Guest Blogger: Zeiro

Safety Card- Zeiro pictured with drum sticks in hand. Photo by Kalindy Williams

Safety Card- Zeiro pictured with drum sticks in hand. Photo by Kalindy Williams

Being that Girls Rock! Melbourne is all about amplifying the voices of young female, trans, and gender diverse people, we thought it was about time we heard from another participant! Zeiro is a two-time camp veteran who has learned both vocals AND drumming, and they are an absolute legend whose personality lights up the room! We were lucky enough to have Zeiro write us a blog post to tell the world a little bit about themselves and their experience at camp. Enjoy! 

 

Hey! My name’s Zeiro and I am a human?? I am a 17-year-old gender fluid cool kid! I like fluffy animals, smoothies and binge watching TV shows like Doctor Who, Sherlock, RuPauls Drag Race and Dance Moms.

My pronouns are they/them. I identify specifically as gender fluid but I often use an umbrella term of non-binary to describe my gender identity.

For those of you who don’t know what non-binary or gender fluid is, I thought I’d explain it. *DISCLAIMER* This is just what I feel personally and there is no wrong or right answer to explain what gender fluid or non-binary is. It’s not like you are either a cat person or a dog person, it’s what YOU feel and how you identify.

So for me being gender fluid is … fluid? Haha. Basically, I don’t “stick” with one gender all the time. So sometimes, you will see me dressed in a ‘femme’ outfit and sometimes I’ll be more masculine and squirm if anyone asks about my body parts. Most of the time though I’m in jeans and a t-shirt coz .. ya know.. comfortableness :P

There is a lot of stigma surrounding people who identify with anything other than the normal gender binaries. The ‘normal binaries’ as deemed by society are the classification of sex and gender into two distinct, opposite and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine. Some people argue that being gender diverse is a mental health condition or split personality disorder, which it is not and to say that we are “crazy” and “just confused” is really rude and incorrect.

Just because my gender ‘changes’ doesn’t mean I’m confused. I wake up in the morning and I am pretty dam sure of what I feel. Yeah ok, when I was younger I had no idea about this and I was confused as to WHY I was feeling like this but it’s never been “I don’t know what I am.”

I explain the gender binary to most people like this…

In this world, there are two types of people:

Dog people and cat people.

Since the beginning of time humans were born with ether a cat or a dog companion. Full stop. That was it.

BUT sometimes there were people who were born with both a dog AND a cat.

Sometimes people were born with a cat but wanted a dog.

Sometimes, even though they clearly had an animal, they did not want a companion.

And sometimes they wanted a cat one day and a dog the next.

Sometimes they wanted both a cat and a dog.

Basically, anything other than the cat or dog is not in the societally defined binary.

...And oops I’ve ranted so much.

Identifying as non-binary, Girls Rock! gave me a safe space to create music and enjoy being around people without having to fake who I was. At Girls Rock! I was never pushed to the back of the room, feeling like my opinions were not being heard because I was different.

At School, a lot of time, I’ve been in a music class with others who have been rude about using different pronouns and haven’t given me a chance to voice my thoughts on a song or a band that I might like.

There have been so many times where I’ve been pushed to the side and been told to be quiet because I’m a girl and I should just let things happen and not say anything. People have told me that they/them pronouns are only for groups of people and that it’s not grammatically correct to say, which is dumb and wrong!

But at Girls Rock! you walk in the door and nobody assumes anything about you or your identity. They all want to know who you are and are ready to listen. If you say “hey, I’m just a cis girl” then awesome, if you say you are a gender non-conforming unicorn then awesome too! You are not treated any differently because of who you are or how you identify. You get all the same rights and opportunities, no matter what.

We are told to stand up and have a voice and not apologise for being who we are, which gives you so much confidence! We can come out from the corner and say what we need to and have it be heard and considered in a respectful and safe discussion.

I could be comfortable with who I truly am in a group of people and that is a MASSIVE thing for me because I’ve always felt like I need to act a certain way or fit into a box.

At Girls Rock!, you can be as loud as you want, you can rip it on the guitar and smash the drums and do heavy metal screaming if that’s what you want. Every time you meet someone new its “hi I’m ….. and my pronouns are…” because they care about you and how you want to be referred to. Everyone cares at Girls Rock!. They may not understand what it feels like to be gender diverse but they will take the time to sit down and listen to you and hear what you have to say. Sometimes someone might get your pronouns wrong but hey, its ok, we are all human and then they will genuinely apologise and correct it.

Camp just has such a safe, friendly atmosphere where all that matters is having fun.

