Help Us Help Sayf!

 

 

refugees1

Hello all!

We are excited to announce that from now until December 27th, 50% of the proceeds of Kill Matilda Bandcamp sales of ‘Songs of Survival’ will go to supporting the sponsorship of a Syrian Refugee by our friends Jenny and Trevor, via Rainbow Refugees. Jenny & Trevor have a goal of raising $20,000 by Dec 31st ($12,000 for the sponsorship and the rest to help with settlement and living costs).

Visit our Bandcamp page to purchase the album here 

The person they are sponsoring is Sayf. Sayf is a queer Syrian man currently living in Istanbul. He fled Syria after the Assad government tried to recruit him for the army but cannot join his family in Saudi Arabia because he is gay. Sayf has a degree in marketing, is currently learning English and is anxiously awaiting his sponsorship so that he can live in safety and freedom in Canada.

To support Sayf’s sponsorship, we decided to donate a portion of the proceeds of our online sales. Unfortunately iTunes takes 3 months to pay artists out, which is why we decided to set this fundraiser up through Kill Matilda Bandcamp for the fastest possible turnaround in order to meet the Dec 31st goal.

We know that many Kill Matilda fans have big hearts and care passionately about this cause, so we have made our new album, ‘Songs of Survival’ available by donation. Pay as much or as little as you like!

refugees2

We are inspired to help someone else while we attempt to help ourselves after some van issues forced the cancellation of a part of our US tour.  We are also asking fans of Kill Matilda to help us with this fundraiser; the 50% of your funds that we keep will be going to helping us get our band back on the road in January to get to all the dates we have booked in 2016.

I (Dusty) am passionate about the plight of refugees, especially those displaced due to the civil war in Syria. As a fundraiser for international aid organizations for many years, I worked to educate the public about this growing crisis from the time it started. I have felt powerless as I watched the conflict begin, and continue, and the fact that it has continued to this day and to this magnitude has been heartbreaking.

Although a lot of people are aware of the refugee situation, they are not aware of the circumstances that led to it, or the truth of what it means to be a refugee. We are concerned with border security and with what it means to host refugees, but those who know the story of how these refugees came to be know how dire the situation is. A few statistics:

  • There are currently more than 50 million refugees worldwide
  • The average length a person lives in a refugee camp currently is 17 years – that means that many children have never known life outside a refugee camp!
  • More than 51% of refugees are under 18
  • Right now Lebanon is hosting 1 million Syrian refugees, but normally only has a population of 5 million. Syrian refugees currently make up 1/5th of the population!

refugees3

 

But why should we care about what’s happening in Syria, and why is it happening? It started with a little boy named Hamza Ali Al-Khatib. In 2011, Hamza and some of his friends spray-painted words of protest on a wall and were arrested by the local police in Daraa, Syria. This was during the height of the Arab spring but the fascist Assad government of Syria has always maintained a serious crackdown on any political dissidents, even children.

Hamza was 13 years old. He was beaten, tortured and had his penis cut off. His body was then dumped on the front step of his parents house. People in Syria began openly protesting and thus the spark was lit for a civil war (of course, there are more issues that led up to this, including decades of oppression).

Hamza Al-Khatib

Hamza Al-Khatib

For years, the conflict in Syria has led normal, every day people to flee for their safety and their children’s safety. But governments around the world have closed their doors. Only a tiny trickle of the millions of refugees were absorbed by Western countries. Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, the three countries bordering Syria, were left to bear the brunt of the more than 6 million refugees looking for safety. Lebanon is a country of 5 million people, currently hosting 1 million Syrians! These countries cannot handle the strain of so many refugees. As a result, the conditions in the camps are dire. There isn’t enough of anything – clean drinking water, medicine, food, education.

The biggest struggle is for those with medical conditions. Simple to manage conditions like diabetes become a struggle for life and death in these conditions. Children and people injured in the fighting are not always able to get the care and rehabilitation they need.

When young people are displaced by violence, and they have no outlet for their trauma, and there is nowhere for them to go and nothing for them to do, are we really surprised when an organization like ISIS comes around offering them a release and they take it? By allowing these people to stew in a refugee camp with no future and no resources, we practically guarantee ISIS and other terrorist organizations more cannon fodder. Poverty is a huge motivator to join militia groups, and these groups prey on those who are in need. When you live in desperate circumstances and you don’t have enough to eat, and you’ve lost everything – the chance to get back at someone, to take the power back and the promise of a full belly can be enough. ISIS even offers to pay for the medical needs of some of these people’s families. By giving refugees a home and a future, we are fighting terrorism better than we can with drones and fighter jets.

Worldwide, the growing refugee crisis is a huge problem. We have the chance to do something about it now. Although the Canadian government has pledged to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada in the next few months, many of these are just going to be the government matching funds raised for private sponsorship, such as in the case of Sayf.

