Exclusive: JD Samson brings MEN to the Dyke March… afterparty
As if there wasn’t already enough excitement around the Radical Dyke March, organizers of the lesbian-only demo have brought in one of their most famous sisters: JD Samson, frontwoman for the electro project MEN. (At Cabaret Mile End, Tues. Aug. 14, 9pm).
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Famous for her politically inflected dance-punk tunes (and that signature moustache and boyish good looks), musician JD Samson has been a part of the queer periodic table of the elements for more than a decade. First as a member of seminal electroclash band Le Tigre, and now as the frontwoman for MEN, her Brooklyn-based electro-pop collective. Her musical other half is bandmate Michael O’Neill, but the genders and number of people in the act are secondary to the message: asserting queer identity and communities.
Getting MEN to play for the Dyke March after-party benefit is a major coup for the organizers, who also secured Guizo LaNuit (Alexis O’Hara), Benni E, Laura Boo and DJ’s The Salivation Army and Lynne T for their superbly sapphic spectacle.
“I’m happy to hear that we’re part of this new page in Montréal queer history,” JD Samson told 2B on the phone from Brooklyn. “Dyke Marches have always been important to me, and clearly in Le Tigre, we even had a song called ‘Dyke March.’ This year I missed New York’s march, so it’s really great to be able to go to Montréal,” Samson explains, as I bring her up to speed on the tense Dyke vs. Marche des femmes situation.
Already close to the Occupy Wall Street scene in New York, Samson was aware of the student protests that have dominated Montréal politics, but not of the reasons for the Radical Dyke March going its own way during Pride week. The 30-something queer icon was all too happy to learn that MEN would be aligned with the more anti-authoritarian event. “We want to reconnect with our community and feel inspired to keep up those connections,” says Samson, a longtime friend of Montréal electro royalty, Lesbians on Ecstasy, with whom they usually stay when they’re in town.
“Who Am I to Feel so Free” by MEN
Owning up to my ignorance, I tell JD that I had always thought the ultra-political and arty Le Tigre was crypto-Canadian, something that was underscored by the Lezzies on Ex connection. “Lesbians on Ecstasy are old friends that toured with Le Tigre back in the day, which was always really fun to do. And Canada in general has been very kind to us,” Samson says, adding that “Canadians are awesome and special.” (Well, don’t make us blush now!)
Samson has been keeping a relatively low profile with her MEN project in 2012, as the collective finishes off their next album. “Hopefully it’ll come out in the winter 2013, depends on how we decide to put it out,” she says, admitting that’s it’s all a little more up-in-the-air since the group parted ways with their IAMSOUND label last year. “The question is, are we able to put out an album on our own, do we have the resources?”
The question of resources is certainly one which plagues most independent acts, especially the queer ones, something that Samson became notorious for pointing out in an op/ed to the Huffington Post last October. In the article, Samson talked about her “emotional crisis” spurred on from apartment-hunting in Brooklyn in her 30s, as someone who is seen by her peers as having “made it,” but who had no savings to show for it. “[It] awakened me to a whole new realization of our economy, the music industry at large, and more specifically, what it means to be a queer artist” now, Samson lamented. But why is it so important that this queer artist, with a penchant for left-wing political and community ethics, live in one of the most expensive cities on Earth?
“You always think that for your career you have to be around people who are making music and art. The truth was that last summer I rented a place upstate (and had a place in the city), and loved it even more. It’s that age-old thing that [if] you can make it here, you can make it anywhere,” Samson confides. The sometimes crushing, obsessive need to live in the perceived centre of the indie cultural universe (or overpriced hipster-trap, depending on how you see it), is something that the internet has helped Samson and others overcome, as the possibilities for long-distance collaboration become richer.
As an epilogue to Samson’s dismal apartment-hunting story, she is getting evicted next year, but there’s a silver lining. “We met this amazing woman who made us have faith in humans [again]. My friend who lives in a building nearby us has a landlord who used to be a housing lawyer. Somehow we’re part of her family now,” the tenacious Williamsburger tells me. And who wouldn’t want to be neighbours with JD Samson and MEN? One night only, Montréal ladies (and allies)!
JD Samson and MEN
w/ Laura Boo, Lynne T, The Salivation Army, Benni E and Guizo LaNuit
AFTERPARTY DE LA DYKE MARCH (non-dykes admitted)
@ Cabaret Mile End, 5240 ave du Parc, Montréal
“Make Him Pay” by MEN