.  But it also spoke to my desire for creative resistance, and gave me a powerful example and a rich symbolic language with which to enact my resistance!  Thus, Phantom was a key catalyst in inspiring my activism.  But it/he also gave me a life-long love for music and the performing arts, and an abiding awareness of their potential for transformative power.

 

It also, however, sent me on a long, and probably not over yet, journey of thinking/feeling through gender. Because, deformity/bodily difference is very gendered in Phantom, and, at least on the surface of it, in some very problematic ways. The masculine figure of the Phantom gets to be deformed, but Christine, the feminine figure who is his love-object, doesn’t. But that leaves a girl who’s Disabled and Deformed in several kinds of dilemma, especially if her particular deformity (or one of them anyway) is more than usually? disruptive of her ability to perform normative femininity! LOL Oops! Yeah. Look up the term “hirsutism” and you’ll know what I mean. Anyway, clearly the story needed/s some creative Queering in order to bust open that dynamic without loosing the magic we all love so well. Or rather, the Queer possibilities already implicit in the story, especially in the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage-musical (as originally staged by Hal Prince and designed by Maria Bjornsen), need/ed to be creatively brought forward and explored. So the figure of the PhantomFemme is my on-going attempt to do that through my music and my writing, and through their live performance!

 

My art as PhantomFemme is also how/where I explore the connections and interconnections between different modes of othering and oppression – gender, sexism, racism, environmental racism, ableism, classism, etc, as I very much understand all those systems as being inter-related. But don’t worry, it’s not all serious :-)! Resistance is just as much about creating joy, fun and celebration as it is about calling out the bad shit, because that’s how you create hope and the space to imagine new and liberating possibilities. So there’ll be plenty of just plain entertainment too. After all, I enjoy a good party as much as the next Femme! 🙂 Although, I generally prefer my parties to involve black capes, organ music, and lots and lots of candles.

 

All that being said, not every single song/story/poem I do is obviously or explicitly Phantom-related/derived, or even implicitly so. LOL I do have other interests/sources of inspiration as well! Although, many of those other fandoms/interests/inspirations have themes and/or traits in common with POTO. It does mean, however, that Phantom provides much of the symbolism and imagery I use in my music, lyrics, poetry and other writing, not to mention in my costumes and staging.. 🙂 But, yes, there will, of course, be a significant number of pieces that are explicitly POTO-related! Naturally! LOL Like I could resist? Though, obviously, I can’t actually use material from the show itself, as that would piss off the powers that be. Yeah, I know!

 

As for what you’ll find on this site, I’ll mainly be posting general life updates and updates on my work. But I’ll also be posting reviews and opinions of events, books, movies, etc, that I find awesome and/or inspiring. 🙂 And, of course, reviews and squees whenever I manage to go to Phantom!

 

So that’s who the PhantomFemme is and what she’s about. Feel free to check out my Facebook, and/or follow me on Twitter at @phantom_femme. And, of course, do check out my work and enjoy! (Sub-pages for my music and writing coming ASAP.)

 

P.S. If you feel that PhantomFemme describes your political gender/ability identity too, then absolutely feel free to use it! I cannot exclusively own an identity! Indeed, part of the reason I use it as the name for my artistic practice is so that the term and the idea are out there in the world and available to others. 🙂 Maybe just add a number or your location or something to it on social media so the world can tell us all apart?

 

P.P.S. A word about my use of the word “Deformed”, as I realize my describing myself that way may shock some folks. I use it here capitalized to indicate that it is more than simply a descriptor, although it is that – a word that describes the lived experience of my body in this culture. But it is also a word that I’m claiming as a political identity, like Disabled, Femme, Queer, etc,. I was inspired to do this by Mia Mingus’s absolutely amazing blog-post “Moving Toward the Ugly: A Politic Beyond Desirability”, which has been hugely influential in helping me think through the PhantomFemme!

 

P.P.P.S. I am in no way affiliated with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, the Really Useful Group, or anyone officially in charge of Phantom, and I plan to keep it that way. LOL I don’t think they and I would dig each other’s politics, especially with regard to copyright and intellectual property!

