Tag Archives: Mukta Mohan

Turn It Up!

TIU

Liz Warner, Allison Wolfe, Kate Nash, Solvej Schou, Evelyn McDonnell and Mar Sellars at Turn It Up! mixer. Photo by Lucretia Tye Jasmine.

What happens when 50 female-identified musicians, DJs, journalists, scholars, publicists, sound engineers, podcasters, etc., come together in a subterranean hotel bar on a rainy Superbowl Sunday? “I feel the earth move under my feet, I feel the sky come tumbling down.” On Sunday, February 3, Turn It Up!, a collective of women working in the music industry that has been meeting since December, had our coming-out party at the Hotel Figueroa. It was an invitation-only mixer — an initial step to broaden our base as we take aim at gender inequality in the music industry. The feeling in the room was electric, the ideas that came out of small brain-storming sessions were provocative. A change is gonna come.

Alice Bag, Lynnée Denise, and Shana L. Redmond

Turn It Up! evolved out of a special December issue of KPFK’s Feminist Magazine Radio show. Valecia Phillips interviewed myself and six contributors to Women Who Rock: Bessie to Beyoncé. Girl Groups to Riot Grrrl. Inspired by each other’s stories about the musicians they profiled for the book, we decided we didn’t want this to be the, er, final chapter of our work together. As Alice Bag said Sunday, Women Who Rock is “the big, hard, pink seed” that must be planted and grow.

The mixer was a tremendous first sprout. Opening up our “rolodexes,” our steering committee — Alice, Adele Bertei, Allison Wolfe, Lynnée Denise, Mukta Mohan, dIA hakinna, Shana L. Redmond, Solvej Schou, Valecia Phillips, Lucretia Tye Jasmine, and me — were able to draw a pretty impressive group of artists, scholars, writers, workers, engineers, publicists, and activists, including Phranc, Lysa Flores, Kate Nash, Anna Bulbrook, Carla Bozulich, Anna Joy Springer, Abby Travis, CJ Miller of Dimber, and Katie Gavin and Naomi McPherson of MUNA. There were representatives of other rad feminist warriors, including SoundGirls, 50/50 by 2020, the Kilroys,turn it upGirlschool, and Chicas Rockeras, as well as folks from KXLU, Fly PR, Girlie Action, etc. My favorite moment was when the hotel’s staff couldn’t figure out how to get the microphone working, so Kathleen Hanna got up and fiddled with the cables, and voila, sound. Turn it up!

Turn It Up! somewhat coincidentally happens to be the name of a great song about self-expression by Alice Bag: “You’ve made a playlist and it’s locked inside your head, Toss it out play something new instead.” In just two months, we’ve got a name, an anthem, and a logo: the women’s symbol with the computer icon for volume inside it. We’ve also got a mission statement:

“Turn It Up! is a collective working toward gender parity in music. We advocate for equal airplay, media coverage and industry employment of groups who are historically and structurally excluded from the business and the institutions of music-making. Women WILL be heard.”

The Hotel Figueroa generously housed us and donated a fabulous spread including warm cookies. The building has a feminist history, having been built as a YWCA and served as the first place where women traveling alone could find lodging in downtown LA. Sunday we plotted the next steps for change, breaking up into small groups that brainstormed a number of ideas to put our mission into motion. Stay tuned for further developments.

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Girl Power Night With Pussy Riot & Transparent

Allison Wolfe (left) and Nadya Tolokno. Courtesy of Allison

Allison Wolfe (left) and Nadya Tolokno. Courtesy of Allison

Last night was a queer punk rock feminist dream come true, hanging with and hearing some key gender game-changers, past and present. First, Allison Wolfe and I went to the Ace Hotel, where Nadya Tolokno of Pussy Riot was holding court. It was the first time the original Riot Grrrl had met the original Pussy Riot girl, so that was a bit of a moment. We also ran into Mukta Mohan and Gabrielle Costa of the very cool Honey Power female DJ collective. Lots of girl power on that rooftop last night. Tolokno showed her three new videos, in which Putin’s least favorite punk raps and grooves. The former art student is pursuing a more Madonna/Peaches/PJ Harvey groove than the band’s former anarcho thrash. The videos are very sexualized, and bloody. Allison will be on a panel with Maria from Pussy Riot Monday night at the Regent, so she is on the full PR tour this week.

