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Gina Young interview

March 14th, 2009 · post by Conspiracy Tom · Make a comment

Gina Young is a Seattle based singer/writer/playwrite and one half of electro hop hop outfit Team Gina. She has done three solo albums, She’s so Androgynous, Intractable and 3am Voice. Her solo music is powerful post riot grrrl, with deeply intelligent and personal lyrics covering politics, activism and gay rights. She has penned several plays, the latest, Salt Water, has just been released. She’s an utterly fascinating and driven individual, steeped in DIY.

This February I was fortunate enough to interview Gina with the conversation ranging from her recent play, and upcoming plans through to Proposition 8 and the changing forms of homophobia in the United States.

Gina Young

LH: How have the initial reactions to Salt Water been?
Gina Young: Everyone who has read the script has been really intrigued. One thing that has been fun for me is that there is one monologue towards the end of the show– “I will never love you”– kind of a big dramatic monologue, and everyone I showed the script to thought it was about them! It’s been the same in performance! Hopefully that means it resonates: people take it personally.

Salt Water is, in so many ways, a play about unrequited love and sacrifice, and those are pretty universal themes at the end of the day I guess.

LH: Did you write it with that in mind?
Gina Young: I write from a very personal perspective. I don’t really think about writing universally or anything,because that’s such a skewed concept that rests on normativity. But I like that it seems to resonate, and tap into something bigger.

Salt Water is, in so many ways, a play about unrequited love and sacrifice, and those are pretty universal themes at the end of the day I guess.

LH: Has any of your stuff been performed outside of the US?
Gina Young: Never. Team Gina’s videos have screened all over Europe, but so far my plays have only been seen in New York and Seattle.

LH: That’s a shame – it’s a little too far for me to go to see them. Have you any plans to get them performed elsewhere?
Gina Young: Someday. Ideally as a play they will be produced all over, maybe even published. But at this juncture I’m still really hands-on and DIY about stuff. I’ve never even really spent time in Europe, save 10 days in Paris in 2007. I hope to change that this year.

“Touring solo is no fun. I don’t have a driver’s license, so when I’ve toured solo it has involved a lot of Greyhound busses”

LH: What have you got planned this year?
Gina Young: There’s the Team Gina European Tour, this October! Plus I might do a little travelling this summer. we’ll see.

LH: Do you see yourself touring solo in the near future, or will it be more as part of Team Gina?
Gina Young: Well, I really enjoy working on my solo project, and I have ideas for it constantly, but touring solo is no fun. I don’t have a driver’s license, so when I’ve toured solo it has involved a lot of Greyhound busses and mooching rides off of friends, not to mention carrying heavy equipment all by myself and getting up on stage alone every night.

Touring with Team Gina is a blast, because first of all it means travelling with my best friend, and also there’s the bonus that we have almost no equipment to carry, no guitars or any of that crap. So as much as I love doing solo work, I have to say that I get into way better adventures touring with Team Gina.

Adventure

gina-young-guitar-partLH: What kind of adventures?
Gina Young: Oh man, tops was last summer, in Austin, Texas. After our show about 20 punk kids jumped the fence at a public swimming pool, middle of the night under a full moon. A few hours later someone was like, “Shit! Cops!” and we all ran. But there were no cops!

LH: What are the cops like the US? I’ve had a few friends badly beaten by the cops here.
Gina Young: It varies so greatly by city, when I lived in New York I had such an antagonistic relationship with the cops, there would be so many protests where the cops would instigate violence and then blame it on the activists, like at Matthew Shepard’s political funeral.

LH: I feel dumb for asking this, but who?
Gina Young: He was a young gay man who was murdered [in October 1998]. It received so much media attention because of the extreme violence of the act, he was basically crucified on a fence near a farm in Wyoming, and it really galvanized the gay rights movement in this country, much as the Proposition 8 issue is doing now.

Proposition 8

LH: What is Proposition 8? I clearly don’t pay enough attention to US politics.
Gina Young: That’s okay. Basically, there were three states in the US where gays and lesbians had the right to marry: Massachusetts, Connecticut and California.

…and queers in the US have fucking had it with discrimination.

Proposition 8 was a ballot measure in California, largely funded by the Mormons and other conservative religious groups, that effectively banned gay marriage in that state, and queers in the US have fucking had it with discrimination.

LH: Is there a similar thing happening in Massachusetts and Connecticut?
Gina Young: I think those states are pretty safe. But Prop 8 has definitely changed my feelings on the issue for sure, because when I was living in New York, a lot of the radical queers were not working on the gay marriage issue. The sentiment was, “Why would we want to be fighting for the right to be normative?” But now I’ve come to realize it’s so much bigger than that, gay marriage is the watershed issue that could ultimately change everything for queer people in this country.

LH: The Christian right seem very powerful in the US compared with Europe, what other homophobic actions are they involved in?
Gina Young: They are very powerful. I think that most of their influence is social; through church and community. But now they are becoming increasingly active on the legal front, trying to ban gay marriage nationally, and I don’t know how a person can sleep at night, knowing that they are devoting their energy to taking away other people’s rights.

gina-young-acoustic-445px
LH: In the time that you have been making music, how do you feel attitudes over sexism and homophobia have changed within the music scene?
Gina Young: I was thinking about that recently, actually, because I feel like everything has changed, but at the same time, I recognize that it might just be me who has changed.

LH: How so?
Gina Young: Well, I remember being 15 and having a two-girl band, and we wanted to play a gig at this house that did shows, so we talked to the guy in charge and he totally blew us off, basically laughed at us and asked us if we liked some girl band that we didn’t even like.

“I don’t know if it’s because sexism and homophobia have decreased, or if it’s because my own personal sense of power has increased”

He then proceeded to talk seriously with some guy right next to us about booking that guy’s band, those kind of situations used to happen to me all the time and now they never do.

But I don’t know if it’s because sexism and homophobia have decreased, or if it’s because my own personal sense of power has increased and I don’t take no for an answer anymore. Team Gina has never been disrespected on stage – we’ve never had guys telling us to take off our clothes or things like that. But maybe it’s because we don’t even leave room for that, we’re already in control of our sexuality and how we’re coming across and are very aggressively commanding the room.

LH: Yeah, you’re much harder to put down than a 15 year old girl. Also the social circles you choose to move in affect your view of the outside world. Like my world is full of activists and vegans, but I’m sure the outside world isn’t like that.
Gina Young: Right, but we don’t ghettoize ourselves into certain circles, either. I mean Team Gina, specifically, frequently plays to audiences that are, for all intents and purposes, ’straight’ audiences, and it’s been great in Seattle we aren’t even seen as a ‘lesbian band’. We don’t just play gay clubs and as much as I love being around like-minded people I still consider the work I do activism, so I wouldn’t want to only perform for like-minded people

Many thanks to Gina Young for taking the time to talk to me. Check out Team Gina when they tour Europe in late 2009.

Weblinks:
www.myspace.com/ginayoung
www.myspace.com/teamgina

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