 

P.S.4. That being said, one of my dreams in life is to participate, in some significant capacity, in the mounting of an ecologically sustainable, fair-trade production of Phantom! After all, since, to me, POTO is a story about the need for justice, it’d be awesome if it’s staging could walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Plus, I’d just love to show that it can be done!

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Forced Intimacy: An Ableist Norm

A powerful and painful piece because it’s so damned true! I experience this every time I have to ask a sighted stranger to guide me somewhere, fill out forms for and with me that ask for very personal information because the forms are in formats I can’t read myself, etc. And of course, I experience it every time a sighted stranger comes up to me and asks me how long I’ve been Blind and what caused it, questions there’s no way to answer without going into my personal history! Mingus is absolutely right. It feels as oppressive as it is! And she does a brilliant job of laying out why it’s oppressive!

Source: Forced Intimacy: An Ableist Norm

Confessions of a Bad Disabled Stereotype.

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So I feel that I ought to come clean about this, because I’ve been living a lie for a long time. Oh I’m “really” Disabled. That’s not the falsehood. I truly am Blind, truly do have CP, and truly do have other issues as well. The lie is that I’ve ever been truly independent – that I’ve ever truly grown up. I don’t mean learned how not to need help with certain aspects of dayly life. I mean that I’ve never taken charge myself of organizing how those needs were going to be met, even while having some very grand ambitions for what I want to achieve in life.

Now, granted, I’ll give myself that there are some valid reasons for this lack of taking charge of my own needs. I have a lot of very early trauma from medicalization. And this was later compounded by ableist bullying, which I experienced from peers, even some teachers (especially the “special” teachers who worked with me in primary school), and from some of the teachers and residence staff at the school for the Blind I eventually went to. So I’ll be the first to admit that, by my teens, I was really messed up! Getting therapy in highschool helped, especially since I was particularly blesffed in my shrink. No offense to my later therapists, but she was the best I’ve ever had! Even so, though, it’s only recently, through the work I’ve been doing in Critical Disability theory and politics that I’ve really begun to get to grips with that stuff and it’s effects. At the same time, though, there were some bad reasons for my lack of independence. Thanks to my Mom’s academic background I had the resources to at least know as much as that my attitudes, actions and behaviours were being effected by the trauma I’d experienced, even if the exact mechanisms by which it did so would take longer to tease out. And yet, even with this ammo, I didn’t struggle against the effects of my trauma as hard as I could have and should have. If anything, I kind of wallowed in them!

The result was that, for all of my teens and twenties, andfor much of my thirties, I’ve basically lived some of the worst disability stereotypes. I was lazy. Yes, lazy. And worse, I regularly used my disabilities to get away with it. Others could do things faster and more efficiently, so I let them. Oh I’d “to sometimes make a half-hearted offer to help out, but I didn’t mean it, and was perfectly happy when it was declined. In fact, I usually didn’t get around to even making such offers until whatever work was already well under way, by which time it was basically done so there really was nothing left for me to do. And I did this both out in the world and at home. As a result, my Mom, a single mom no less, ended up literally being the servant – doing all the housework, and making breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, even when she had to work outside the home as well. And I had a sense of personal entitlement that let me feel that it was perfectly OK for me to exploit Mom’s labour this way.

In addition to my total lack of initiative in starting to pick up the housework, though, that sense of entitlement allowed me to feel totally justified in refusing to in any way push my comfort-zone, my very narrow comfort-zone, in order to get the help I needed in other areas. I didn’t trust “helping” agencies because of my experiences of custodialization at the school for the blind. But, instead of going to them anyway because I needed the help, and, if their was crap, getting involved in political struggles to change it, I simply refused to have anything to do with them. i was uncomfortable asking for help from my peers because, when I made half-assed, disorganized efforts at doing so, it seemed to put me in the “little kid charity-case” category rather than that of potential friend material. So, instead of trying harder to ask for help in an organized manner that would come across as competent and mature, I simply refused, once again falling back on Mom’s labour. So, every time I needed or wanted something read, I got Mom to read it (I had a scanner and OCR software, but it read so poorly in those days that I often simply didn’t bother with it). Likewise, every time I needed to travel a route I didn’t know, Mom would “have” to take me. And this became an increasing problem as, as I dropped sight and my other impairments became more noticeable, way-finding became increasingly difficult. And, instead of finding ways to break out of the social isolation I was experiencing, even if it meant getting involved in programs at CNIB or other Disability organizations because I was having so much trouble making friends among my sighted and able-bodied peers, I simply let Mom take care of all my needs for company – so much so that, at one point, she calculated that we were spending approximately 45 hours together a week.

