Serious Ladies of Art and Gigs
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Art, music and more from Birmingham LGBT+ men/mxn and allies. 12/11/2019 22:56
Slag mag isn’t just for the ladies. First of all, we want to thank everyone who has followed our journey so far, this is our third publication this year, and its been an unbelievable ride. When we started this, we weren’t sure of the reception. Whether people would ‘get’ us and our message, but we were definitely mistaken! There feels like a strong alliance forming, an alliance of SLAGS. However, this alliance has grown further past the boundaries of ladies, we always championed women and wxmen, but we wanted to make sure those who don’t feel like they align with that to be welcomed. We also have so many allies, who we are grateful for. The whole point of Slag Mag was never ‘us V them’, we’re all in this to build each other up and celebrate each other. And with that, we welcome you to the ‘men’s’ issue. This issue is for the men/mxn, the not so femme who still want to have a say, and for the allies who have given us a boost or stood by us this whole time without expecting anything back. This is our time to open the door to everyone, because no matter what your gender, you can still be a SLAG. Want to contribute? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Layout and design by Rhiannon Davies. Follow Rhiannon on Instagram at @designsbyrhiannon
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Feed Your Brain
An interview with mind bending psych makers, art showcasers and Slag Mag allies Brain Food. By Sophie Hack
Seemingly unknown to most, a psych scene is bubbling under the surface in Birmingham. A cosmic fusion of colour and heat, this multifaceted scene is only just sprouting into a full bloom. One of the melting pots of psych is the monthly Kaleidoscope. The free event, taking place at The Night Owl in Digbeth, is spearheaded by Liam McKeown, Connor Doyle and Jakob Edge. “We wanted to create a platform for local bands and artists without the pressure of promoting aggressively or having to push ticket sales. An event of like minded creatives, taking advantage of the burgeoning psych and rock scene in Birmingham that many do not take advantage of.” It made sense for them to create such a space, seeing as if they make up three quarters of the band Brain Food (final member being Will Scarrott). Their psychedelic offerings spiral through improvised, almost Americana sounding guitars, encircling drums and marching basslines. All this wholly encompasses their debut ‘Mind Winder’ EP that exploded into the world in 2018. No psych line-up is complete without Brain Food, who are seasoned on the local music scene. And it’s this scene that helps them network and build the cosmic web that is Kaleidoscope, Connor and Jakob added: “The artists we feature we meet at events and gigs.
It originally started with friends like Maddie Cottam-Allan, Hannah Al-Shimmeri, Molly Cleaver and Rowena J Davis... and then with word of mouth it grew and grew.” Despite the growth of Kaleidoscope, expanding every now and again for touring bands such as Paul Cherry and Sugar Candy Mountain, the psych night’s ethos has always remained: a feel good, easy going and welcoming space for people to perform, showcase and enjoy. Liam and Jakob agree: “We think exposure for artists is massive, our platform of free events moves away from having artists paying for pitches. This in turn makes artists want to participate even more, which makes for an inclusive, welcoming and open minded environment.” Although Kaleidoscope aren’t choosy with their featured artists, they welcome open discussions through art. “Many of our featured artists have broached themes of gender and sexuality, we think it’s so important to have conversations around these topics in a safe environment. Many venues should follow that ethos of belonging.” Kaleidoscope takes place at The Night Owl in Digbeth on the first Thursday of every month. Brain Food are in the midst of releasing their second EP. Find Kaleidoscope on Instagram @bhamkaleidoscope and Brain Food at @brainfoodofficial.