Afterwards, the Sex Stains goddess and I trucked up to USC, where we caught the second half of the Trans/Gender Tipping Point event organized by Jack Halberstam and Karen Tongson, two scholars whose work is not just analyzing but leading the discourse on gender variance. Four members of the Transparent artistic team talked about that show’s, er, transformative effect on trans visibility, television, and their own lives. Director Silas Howard, producers Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst, and actor Trace Lysette also discussed how the show could go even further, including having feature characters who have fully transitioned. Howard, for one, is optimistic the show will continue to break ground, saying of Jill Soloway’s Transparent team, “Whenever they’re most afraid, they most bravely go forward.” Stay tuned.

Some students asked me recently what the best part of being a journalist is, and I would say it’s being a witness to the making of history. Being in a room with Howard and Wolfe again, a couple decades after we were all first connected to Revolution Girl Style, or watching Allison and Nadya talk, or being dazzled by Lysette’s simultaneous poise and vulnerability — it felt like another of those nights. That’s my blessing as a journalist; my job is to tell you about it, which I just did.

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Grrrls on Stage and Tables

Grrrls on Film this weekend will culminate not just with Grrrls on Stage — bands, spoken word, DJs, host Allison Wolfe — but also Grrrls at Tables. Numerous individuals and organizations will be offering their services and wares in a fair on the Alumni Mall of Loyola Marymount University. The musical guests are Kim and the Created, Colleen Green and Peach Kelli Pop. Original Runaways lyricist Kari Krome will share some choice words, as will LMU faculty Sarah Maclay and Alicia Partnoy and student Kaelyn Sabal-Wilson. And KXLU DJs Mukta Mohan, McAllister, and Taylor 2000 will spin discs.

You will be able to buy clothes, including Grrrls on Film T-shirts (proceeds go to scholarships for LMU students), make fanzines at the table sponsored by the William H. Hannon Library, learn bike repair with the Ovarian Psychos, and even make a video at a booth sponsored by the Music Video Program of Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles. We’ll have three rock camps on the mall: Chicas Rockeras and RC OC too. And two all-female roller derby teams: Los Angeles Derby Dolls and Angel City Derby Girls.

Additional participants: Marians, Mcpheeters, Feminist Library on Wheels, Geek Girl Society, An Unexpected Hobby, Honey Power DJ Collective, KXLU, the LMU Committee on the Status of Women,  LMU SFTV grad programs, Fanboy Comics, Old Friends Vintage, and Razorcake magazine. Check the website for details and to register (it’s free but we need a head count).

Also, Richeeze food truck.

Here’s a video by Pajama Jeer made by Rock Camp’s MVP in 2015:

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Grrrls on KXLU

The Grrrls on Film festival taking place at Loyola Marymount University wouldn’t be happening if a postproduction professor at the School of Film and Television hadn’t agreed to come teach some of my journalism students how to edit with Audacity — despite the fact that she had just had a baby and, as a clinical professor, would neither get paid nor credited for service. As scant and egotistical compensation, I gave Sharon A. Mooney a copy of my book Mamarama: A Memoir of Sex, Kids and Rock’n’Roll, because basically all I knew about her was that she was a new parent. She emailed me a thank you, saying: “Oddly enough, as far as music goes, I really only like female fronted punk.” Thus, kindred spirits did meet.

After comparing our favorite bands and movies, and being simultaneously inspired by conversations I was having with filmmaker Abby Moser (Grrrl Love and Revolution and Women’s Studies Chair Stella Oh, I suggested to Sharon we put together a film festival. Out of these modest, organic roots grew Grrrls on Film. Sharon has been a great collaborator, and there is no way this event would be happening without her.

Sharon and I will be talking about the festival and playing some jams Wednesday morning at 8 on Mukta Mohan’s show on KXLU.

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