I have to admit, I was scared at first because I didn’t know if anyone at camp would get it or care about me or my identity but that was not the case. Even though it is called ‘Girls Rock! Melbourne’ it is a safe space for all female, trans and gender diverse people.

You should come to camp because it will be the best week ever! Not only will you learn about music and how to write a song but you’ll learn about how to stand up and speak up and that it’s ok for you to be you!

Interview with Bonnie after September camp!

Camp is always an emotional rollercoaster. We are constantly blown away by the talent and kindness of our campers, and our September camp was no different. One of Ruby's personal highlights was stumbling across an inspirational quote a camper had put on their nametag. Ruby sat down with 12 year old Bonnie to chat about her camp experience.

Nametag.jpg

 

R: Bonnie, can you just tell me a bit about your experience of camp this week- what it was like, and what you did the week of camp?

B: Girls Rock! is an amazing place for young musicians; young girls and transgender people to come together. They form bands and you can do workshops and watch live concerts and it's actually truly amazing. At the end of the 5-day camp you perform your original band song at the showcase! I got to do vocals the week of camp and loved it.

R: So, camp is over, we’ve actually just finished the showcase and you’ve just walked off stage after finishing the camp song. How are you feeling?

B: Pumped! I want to do it again!

R: That’s so awesome! Did you have a highlight of the week?

B: Probably today when everyone told me that I did such a great job and it made me feel so good.

R: You did a really great job- it's tough to get up there and be the front person of a band, and it can be pretty scary, but you owned the stage!

B: Thanks!

R: What was your band name, Bonnie?

B: Odd Socks

R: Rad! How did you come up with that?

B: I actually don’t really know. It was one of our band members, she suddenly said "Odd Socks" and we were like “That’s cool!”

R: That’s so great, I like the name. It can be so hard to come up with a band name. You had a bit of a costume to go with your band name too. Can you tell us about that?

B: Oh yeah! Kelly, our band coach, bought us all fluoro odd socks and we wore them on the day.

R: It looked really cool! Go Kelly! Do you think there’s a chance of Odd Socks staying together?

B: Quite Possibly.

R: That would be so cool!! Can you tell me just a little bit about your song that you wrote?

B: The song that my band wrote together was about friendship and someone betraying someone and then getting really angry about it. 

R: Oh okay, wow! That’s definitely not a nice feeling. Hopefully, something like that didn't happen at camp this week!

B: No!!

R: Before we finish up, I just wanted to say that one of my highlights from this week was reading your zine and reading the quote that you had on your nametag. Do you mind sharing that?

B: Sure. It said, “Women are here, you know. We are not just alive to be pretty and skinny. We are just as amazing as men!”

R: That is so true! Thank you so much. I actually got a bit emotional when I read that, which is a bit embarrassing, haha. Thank you again for coming to camp and sharing your words and music with us. Hopefully, we see you for our January camp!

B: You will!
 

Photo by Kalindy Williams Photography

Photo by Kalindy Williams Photography

Hex's GR!M 2017 highlight

We can't believe it's almost been a month since camp started! What an incredible experience it was for everyone involved. GR!M is all about building up our campers and showcasing their abilities and strengths. Ruby asked Hex, one of our campers, to write about her highlight of the camp and here it is!

 

"On this beautiful Thursday at 12:15pm, Girls Rock was graced with the presence of Hip Hop and Jazz musician Lady Lash. Walking on stage, immediately capturing the attention and respect of an initially unenthusiastic looking crowd with her powerful rhymes and rocking lady vibes. She spoke on issues such as family, hometowns, following your dreams and loving yourself. It’s refreshing to hear true honesty in the lyrics of a hip hop song, a genre which, while being amazing in many other ways, can often lack honesty. In Lady Lash’s performances, the passion and conviction in her voice makes you never doubt whether her experiences were true. Whilst a lot of mainstream hip hop and rap musicians will talk about their houses and their cars and their watches, Lady Lash talks about how little material things matter, and how finding yourself and loving your family will create more happiness in the long run.

 As a person who has great love and respect for hip hop and jazz music, I listen to a lot of it. Like, A LOT. But even when you listen to these genres as much as I do, it’s still rare to come across a traditional female artist, much less a female Australian artist. Because of this we can sometimes forget there is a whole community of female hip hop artists right here in Australia, each one more amazing than the last, and all we have to do is look for them.

It’s also interesting to hear about an artist going from wanting fame and fortune to grounding themselves with family and home, instead of the other way around. In many cases, artists will start off with humble passions and goals, but end up receiving and wanting fame, fortune and recognition. Which is fine really, but everything in moderation. So, it’s great that there are people like Lady Lash going in the opposite direction.