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ALL GAYS HAVE RIZLAS... Sorry we can’t all meet society’s stereotypes By Ben Wheatley
The lines often seem blurred between personality and being. This is very often the case with the term ‘gay’. Being gay is what someone is. Just like a dog, is a dog. A noun. Someone is gay, and that is a fact. However, sometimes gay can be used in ways that some people may find offensive, or is used to label things. Gay is often used as an adjective. And this is where issues arise. “You’re looking more gay recently” is a great line to be greeted with in the workplace by heterosexual colleagues, and even more perfect when delivered by some of your fellow gay beings. What does it mean to look more gay? Where has this societal judgement of what it means to look gay come from? When we look to
popular culture, being gay is often depicted as having a limp wrist, flamboyant fashion and having an obsession with Britney Spears. People’s gay ideologies are what makes coming out for so many a struggle. They don’t associate themselves with the stereotypes conjured up by society, so how can they possibly be gay? Heaven forbid however, that you don’t conform to the norms. Being shocked that someone is gay, or even referring to someone as a ‘straight gay’ because they don’t match the stereotypes. We can only apologise for not being the gay best friend as depicted in 2000’s American high school comedies. Apparently to some, if you look gay, you are also guarenteed to have a
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...AND OTHER LIES unique set of items, a sort of gay goodie bag. So when a member of the public asks the gay for a Rizla, it’s obviously completely fine when rejected to shout out: “Oh my god, even the gay boy doesn’t have a Rizla!”
an experience faced from both society as a whole, and the LGBT+ community. So whose role is it to defy the stereotypes? No one’s really. This shouldn’t even be a discussion point, but is one that’s sadly needed.
It’s also acceptable, apparently, when a gay shows an interest in sport, to be welcomed into the hetereosexual world with: “It’s just weird you like sport.” Sorry for confusing you, do we need to stick to RuPaul’s Drag Race in order to be gay enough?
Enjoy what you enjoy, whether its sport, music, fashion or anything in between. Being LGBT+ isn’t a criteria-based way of being, its loving who you want to love, being who you want to be, and everything else is just obsolete. Ignore other people’s ideologies. And to people who have gay ideologies, check yourself, you could be causing harm.
However, this is all a generalisation based on a single person’s micro aggressions, (also made up of two gay best friends and all other communication with LGBT+ being limited to 20 lined Grindr chats), but the above is
Follow Ben on Twitter @ben_wheat. 5
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Mirtazapine and Metamorphosis
Gregg and Skip from the poetic post punk Modern Literature discuss toxic masculinity and mental health.
By Sophie Hack and Mazzy Snape Image by Wayne Fox / waynefoxphotography.com It seems you guys came to fruition pretty quickly, how long have you been Modern Literature? G: We started practicing and writing stuff about a year ago... last September. We quickly wrote a set and played the first gig in December 2018. Then recorded an EP, studio burnt down whilst recording the EP [Black Country Recording Studios in Wolverhampton], re-recorded the EP and then released it… Easy. Simple. S: I don’t understand why people make a fuss about it really… jokes aside, it was a quick turn around, the first time I met Greg was in the pub. Greg really wanted to make music with Kieran who had just moved back from London… G: We all sat down on a bench in the Hare and Hounds, Skip didn’t irritate me enough to not want to be around him
The new EP is called ‘Nordic Fiction’, on the label and collective Die Das Der that you’re part of. And as much as we love all the different scenes in Birmingham, it feels like the coolest and most welcoming of the labels… G: It’s not pretentious at all. I think we’re quite lucky as with Die Das Der we straddle a lot of crowds, we don’t just put a certain level of band on. We take chances on people, we normally seem to catch bands on the way up. We put Slaves on the first Yr Welcome, IDLES at the third. S: I like the word collective better than label, it’s such a nice mix of artists. The best way to sum up Die Das Der is a ‘collection of interesting noises’. There’s a nice genre hop. Let’s talk about some issues you guys have raised in your music. We know you’re anti-patriarchy for example... G: Primarily you’ve got to remember every day is International Men’s Day the world over. There could be a slight valid-