As a result, Mom has hardly had any life other than being my full-time care-giver since I stopped attending the school for the blind and came home to attend the school for the arts, that is, since I was 14. She has not been able to have a social life of her own, or to get her own enterprises up and going, even though both of us badly needed her to be able to in order to get out of poverty. As bad or worse, though, has been that her often hidden labour has allowed me to present an illusion of independence and competence to the outside world. I have looked like I was getting out there and building a life, when, in fact, I wasn’t. I continue to rely on Mom for my logistical needs (grocery-shopping, other shopping, travel, reading, etc,) andfor my social needs, even a decade after ostensibly moving out on my own – to the point where, when Mom would come to “visit”, in addition to quality family-time, she would once again cook all the meals, do all the house-cleaning I’d neglected, shepherd me around to whatever events I wanted or want to go to, and fill in my social needs too. And these “visits” would be every week-end when she lived in town (even when she lived across town from me and travel was really difficult for her because she doesn’t drive), and they’ve turned into three, four or more week extended ?hotel-stays” in which she gets to be the hotel staff for me since she’s moved further away. And it’s wearing Mom out. Over the years, she has literally begged me, if I’m going to need that much of her help and support, to live with or near her so she can provide it to me without it totally wiping her out. But, once again, I’ve always refused, wanting to cling to the illusion that I’m managing independently. But I’ve also always refused to transform that illusion into reality either, the other way I could stop exhausting her.

So why am I writing all this? I’m doing so because I felt it was important for me to finally stop hiding my wrongs, stop hiding my lack of real independence behind Mom’s hidden labour, and come clean with my communities. As those of you who know me know, I’ve long been an ardent supporter of the rights and aspirations of people with Disabilities. Indeed, I consider myself a Disability activist, although, given what I’ve confessed here, I’m not sure I deserve that honoured label. Because, I’ve been engaging from a place of hipocracy. I’ve been attending the rallies and events and spouting the rhetoric while taking the easy way out with regard to my own independence. And worse, I’ve supported Disability and Feminist ideals while knowingly exploiting another’s labour. And I’ve always been afraid my Disability communities would discover how much I’ve relied on Mom’s labour, and either think me incompetent for not having figured out how to do better by now, and or recognize me for an ass-hole who confirms every bad disability stereotype they’ve been trying so hard to disprove and fight against. So I thought it was time to finally out myself! Because, I’m trying to stop being that ass-hole
– to really grapple with how to get my needs met, and how to live really independently instead of just the facade of it. And it seemed to me that it was important to begin that process by a little long over-due honesty.

Charlottesville was my Fault

Ouch! But so true. It’s the lesson of Nevel Longbottom, though. Isn’t it? (paraphrasing Dumbledore) “It takes courage to stand up to your enemies. But it takes even greater courage to stand up to your friends!” So let’s all help each other cultivate that courage please? A really important start would be to creat circles of support for those who have friends or, especially, relatives that they’re going to have to confront. This can be really scary, especially for those who fear isolation. But knowing you’ve got a circle of supportive friends to whom you can go to decompress/debrief/just plain not feel alone after you’ve pissed off your other friends/family can make all the difference in whether some one has the courage to stand up or not!

Source: Charlottesville was my Fault

From Leroux to Stage, POTO Rethinking Normal?

