Maud Mostly: Hello and welcome to The Other Teams Tunes Tuesday, a weekly series that discusses music and matters with queer artists you love. I'm your host Maud Mostly, my pronouns are they/them, and joining me this week is Hamilton-based indie rock band Basement Revolver! Thank you so much for being with me today, would you like to introduce yourself?
Chrisy: Yeah, for sure. Thanks so much for having me, first of all. I am Chrisy Hurn. My pronouns are she and they...Yeah, I am the front person, are one of the front people in Basement Revolver. I play guitar, sing in the band. Yeah, I also run a queer clothing line called Real Fruit Juice and... Yeah, that's about, that's me.
M: Fantastic. Well, it's really great having you here today, particularly because your sophomore album Embody was released fairly recently, just this past February, and tracks on the album cover, struggles with body image, mental health, and faith, amongst other things, but also interspersed among those heavier topics are songs that speak to a deep sense of love and care. Did you seek out that balance or did it come naturally and how do you feel it impacted the album?
C: I think that it comes naturally, I think, just 'cause a lot of the music that we write is super autobiographical, nothing is fiction really. And I'm very lucky to have an amazing partner, my husband Wade. He's the best, and so supportive through everything, so I think that's where a lot of the positive side of things on the record come through, but also I think even with mental health things with depression and anxiety, it doesn't mean when you're struggling with depression or anxiety, it doesn't mean that that's your entire world and everything about you, there's so much more to a person than just that, so I would hope that that gets reflected in our music. Yeah.
M: Yeah, thank you so much for speaking to that, and do you feel like there's different ways that you write when it comes to writing about those heavier topics, writing about things you've struggled with versus writing about things that bring you joy and make you feel cared for?
C: I think definitely, when I'm writing about those more vulnerable... Actually, I think both of them are vulnerable, but they're vulnerable for different reasons. Writing love songs or songs about more positive things feels so cheesy, and it's hard to turn off that inner critic when you're like... 'cause it is cheesy. Love is cheesy and stupid, so obviously songs about that are gonna sound cheesy and stupid, and then on the flip side, when I'm writing about things that I'm struggling with, the fear that comes up is about explaining it to my family and that came up a lot with this record was just like, not that I've hidden who I am from them. Well, I kind of did for a long time, I only recently came out and talked with them about my depression and anxiety and eating things, but all that being said, there's songs on the record that might be hurtful to them, and I don't want that, but it's also like my truth and my experience, so I think more than anything, I'm very comfortable being an open book, but when I'm afraid that it's hurtful to people, that makes me very stressed.
M: Yeah, thank you for sharing that. I feel like that's something a lot of...You know, I think a lot of musicians think about, but not necessarily a lot of non-musicians think about where they don't have to think about how people that they have interpersonal relationships with are going to view them now that they've heard certain songs and you have kind of the surface level feelings about that, I know people who don't swear in their songs because they still have like that ‘I don't want my mom to hear me swearing,’ but you definitely also have these other instances that you've brought up where it's... When you're being really vulnerable, who else can feel like they are being a part of that story that is your story to share, but they also feel like they're there and maybe have different feelings about it.
C: Totally, yeah. That just made me think of past songs that I've written that were pretty non-religious, but I had a religious element to them and that I was always afraid at shows that that would alienate people because I don't want anyone to feel unsafe ever, so it's just another facet of that, I guess, but...
M: Yeah, definitely, and as somebody who feels like those are really things that you hold on to and things that you clearly do think about a lot, is there any music that you've been holding on to or that you haven't released or haven't even considered moving towards releasing because of nervousness regarding how other people might see themselves in it or think about you through it?
C: There's definitely been hesitation in the past, but again, it's also like, this is my experience, this is my life, and I think for me personally, making music is super therapeutic, and if I'm not able to be honest in that writing and in that process than I don't feel like it's use... I don't know if useful is the right word for me, but I don't feel like it's productive, I guess, which also was a word I don't like... I don't know if there's a right way to say it without sounding super snobby, but... Yeah, I'm... First and foremost, I think I make music from my own wellness, so...
M: Yeah, definitely, and that is something so many musicians share and is a really valuable experience. So then speaking to prior to Embody, because Embody as well as your debut album Heavy Eyes, received funding from different granting bodies to be made, so how do you feel like access to that funding has impacted the work you're able to produce as a band? Because obviously that's not something everyone has access to, whether it's because of the grant system or living in different areas of the world that have other systems or don't have systems like that in place at all.
C: Totally. We're super privileged. Before we were assigned to Sonic Unyon, we applied for so many grants and didn't get anything, then immediately as Sonic Unyon came along, we got funding. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it is just a really hard world to navigate, and if you aren't a grant writer good luck, which sucks, and it shouldn't be like that. The system definitely favors people who already have a bit of... Not street cred, but a bit of a push or a hand up. And I know for when we've been on tour and in other countries, people are always super envious that were Canadian because of that funding and because it makes making music a lot more realistic and easy and accessible, but then I'm also like, it's not accessible to everyone. And I wish that it was because yeah, we wouldn't have recorded probably any of it without having that funding behind us, I have always been... When you're an artist, I work minimum wage jobs for most of my career as a musician, I'm lucky now that I get to be my own boss, but that wasn't always the case, and when you're just scraping by on minimum wage to pay rent, there is nothing left over.
And I have to acknowledge that there's a lot of socioeconomic privilege that I experience as a white person, and with the help of that industry behind me... Yeah, I'm super thankful that it's like a thing that I've been able to do. I think without the help of grants, we probably wouldn't be making music, which also just makes me sad because I'm like, Who are all those people who aren't making music because it's not feasible. Recording is expensive, touring is expensive, we still aren't really making money as a band, even though we've been doing it for a long time, so... Yeah, we basically have funding to the point that we're not paying out of pocket ourselves, and that in of itself is unbelievably great. Yeah, and with a lot of the grants, you have to prove that you're putting your own money into it too, and if you don't have that, then...What do you do?
