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cutsleeve on Fetishization and Encampment Evictions - Tunes Tuesday Interview Transcript

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

Maud: Hi, I'm Maud Mostly, my pronouns are they/them, and welcome back to Tunes Tuesday, a weekly series where I sit down with 2SLGBTQ+ queer musicians and bands to talk to them about their music, their experiences, and much much more. Today I am here with Toronto-based emo rock band cutsleeve. Thank you for joining me folks, would you like to introduce yourselves?

Chanel: Hi, thank you so much for having us Maud, I can get us started. I'm Chanel, my pronouns are she/her, I'm the lead vocalist in the band and I also sometimes play keys, and I'm a Taurus.

Lian: Hi, I'm Lian, my pronouns are she/her, I'm a percussionist and I'm the drummer for cutsleeve. I guess I'll throw on my star sign too, I'm a Leo sun but I'm also a Pisces moon so yeah.

Amanda: Hello, I'm Amanda, I, my pronouns are she/her and they/them. I am the rhythm guitarist and backing vocals for the band and I am a double Pisces.

Hillary: Hello, I'm Hilary she/her pronouns, and I play bass.

Hannah: Hi I'm Hannah my pronouns are she/her and I play lead guitar in the band and I'm a Gemini sun.

M: Amazing, well thank you for all of you being here, I'm so excited to talk to you and since I don't get to talk to very many you know local bands, the first thing I really want to talk about is the fact that being based in Toronto, you decided to join in with many other local bands in the Musicians Against Encampment Evictions movement and this was led by the incredible Encampment Support Network so what did partaking in that movement mean to you?

Hi: So another artist that followed, us follows us on social media reached out and asked if we wanted to participate, and I mean I've been following sort of the conflict and ridiculousness of how the tiny tiny homes builder isn't able to provide or maintain what he's doing to help folks because the city is being ridiculous, so I mean I think it's such a small gesture to put our names on that list but you know, I understand that also because this, it's been it's become more prioritize to address the needs of houseless folks with the winter and how hard that can be so, yeah it's just cruel and I suppose that yeah it's just hard to you know, do organizing especially during Covid so it was just it was a no no problem to participate in that.

M: Absolutely, and for those who want to learn more about the tiny homes that you just wonderfully brought up I will link resources down below there are ways that you can support that builder and all the people that have joined in with that builder would anyone else like from the band like to share what it meant to them?

L: I can speak a little bit on it like for example I have to pass John Tory's apartment like every time that I go to school and I mean I've seen some demonstrations there and I think it's really great, because he can't just go and tell people to stay home during a pandemic when people one need to work because otherwise they can't pay the rent. I think it's just it's going on a year and it's just not sustainable and after especially after like CERB has ended there's really just been no support for people and it's cold here and in Montreal I've seen some really horrifying stories as well about unhoused folks so yeah, like Hillary said it's just I mean it's just a small thing for us to you know put our names on something but it's good to bring awareness like to the following that we do have.

M: Absolutely, so true thank you for sharing that and adding that on. Then the next part I want to talk about is really you as a band so you define yourself as an emo queer East-Asian rock band and your East Asian identity can definitely be found within your debut EP The Parts We Could Not Abandon particularly when it comes to discussing the fetishization many people experience such as within the songs Durian Eyes and Yellow Fever. Why did you choose to highlight this topic on the EP?

C: I can talk about that a bit especially about Yellow Fever I think me and Lian just sort of sat down one day, and we were like this is a “problem that we both experienced and we know a lot of people have also experienced it.” But we thought that there really wasn't any sort of media that addressed it and addressed the negative like feelings that come along with it so we were honestly just like “let's write like an angry song but also make it kind of funny at the same time” and that's how we wrote Yellow Fever is just like we knew that this is something that we wanted to talk about because we're not really given the opportunity to to talk about fetishization that much so we wanted to use use like our music as as a way that we can really talk about it.

M: Yeah, absolutely.

A: I can speak a little bit about Durian Eyes so the way that that song came about was Hillary had written something just on I think it was like on on her notes on her phone and some like thoughts, and we had read through it together and I thought it was very thought-provoking, and I was also going through feelings of like alienation, and like feeling separated from like identity, or the idea of home or what that really even means as you know someone who is you know, I guess I immigrated here right and I like have you know, you have ideas of what a home is and and or like what it means to be even you know East Asian-Canadian in Canada. So anyway so we me and Chanel wrote the lyrics together and and we had kind of hoped to just make a song about like make a song about alienation about home about these feelings of of loss not necessarily from material loss, it could be from that, but you know there's there's a sense of like identity loss and not knowing where your place is in the world too when you're when you're sort of split between here and there you know, we're not really Asian we're not really like Canadian we're like Asian-Canadians so it's like how to find that place and hopefully you know other people who listen to the song really sort of related to that too. Also the the the idea of durians came from we had a friend of ours who created this art exhibit of this gigantic durian, her name's Khanh Tudo, amazing artist and made this durian exhibit where you could like go inside, and it was to represent sort of you know the spiky exterior of the durian but when you go inside it's like warm and and like coming home and comforting and so we sort of were inspired by that as well when we wrote the song, so yeah hope hope everybody can relate to those to those feelings.

M: Amazing, yeah I think that's such an incredible thing about music is you can take all these you know powerful complex feelings, and really share them with others in such an approachable way that people can really relate to, so it's amazing that you're using your platform to do that. And then I kind of want to talk a bit more about your EP because you return to some of the roots of punk culture by creating and pairing a zine with the hard copy release of your EP, so what inspired you to make that zine and what was it like collaborating with other LGBTQ+ Asian artists on the creation of it?

Ha: I can speak a little bit on that, so all of us being queer East-Asian folks in Toronto I know myself and a few others in the band we enjoy attending zine fairs arts fairs that happen in the city especially that highlight queer artists and POC artists, and so because of our love for our community here we wanted to involve some of our friends and peers members of our community in this project and we wanted to add like a unique visual and tactile element to our EP as well by including the zine, and yeah just to showcase some of the amazing artists that are part of the queer community in Toronto, and abroad actually there's some artists that are part of it that are outside of the city so yeah.

M: Amazing! And did you feel like you could communicate things through the scene that you weren't able to communicate through the album?

Ha: Yeah, I was really, I think we were all very amazed to see what each artist's idea or what they were able to put down on paper when we were given we just gave them lyrics for whichever song they were making their page for, and so when we received back their artworks of art I think we were all very like, happy and excited to see what different people's visualizations of our lyrics bring about for them. So yeah

M: Amazing yeah, that's so great to hear. I think it's amazing to watch these things really come to life in different variations. I think it creates a lot of you know beauty and community as you did mention. Well thank you so much for joining me today folks if you want to support and listen to cutsleeve please check out all the links below this video thank you for joining me it was a pleasure having you and make sure to stay tuned for next week's Tunes Tuesday if you would like to continue to support the amazing queer musicians that are out there and cutsleeve will be playing us out

*Yellow Fever by cutsleeve begins playing*

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