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So a while back, I was re-reading (well, re-listening to actually, since I experience it through audiobook) my original Leroux Phantom, and I noticed something I hadn’t before. Actually, it surprises me that I hadn’t till now! Because, when I think about it, it’s likely been a key reason why I’ve always gravitated more toward the stage-version than the Leroux novel. LOL Sorry Leroux purists! And don’t get me wrong. Of course I recognize Leroux as the source of it all – the original, and I love it for that as well as for its own particular way of telling the story. But it’s always been the stage-version that’s most powerfully fired my love of Phantom, and, as I said, I think I now know a key reason, which as to do with the way the two versions handle the issue of “normalcy”.

In the Leroux novel, Erik (the Phantom) expresses a strong desire for normalcy. He expresses the wish to “live like everyone else” (chapters 22, 23 and Epilogue of Damatos translation) – to have “a nice, quiet little flat with ordinary doors and windows like everyone else, and a wife inside whom I could love and take out on Sundays and keep amused on week-days” (chapter 23). And indeed, the house on the lake, the furnishings of which are frequently described as bourgeois common-place, seems to be trying to replicate a “normal” man’s house as much as possible (chapters 12 and 26 of Damatos translation). The only unorthodox spaces described as being in Erik’s house are his own room, which is done up like “a mortuary chamber” (chapter 12), and the “torture chamber” (chapters 22 through 25). But these spaces seem to come less out of a defiance of “normalcy” than from a desire to punish himself by living like the corpse he has always been told he looks like (chapter 12), and to punish and discourage intruders (chapters 22 through 25). It is also expressed in his work on a mask that will make him look “like anyone”, i.e. with a “normal” face (chapter 22).

In the stage-version, however, this desire for “normalcy” is downplayed if not dropped. The Phantom here certainly expresses a desire for love and compassion, and a wish to be lead and saved from his solitude (Act I scene 6, Act II scenes 8 and 9). But he does not express the desire to be “like everyone else” that the Leroux Phantom does. Moreover, his lair in this version (in the original staging at any rate) is not an attempt to mimic a “normal” home, but rather a temple to “the Music of the Night”. And indeed, in the lyrics to that song, he puts forward an alternative to the harsh, daylight visual standards of physical beauty that have excluded and marginalized him, offering instead an aesthetic where sound is paramount, and where visual assessments are softened by candle-light. True, he wants acceptance. He wants some one “to see, to find, the man behind the monster” (Act I scene 6). But he wants this at least somewhat on his own terms. Thus, the stage-version Phantom can be read as being OK with not being “normal” as long as he’s not alone in it – as long as he’s not driven into maddening isolation by exclusion and marginalization.

And now that I think about it, I begin to suspect that this shift in the approach to “normalcy” is a key reason why the ALW stage-version was the version of Phantom to be the one to spark Phandom to life, not just in me, but in so many others born since the 1970s. Many of us were othered, especially in the education system. We were bullied or just plain excluded, either by our peers, our teachers or both, for having a Disability/being Queer/being Trans/being “weird”/etc. But, in us, that didn’t inspire us to want to conform and be “normal”. Because, in the people who othered us, especially the authority-figures, we saw, up close and personal, what society calls “normal”. And we didn’t like what we saw! It looked to us like what J. K. Rowling would later call being a muggle – rigid conformity (to dress-codes, to codes of behaviour based on able bodies and minds, to racism, to soul-destroying work environments, to consumerism, to sexism and what we would now call the gender binary) and a deadened imagination. And unlike our parents, we were the generations born post civil rights, post Black power, post Stonewall, post second-wave Feminism, post the beginning of the Disability rights movement. And while we weren’t exposed directly to these movements yet (that wouldn’t come till we escaped, er, I mean, graduated from highschool because, back then, we didn’t have the internet to easily and safely, i.e. privately, seek those movements out ourselves), we got their echoes. And those echoes told us it was the “normal” mongers that were wrong, not us.

Thus, when Phantom first opened back in 1986, it resonated powerfully with those of us engaged in these struggles, especially since it found many of us just as we were heading into our teens. Indeed, for many of us, the ALW Phantom provided the symbolic language with which we expressed and waged these struggles. We related to the Phantom’s experience of being excluded for his differences. But, like him as portrayed in the stage-version, we want/ed to be accepted for who we were/are – to offer alternative ways of being and find people to share them with, not to solve our exclusion by burying or excising parts of ourselves in order to be “normal”.

