INTERVIEW: Queer Cabaret Rock Band Copyslut
Photo Credit: Kristin Wrzesniewski
1) Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Neon Razberries”?
We explore feelings of righteous defiance and pride while giving our audience a window into our struggle to persist in the face of outside and inside pressures. It is ultimately a dreamer’s anthem of belief in love, hope, and healing. Our deepest intention with this song is to honor the hard work of all edge-walking sluts who are in healthy long-term commitments with lovers, friends, and — most importantly — themselves.
Released during this years pride season, it celebrates all of us who live our lives on the edges; this is a song for LGBTQA, the non-monogamous, the sex workers, the mixed race, the drug using communities, the trans & gender non-conforming, and the queers. The edges have the most potential for growth and there is a special power within those who are called to be edge-walkers.
It’s a song that both twirls on the haters while still seeing everyone in their individual process. Everyone knows what it’s like to be judged by other people and to feel indignant and maybe kinda uplifted because of it. And it also goes deeper than that; we open up about how outside pressure and shame can be a burden and strain on long term relationships. We do feel that vulnerability is powerful. We pay homage to “I want to break free”, where Queen effortlessly moves through external and internal world of being gay.
2) Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Definitely. Writing this song was sparked by a very special anniversary and then continued to grow into something that not only celebrates that relationship but any long-term love partnering. We find the strength of non-normative relationships extra special because they come with homemade systems of support – no church, no state, no cultural norms to say – “Yes, good work! Keep going!” when we stumble. We have our small community, our therapists, and most importantly, ourselves. We have to be ten times stronger than the average relationship, and we’re proud of our diligence.
3) Any plans to release a video for the single?
It’s your lucky day! Neon Razberries has an old school sing-a-long animated lyric video out with a sassy bouncing raspberry up on YouTube. Chatz’s little sister did the animation and it might be the sweetest lyric video you’ve ever seen. Check it out on YouTube by searching “Copyslut – Neon Razberries Lyric Video (Single)” or by clicking here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_5r4rKxT9vU
4) How was the recording and writing process?
The writing process for our songs are always slightly different. We wrote it in August 2018 at Lake Merritt, where people go to be incredibly cute. We were sitting on what we like to call The Blanket of Truth – we had a big pad of paper, lots of colorful markers and an acoustic parlor guitar. We dove in deep and the song poured out of us on one sunny day.
The recording process was a journey. Being in the recording hole was like being in another world. We dissected, broke apart and then relearned our songs and relearned ourselves. Because we recorded the whole album in two week long chunks with a few days rest in between, we had a unique experience in the way that we dove into our art and ourselves – the levels we went to took us to different realities. Working closely with our producer Nahuel Bronzini gave us a witness and most importantly a mirror. It was bonding.
5) What role does Oakland play in your music?
Oakland has a rich history and is still the epicenter for political movements and resources. It is quickly changing, but there is a lot of edge-walker energy here, and many of us in the band grew up in the greater Bay Area: North Bay, South Bay and the San Joaquin Valley. Many of our songs are rooted in the experiences we’ve had living here.
There is also a powerful sense of POC, queer and sex working communities in Oakland – we are lucky to have such a large network of amazing people in such a small geographic area. We’ve played many great spots in Oakland, but a highlight was definitely playing Oscar Grant Plaza for International Sex Worker’s Day. It’s the place where rallies and protests have gathered to convene historically, and it felt like such an honor to play loud on those steps in front of so many in our community.
6) How were you drawn into the work of Marge Piercy and what made you want to tackle on “To Have Without Holding”?
Living a non-normative life is wondrous and can also be very alienating, challenging, and painful. It’s sometimes hard to share the difficulties of the stigma and outside shame we face every day because we don’t want others to use our struggles as a reason to blame us for our existence. Often a way our society trains us to show that we love our lives and ourselves is by creating a united front of perfection. A dear friend shared this poem with us at a time when we really needed to hear it.
7) Does the new single mean we can expect a new material, how’s that coming along?
You can absolutely expect new material. We are basking in the afterglow of the dreamiest, quite possibly sexiest shoot for our first music video and second single, “Makers Mark”, due to be released at the end of August. We had a small army of talented and beautiful people who participated, and we cannot wait to show them off.
We are also in the fun part of preparing for our album release. The music is ready to go and we are now making a lot of creative and artistic decisions around album art, vinyl, etc. We are excited to be working closely with Reiko Rasch, a bad ass illustrator and sex worker rights activist. There are many ways in which the album honors our musical histories.
8) What other aspects of love and other themes will you be exploring on this new material?
The album is jam packed with meaning. With every song we asked ourselves: If these were your last words – is this what you would want to say? We have songs that are love spells, spells for both the recently born babies in our community and the baby versions of ourselves, spells for our friends who have recently died, protective money making spells, and we even have a wonderful song about fisting.
A common topic that we explore is how letting go of shame can facilitate transformative healing after harm, especially within oppressed groups. It’s all too common for us to turn inward and hurt each other. Cycles of violence can easily trickle into our most dear relationships, especially for those of us living on the edges. How do we come back from those moments? In order to get off this merry go round of abuse, which we reference in several songs on the album, we have to constantly engage in a practice of self awareness, self love and accountability. We attempt to model what it looks like to be accountable in some of our more dark and twisty songs, like “The Offering” and “Sorry”.
9) Any plans to hit the road?
We are always scheming to find new friends and build our community. On top of making a jaunt to Los Angeles in September, we’re also booking our album release tour. If you think we are needed in your hometown, hit us up!
10) What else is happening next in Copyslut’s world?
Besides tour, our music video release that will make some waves. We’ve also been planting some wonderful seeds for some new collaborations, projects and we have already started pre production for our next music video. Nothing is official yet, but we have some special things in the works for International Day To End Violence Against Sex Workers and National Overdose Awareness Month.
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