lifeblood: listlogs: 2008v10n136-news

ig-news-digest        wednesday, august 6 2008        volume 10 : number 136

today's subjects:
  [ig-news] queerty amy interview     [sherlyn koo <>]
  [ig-news] "didn't it feel kinder" review from boston globe  [sherlyn koo <]


date: wed, 06 aug 2008 13:14:42 +1000
from: sherlyn koo <>
subject: [ig-news] queerty amy interview

hey folks,

very nice amy interview from queerty - you can read it online at


- ---begin forwarded article---
amy ray's more than just indigo

many of you may not know the name amy ray, but we're sure you know the name
of her band, the indigo girls.

it's under that name that ray - alongside emily saliers - began her nearly
twenty-year long music career. knowing all good musicians need to push
their boundaries, ray broke off in 2001 and began releasing solo projects.
now, a mere seven years later, the 44-year old celebrates the release of
her fourth, didn't it feel kinder?

in addition to all her aural deeds, ray's made a name for herself on the
activist scene, campaigning for native rights, environmental justice and,
yes, gay rights. taken together, ray becomes far more than just one-half of
a lesbian folk outfit.

after the jump, ray discusses why she loathes the word "lesbian," how
identity politics come and go, and what it feels like to be the butt of a

oh, yeah, and she also sent over a new track, "birds of a feather," which
comes from her aforementioned fourth solo album. dive in!

andrew belonsky: i want to know what keeps you going from 1989 to now - how
do you not want to throw up your hands? what keeps you going?

amy ray: well, i think it's just what i enjoy doing. there are a lot of
parts of it that are hard, but there it's also a lot of fun. i'm a big
music fan, too, so i think what keeps me going is hearing what other people
play and seeing what they're doing. i'm really inspired by that and finding
a way to evolve and get better at what i do. you know fellow indigo girl
emily saliers and i constantly play with new people and we try to broaden
our horizons and when i do my solo stuff, it's like a completely different
world - working on an independent level. things like that energize me,
because they all work together and they all inform each other and create
this ball of energy that keeps me going.

ab: how has your artistic perspective and your technique changed over the

ar: i think that one thing that's changed a lot for me is my song-writing
technique. in the early days, it was very haphazard and i sort of had this
romanticized view that the muse would come. i think as a writer you have to
have very serious discipline and a willingness to be brutal with yourself,
edit and be critical of things. for me, i don't get burdened by that
discipline. it sets me free and write with a whole lot in confidence and
then craft that material. i think vocally i've changed a lot over the
years, too. that took a lot of discipline, as well. i started really
working with vocal exercises and trying to work on my voice and get more
range and learn how to sing in different ways, in different tones. all of
that technical stuff has over time changed and improved me. it's given me
more access to my instrument.

ab: aside from technology, has the music industry changed?

ar: aside from technology, i don't think it has. attitude wise, there are
still what i call "the gate keepers" - i mean in the mainstream media and
radio, what you would consider to be traditional models of media. those
gatekeepers are still very narrow and homogenized and don't really
understand how to think outside the box and give access to the public to
more diversity. i don't think that's changed, but i do think the public has
changed a lot. they don't care as much about your sexuality or gender. they
just want to hear a good song.

ab: and you have contributed to that - would you agree?

ar: i don't know if i agree, but i'm glad about it.

ab: the indigo girls are often seen as stereotypical lesbians singing,
being folky - the 90s image of lesbians that was put forth pre-the l word,
while i think the image of lesbians now is much more glam.

ar: yes. or vapid.

ab: how do you feel that, in some circles, the indigo girls being seen as a
punch line?