 

I think this is part of why so many old-school stage-version Phans like myself have such a strong negative reaction to the Gerik (the 2004/5 film adaptation of the Lloyd Webber musical).  As I’ve argued elsewhere, the changes it makes in the story shift it’s message from that of the stage-version.  Instead of calling out society for excluding and othering the Phantom on account of his  not being “normal”, the Gerik criticizes the Phantom, and Mme. Giry who helped him make his home in the opera house, for his “failure” to have been “properly socialized”.  It argues that what the Phantom needed was, not to be accepted for himself, facial difference, “madness” and all, but to learn to fit himself into “normal” society as best he could, and find there whatever place it would grant him.  But Phans of my generation know that argument way too well.  We got it from our teachers, guidance counsellors, our peers, the medical and other “helping” professions, and even, in some cases (though I’m thankful mine wasn’t one of them) from our parents.  Many of us have tried that route, too, in response to their pressure. We’ve tried contorting ourselves into the shapes and appearances society wanted in order to be accepted.  Many of us tried it for years or even decades before giving it up because, A, it doesn’t work – you’re never fully accepted because you can never be your whole self – never let your guard down lest your “abnormalities” show.  And B, some part/s of yourself always have to remain disavowed and suppressed, hated because they keep you from fully fulfilling the societal ideal and, as you think, being fully accepted.  Oh yes, we know well the mental, spiritual, psychic, and sometimes even (though, again, I’m grateful that not in my case) physical violence of that path.  And it really, really pisses us off to see our beloved Phantom, the story and character that saved so many of us by inspiring us to begin to fight for our own liberation, turned into, A, eye-candy, and B, an apology for the “normal” mongers! That is not the message of the Phantom so many of us fell in love with on stage and in recordings. His was and is a song of resistance!

 

  • Note: I by no means mean to speak for all stage-version Phans here.  However, though I very much speak from my own experience as a Phan of that generation, I strongly suspect it is an experience I’m not alone in.  I don’t have anything like data to support that claim, though, just a gut feeling based on my interactions (such as they’ve been) in the Phan community!
  • It is interesting to consider that, just as having been born post civil rights, etc, allowed us to have the “breathing room” to be able to respond to Phantom in a way that our parents’ generations might not have, the reverse is also true.  The Lloyd Webber stage-version of Phantom itself also comes on the heels of the flowering of justice-seeking movements.  And, while I don’t know that they can be said to have influenced it directly, those movements, especially the Gay rights and emerging Disability rights movements, opened up a critique of the hitherto unquestioned idea that “normal” equalled good and desirable.  And without that cultural space having been opened up, the stage-version Phantom’s move away from desiring “normalcy” to something potentially more radical might have remained unthinkable!
  • In his great 1987 work The Complete Phantom of the Opera, George Perry does note that a strongly Disability-positive program on the BBC did, in fact, have a direct influence on the imagining of the character of the Phantom during the process of creation of the Lloyd Webber musical, in particular with regard to its/;his creators being able to imagine a Deformed man having a fully healthy sexuality. So, in that sense, the emerging Disability rights movement can perhaps be said to have had a direct influence on the show.

Meltdown Bingo: Autistic Edition

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I came across this a while ago, and it was what really, finally made me think/allowed me to think that I might, actually, be somewhere on the Autism spectrum. I’d never thought so before, because all the Autism stereotypes – being hyper-logical, being extremely literal, being unable to grasp the concept of self and other, etc, – didn’t seem to fit. But this piece really fits a lot of my experience! Like, 90 percent or more of it’s right on! As in, I can’t think of the number of times I’ve been in many of the situations described here. So yeah, really helpful!

Source: Meltdown Bingo: Autistic Edition

Very successful Open Tuning Fest! #OTFest2017 #MusicTheatrePunk

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So the show on Saturday went awesomely! It’s always tough doing an out-door gig on a really hot day. But it went really well in spite of that! And thankfully it wasn’t nearly as hot as it could have been. Not like today! Yikes!