M: Yeah, thank you so much for you speaking to the privilege of the situation, but all the ways that the situation is still so inaccessible, and you know how it still has a lot of faults that excludes so many people based on so many different situations and... Absolutely, yeah, if you can't take the time to write a grant, which can take hours, or if you don't have the money to hire a grant writer, or if you don't have grants ask for so many different tangible things that you have to prove and so much of that can't be proven by people who haven't had the support yet.
C: Even built the network of people yet, or...Which also just... Yeah, it's a system like any other system in our government, so it's definitely flawed. Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you.
M: So thank you for adding that. It's true, and we can talk about those flaws any time and for so long. But yeah, lastly, I just, I do want to speak a bit to your social media presence as it is a big area for bands these days, a lot of the attention that they can get is naturally kind of built on how we can exist online, unfortunately, and to a lot of artists dismay because a lot of us wish we could maybe spend less time on social media and creating posts and maybe a little more time making art and doing the things we want to do, but through those social media pages, you often take time to discuss your experiences with eating disorders in personal and often very vulnerable ways, so what does it mean to you to make space for that vulnerability and to share those experiences alongside the band's work?
C: Yeah, it's a complex thing. I find for me, that opening up about my eating disorder or disordered eating, however we wanna say it, and opening up about my mental health struggles, I think having those things out in the light kind of takes the way their power. Eating disorders specifically thrive in isolation, and thrive in secrecy, and once I talked about it openly, I felt so much freedom from it, and it gets a little bit...It gets a little bit fuck-y when we think about not fetishizing, but commoditized, I don't know how to say that, but turning vulnerability into a commodity, I think that happens a lot on social media and in media in general, and I think it's kind of yucky, so it's kind of hard to navigate what the line is there. But I've also gotten a lot of positive feedback from people who are going through similar experiences and who are benefiting from someone else talking openly about it. Yeah, I know for myself, it really helps me to say what I'm going through or say what I've been processing, and I like having the community of the internet to journey with me through that.
It has been a positive thing for me, even though I can recognize that it can be a very negative experience for a lot of people. And the fact that the algorithms on Facebook and Instagram thrive off of inflammatory things and push advertisements that are... I can’t even tell you the amount of ads I've had to turn off and say, ‘don't show me this,’ that are weight loss ads or diet tea ads or workout regime, things that I used to spend hours obsessing over and it's come out in the news that Facebook does that on purpose to keep you on there, or meta now, to keep you on their metaverse, and that is very predatory and fucked up, so...Yeah, I think there's a lot of room for nuance, as with a lot of things in life. I think that there's a lot of space for beauty and community to thrive as well, so...Yeah, I feel like everything is the paradox really...Yeah.
M: Yeah, thank you for sharing how that process has been healing for you in some ways, and healing for you on certain days, and also extends that care and kind of a form of representation to, you know, other people who feel like they can't speak to that or can't share their experiences publicly, but feel like they can be in solidarity with you through you speaking about it, so it's also really nice that you know you've had a really positive community response to it as well, 'cause I know certain times people that shouldn't find posts or... y’know trolls and such can end up there, so I'm really glad that the people who either need to see it or do come across it, have that positive and caring understanding and response to it.
C: Totally, and I think the nice thing, I mostly use Instagram, and I think the nice thing about Instagram is that you can kind of democratize the media that you're consuming. Like you can curate who you’re following and curate the voices that you're choosing to listen to, so I think it's important to curate voices that are more important than my voice. There's a lot of amazing, amazing content creators that are people of color or trans or just have different life experiences than me that I think their voices need to be heard, and so I choose to follow those people and not follow things that are not nourishing or good for me, so that's the thing that if you choose to be on social media, I think that we have the power to choose what content we are consuming as well.
M: Yeah, and that's such a great reminder. I know so many of us have gone through phases of being like, ‘Oh, you know, why does this app exhaust me so much,’ and it's always just like, Why are you following people that you don't like, or whose content makes you angry or who…There's so many things like that where we can identify the problem, but sometimes it takes a while to fix it.
C: Or even with trolls, there's people who, especially surrounding pandemic restrictions would get mad at us for saying, ‘wear a mask’ or something very normal, considerate thing to do, I think…And I was getting so frustrated and worked up about these people with wildly different worldviews and opinions than me and who were going out of their way to create drama, and I was like, ‘Oh yeah, I can just choose to not engage in this and I can delete their comment,’ 'cause I don't think it's important for anyone else to see, and I don't think it's important for me to see. You don't need to give in to shitty people, just 'cause they're on the internet. You don't need to argue with them either, you can just choose to not engage 'cause it's not worth your time
M: Is so true, and I feel like that reminder of setting healthy boundaries on social media is a beautiful place to end this interview on, 'cause I know so many of us that need that reminder, need that affirmation in our lives. So thank you so much for joining me on this week's Tunes Tuesday. If you'd like to check out any of the music that we've talked about, any of the videos, if you'd like to stay tuned with Basement Revolver on social media like we've been discussing as well, check out any of the links below the video! I will also be linking some eating disorder/disordered eating resources down there. I know these things have a long waitlist and there's not always someone available to speak, but there are still some resources out there that are accessible, so I will make sure to put those down in the comment section below if this conversation brought up anything for you, or if you were just looking for resources related to that. So thank you again for being here with me and Basement Revolver will be playing us out!
*Circles by Basement Revolver begins playing*