Showing posts with label Positive No. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Positive No. Show all posts

April 14, 2014

4. You Are Not Alone : Tales of a Female Music Enthusiast

Part 1.

If I am going to write honestly and openly about my lifelong passion for underground music, I have a series of life changing traumas I should share. I have rarely spoken of these events to my closest of friends and I have never written them down for anyone to read. The truth of my early life is even largely unknown to my extended family, so I am certain this very personal post will be a shocking one for many.

My desire to withdraw from the mainstream and make music my permanent alternate universe happened when my body was violated and abused by men I trusted.

I was molested by my father multiple times before the age of 11. It is impossible to express what this level of betrayal feels like when it came from a person who was supposed to define trust and offer me boundless protection. A child’s safe place should be their home and in their parent’s care but I lived in dread of mine. By the time I had the courage to finally tell my mother about it, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I couldn't bring myself to add to her grief so I opted to keep this terrible secret to myself. Being a victim of molestation by my father has remained my painful secret for over 30 years.

The world around me collapsed as a preteen and in turn music became my primary escape. Mainstream Pop music however suddenly sounded insincere and felt meaningless. The top 40 radio I was raised on represented a poisoned youth for me so I was quickly driven to find something new and different. I was dedicated to finding music that sounded as raw and emotional as I felt: tortured, angry, sad, wounded, weird, and dramatic. I was and wanted to hear all of these things. When you are trapped in a threatening environment, music can have miraculous powers to transform you elsewhere. I quickly became obsessed with finding music that fulfilled this need and I found that solace with Modern Rock.

By the end of grade school (8th grade) I wanted to spend as little time at home in the same space with my father so I worked a part time job from the moment I legally could. It was there I was sexually assaulted multiple times by a male co-worker who was just a few years older than me. As many victims of abuse will tell you there is a fear that somehow you must have deserved it and although this was the farthest thing from the truth, it prevented me from telling others about it. And just like that, another place I once considered safe, was suddenly a threat to my body. The fear of judgment by others and my attacker's revenge outweighed my courage to seek help.  

The following year I briefly had a boyfriend who was a senior at my high school. After just a few weeks of going out, he date raped me on Valentine’s Day. Then after dropping me off at home that same evening, he never spoke to me again. School, the one place a kid with no place has to call their own became just another place where a man had taken advantage of me in the most unforgivable way possible. The burden of carrying yet another terrible secret ate away at my insides. By the end of my freshmen year in high school I was suffering from ulcer like symptoms. I also suffered from severe panic and anxiety for the next two decades and it continues to be a lingering issue for me today. As a young teen I lived with depression, shame, and bitter frustration because every environment I was stuck in left me feeling utterly powerless and abused.

At this dismal point in my life, truly the only thing I had as a 15 year girl old in crisis mode was my faith music. These newly discovered non-mainstream musicians sounded and looked far outside the safety zone of the average Pop star but it was the most average people in the world that had taken advantage of me. "Normal" was officially dead to me.  I could have let my anger and hate win or I could have gone into survival mode and found peace. I chose the latter. Music helped me transcend my body and most importantly it made me feel less alone during a time when I didn't know of other people like me. Before the internet as a kid who was dependent on parents or school buses to take them places, my options for real freedom in suburban N.J. were limited. I built a comfort bubble by avidly collecting music that separated me from everyone else I knew. It makes sense. When you feel different, like an outcast, you naturally seek out things that personify this. The few things I did have control over like clothes, books, film,art, and music is exactly how I chose to redefine myself.

Today I live in the present. I cannot change what has already taken place. All I can do is work on healing myself and continue to grow. These experiences have made me more sensitive, compassionate, expanded my emotional pallet, and most importantly, helped me find forgiveness where I never thought I could. I know exactly how strong I am. I can endure the worst of times and survive. It is painfully unfortunate that these traumatic events have happened to me but it is reassuring to know I made it through. I have worked very hard to come this far and I am proud that these poisonous  people didn't ruin all of humanity for me. I can honestly say I feel lucky to be the person I am today and have so many tremendous people in my life who have helped me reach this point. I am filled with love, joy, and hope. I want anyone who has been through something this awful to know it is possible to recover. There is no exact healing timeline or steps since each person and experience is unique but it is possible. The first step is knowing you are not to blame. The second step is offering yourself unconditional love and patience as you begin your path towards healing. If the numbers are correct, about one third of the American female population has been sexually abused, so as lonely as the feeling can be, you are far from alone.