So the water held out through my whole set thank goodness, and the tech behaved. And the songs I did seemed to go over really well too! I did a bunch from Dark Resistance, as well as some covers of a couple of my favourite songs. And the people working the PA/sound-board were really great! Thank them hugely! They did a fabulous job balancing me and my accompaniment tracks and generally making me sound smashing! 🙂 And huge thanks also to Ysabeault aka Sister Comrade (also aka Mom) who advised me on my costume. She did a great job making me look awesome as well as sound great! And I really rely on that because, although I’ve learned pretty well how to put together a sharp outfit that fits the style I’m trying to cultivate, it can still be all too easy for the idea I have in my head to not actually work in reality. And, as a Blind performer trying to work in a culture where image counts for so much, that help avoiding fashion gaffs is an incredibly critical piece of accessibility support!

🙂 Btw, one of the covers I did was of one of Ysabeault/Sister Comrade’s songs, the title track from her forthcoming EP World On Fire! Her own stuff’s much more country/folk, so I did up an accompaniment track to do it in my style. And it worked awesomely! And Sister Comrade came up on stage and sang it with me, which rocked! I’ll be singing on World On Fire when it comes out, too, so I thought it’d be great to bring that into my set!

Anyhow, we got some video, too, which I’ll get posted ASAP. So stay tuned for that! LOL It might be a couple of weeks at least, though, because I’ll need to renew my Vimeo Plus subscription to be able to host larger files again. And that’ll have to wait till pay-day! Also, the image-quality may not be great because it was an out-door venue. And, because of where the stage was set up, I was apparently kind of back-lit, which I know isn’t the greatest on camera! So I’ll have to go through the footage (with the help of some one with sight) and see if any of it’s workable. 🙂 But hopefully I’ll have some stuff to put up soon. And huge thanks again to Ysabeault/Sister Comrade for personing the camera while I was on stage, and to the person from the crew who ran it during our duet! Much appreciated!

My only regret about the day is that I wasn’t able to see/hear as much of the rest of the festival as I’d have liked. LOL, by the time I got off stage, Ysabeault and I were both really exhausted and starving! As I said, doing an out-door gig in summer heat can be tough. Plus, I’d been up late getting last-minute stuff done. LOL So we folded early! I did get to hear and support some of my fellow performers, though, which I was really glad about!

Anyway, that’s it for another year. 🙂 Though I’m looking forward to next year’s festival already! And huge thanks to Open Tuning and to Kop’s Records (the venue where I sang) for having me. I’m looking hugely forward to doing it again in 2018!

So I’m thinking of doing a podcast! Would love advice on getting started, though?

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LOL Yes, I know, on top of everything else I’m trying to do. But it’s a case of “if what you want to hear isn’t out there, do it yourself”! And for a long time now I’ve been really craving a good podcast that explores Phantom and Phanship from the kind of intersectional, but Disability-centred, perspective that I try to do here. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing interviews with POTO actors and with Phan artists! And I’d love to do that stuff myself if/when I get this up and going. I’d just dearly love to hear/have a show offer a deeper analysis as well, though, given how incredibly rich Phantom is in its layers of meaning!

But, although I listen to a lot of podcasts, I’ve never attempted one before myself. And I’m so not technical!!! So I’d definitely love some advice, from those of you out there who’ve done this already, on how to get it up and going (ahem, on a budget which is, at present, non-existent). Like, I know, or at least I think, I can record episodes that are just me alone talking in Garage-Band, and edit them together with an intro and outro the same way I edit my songs. But is it OK in terms of podcast etiquette to pre-record like that, or are you expected to do all or most episodes live-to-air? Also, I gather WordPress has a widget for uploading podcast episodes to a page. But apparently you have to use an ftp to do the uploading? I’ve never used one before, and I have no idea if they’re accessible! LOL I barely understand the concept in fact. So I feel a bit out of my depth! I’m hoping I can use that widget on a sub-page of this site to post episodes, because, A, that would keep everything nice and straight-forward rather than having tons of separate identities floating around, and B, LOL I can’t afford a whole separate domain and hosting right now! But we’ll have to see how it goes as I figure out how all this shit works LOL!