We are doing this for Hamza. We are doing it for Aylan Kurdi. We are doing it for all the people hoping for a better life. We’re doing it for ourselves, too. And we’re doing it for Sayf. Pay what you want till Dec 27th and help out!

Read the statement from our friends Jenny & Trevor, who are organizing the fundraiser, here.

Purchase the album from Bandcamp (not iTunes!) here.

 

I Only Got Here Because Of My Tits

I’ve been meaning to write a blog about women, sexuality and the music industry for awhile. I got a little sidetracked but there’s nothing like a bit of vitriol in the belly to get one motivated to do one’s blog housekeeping.

Let me tell you something about me; I’m a sexual person, like pretty much every other person on the planet. Not in a weird way like I’m stealing your dirty laundry, but in a way where I think sex, flirting, and sexuality is fun on many levels. Here’s the other thing: I’m a musician, and a music industry professional, a person who has worked with bands for a few years now coordinate tour after tour. And I’m a woman. And that puts me in a very precarious position. You see, there are sometimes that I’d like to express myself on social media in a flirty or sexy way. But I don’t, and I can’t. My musical integrity hinges completely on how I represent myself as a woman, and the amount that I am taken seriously as a professional and musician is in direct proportion to what percentage of my body is either covered/uncovered by clothing. It doesn’t matter how much I rehearse; it doesn’t matter how many songs I’ve written; it doesn’t matter how many shows I play – people out there will always discount and discredit me not because they don’t like my style of music or think my musicianship is poor, but specifically, these people will count me out because in their mind clearly, I have used my sexuality to get ahead. My modesty can and will trump my years of professional experience as a booking agent in the music industry, my investment and my skill as a musician earned through countless hours of practice.

This leads me back to some facebook/twitter drama last week.

dustysnewtatt

Mykel and I had a little fun with an internet random who first admonished me after seeing this photo I posted on my personal Instagram which feeds to my personal facebook timeline.

 

Due to my choice to spend money on my first tattoo in 2 years rather than musical instruments this random person who knows nothing about me went out of their way to judge my music and value. I have more than enough instruments, thank you very MUCH… I happen to have some very pricey and rare ones!

I reinvest every penny I earn back into my music career and haven’t had much in the way of disposable income lately. Soooo… I can’t treat myself once? Am I not allowed to post pictures on my personal facebook timeline to share my life events with my friends (of who this fellow  is supposedly one)? He pulled the old “you don’t know who you’re talking to, little girl” (little girl?! I’m almost 30! the diminutization of women is one of the most common forms of sexist oppression that exists… when people call us “baby”, or “honey,” or “little girl”, it’s a way to let us know that we are not the equal of the person who wields that terms and clearly establishes them as the dominant/wiser/elder/more respected party in the conversation). Finally we got all the way to me being told that my band sucks and people only like me because I show my tits off.

ULTRAFINAL

aaaand.. this is why I DON’T show my tits off! Man… would I love to show my tits off. They are great tits. I am not ashamed of my body. I’m not exactly skinny, sure, I have some imperfections, but I love my body. It’s strong and healthy. I carry all my own gear, I lift weights, I ride a bike. And dammit, I’m sexy! But I know that once I cross that line, there’s no coming back. I’m not even anywhere close to the line and still the accusations of my sexuality being the only thing going for me come rolling in – this is not an isolated incident, but it is the perfect exemplification of my conundrum. In other words, this is what I’m fuckin’ talking about. My integrity as a musician, and the integrity of all female musicians, can be called into question at any time, trumped by sexuality. Insult us, tell us we suck, tell us our music is no good – but don’t dismiss our bodies of work, our mastery of our instruments, our power of composition, our artistry, simply because we are women who have tits. It is the epitome of insults, an implication that I don’t work as hard as anyone else and that I “get by” on my looks. Let me tell you something – looks only get you so far, and living on your looks is probably anything but easy (I imagine it takes a lot of work to look good enough that it can pay your way anywhere). But I digress.

If you’re a male-gendered or male-identified person who takes women in the music industry seriously completely apart from their sexuality, this article is not about you. And good on you. I just want to put that out there because by no means am I painting y’all with the same brush. Don’t feel defensive, but realize that what I say is true, and my experience is real. Sadly there are still a large percentage of menfolk out there who will simply not take female musicians seriously no matter what we do. No matter how good or how largely accepted we are, it will always boil down to – do we flaunt our sexuality?

This is where my dilemma comes in. I must tell you that I have, to this point, furtively guarded my sexuality like the good china you only bring out when company comes over, because I am aware of the system that I exist in. But I’m angry. Why SHOULD these two things be connected? We can accept that a person can be a talented artist as well as a father, or mother, or politician, or activist, or welder… whatever. You get it. People’s identities occupy multiple spaces at once. Your experiences as a father, mother, or sex trade worker might influence your material, but WHERE IS IT WRITTEN that a person can’t be an excellent performer, singer, guitarist – and a sexual being?