People who have not been a victim of molestation or sexual assault often have a hard time understanding how a person could not seek immediate help after something like it takes place. The reality is that young people, especially children, can’t be expected to know how to handle something this traumatic. Mentally and emotionally it is an especially complex thing to digest when you are attacked by someone you know. These brutal experiences can cloud the mind. Terror and shame creep in and suddenly common sense and logic have been replaced. It can be difficult to know how to talk to strangers openly about something like this and it can be even harder to try and tell friends about it when there is a good chance they know the person who you are naming as your attacker. This is why so many girls and woman remain silent.

If there is one thing I would like to ask of others if they hear stories like this from loved ones, it is not to judge the person who has survived this devastating experience. It is never appropriate to tell someone they should have done something differently before or after they were abused. Listen and be supportive. Don’t confuse the victim for the catalyst of the crime.

Part 2.

I have gone through many channels of therapy as an adult but the best tool for healing turned out to be singing in a band. I joined Dahlia Seed in my early twenties and it was then I was finally able to explore my emotions and no longer suppress them. For the first time in my life I was able to share my insides publicly. There was nothing more empowering than this. I could scream and vent in ways I never dared to before.

During my early 20’s I also tore my skin by scratching it severely; often performing shows with my arms pouring blood. I was cutting  (I only learned later in life that this compulsion had a name) , a subconscious effort to expel my demons and take control of my body when other’s had robbed me of that privilege . On a more dramatic level, seeing my skin bleed reminded me that I was human when internally I felt anything but for so many years. What few people understand is that this ugly period of self exploration helped me regain my self esteem and strength. To be even more specific, I finally owned myself again. From the outside we were just a band with an intense singer but it was a thousand times more important to me than that. If you listen to these old Dahlia Seed records, you can hear it not just in my words, but in every note I sang.  (The final DS release entitled Please Excuse All the Blood maybe makes more sense now) I thankfully grew out of my bloodletting practices but singing remains a very important, positive emotional outlet for me. This remains true as a member Positive No today.

One of my least favorite questions about my singing style to this day is “Why do you sound so angry?” The truth is I have spent my entire adult life recovering from a stolen childhood and taking my body back. My voice tells that story; a resilient woman with a wounded child at her core. I am not angry. This is me breaking the silence.

For more information and for those seeking help:

To Start at the beginning of my Tales of a Female Music Enthusiast, go here

January 10, 2014

Positive No Mini Tour (RVA/Philly/NYC/DC)

I can't decide what all I am most excited about.

I am touring with a band for the first time since 1996. Playing in a band again that I love and can't wait to tour with. Playing with so many spectacular bands in the span of 4 days or that all of the shows take place on before 10 PM. You are welcome working world that has to get up early the next day! Seeing old friends. Making new friends. See you in February!

The link to our tour invite page is here.

Thursday - 2/13 - Strange Matter - Richmond, VA w/ Hunters & Bleeding Rainbow EARLY SHOW 6PM !

Friday - 2/14 - Safety Meeting - Philadelphia, PA w/No Other, Amanda X, & True Gold EARLY SHOW 8PM !

Saturday - 2/15 - Grand Victory - Brooklyn, NY w/Ancient Sky EARLY SHOW 8PM !

Sunday 2/16 - Galaxy Hut - Arlington, VA w/Mittenfields 

Here is a look at us live only hopefully for these shows I won't have a sprained toe, ankle, and knee as I did for this one. 

December 21, 2013

2013 in Review

There are three things that I am most proud of in 2013.

I returned to playing music in a serious band again (Positive No), my record label turned 5 (Little Black Cloud Records) and then with a small team of Richmond locals, we created a soon to be annual music / food / art festival called the Fall Line Fest.

All of these things have really connected me to this city, the people who live here, and our local culture in ways that I find endlessly inspiring. I LOVE making music but I have always been equally passionate about sharing music I love with others too so I am very happy to be heavily invested in both sides of these passions.

I can only hope 2014 brings more of the same. New songs to write, record, and share (Positive No single / full length !!!). Find new music to fall in love with. Help continue to make the city I call home one that continues to be a beacon for great art. I am proud to call Richmond home. I can't wait to see what this city offers next year and more importantly, what I can do to help.