Anyway, I’m hoping to get that started some time this year, maybe even this summer if I can. So stay tuned! And any of you experienced podcasters out there, 🙂 would love some guidance! Thanks!

OK! Venue and Time confirmed for PhantomFemme at Open Tuning!

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Wow! So it’s just two weeks till the festival! Two weeks from today, I’ll be preparing to go on and perform for all of you, and you’ll, hopefully, be preparing to come down to Seaton Village and hear great music! Seaton Village is the part of down-town Toronto that’s in the square bounded by, going clockwise, Dupont, Bathurst, Bloor and Christie. I’ll be one of around 130 incredibly diverse acts, ranging from acoustic singer/song-writer type things to full punk bands to hiphop artists, and from youth and amateur musicians to seasoned performers. It’s going to rock!

So where I’ll be in all this awesomeness is on the stage set up in the garage behind Kop’s Records. You can check out the Facebook event page to see where that is, and also to see who else is playing there. I’m the second act up, so I’ll be on at 3 PM. I’m really excited about it! It’s going to be a great afternoon! LOL Though, the next two weeks are going to be bonkers busy getting ready for it. 🙂 But I’ll be doing some great songs, both from Dark Resistance and, hopefully, beyond, and I’ll be sharing the stage with an awesome line-up of other bands! So check it out!

We’re also using this really cool app called Sched to share the festival schedule. So you can go onto the app, bookmark your favourite acts and when we’re on, and make yourself up a customized schedule that you can download to your phone, iPad, etc. And it has bios and info for all the acts as well! (Or it will as soon as we get everything filled in.) So you can find out all about us and decide who you want to hear!

Anyway, it’s going to be an awesome day. So be there!

Me at #OpenTuningFest again! #OpenTuningFest2017

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Uh, I really hope I’m doing this right (LOL this time)? 😦 This is my third try getting there to actually be text in this post instead of just the title! I’m trying out the WordPress app for my iPad, which I downloaded in the hope of making posting from said iPad easier. 😦 But, so far, not so much! So we’ll have to see if I get the hang of it eventually. Here’s hoping!

Anyway, LOL as I begin every post it seems, terribly sorry for being so long to update! Yikes! I checked my stats a while ago, and it’s been four months! Ye-Gads! But, A, school and “extra-curricular” political activities have kept me quite busy, and B, technical difficulties. 😦 Alas, the computer I was using has had to go into retirement, as it was starting to crash badly and often. So I’ve been getting set back up on a new system! The good news, though, is that said new system is much more powerful and has tons more storage-space. 🙂 So now I can finally get back into serious recording without fear of a massive crash, which is an enormous relief! LOL So I might actually, finally, be able to get Dark Resistance done now! Yeah, I know, not a moment too soon.

Anyway, as some of you know, I’ve performed for the past couple of years at the Open Tuning Festival in Toronto. And I’m really excited to announce that I’ll be doing it again this year! I don’t have my exact venue confirmed yet, so stay tuned for that here and on my social media (see my “Intro” post for links and handles). But it’s going to be a totally awesome day I can guarantee! 🙂 It always is!

Better yet, I’ve been volunteering on the planning team for this year’s Festival to work on accessibility. So this year, the day should be far more accessible than it has been! And, of course, we’ll keep working on it in years to come and keep improving. But I’m really grateful to everyone else on the team for really taking accessibility seriously, not letting themselves be (too LOL) daunted by the admittedly significant challenges of making a low-budget, DIY music festival (it’s all volunteer – no government funding or corporate sponsors) as accessible as possible, and for really taking to heart and trying to implement the recommendations I’ve offered. 🙂 You guys rock! And the Festival will be much awesomer and more fun for it!

Anyway, I’ll most definitely post again once I’ve got my venue confirmed. So do stay tuned for that! 🙂 And, of course, do come out to hear me and all my fellow acts on June 10th, as it’s going to rock!

It’s a new year! LOL So where the heck’s the EP?