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ity to International Men’s Day, but I don’t think it should be labelled as such. It’s like someone saying “International White Person’s Day.” The privilege is there every day. However, I think raising awareness of male suicide is a valid thing. Patriarchal fucking norms and gender stereotypes impact men in the sense of being told to “man up, be a man.” S: Toxic masculinity is horrible, I grew up in a single parent household, I was basically raised by my mum and grandmother. From a very young age, mental health problems were apparent with me, and my dad would just tell me to “man up.” It was my mum who stepped in and saw it as problematic for things to change. G: Some people have a black and white view on things. But just because you’ve been brought up expecting a certain behavior from your elders or peers doesn’t mean that’s how you should be acting. It also doesn’t mean anything you’re feeling is less valid because there isn’t a support network around you. And what do you think about toxic masculinity in the music scene? G: Let’s face it, there is toxic masculinity everywhere. The LGBT+ community gets forgotten about, I bet you walk in any given gig room and a fair amount of people would have had a homosexual experience, or would have questioned their own sexuality or identity, but its discounted. S: Politically, we’re more tribalistic than we’ve ever been, and you’ve got to think that’s the environment some people are growing up in. There’s more hate crime, that’s upsetting to see. G: However, when I was going to gigs in the 90s, people I knew were going to gigs and saying they were groped, women holding hands at gigs would be approached for threesomes. It still happens now of course,
but there’s more chance there will be someone in the room calling it out. People looked away 20 years ago. What about mental health with music? How did you tackle the way you were conditioned to not feel when you were younger to be able to talk about it? S: Going back to when we first went to the pub after a few rehearsals, skipping through lyrics, I could tell Greg suffered with something from that. You can find each other in a room in a way. G: I said to him “why don’t we call this song Mirtazapine? Because I can tell we’re both on it.” I think you can normally within reason spot someone, I was undiagnosed with mental health issues from quite a young age. I’ve had a couple of near misses from different bits and pieces. It’s easy to say, but I think the older you get the more you can condition and manage, or just know what your trigger points are. I’m more comfortable talking to strangers about my mental health than I am a medical professional. Does it help to be in a band where you are both open about your mental health? S: It’s great to have someone to talk to. Me and Greg really clicked in this band. I mean with a song like Mirtazapine it’s pretty fucking on the nose. Having connections is what’s really important, grounding yourself to the world, knowing you aren’t alone. Everyone is unique, but there are people a stone’s throw from you who understand and can help. Checking in on your mates and having your mates check in on you is important, that’s what I’ve learnt from being in Modern Literature. I’ve felt a lot happier than I have for a long time, I’ve got problems but they don’t define me. Modern Literature’s EP ‘Nordic Fiction’ is available to buy as a vinyl from Bandcamp and stream now.
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How do you exist in a world that refuses to change? CineQ film creator and curator Rico Johnson-Sinclair wishes for a more inclusive world.
y name is Rico Johnson-Sinclair, I’m what some might call a social justice warrior, a term that’s been coined as a negative thing, although I’m not sure why. I’m an advocate for social change, black civil rights, LGBTQ+ and diversity and inclusion, especially within the LGBTQIA+ community. I’d also really fucking like it if America’s law enforcement officers could stop killing black people for no reason. I’ve built a queer film festival in Birmingham called CineQ, I work for SHOUT Festival as the Festival Project Manager and I’ve just finished producing my first film funded by BFI NETWORK named ‘Sweet Mother’ alongside director Zena Igbe.
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I built CineQ whilst working at Flatpack Festival as a response to the lack of queer film being shown in the Midlands. And of the queer film currently being shown, there was no transgender, black or female representation. CineQ became a film festival that focused on the perspectives of queer people of colour but also is committed to showing films that wouldn’t otherwise be seen locally. This year we’re even accepting film submissions at no charge, so we can be as accessible as possible. But whilst I work in this industry, I also understand there are issues within, People of Colour rarely get a seat at the table, women are paid significantly less than men. And old white guys are clutching on to power across the creative industries, despite the fact that they’ve lost touch with the audiences they’re supposed to be catering for. The future of arts generally needs to be more adaptive, and there is no future for our society unless we begin to recognise and acknowledge our short-comings both individually and historically. I am a queer Person of Colour living in a world that is built on an inherently racist infrastructure, casually and overtly racist society, and an ignorant current climate. For context, I counted the number of racist encounters, including micro-aggressions, I received so far today and I’m currently at four (and I’ve only walked about a mile today.). Real Talk. I have psychotic symptoms, which is a
scary medical way to say I hear voices in my head at a mid to low volume practically every waking hour. And the failing NHS ensures that I can’t be treated properly for long lengths of time and so I regularly have to self medicate by microdosing illicit drugs. My story is not uncommon. And the world is ending. The world is on fire and we’re all still sat at our desks, diligently doing our work while we let it burn because we’re so conditioned to be productive, and we’ve all internalised capitalism and see our worth as only relevant to how much we earn. So I want to talk to you about compliance.