My memory isn't what it used to be so I am sure I am forgetting some of the musical highlights of this past year however below is what I can recall loving on a stage and or recorded.

Listen to my Spotify playlist of these artists here.

Best of 2013

Jacco Gardner - Cabinet of Curiosities
Youth Lagoon  - Wondrous Bughouse
Two Inch Astronaut  - Bad Brother
No Joy  - Wait to Pleasure
These New Puritans  - Field of Reeds
Bottomless Pit - Shade Perennial
Pinkunoizu - The Drop
Joanna Gruesome - Weird Sister
Pity Sex - Feast of Love
Lorelle Meets the Obsolete - Corruptible Faces
The New Lines - Fall in Line
Oblivians - Desperation
Bass Drum of Death - S/T
Shannon and the Clams - Dreams in the Rat House
The Liminanas - Costa Blanca
Connections - Private Airplane
The Mantles - Long Enough to Leave
King Khan & The Shrines - Idle No More
TV Colours - Purple SKies
Wau y Los Arrrghs!!! : Todo Roto

I Love Them So Much That I Put Out Their Album

Universe People  - Go to the Sun
Stephen Brodsky - Hit or Mystery

Runners Up  

Broadcast - Berberian Sound Studio
Braids - Flourish // Perish
Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana
Dreamdecay - NVNVNV
Deafheaven - Sunbather
Grouper - The Man Who Died
La Femme - Psycho Tropical Berlin
Chelsea Wolfe - Pain is Beauty
Jenny Hval - Innocence is Kinky
Wire - Change Becomes Us
Savages  - Silence Yourself
Holograms - Forever
Mogwai - Les Revenants (Soundtrack)


39 Clocks - Pain it Dark
The Dentists - Some People 
Clothilde - French Swinging Mademoiselle
The Clean - Vehical
Toy Love - Toy Love
The Verlaines - Juvenila
Marcos Valle - Garra
VA / C'est Chic! French Girl Singers of the '60s
Snapper - S/T 

Local Loves

Canary Oh Canary
Snowy Owls
White Laces
Clair Morgan
Hoax Hunters
Dead Fame
Dumb Waiter
Nelly Kate
Warren Hixson

Favorite Positive No Moments

Playing on stage inside a giant blanket fort we built for our Via Florum record release party.
The Well (RIP) creating a menu inspired by our band
Recording with J Robbins
Playing the Fall Line Festival along so many bands we love.
Released our debut EP 
Recording and releasing a Christmas song with friends in under 12 hours.
Meeting Bob Nastanovich (again - since we crossed paths in Hoboken in the early '90s)
Local venues for giving us a chance to play there.
Making new friends, one of whom will be our bass player in 2014.
Unbutton / Davenport Cabinet show that have three of my oldest friends in the band.


My favorite live shows of 2013 were Fall Line Fest related. Our band kicked off the bill and was followed by: CruiserSuburban Living, Helado NegroSpeedy Ortiz, and Pity Sex. As it turns out, not only was all of the music that night incredible but all of the band members were great to work with too. When this show was over we ran over to see Stephen Brodsky (I released his solo album this year) and Hop Along. I saw a lot of tremendous music that weekend but the best part was that I didn't have to leave my backyard to do it.

It was also incredible to see The Breeders and El Vez. It felt like a private performance for 350 friends which for the festival promoter who put on this local event, I am certain is NOT what they were going for.

Last but not least, I still can't believe I got to see The Swirlies play this year. They sounded better than ever and also balanced out the worst performance I saw of 2013 / that night, Kurt Vile.


Happy to still have a full time job with insurance (says the woman presently on crutches)
Honored to have Nancy Sinatra follow me on Twitter
Returned back to Seattle for the first time since the '90s and saw so many wonderful old friends
Recorded with J Robbins
Spending every day with the love of my life, Kenny.
WRIR for being the sound of our city.
The roof over my head and all its glorious colors and toys.
One of my last remaining family members beating breast cancer
The joys of a screened in porch
A hurricane free summer / fall
Bob's Burgers
Les Revenants  - the idea of lost loved ones reappearing is emotionally and psychologically stirring
It has been a great year for beer. I am on untapped as TKW.

Thank you friends for all the remarkable things you do that keep me inspired and feeling loved.

November 12, 2013

We made a video!

Here is the very first Positive No video shot entirely by us on an iPhone and edited by Kenneth Close. I give you "Georgia Purchase Agreement".