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So, yeah, meant to actually kick off the new year with an update. LOL But got running behind! Because it may be a new year, but some things definitely remain consistent. Plus, lots of school stuff! Some loose ends to tie up from last term, and then, of course, my first comp to finish (LOL arcane Ph.D.-speak, in case I haven’t explained this before, for Comprehensive Exam, aka a great big project where I read a ton of stuff and then write something to prove I understood it)! 🙂 But the awesome part is that, the way I’ve worked my comp, I get to talk about Phantom!!! 😦 The sad part, though, is that it’s getting close to being done. And, in my next comp, I probably won’t get to talk about POTO again. At least, I haven’t figured a way to work it in yet! Unless…? Hmmm.

Anyway, I thought I’d update in case some one out there’s wondering where the hell the re-release of my EP is. LOL I know I have been! And, sadly, I can’t say, except that I definitely plan to have it out some time within 2017. For one thing, of course, it has to share life and time with my school work. And that can be a tricky balance! But also, it’s kind of gone through a complete, and somewhat unexpected overhaul!

When I first started putting my music out there, I was really into symphonic metal. And that’s definitely still a huge influence, as you can see if you visit my “links” page! I love the way it blends that hard-rock edge with a classical, music-theatre, or even operatic sound. That’s so awesome! And I love the way it, in doing so, kind of takes classical, music-theatre, and even opera out of the realm of the preppy. Which, love all those other genres though I do, they can all too often be! But I’ve been finding lately that, although it’ll likely remain a huge influence for all those reasons, I don’t want my own stuff to be straight-up metal, even symphonic metal. For one thing, metal’s a very virtuostic genre instrumentally! LOL And, what can I say? I’m just not that good a player on any instrument. But also, I’m finding that I really want to leave room in my music to incorporate a softer sound as well – to really bring some of the sound of the 80s and 90s pop-rock and music-theatre that I grew up on into my own stuff. LOL Yes, shameless nostalgia! So sue me? But there’s a joie-de-vivre about those genres (or there can be anyway) that I really want to incorporate. And I especially want to bring that stuff into the EP/album I’ve been working on because it’s somewhat autobiographical – or maybe mythobiographical to borrow Audre Lorde’s term, and those were really the sounds that I grew up on and that shaped me. 🙂 But don’t worry, I won’t neglect the pop/rock and music-theatre that’s emerged since then! In fact, I’m dying to finally hear Hamilton. Can you believe I haven’t yet? Yikes! And I’d welcome any other recommendations of what’s good out there, too. LOL Half the reason my musical tastes are so far behind the times is because I’m totally lazy about getting out there and finding new stuff! That all will have to influence later work, though. LOL I’ve got to get this album finished first!

So, as you can perhaps tell from the new tag-line on this site, I’ve decided to call my sound and (hopefully) performance style music-theatre punk. And hopefully that encapsulates all the things I love about that genre! – the sound, the acting and story-telling aspects, the influences from both Broadway and the West End, and the importance of costuming and stage-craft. But hopefully it Crips both rock and music-theatre a bit, too, by allowing me to work with my limitations – of musicianship, but also of movement on stage because of my Disabilities – instead of having to disappear them as I would if I were to try to do any of those genres (though especially music-theatre) “straight”. In fact, I’ve kind of re-conceptualized the EP as a one-being musical! And it might even go in for a name-change, thus my having not mentioned the title so far. We’ll have to see! Although, Oo! I think I just had a good idea in that regard! 🙂 Not telling yet, though. You’ll just have to wait and see!

So yeah, that’s where that’s at. As I said, I plan on getting the EP, which, having been re-conceptualized thus, is more likely to end up full album sized, out within 2017. But, within that, I have no idea! LOL I’m not even going to hazard a guess, because, every time I’ve given a release-date before, I’ve run behind and missed it! And I know it’s going to take a shit-load of work to really do it right. And I have no idea how long that’ll take, especially as it has to share life with school! And it really does. Because, my academic work, especially the Critical Disability stuff, is a huge part of what fuels my creativity as weird as that may sound.

🙂 So that’s the plan. And now, off to get working on it! So keep watching this space for further updates!