“The world is on fire...and we’re all still sat at our desks” The first time I realised I didn’t have to obey is when I no longer could. I’d just had my first psychotic break. I was living in London, and dealing with an onslaught of voices (auditory hallucinations). It meant that I could no longer act in a socially appropriate way. And it was so freeing. I became far more aware of my own thoughts feelings and past from having to filter out parts of my consciousness which were related to psychosis from the parts that were related to who I am as a person. And here’s what I realised. I can do whatever the fuck I want, as long as I believe it is right, and it doesn’t intentionally hurt another person. Find CineQ on Facebook @CineQBrum.
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An interview with... Ginger Dan A day in the life of the queer, fluid, ginger artist taking Birmingham by storm, one sticker at a time. By Sophie Hack
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n the unassuming streets of Birmingham, lamp posts, walls and windows are adorned with humble scrawlings, band logos, graffiti tags and sometimes political nuances. Between the peeling stickers and Posca pen strikes, you may come across a whole new type of city dweller. Elongated necks, long flowing hair, confident or triumphant faces - these neon characters have infiltrated the streets and shine a little light onto the queer art scene, and its all down to one ginger. Ginger Dan, otherwise known as Danni Evans, is the creative whiz behind these mystical creatures. The 28 year old has been full of sprite and spark, just like their illustrations, since they can remember. “I’ve always been super expressive - I was a dancer as a teenager and wanted to be an actor, until they cut the course from the all boys school I was at. That’s when I got into art.” Ginger Dan’s art mainly resides in ‘demons’ - “an out-righted opposition to stuffy, gated hierarchy.” These vivid creatures, each unique, are Danni’s way of expressing queer empowerment. “This empowerment is not just for me, but for anyone else who doesn’t feel like they belong. If I don’t create, I become depressed. Birmingham’s walls have become my creative crossfire.”
The demons are an expression of emotion - “sass” as Danni puts it. “I get a lot of bullshit because I am an outwardly queer human, I identify as genderfluid which doesn’t neccesarily make me a flamboyant person by nature. I wear pastel, but I’m not soft. I’m sick of eyeballs rolling in my head because of the stares I get.” Some of Danni’s characters include Fluid, a pouty and sassy character who doesn’t care about their wonky eyeliner. There’s also Pride, with one long unicorn horn, who is fed up of being a fantasy to people. These defiant characters are so important to queer representation and in Danni’s succinct words: “Art is a narrative.” Danni added: “An exploration of identity that has as many voices as possible only adds to the story of it all. The more queer represenation, the more other queer artists will feel like they belong - which is something I struggled with until I started making my own work.” Danni’s advice for budding queer artists is “get good at ignoring the thing that makes you stop”, along with their dad’s mantra: “The best time to start was yesterday.” Seen a demon on your travels? Be sure to take a snap and tag @ginger_dan on Instagram.
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TUE 19 NOV
HARE & HOUNDS
SLAG MAG PRESENTS AN INTERNATIONAL MEN’S DAY PARTY CHALLENGING TOXIC MASCULINITY
BRAIN FOOD MODERN LITERATURE FELIX SHEPHERD
DRAG WORKSHOP FEAT. BLÜ AND YSHEE BLACK
Inc. zine. Profits to CALM 12 IMD edition.indd 12
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To coincide with International Men's Day in November 2019, we curated a special zine to celebrate LGBT+ men/mxn and challenge toxic masculin...
Published on Apr 3, 2020
To coincide with International Men's Day in November 2019, we curated a special zine to celebrate LGBT+ men/mxn and challenge toxic masculin...