Punk Fest & Zine Fair Recap

Holy shit!

My sister and I have been dreaming about the opportunity to host an event for a few years now. A community of Black womxn moshing for Black joy and Black lives. Beautiful brown bodies moving to crazy metal music under the bright heat of a summer day. Having fun without a care in the world, even if the sensation only lasted for a few brief moments.

#Blkgrlswurld’s first ever Punk Fest was an amazing event as I personally witnessed the coming together of all these womxn having different effects on people. I watched skeptical faces at the Punks of Color Panel suddenly realize that there was substance and cultural value to what panelists were sharing through personal stories. I watched young womxn curious about live metal shows seeking guidance on how to safely attend local shows. I witnessed femme musicians watching each other’s performances and museum visitors becoming inspired by the Free Black Women’s Library.

Nothing gets us more excited than creating C-O-M-M-U-N-I-T-Y.

img_6250

db56e30e-dd7f-4c40-bca5-c435d8a0d071

PUNK BLACK Brings the ATL Scene to NYC

We first discovered the PUNK BLACK collective on Instagram a couple years back. Instagram has become a great repository of 15-30 sec clips of underground music captured in real-time from all over the globe. When I saw these little snippets of this Atlanta, Georgia based community moshing and rocking out in Cosplay – I sensed they were on to something heavy, gritty, and real for young folks of color. Each year the collective explores new ways to engage local youth and share an underground truth most people don’t know. More Black and Brown youth in America than you realize love rock music. From punk to death metal, it’s actually a thing. And though thousands of us can’t meet up as often we’d like, when we do, its a beautiful moment of braids flying, hips swaying and faces glowing.

PUNK BLACK (PB) is expanding its reach this summer by presenting an NYC music fest in Brooklyn on August 22, 2018. As Von Phoenix, one of PB’s founders tells it, “We’d like to create a space in NY were PoC can feel at home while doing what they love, as well as plant the seeds for a PB Chapter in New York. Not to mention we want to have fun (maybe, *ahem* get a little sauced) and see some kick ass bands.”

We asked Von about the upcoming NYC event, and how the collective came to be. Check it out.


Who founded the PUNK BLACK collective?

The original founders of PUNK BLACK (PB) are Kharis Ellison – age 26, Arkkade Kult – age 38, Jamee Cornelia- age 25, and myself Von Phoenix – age 28. There are 6 of us in the primary collective not counting contributors.

What inspired you to create Punk Black and the need for more representation in the scene?

I discovered rock music around age 12, and I noticed right away that I didn’t see many People of Color (POC) in main stream bands. Around that time I was still trapped in the notion that Rock music was created by white people, and POC weren’t really fond of it. This of course made me feel even more like the odd man out, and unfortunately fueled my self-hate phase at the time. It wasn’t until I started a band at the end of high school did I realize how bad the lack of representation was on the scene. Being an all Black band we got all kinds of looks, condescending remarks, and general hate.PUNK bLACK QUOTE

Was Cosplay always a part of the Atlanta Punk Scene? The collective seems to fill a need for youth interested in all things alternative, was that a natural progression?

Not that I know of. I definitely know a lot of cosplayers who like punk, and a lot of punk fans who like cosplay/anime/comics. It was a natural progression for us, as most of the collective grew up being influence by anime, and our designs have always been anime influenced.

About Community organizing, was finding space for shows and funding new projects something you had previous experience doing?

Definitely not. We had played a lot of shows before the first PB, but we had never really put on our own show, let alone organize a monthly event.

IMG_8714-257

Photo courtesy of PUNK BLACK

Access to creative space is one of the key barriers for artists in NYC, how was it navigating venues in Atlanta?

When we started in 2015 it was a lot easier to find venues in ATL, but as time goes on it’s getting more and more difficult. We normally like to use a combination of house and DIY venues but as the siege of gentrification intensifies, we lose more venues. Over the last year we’ve luckily found a home base at Union EAV, which has been an awesome help to the movement.

When did you first get the idea to launch an event in NYC and what drew you to this city?

NY has always been one of the places we thought about setting up another chapter of PB, but it was when we were contacted by Mecca Shabazz earlier this year that we realized we could actually make it happen. She’s now our NY event director, and our eyes in New York. New York’s new scene is definitely what drew us to the city. It’s been the birthplace of things like Punx of Color, AfroPunk, and dope ass bands over the years. (Shout out to Shinobi Ninja).

Are there a couple organizations out there you admire? Why do you admire them?

Definitely Southern Fried Queer Pride (SFQP) in Atlanta and Punx of Color in New York. SFQP promotes and features the LGBT art community through events and festivals, and their style and the way they run things is really dope. I’ve been following Punx of Color for a few years now, and though I haven’t been able to make it to an event I can tell that do great work for punks of color. It shows not only in the numbers, but in the reactions of the community they serve. I’ve only seen and heard good things about them, and after speaking with Gayla Brooks I can tell they try to do what’s best for the community as a whole. I think both of these organizations think about the community first, which is one of the hardcore reasons I dig them both as well.

BlkGrl Book Tour Recap

I’ve been a zinester since 2014, toting my lil hand made books around to DIY events. We table and vend with fellow artists, often feeling like Lucy with her Psychiatric Help Stand, sharing with any who will listen the content of our books with passion and understanding. Some folks really don’t understand it, while some really do. It’s a great space to share what you truly love, because somebody out there, even if its only 2-3 people, cares just as much about talking avocados as you do.

psych-supp-peanuts1c

Events on the tour:
Paper Jazz Fest, Brooklyn NYC
Betty Zine Fest, Newark NJ
Boston Art Book Fair, Boston MA
Not Just A Boys Club Fest, Teaneck NJ
Punx of Color 4, Brooklyn NYC

The BlkGrl book tour was my first attempt at following a dedicated schedule of events in locations outside of Manhattan, to help spread the #Blkgrlswurld message as far outside of NYC as possible. Black girls love metal and punk rock too! It challenged me to create a traveling system to affordably leave the city and arrive at any venue with a pop up shop out of a single bag I could carry on my own. (This is NYC, I don’t have a car ok?) Traveling on buses, trains and taxis to these other places tested my dedication to the project. Was I willing to get up at 6am for my zines? Here are some things I learned about being on the road with our lil books.

