PHOTOS: JOE DILWORTH
FROM THE HEART:
Miss AMP talks freckly tits and gender politics with the queen
of the confessional loop, Kevin Blechdom.
I don't much like being called mad. I'm funny
like that. I don’t
like being accused of being a psycho bitch from hell; being compared
by a boy I hardly know to a nutter who flung pots at his head.
much like asking what seems to be a pretty innocuous question and getting
The Look instead: a Look I might expect if I had, I don't know, ripped
open the buttons of my summer frock, hoiked my tits out of their ribbon-trimmed
aqua balconette brassiere, and started rubbing handfuls of raw meat into
my exposed areolae while wailing 'Are you fucking with me? OR ARE YOU
FUCKING WITH ME?' at the top of my lungs. I guess I'm
particularly don't like someone comparing arguing with me to the experience
of listening to Kevin Blechdom's new album, 'Eat My Heart Out'. I mean: have
you heard it?
doesn't mind being called mad, because, for the purposes
of that album, she was. I mean, not mental asylum straight-jackets thinking
everybody's taping you through radios in your fillings kind of mad -
the other kind.
The whimpering sobbing caught-on-a-loop not-eating shattering
lying-on-pavements utterly broken kind of crazy you only get after the
Big Relationship Break-Up. Everyone gets that at least once. Even boys.
My Heart Out is an electronical masterpiece which
mixes homegrown laptop ditties with country songs, pirate shanties, electro-skronk
anthems, max/msp synthesis exercises and heartfelt achy-breaky ballads:
yeah, mad alright, and that's just the music: we haven't even
got to the lyrics yet.
It's brilliant-mad; funny, cute, ironic, menacing:
danceable-mad. It speeds up. It slows down. It
loops a single voice into an army of voices all attempting to out-do each
other to meet the high notes; and every song's got at least three different
inter-related sections, if not more.
There are songs written and recorded
on nitrous oxide, songs where the artist didn't even know what she'd said
till she played the recording back, where you can hear her gasping and
whimpering as she sucks the laughing gas out of the balloon and into her
lungs. ROCK. And…mad.
As for the
album's subject matter… Eat
My Heart Out is a twisted kind of one-woman off-off-Broadway music hall
show about the break-up of a long-distance relationship.
raw emotional states, clinical depression, near-hysteria: you know: feelings and
all that they entail, from the over-saturated metaphors ('Youuuu are
my torrrrtttuuuure / and IIIIII am your chhaaaaammmber / get OUT of
me' she squeals, operatically) and hideous moments of clarity ( 'I
don't wanna get over you / but I'm so scared that I might have to /
in order for me to get on with me / I can't wait around indefinitely'),
to the nauseatingly repetitive loops of the futile crush ('I want out
of this situation I can't stop thinking about… are you fucking
with me? Or are you fucking with me?', etc ad infinitum). Phew!
yet, even though it's dealing with serious, horrible shit, the album's
also funny - piss-takey and irreverent, sticky with irony and self-mockery
and awareness of cliché, like the
mortifying moment you realise you've been reading your sister's copy
of 'He's Just Not That Into You' and actually underlining things.
But, you know, the creative female
has been accused of being mad so fucking often - a hysterical
harpy: disturbed, hormonal, her own muse before she is an artist -
think Sylvia Plath, think Tracy Emin, think Anne Sexton - that it's
tempting to want to reconfigure this album's outpouring in a post-modern,
death of the author kind of way.
No of course Kevin Blechdom's not
mad, dear - she's just playing with
the notion of the female confessional mode, tranforming her emotion into
art through her quite considerable technical
mastery. Why, it's a mediated and deliberate self-reconstruction:
not mere emotional exhibitionism, but a counter-aesthetic
designed to reclaim female subjectivity - right, Kevin?
Er, nope. 'Oh, I definitely was going crazy
while I was making the record', says Kevin (real name
Kristin Erikson, a matter we shall go into in more detail later), in
a breezy, matter-of-fact manner. 'I was pretty depressed most of the
time. But I wasn't hiding the depression. I was like, I'm gonna use it,
because I'm feeling that way, so fuck it.'
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