Shining a light on the joys and heartaches that lie at the intersection of the LGBTQIA community and the world of alternative music…
Whether they blame climate change, secularism, or literal vampire potbelly goblins hobblin’ around comin’ after us, everyone seems to agree that the end is nigh. Berlin-based artiste Joey Hansom is no exception, but while others feverishly pack their bug-out bags, don ominous sandwich-boards, prepare for their exodus to Mars, or froth and quiver over shirtless photos of Vladimir Putin, the songwriter better known as Godmother only grows more impatient for extinction.
Godmother’s self-titled debut LP—released via New Pangea on Sept. 21—offers nine odes to joyful resignation, from the melting electronic syncopation of album opener “Death Drive” to the creeping jazzy staccato of closer “Another Armageddon.” After the decimation of humanity, the record will exist as a relic of singular temporal specificity, like an impeccable accounting of the Weimar Republic’s sex clubs communicated only through emojis, tongue-pops, and half-remembered excerpts from Camus’ “The Myth of Sisyphus.”
Hansom and their rotating band of collaborators further augmented the Godmother experience with four singles—featuring remixes by electronic producers Borusiade, Jay Glass Dubs, and La Fraicheur and acoustic reworkings of several tracks—as well as a duo of music videos for “No Kidding” and “Drowning in Data.”
Who’s afraid of a queer planet?
I’m not so sure anybody is—at least not anymore. Sure, queers are feared variously around the world, and as we know from the word “homophobia”—and from Yoda—fear leads to hate. This often takes the form of physical and legislative violence, overwhelmingly committed by cis men, and disproportionately affecting POC, the gender-nonconforming, and the poor. What response do we have, especially as queer musicians? From my limited, white, Western perspective, I don’t think our international solidarity movement has properly instilled fear in the oppressor. Straights are increasingly less worried that queers will convert their children; instead, queers are converting to normativity as they join the marriage-industrial complex and spawn children of their own. The prevailing dominant system is absorbing any threat posed by queerness.
To what extent are we queer-identifying artists complacent or even complicit with capitalism? Are we steering toward social liberation or toward individualistic commodification? It reminds me of some old punk sticker I saw once: “Are you using your band to sell the revolution, or are you using the revolution to sell your band?” Over the course of the ’90s, the radical potential of Riot Grrrl somehow got stifled into harmless Girl PowerTM. Queer is trending, and within a couple of years, we’ll have some similarly manufactured pop group, like the Spice Queers, or the Backstreet Non-Binaries.
There used to be a measurable period of time before an independent musician would “sell out” or before an underground movement would be subsumed by the mainstream. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, a DIY act can be embedded in the corporate world from the get-go by providing free content and traffic to platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. Heck, while I appreciate New Noise inviting me to write about whatever I want, however I want, for this column, I can’t help but wonder what Karl Marx—who turned 200 this year!—would say…
“Dude! Why are you performing unpaid labor?”
“Look, when you say ‘dude’ like that, I realize it might just be a generic exclamation, but it comes across as misgendering me,” I’d politely explain. “I’m actually non-binary.”
“Quit derailing. You know that those sites get a load of money from advertisements. Do you get a cut?”
“Well, if I wanted, I could enable ads on my YouTube videos, but I don’t out of aesthetic principles. They’re annoying.”
“I’m talking about New Noise,” he’d say. “Do you get a share of the revenue from the ads they run next to your words? If you’re going to sell out, you’re supposed to get paid!”
“I get the exposure. It was my choice whether to accept the offer. Would you please leave this column? I don’t think New Noise is interested in our conversation.”
“You can’t eat exposure. Bite the hand that starves you!”
Whatever—you can’t eat money, either. Marx is a total bro. He just doesn’t get it. When I don’t receive a wage for my labor, it makes me feel femme, which is validating for my gender identity. I’m joining a centuries-old tradition of not getting compensated for my work. I can also cook and clean, and although I’m never going to have biological children of my own, I can take care of the li’l ones who already exist. That’s why they call me “Godmother.”
I do kind of want to get pregnant, though, just so I can exercise my right to have an abortion. Whatever the case, I’m proud to be childless. I love that classic anti-gay argument: “If everyone were gay, we’d stop procreating and die off as a species.” Exactly! It’s the perfect solution to global crises and conflicts—just stop reproducing. I promise: the rest of the planet won’t miss us one bit. And if that’s what a queer world would look like, I’m sure straights would fear us after all.
I know, I’m a negative person. Negativity is built into my identity: non-binary, gender-nonconforming, and so on. It gets exhausting! With all the polarized hatred on this planet, it seems that escalation is the only response. It’s time for a double-negative. The only thing we have to queer is “queer” itself.