Punx of Color are everywhere.

Here at #Blkgrlswurld we aren’t always a certain an event or venue we attend is appropriate for our project. When tabling events like the Boston Art Book Fair, this became a critical question. Our $3 coloring books standing next to $75 high quality art catalogs? Likely a sign that our intended audience wont be strolling through this event. But they did anyway. There was not much diversity at that fair, but when a few Black youth did stop by we had great conversations about music and a few sales. Never underestimate who will take interest in your work.

Some people will never understand us, and that’s ok.

We stepped into new spaces and venues – that means local audiences are new to our work and what we’re about. Metal is not a widely understood musical form, so that alone was confusing to some along with the layer of being femme and Black. *Shrugs* All of these adventures help me determine what events to do next year.

Taking a stand empowers those around you.

Our focus has always been on young folks between ages 17-25 with little pocket money, that are curious about new music. Especially if they identify as outsiders, geeks or weirdos. That will always be the community we represent and sharing with these kids a safe space to express themselves can save lives.

I encourage everyone to start a zine, a blog, a fan club. Every time an awkward Black girl who doesn’t feel like she belongs any damn where stumbles across an artwork or photograph of women who look just like her, I feel a little better. Let’s all strive to create content that represents who we are and make sure its accessible. As I sat at these events with my little table, I met a number of fans this way. Women who had been searching for something to relate to, and see themselves in. Some that found us had already collected our items at previous events or online – they continue to comeback because of community. We are out here, together at shows, festivals and record fairs.

I fucking love Metal.

From Boston to New Jersey we did our best to keep our schedule loose, giving us a chance to meet more people and explore the visited cities. But the true connection to all these stops became the metal music blasting out of my headphones. At one point I wondered, is this really what I’m about? Hells yeah! Leaping off a megabus in platform towering boots, chewing bubble gum in band tees and dark glasses while the music blasts on in my ears. My favorite albums energized me to keep going, to keep traveling and to keep celebrating this scene and the women who support it. We know we don blend it with the people around us and that’s ok. I know where to go to spend time with my peeps, hopefully our books help that happen too.

giphy

Paper Cuts Radio Interview w/ Zine-makers

Click here to listen to Paper Cuts field team Christopher Kardambikis, Christina Long, and Arno Mokros roam the Paper Jam Fest-organized zine fair at Primal Screams –an event featuring underground bands and video premieres, and presented in collaboration between Clocktower and Times Square Arts at a massive movie theater in Times Square on March 15, 2016.

Many thanks to Chris Kardambikis of Paper Cuts for inviting #Blkgrlswurld Zine to participate!

ZINEFEST PARTICIPANTS include:

Paper Jamhttp://paperjamfest.tumblr.com/
Mary Shynehttp://maryshyne.com/
Kat Fajardohttp://www.katfajardo.com/
Vreni Stollbergerhttp://www.stillvreni.com/
Hazel Newleavanthttp://newlevant.com/
Stephanie Mannheimhttp://www.stephaniemannheim.com/portfolio/
The Bettyshttp://www.thebettys.com/
Mike Taylorhttp://late-era-clash.tumblr.com/
Alabaster Pizzohttp://www.alabasterpizzo.com/
Robert Richburghttp://www.robertrichburg.com/
Suxy Xhttps://suzyx.wordpress.com/
AT Pratthttp://atpratt.net/
Suffragette City Magazinehttp://www.suffragettezine.com/
Fvck the Mediahttp://www.fvckthemedia.com/
Paper Cutshttp://clocktower.org/series/paper-cuts

Originally aired 4/4/16

Source: http://clocktower.org/show/primal-screams-zine-fest

2 Metal Tours Join Forces In NYC

#August 2015.

It’s a warm summer night and the doors of Webster Hall are sprung wide open, a mix of fans, friends and musicians scurrying up and down the staircase to catch amazing guitar riffs and moshing crowds going simultaneously across three floors of the venue. Over 15 bands spent the evening rocking on three stages, exposing the amazing subgenres and styles that sustain the heavy music scene.

With the Summer Slaughter Tour featuring heavier deathcore bands like the Acacia Strain, Veil of Maya and Arch Enemy, it was great to hear some of the All Stars Tour’s melodic metalcore bands provide the crowd with lighter songs to chant and dance along to. The varying metal styles created a great mix of aggressive deathcore sounds coming out of the main stage while softer more pop like vocals could be heard flowing from below in the Studio space. The All Stars lineup included bands like Dance Gavin Dance, A Skylit Drive and Upon A Burning Body.

Upon A Burning Body performed a great set, as lead vocalist Danny Leal brought high energy to the crowd featuring songs from their most recent albums, “The World Is My Enemy Now” released last year and “Red.White.Green” released in 2012.

Every style of crowd movement could be seen during the night, from booty shaking and stage diving, to circle pits and karate kicks. It’s one of the best benefits of bringing multiple genres of music together and allows for some of the greatest musical moments I’ve ever seen.

##

Veil of Maya at Webster Hal, August 2015

Veil of Maya at Webster Hal, August 2015