Art is subjective (unsurprising title)
As statements go for a blog title, this is hardly an "OH MY - YoU'Ll NeVeR BeLieVE!" clickbait title- in fact it is pretty fecking obvious.
Today I fell down a particularly pleasing internet rabbit hole with slightly disturbing edges. End of shift, odd brain-wave territory. There was a band in the early/mid 90's that I have been strangely low-level obsessed with ever since the first time I saw their video on MTV - remember that channel (it still clings to relevancy). That band was Daisy Chainsaw and the song was Love Your Money. I am not entirely sure what it was that stuck with me for so long but it's fair to say the video was less than conventional, at the time, for this sheltered soul. I soon got the album, 'Eleventeen' and it became part of my regular listens with Babes in Toyland, L7, Blondie, Nirvana, Ministry, White Zombie etc etc etc. But very quickly they faded from my radar, apart from the incessant playing of their album, also boosted by my general aversion to being a 'fan' of single bands. Definitely a music magpie me but even among my friends, Daisy Chainsaw et al. were a bit marmite.
You know you've all done it
The rabbit hole started with *THAT* Google search - you know the one I am bout to type out here, don't you?
"Whatever happened to..."
To my surprise, the crazed, flamboyant lead singer appeared - pow- front and centre on my search. In the intervening years I had forgotten the lead singers name (years that included one incident of sudden aluminium poisoning leading to some scrambled memory) but today I was reminded of KatieJane Garside.
The glorious rabbit hole waved invitingly at me- kids these days, I feel sorry for them not being able to revisit childhood memories like this - the info is all there for them now, at their fingertips. This was info I never knew "back in the day" and I was hooked.
After a brief but happy look at Queenadreena material that had passed me by (Garsides return to music with Daisy Chainsaw guitarist, Crispin Gray- who incidentally always gave me the creeps) I quickly moved onto Garsides more recent musical endeavours with her partner, Chris Whittingham. It's fair to say Garsides music has moved on from the Grunge metal of the 90's I loved so much and instead, I was luxuriating in the child-like melancholy of Ruby Throat. Though I always take Wikipedia with a pinch of salt, Garside appears to have confirmed that she had indeed suffered a breakdown and on leaving Daisy Chainsaw lived in a self-imposed seclusion in the Lake District for a time. It's not as clear-cut as that (it rarely is) and I am not going to completely rehash others journalistic work here, however I would recommend a couple of links included at the bottom of this post for further reading- some of their work is unashamedly plundered below to illustrate my journey of discovery.
So, why the whole "art is subjective" angle? Well, I was reminded of a moment at work perhaps 10 years ago when our boss was demonstrating how important we all were to her and asked us all to wish list a gift, within reason- there's always one that will add a flying car or camel or something else 'hilariously edgy'. Having lost a huge amount of my music collection previously (another story) I decided to request a CD copy of Eleventeen- not a ridiculous request and I think you could buy it for less than a tenner at the time. A week or so passed and the gifts were handed out and I, all excited at getting some Grunge back in my ears, was disappointed to be presented with a voucher. I always remember my bosses slightly bemused "Ehm, so sorry I couldn't fulfil your reasonable request.." response to my puzzled look. I never asked what the issue had been but perhaps Grunge wasn't the team dynamic they were trying to encourage. It's entirely possible that I have built a story behind the disappointment that didn't exist but knowing who I was dealing with, well, let's just say it was not beyond the realms of reason for them to balk at anything they didn't regard as mainstream.
But back to today. I was hooked. Reading past interviews, bouncing between different songs, I became mesmerised all over again. A lot of what Garside herself says about her artistic inspirations make a lot of sense.
Aged 11 to 14 she lived on a boat with her family, sailing around the world and talks about how her imagination and cassettes of musicals were the only way to fill the long periods of nothing - no contact with shore, other boats and nothing but a horizon of sea. She gained a different way of looking at things. Her on stage performances in the Daisy Chainsaw years were known for their chaotic energy typified by the disturbing occasion where she wrapped a mic lead so tight around her own neck that she lost consciousness and the rest of the concert was abandoned. The finest of lines between artistic genius and manic loss of control. We all probably know at least one person, growing up, who was described as "insanely talented" and KatieJane has the voice and creativity I won't tire of as long as I retain my marbles.
I can already see the conversations ahead of me with my family as I suddenly start to reclaim my grunge past through CD's (and perhaps whisper it...vinyl... like a fucking hipster) as I found that Spotify can only take you so far. So many albums from my past are being subtly edited over time (the odd one for good reason) or being missed out of the digital revolution- Babes in Toyland "Fontanelle" being a case in point- £18 fricking quid for the CD and enigmatically missing from their online discography. But I am looking forward to introducing my family to Garside and Whittingham's latest incarnation, Liar, Flower; probably facing the similar looks and raised eyebrows. KatieJane has taken the trance-like state that led to self-destructive performances in the past and employed it in music-making, building tracks around her stream of consciousness performances. Of all the songs on the 2020 album 'Geiger Counter' it was only "Even the darkest clouds" in which she over-dubbed any work and also the most reminiscent for me of the Chainsaw years. The album in its entirety is hypnotic with hints of Kate Bush, Tori Amos, Kat Bjelland, Bjork and Wendy James but unmistakeably KatieJane.
Today has been a wonderfully warm day of discovery. I haven't told the better half yet about my plans to bring vinyl back into our lives, but I am going to start small, consuming all I can through the internet and purchasing KatieJanes poetry from her store- I think it's the least I can do for the glorious thread of my musical tapestry that she has created which has lived with me for over a quarter of a century. It's now leading me to new, wonderful shores. Though I'd better tell my wife about my purchase soon because the Paypal payment will show on the bank account as RUBYTHROAT and, well, that's a reference that might get this new musical journey off to a rocky start.
But I do, of course, over-think these things.
KatieJane Garside website: sleeplikewolves
Liar, Flower - 'Geiger Counter' on YouTube (if you like it, jump up a link and support the artist)