October 1, 2013

Positive No - Via Florum

Sadly my writing time here has diminished as my band gets busier. The good news is however I have new music to share rather than just words and or pictures.

I give you two years of work, available now via all the usual digital music sites.

August 31, 2013

Fall Line Fest 2013

I have been slacking on writing blog posts but with good reason. I have been working hard with a small team of people to make this Richmond music / food / arts festival come to life. It is hard to believe this is just 6 days away but it is! These shows will be packed and they will sell out so get your tickets now. Don't make me feel like a jerk when I tell you I can't get you in somewhere because you didn't get a ticket in advance. Plus our band Positive No is playing on Saturday, 6pm sharp at Gallery 5.

June 21, 2013

Positive No : FREE Summer Mix

Hi ya.

    Hopefully this will be the first in a series of free, little mixes put together by various members of our band Positive No. I did this one and it is a continuous mix of songs in one mega MP3. It is by no means a playlist of our band's or my personal influences. The theme here is summer and my take on what that means. If you are familiar with the radio show I did for about 4 years, you know I love a good theme.

I tried to pick a mix of all different kinds of music from a bunch of different decades. Some will be familiar and hopefully a few will be unfamiliar but pleasant surprises. Download it at the link below. (click "enjoy")

Happy summer friends.


PS: Our proper band website is here.

  1. Alice Cooper - School's Out
  2. Diplo - Summer's Gonna Hurt You 2012 Remix
  3. The Jesus & Mary Chain - Surfin' USA
  4. Snapper - Hot Sun
  5. Chris Stamey - The Summer Sun
  6. Confetti - Warm
  7. Superchunk - Learned to Surf
  8. GBV - Hot Freaks
  9. CocoRosie - Lemonade
  10. Tera Melos - Sunburn
  11. Ice Cream for Crow - Captain Beefheart
  12. Fugazi - Burning
  13. Bill Cosby - Sunny (Yes, that Bill Cosby)
  14. Still Corners - Endless Summer
  15. Jacco Gardner - Summer's Game
  16. Pink Floyd - Summer '68
  17. Throbbing Gristle - Hot on the Heels of Love
For some reason this song didn't want to play nice so it didn't make it into my mix. Here is a bonus summer treat.

May 10, 2013

Positive No : Powers of Ten : New Song Alert!

You can read more about the song here.

"Powers of Ten" will be a part of a 5 song EP we are in the middle of recording with J Robbins at his studio Magpie Cage. This 12" record / digital long player will be available through my record label Little Black Cloud later this summer.

May 3, 2013

The Positive No Cooking Show

Phew! What a year so far. With all that has been going on with the record label and band, I am sad at how little free time I have had to write.

I will get back to writing / posting my music related short story series later this Spring but for now, here is a little light viewing.

We will be posting a brand new single next week and have another exciting band announcement just around the corner too. 

For my old friends viewing this and thinking what the hell happened to you? Life post accident (you know, the whole being run over by a car thing) followed by pneumonia this Winter has meant I have spent a lot of time motionless and stuck in bed. I might be a butterball but I promise you, I am doing really well otherwise. Older. Wider. But still alive and really happy about that. 

May 2, 2012

Powers of Ten

My new band has posted a new song tonight! The band is called Positive No and the song is called "Powers of Ten". You can listen to it here. Positive No is my better half Kenny on guitar, me singing, and on these first three demos a fella from L.A. named Jody on drums. Kenny and I do all the songwriting together.

We used these first three demos to find local Richmonders to play with and we almost have our line up secured. Our new local drummer is Willis Thompson who plays in / has played in a ton of bands but I guess the best known of these is Tao with the Get Down Stay Down (Kill Rock Stars). More news on our bass player soon!

Lyrically "Powers of Ten" is an ode to some thinkers, philosophers, and artists I admire : Carl Sagan, Alan Watts, Charles and Ray Eames.

February 10, 2012

Pleasure in Pain : The Return to Making Music

Remember that time I was struck by a car while crossing the street?

That was nearly six months ago and my journey (polite code for hell and back) to return to my old self has been a long and arduous one. I don't care about the scars I have on my body or that I spent months learning to walk again without the support of a cane. I have gotten used to my utter fear of walking outside and I remind myself often that it is a miracle I can walk at all so feeling safe when I cross streets or parking lots doesn't take priority. So what if living a few doors down from the accident site has made living the apartment I have lived in for a decade unbearable. These are all things I am still trying to make peace with but what has been the toughest part of these months has been a terrifying experience that I haven't discussed openly until now.