Whilst being creative and inspiring, the jazz undertones of her songs really made me want to dance. But everyone else was sitting down and listening hard, so I thought I’d hold off, so as to not distract people too much and definitely not because I was super embarrassed.

I’d recommend Lady Lash’s music to anyone who’s into learning to love themselves, being proud of their Aussie roots, and having a good old fashioned dance to some rockin’ hip hop tunes." 

 

ARTIST PROFILE - FREYA JOSEPHINE HOLLICK

 

"Freya Josephine Hollick is an Old-Timey, Country, Folk singer/songwriter from the Victorian Goldfields. She was born and raised in Ballarat, and although she has tried her hand at city living, Ballarat and rural Victoria are where she is most at home. Freya has written and performed for many years in many different styles, though has always had her roots in folk music, coming to earlier 20th Century folk, blues and country music through a hunger for knowledge of how and from where modern music evolved. Well versed in all kinds of music, Freya has followed a path back to a time that holds true to her voice, her songwriting and her story. Freya's voice has been described as haunting, as both powerful and fragile, it is truly a voice unlike any other, and one that is of another time. 

Many conversations with Freya centre around her uncertainty as to where her songs and stories come from, "They seem to fall out of the sky at any time of day, and they pester you 'til you sit down and write it out... makes for a pretty disorganised life". Freya has said she often wakes late in the night, with a melody, or a line and, as commanded, stays up with the song until it is all out and whole. When asked about her process, Freya is certain that there isn't really a process, that any time she tries to write, without it coming to her "as an apparition of sorts", that the effort is audible in the song, and "that sure doesn't make for easy listening, which is what [she is] all about".  

Her parents would listen to music almost constantly as Freya and her siblings grew up. They listened to everything from Emmylou Harris, to Etta James, Sonic Youth, Ed Keupper, Bill Frisell, Sun Ra, Beastie Boys, Brian Eno, Massive Attack, Townes Van Zandt, Yo La Tengo, Steve Young, John Lee Hooker, Gene Clark and many more. As a result of so much exposure to wide variety of great music, Freya found her way through noise bands, experimental improvisational music, folk, rock, pop, classical and of course country music across the past twelve years performing throughout Victoria.

Freya immerses herself in her songs and the stories they tell, and it is no secret that she has certainly come through trials of her own in recent history. Her own life story, tells tales much like those in the heartbreaking country tunes of yesteryear that she has come to love so much. Her live performances are often candid, her banter between songs becomes more of a refreshingly honest and often darkly humorous account of her lived experience as a newly single mother of one and the loneliness, difficulty and beauty of it all. Her own songs such as Way Over Yonder With You and A Heart That Burns are truly stunning examples of the pain that she has turned in to song.

To hear her perform live is not only an exceptional experience because of her own stories but also what she brings to the songs of others. Her rendition of Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You, is enough to both chill you to the bone and wrap you in a warm embrace. This song in particular highlights what a powerful voice Freya has and her aptitude for phrasing and tone."

MIXTAPE:

Karen Dalton - It Hurts Me Too (first recorded by Tampa Red in 1940 and later by Elmore James)

I grew up listening to Karen Dalton, she has influenced me hugely and introduced me to the beauty of THE BLUES!

 

June Holm - Lullaby My Mother Sang To Me. 

The mother of Australian Country music, Australia's original yodelling sweetheart. I'd love to be able to yodel as high and clear as this lady, and play such beautiful guitar, she is a constant reminder to me to keep trying, learning, improving AND most of all, yodelling.

 

THE CARTER FAMILY - Wildwood Flower.

These ladies and their harmonies, masters of Appalachia, and probably my biggest influence to date. These ladies are my happy place. Such a strong female presence in music from way back when, step aside fellas, these ladies got some serious chops.

 

BESSIE SMITH!!!! - Gimme A Pigfoot and A Bottle O Beer.

This lady was BADASS. The original punk. She made no excuses for herself, a powerhouse of jazz and blues, sang with so much heart, so much pain. Damn girl. She has influenced so much of my singing and songwriting. Legend of song.

 

Dolly Parton - Do I Ever Cross Your Mind

I couldn't talk about ladies who have influenced me without mentioning the biggest sweetheart of all, the one and only DOLLY PARTON! I play this song live a lot, and I bloody love Dolly Parton, she also makes no excuses, she is a powerhouse, she is herself and stands solid and has dominated the music world since she hit the scene. So much love for this lady.