ar: we're definitely aware of that. we'd have to be idiots not to. i think,
for me, when indigo girls become a punch line, that's just incredible
homophobia, especially when it comes from our own community. for me, i
don't take it on a personal level. i take it on a political level. this is
not how you build allies. but, when it's done in a subversive way - south
park has done stuff on us before that was pretty clever - but there are
other times when i just think, "that's the lowest common denominator." as
for "lesbian" - that word and just the idea of what a lesbian is, is so
derided. it's a derogatory word, even in the gay women's community. it's a
generational thing in some ways. it's a balance, you know? i define myself
as queer more than lesbian because of my gender duality. i think that some
people don't define themselves as lesbians purely because it's a derogatory

ab: when you say that you view "lesbian" as a derogatory word, is that
because it's so clinical, like homosexual?

ar: "lesbian" became this sort of identifiable mark. indigo girls is a
great association with that - a certain kind of gay woman who has all of
these stereotypical things about her - they way that they dressed and the
things that they do and bringing with them this type of person and sort of
in a way that's not flattering: a lack of style, a sort of way of
socializing - i can't even put my finger on all of the descriptions.

ab: even if people are going to read "lesbian" or "indigo girl" one way,
you guys did in many ways help build visibility for lesbians. even if there
is negative attached to it, ultimately that negative has worked for good.

ar: i totally agree. i'm just talking about the punch line aspect. i
wouldn't trade my career for anything. we're just part of a greater group
of people who helped move in that direction and open the door wider, as was
done with us. so, i'm happy about it. i don't dwell on the punch line
aspect of it at all. i'm so used to it and it's kind of one of those things
where the positive stuff is so great and our career has been so great and
people are into it. it's just a great way to make a living, too. i just
feel lucky.

ab: you used the word "vapid" earlier while discussing the "new lesbian" -
and we were talking about the indigo girls being lesbians and political.
that made me think of the decline of identity politics. i think that a lot
of people my age - i'm 26-years old - including myselfb& i don't know if i
always consider the fact that i'm gay to be a political thing. do you
consider your lesbian identity to be a political thing?

ar: um - sometimes. and yours is political sometimes, too, whether you know
it or not. if you go hang out in another country where homosexuality's
illegal, you're definitely political. it depends on what world you're
moving in - your gayness can be very political. people have to realize that
their privilege might have something to do with where you are and all that
stuff. i don't know - sometimes i think that being gay is a political thing
and sometimes it's not. i don't even think about it.

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date: wed, 06 aug 2008 15:21:34 +1000
from: sherlyn koo <>
subject: [ig-news] "didn't it feel kinder" review from boston globe

hi folks,

here's a review of amy's new album from the boston globe.  you can read it
online at


- ---begin forwarded article---
the boston globe
folk-rock | choice
in search of kindness of strangers

by linda laban, globe correspondent  |  august 5, 2008

amy ray

didn't it feel kinder (daemon)

essential "who sold the gun"

it's doubtful that protest rockers like amy ray will run out of subject
matter anytime soon. "didn't it feel kinder," the new and third solo album
from the indigo girls singer and guitarist, is filled with the pain and
frustration brought on by pandemic injustice and brutality.

never mind railing against the man, though. this isn't the '60s, and ray
doesn't play the usual blame game. on the midtempo rocker "who sold the
gun," she links the virginia tech shooter and the iraq war, but the
metaphorical title doesn't point a finger at arms manufacturers alone:
"we're just as [expletive] up, yeah," she surmises with a note of
despairing resignation. on the stripped-down folk-rocker "out on the farm,"
the georgia native tackles factory farming and asks, "do we hang our hats
and just let it be?"

producer greg griffith's clean, uncluttered sound makes ray's arching,
aching voice sound like a lone cry in the wilderness. but this ruminative
set is far from a solo effort. ray employs a variety of guests, including
singer-songwriter brandi carlile, who adds angelic harmonies to the funky
blues ballad "she's got to be," which, like "who sold the gun," reveals ray
struggling with helplessness. on the rootsy "birds of a feather," she
pleads, "if we are birds of a feather/ why can't we fly in formation or
just be friends along the way?"

that might sound like a fluffy feel-good mantra, but delivered with a stern
tone and thick guitar lines, it's anything but.

(c) copyright 2008 the new york times company

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end of ig-news-digest v10 #136

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