Puppy power, bitch-style
YOU THINK BARQ'S GOT BITE?Just wait till you get a load of these hellion hound howlin' and growlin' at the London moon tonight at the Whippet Lounge.
By Carey Weinberg
Pigeon-holing Kinnie Starr to a specific genre is about as useful as two tails on a dog. This Scrappy Bitch is a hybrid, Heinz-57 style and she's about to go on tour with a couple of feisty K-9 companions, Oh Susanna and Veda Hille.
If intelligent, empowered women doin' their thang is your thing then you are in luck. The bitches embark upon their barkfest in lovely 'ole London tonight at the intimate Whippet Lounge.
A STARR IS BORN: Tour headliner, Kinnie Starr, not only hops between music genres, but she also does a bit of language-hopping as well. She's a visual artist who incorporates the spoken word into her performance. She's like the artistic manifestation of the tower of babel, but with some bite. It's hard to believe that at one point this multi-dimensional woman actually didn't feel comfortable on stage.
"When I first started playing solo, people's intensity scared me." Through extensive touring, however, she has gained confidence. "I believe that as we gain more contact with more people we gain confidence, as there's only a certain amount of energy types."
She focuses on these energetic exchanges and translates them into her various art forms. "I study people and the way they relate. By extension, I learn about myself through studying people and cycles."
For someone who seems so in tune with her power, unbelievably she doesn't see herself as strong. "People who know me say I'm strong, but I feel so absorptive, I feel like there's so much to learn, I don't feel I know a fucking sparkle of what there is to know."
In terms of strength, I strongly disagree. Kinnie Starr is a potent performer with enough chutzpah and panache to carve herself a niche in an ever-thinning musical market.
SPACE IN VEDA: Veda Hille's got the power too. With a couple of CDs under her belt, including her most recent release Spine, she is certainly on her way up the proverbial ladder. Her dog days of musical obscurity are certainly numbered considering the strength of her great songwriting, powerful voice and presence of a pitbull.
And just what is it that she's most looking forward to on this tour? "Throwing my underwear at the other girls on stage."
She's also just about to release a CD based on the writings of Emily Carr. "It was nice to write about someone else. I definitely have a kinship with her. In contrast to writing from a personal perspective I had to couch my work in broader metaphorssending the probes into my inner consciousness."
This is definitely a musician who gives careful and extensive thought to the art she creates. On the Spine album cover for instance, there is the depiction of a patch sewn onto a woman's back. Upon opening the cover, one is presented with a rather gruesome depiction of the patch either being sewn in, or taken out, depending on your perspective.
For Veda this symbolically represents much of her art. "Beauty, terror and pain. Downright icky. That is what I tried for and what I strive for in the music." Her music has a cool quality that reverberates inside the listener clearly a result of the care with which she creates her craft. This idea is the core of her inspiration. "The highest state for me is when I'm simultaneously aware of the awfulness and the wonderfulness of being alive."
Veda Hille has a transcendental approach to her writing. "Writing music is a form of worship, or really doing what I'm supposed to do, which makes me feel like there's an order to things.
She creates order from the chaos of everyday experience which sounds like high art, yet she manages to set it into music that is easily accessible. "I like to play my punk rock roots, but I'm more like an egg-head," Veda states in reference to her battle between intellectualism and cool style.
OH SUSANNA: Oh Susanna released her seven-song EP this past February. Her sound is primarily acoustic folk-based, but it has a really eerie, vital quality to it that seeps into your bones. She's had periods where she wasn't actively pursuing her craft, but when music is in your blood...
"I picked up this journal from grade six and I saw myself as a rock star like Blondie or Pat Benetar. My biggest influence was Mick Jagger. I had written 'I love Mick Jagger and I'm gonna conquer the world'." Fairly high aspirations for a young pup.
But the pup is now a full-grown dog with gutsy song writing that will frighten fleas away. "Tried to walk beside me/I beat you to the ground/I strung these reigns around your head/I rode you till you drowned," is just an example of her gritty lyrics.
Strange, however, that Susanna doesn't always have the same tenacity. "I'm kind of guarded. It's protection from vulnerability, but I think that's really beautiful when people are vulnerable." This is the quality of her music; it vacillates between strength and vulnerability and has beauty stemming from that combination.
London is lucky to have these Canadian power-pups popping by here. If you have admiration towards talented strong performers, take a walk over to the Whippet tonight.