Women’s sexuality in music is problematic because for a long time, we know that it was used as a marketing tool above and beyond the calibre or quality of the product. Yes, it is true. Sex sells. Big breasted beautiful women sell. In the past, I would argue that these women’s sexualities were packaged and sold in spite of their talents and autonomy, often against their will, because there was no other choice for them and because someone with more power said they had to – check out Charlotte Church’s experiences here. But we are living in 2014 and this is an age where I think we are all a little smarter and we can engage with these kinds of issues in a more critical way. Whether a woman’s sexuality is in the hands of the record label or the marketing firm, and it’s being used without her participation to sell records, or whether a woman disowns her sexual self because society at large will discredit her artistry if she embraces it, is the same side of the coin. The power over her sexuality, the control and the decision making lies in the hands of others, not in her hands. Let’s take for example Nicki Minaj and the whole “anaconda” scandal – this amazing article breaks down why you should think twice about judging Nicki’s sexual displays. What about Yo-Landi Vi$$er, the hypersexual rap machine from South Africa, once voted one of the “Top 10 Ugliest Celebrities“. She’s certainly not playing the tired old trope of big breasted blonde Pamela-Anderson type – yet she owns her sexuality, wears it proudly and is one hell of a rapper, regardless of being sexual or nonsexual.

It’s problematic when we forget that a person can be sexual and can be good at something. Wait, did I say person? Let me rephrase that – that a WOMAN can be sexual and be good at something. You know who was really openly sexual and slept around and even got naked and waved their genitalia around in public? Charles Bukowski. Pretty sure no one accused him of getting by on his sexuality. What if Miley Cyrus waved her genitalia around in public – might she lose some respect as an artist? (oh wait). How about Jim Morrison, Pablo Picasso? Did anyone ever accuse Jack Nicholson, who openly alleged that he slept with more than 2,000 women, of NOT being a good actor and of having slept his way to the top? Gene Simmons, Charlie Sheen.. I could do this all day. You get my point. Women don’t get to brag about how many people they’ve banged because other people will already be talking about how many people they’ve banged in a negative connotation. Maybe women want to reclaim their right to exist as sexual beings AS WELL AS being respected as experts in other professional fields. I know I do. I’m envious of those awesome suicide girls fillin’ up my instagram but far be it from me to be able to engage in any kind of empowered, consensual, provocative photography – I won’t even wear a skirt without tights underneath at our shows. Frankly I’m a bit of a pariah when it comes to this stuff and this is exactly why.

In conclusion; I would like to think that as a society we are enlightened and sex-positive enough to move foward realizing that identity is not black and white, nor is it a one-sided thing. We are musicians, businesspeople, punk rockers, mothers, fathers, kinksters, femme fatales, nerds, composers, athletes, activists, academics and deviants ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Expand your mind, please and thanks. If and when you see me showing off a bit of skin just appreciate it but don’t devalue my art because of it.

 

April Shower Bring May Flowers

Hi all;

Just a quick update this time. I’m going to work on my consistency in the blogosphere and try to work on weekly blog updates for alll you KM hardcores out there. We are here in Toronto getting settled and setting up the rest of our year: we will be playing many shows in Quebec and Ontario and are planning a tour to the states for later this year. Who knows what else might happen?

We dropped in at CMW to see some of our friends in The Deadset and Gypsy Chief Goliath. It was so awesome to see so many music lovers out supporting rad bands. We look forward to our showcase at North By Northeast next month – keep an eye out for us!

Here are a list of our upcoming shows-

May 23 – the Cage, Toronto ON FB EVENT HERE

May 24 – Fitzy’s By the Bay, Barrie ON

May 30 – The Rockpile West (Etobicoke/Toronto) ON FB EVENT HERE

June 13 – CIDERFEST, St-Hyacinthe QC FB EVENT HERE

June 19 – Manik Mondays, Montreal QC

We will be coming to a town near you over the summer! If you think there are any festivals, shows, venues or events we should be playing, let us know! We want all the suggestions you have.

In other news, my guitar amp was stolen last month. It was upsetting and kind of a clusterfuck but it seems that there’s nothing we can do to get it, or any of my pedals, back. That’s about $600 or so worth of gear. Luckily, I found the amp of my dreams just sitting in Long & McQuade waiting for me! I am the proud new owner of a Mesaboogie Dual-Rectifier head. Now’s the hard part; paying for it. Keep an eye out over the next few weeks as I’ll be selling some hand-made art and putting deals on our merch to help cover the costs.

Image