A brain injury was something I initially thought I had escaped.  Because I never hit my head during the accident, I never spoke to doctors about the possibility of a serious concussion. In the hours and first few days after something as traumatic as your body being stuck by a car, you feel a strange combination of being out of your body (because it is so incredibly surreal to have something like this happen) and very much trapped in your body because every little movement that used to be easy is so longer possible and your body feels like a burden. Adrenalin takes over your very being for the first day (fight or flight feeling times a million). You are put on all sorts of pain drugs (not to mention the weirdness of tubes and drips stuck in your body). And the final strangeness? Being in a hospital at all. I found it nearly impossible to rest there as it is a scary, strange environment where people were coming and going from my room at all hours. It isn't until you return to the normalcy of your home, the comfort and safety of your own bed, that you can begin to really assess what has happened to you and how you feel compared to the last time time you were home and your old unbroken self. 

It was lying in my own bed many days later that I realized how fuzzy my head felt. Without pain pills and in the peace of my bedroom it was my head that suddenly radiated the most pain. And so began my battle with a variety of symptoms relating to a brain injury that was later decided by experts in the field came from my head being rattled severely when my body was tossed on and off of the car. (much like the kind of injury football players suffer from). For 4 months I lived with torturous migraines, memory failures, and intense fogginess that made the general act of thinking straight a difficult task. It was during this time period that I was mysteriously and surprisingly let go from my full time job so to add to the nightmare of my recovery process, I was in constant chronic pain and suddenly unemployed. (and living without health insurance so my insane medical bills are just a footnote to this personal hell) I have to be honest here, while I revel in the fact that I am still alive and truly appreciate this gift, when I was stripped of the power to think straight and living with the debilitating side effects from a concussion like headaches every day, it felt like my life was over. 

With migraines comes a sensitivity to light and sound. For those of you who know me, sound is my life. Music isn't just a part of my life, it defines me. Imagine waking up one day and your head hurts so much that that even gentle soothing tones resonate inside you like pin pricks. The pain was often so severe that whatever I was hearing couldn't register with me properly at all. And what aspects of my life did this change affect? Everything. My work. (music industry = all day sounds) My weekly radio show (more music). My home life. (where my record collection of thousands of records live). My social life. (loud live bands, noisy crowds, and DJs felt like a grenade had gone off between my ears). My record label. (more music!). Alone time. (I hated being in my own body)

And the most frustrating? Me as a recording artist silenced. The freedom to express myself creatively in a way that I have dedicated my entire adult life to was erased on August 30th. I have been trying to rebuild this missing person in me ever since. I began making music in the early '90s and the thought of this part of me going away forever feels worse than being hit by a car. 

Even as recently as a month ago, recording and making music was not something I could do with ease. While the migraines and confusion associated with a major concussion are behind me (although I still battle headaches occasionally) I am still dealing with the inability to handle certain kinds of tones, sounds, and loud volumes. This makes the act of placing headphones on my head to record and work on music for extended period of times extremely difficult. This makes playing songs back to really listen to my pitch, attack, and timing often agony. There is also no denying that being extra sensitive to sounds not only changed how often I can work on music but the kind of music I can work on. Now that certain frequencies and tones literally pain me, I find myself working on music that reflects the tones that appeal to my head. Remarkably I have found ways around these endless hurdles but on some days it has been enough of a heartbreaking struggle that I have wanted to give up. What I have learned about myself since is that I am not quitter. I am determined to push through this and not let the negligence of reckless driver strip me of my passion in life. 

It took me a half a year to get back to this point but I am proud to have finished not one but two new songs; one under my solo moniker and one under Positive No, a home recording project I do with my boyfriend Kenny. (also the man behind the incredible love, care and support that helped me heal post accident). Writing and recording music has played an interesting and important role in my healing process. It helps test and use my memory while forcing me to sharpen my problem solving skills. Best of all it is a return to something that brings me deep satisfaction and joy. I have no idea if I will be able to handle playing live and loud again, no less if my memory will allow me to recall the lyrics to a whole set list of songs but the fear of this unknown won't stop me from at least trying. If the end result means I just record music at home in a controlled setting that is kind to my ears and head, so be it. 

The good news is 2012 is the year I became an artist again.