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Politically minded DJ spins electro sounds

Violent Vickie performs Saturday at the Garland Block Party.
Violent Vickie performs Saturday at the Garland Block Party.

Violent Vickie’s music has been described as multimedia electro-punk-pop. Her pointed lyrics question addiction, racism, capitalism and consumerism, while articulating a message that’s feminist and pro-gay/trans rights.

Her own songs are weird, political and angry, but when she spins records the selection is more poppy, fun and ecstatic. In this interview, the San Francisco-based singer, producer and DJ dishes on her original music versus her DJ set and how one informs the other.

IJ: Please tell us about your background in music. 

VV: Oddly enough, I started out singing in church choir, then played oboe/percussion in elementary school and junior high.  In high school, I joined show choir, and in college I performed in an avant garde opera and took some electronic music classes. After college, I bought a vintage drum machine for $45 off of eBay and started recording it along with a keyboard, guitars and other random instruments I found around my parents’ house onto a 4-track. Later I moved onto recording on an ADAT, an 8-track digital recorder, adding a sampler and an analog synth. I incorporated visuals in my shows from the beginning, using an old-school slide projector that was very finnicky. Now I use a digital projector and I edit my visuals using iMovie.

IJ: What can we expect from your performance on Saturday?

VV: I am not going to be performing my own music on Saturday because my music is apparently too racy for this Block Party, but I will be DJ-ing! I like to play electro and house. I am really into some old soulful house songs right now, so I will probably play those, unless of course the Spokanites demand Pearl Jam! I am also putting together some visuals for my DJ set of vintage exercising clips.

IJ: What is wrong with music today?

VV: There are too many white boy indie rock bands, and not enough females, queers and people of color in bands, especially in electronic music.

I wish that musicians/artists could get more support here from our government. I often get invited to play feminist festivals, but they cannot afford to cover the cost of my transportation. In Berlin, my friend’s group did a study of how many female musicians play in festivals compared to how many males play. The outcome was astoundingly imbalanced!  With their study results, they applied for a grant from Berlin for their feminist festival and are now able to pay each of the artists 500 euro. It would be rad if something like that could happen in the U.S. 

IJ: What is right with music today?

VV: I love Soundcloud and Bandcamp. Soundcloud can introduce you to lots of awesome artists, there are many free downloads, and it is great for networking. Many people have remixed my songs on there and someone that followed me on Soundcloud from Paris ended up being able to hook me up with a show there! Bandcamp is great because you can sell your music there and they do not take a cut of the profits, unlike iTunes, Amazon etc. Buying an artist’s music on Bandcamp is the best way that you can support them.

Also, it’s great that making music is so accessible today. If you have a computer, it is pretty easy/cheap to get some music software and start experimenting with it.

IJ: What are your next projects?

VV: I am going to make some DJ mixes of varying genres and put them online to download and I’m excited to make a new album and music video. I have a few shows lined up in the (San Francisco) Bay (Area), one of which is at this notorious punk venue Gilman. Also, I may tour California in the winter.