Mu­sic men ru­ined for me

Al­i­son Lang col­lected nearly 30 sto­ries of over-talk­ing, heart­break and Zappa-splainin’

NOW Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - mu­[email protected] | @there­was­nosound By MICHAEL RANCIC

MU­SIC MEN RU­INED FOR ME: ZINE LAUNCH & AN­GRY KARAOKE at Tran­zac (292 Brunswick), Sat­ur­day (De­cem­ber 1), 9 pm. $5, $10 with zine.

There are myr­iad ways that women iden­ti­fy­ing and non-bi­nary folk are reg­u­larly made to feel that they don’t be­long in mu­sic scenes. Just ask, and you’re likely to hear a story of how a man as­sumed a woman’s mu­si­cal knowl­edge of a band was lim­ited be­cause of their gen­der. Toronto-based writer and edi­tor Al­i­son Lang did ask, and she re­ceived sub­mis­sions from writ­ers based lo­cally and all over the world for a new zine called Mu­sic Men Ru­ined For Me.

The nearly 30 en­tries range in style and sub­ject mat­ter. There’s a play­ful def­i­ni­tion of mansplain­ing in ac­tion, an art­ful comic about en­tire fam­i­lies un­der­es­ti­mat­ing a woman’s fan­dom, a heart­break­ing ac­count of a fa­ther’s over­bear­ing jazz en­thu­si­asm flat­ten­ing his daugh­ter’s own de­sire to ex­plore the genre, a thrilling punk call to arms and much more. Mu­sic ru­ined in­cludes usual sus­pects like Nir­vana and Tool, but also less ex­pected artists like Feist.

The zine will be avail­able at its Tran­zac launch, while PDF copies will be on Etsy at a later date. All of the pro­ceeds go to Sis­ter­ing, a Toron­to­based agency that serves at-risk, so­cially iso­lated women who are home­less or pre­car­i­ously housed.

We talked to Lang ahead of the zine’s re­lease about what in­spired it, the breadth of ex­pe­ri­ences de­tailed within and the free­dom the zine for­mat al­lows.

WAS THERE A PAR­TIC­U­LAR IN­CI­DENT THAT IN­SPIRED THIS PRO­JECT?

I’ve had so many con­ver­sa­tions about Guided by Voices at par­ties, on dates, in all sorts of con­texts where a man will put on a song by them and I can’t even get a word in edge­wise. I re­al­ized I’d never lis­ten to them be­cause the thrill of dis­cov­ery had been sapped away.

It’s not like it’s sin­is­ter or ill-in­ten­tioned, but def­i­nitely there’s been a lot of en­thu­si­as­tic steam­rolling [laughs]. My friend, a very nice man, and I were laugh­ing so much about this, and that got me think­ing about how I’m sure I have so many friends who this has hap­pened to. I was re­ally cu­ri­ous to see what other peo­ple’s ex­pe­ri­ences were, and which bands came up over and over again.

WHAT’S STRIK­ING ABOUT THE EN­TRIES FROM THE ZINE IS THE BREADTH OF WAYS THIS IS­SUE AF­FECTS WOMEN’S LIVES. IS THAT SOME­THING YOU EX­PECTED FROM THE RE­SPONSES?

I was sur­prised by how many sto­ries weren’t just an an­gry, ir­ri­tated or funny anec­dote about how “some guy told me about this band.” The sto­ries were all just so per­sonal, about how a band is in­ex­orably tied to a re­ally shitty re­la­tion­ship or trauma they’d ex­pe­ri­enced, or grief. I was floored by how so many peo­ple were just so un­ques­tion­ingly trust­ing with the sto­ries they shared.

HOW DID THE ZINE FOR­MAT HELP TO TELL THESE STO­RIES?

For peo­ple who con­trib­uted, know­ing it was a zine al­lowed them to be more per­sonal and re­veal­ing. The range of con­trib­u­tors is so broad; there are

peo­ple who write for a liv­ing or as a pas­time, and then there are peo­ple who had a story they just wanted to get out.

Also, vis­ually it’s re­ally fun to sneak Pater­son [Hodg­son]’s amaz­ing draw­ings through­out the zine – a lot of tired-look­ing girls. She ap­proached me right when the call went out and was re­ally in­ter­ested in be­ing in­volved. I kept see­ing that im­age of Frank Zappa on the toi­let, and I asked if she could do a play on him be­ing flushed down a toi­let by a woman. She did ex­actly that, and it was re­ally funny.

The for­mat al­lows for a lot of hon­esty, but it also al­lows for me at least to be very play­ful and make fun of lots of pil­lars of the gui­tar-god com­mu­nity, which is a re­ally fun thing to do.

DO YOU THINK THAT’S PART OF THE PROB­LEM, TOO, THAT THE MEN PRONE TO “EN­THU­SI­AS­TIC STEAM­ROLLING” TAKE MU­SIC TOO SE­RI­OUSLY?

This ap­plies to any­one, not just those who mansplain, but when we talk about it with each other, so much of mu­sic is so stats-based, es­pe­cially if you’re an ob­ses­sive col­lec­tor or gear per­son. I don’t think that’s bad. I think that’s a prod­uct of love and to­tal ab­sorp­tion, and it’s a fun way to spend your time. But it can pivot the other way, be­com­ing this very over­bear­ing and ex­clud­ing force that makes peo­ple feel re­ally shitty.

WHAT ARE YOU HOP­ING READ­ERS COME AWAY WITH?

I re­ally hope peo­ple see that [the zine] is not just peo­ple rant­ing about crappy ex­pe­ri­ences they’ve had. It’s peo­ple shar­ing some very per­sonal truths and feel­ings about be­ing re­duced and un­der­es­ti­mated re­gard­ing some­thing they love. The one thing that ties all of the con­trib­u­tors to­gether is they all love mu­sic. They have a pas­sion and are re­ally knowl­edge­able about the mu­sic they love, and it’s so frus­trat­ing for them to be treated like they don’t know any­thing.

Al­i­son Lang, who cre­ated the zine, still can’t lis­ten to Guided by Voices.

Pater­son Hodg­son’s il­lus­tra­tions ap­pear through­out the zine, in­clud­ing this one of Frank Zappa be­ing flushed down a toi­let.

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