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me me me etc

Kia ora!
I figured I best put some info and links here so you can see and “enjoy” what I been doing. I’m going to treat this blog like a proud grandmother who I forgot to tell important shit to, so bear with me.

WORM HOLE: AN ONLINE LIT ART PROJECT FOR THE NEXT WAVE FESTIVAL IN MELBOURNE 5-22 MAY 2016

I wrote an essay and you can read it HERE

AOTEAROA FUTURISM


Here is the AMAZING radio documentary produced by Sophie Wilson and co-presented by Dan Taipua. If Afrofuturism is where science fiction and technology meets popular culture of the African diaspora, could it be happening in Aotearoa too? Sophie and Dan talk to various Space Maori and Astronesians including myself. I’m at the end of part two. Very buzzy and nerdy and South SPacific, you’ve been warned – such a blessing to be on this!

Listen here:
Part One
Part Two

THE SATURDAY PAPER IN MELBOURNE

I spoke to Australian writer Romy Ash about Aroha Bridge, art and being unfunny in real life lol. Nek minit was on the cover, my expression says it all lmao… sooo you can read the story HERE

SO LET IT BE HOUSE

Violet crew and co(co) back at it again with another International Womans Day rework, listen here and donate cos we’re awesome.
LISTEN HERE!

HOROEKA READING GRANT

Recently I was contacted by author Eleanor Catton (yes that one!) who has established the Horoeka Lancewood Reading grant to support New Zealand writers read and research for 3 months. I was blindsided with this surreal offer (to the point I thuggishly asked if she was lying lol). She wasn’t and I accepted, although I’m still in shock with gratitude. My reading is going to be a ‘used-book bootcamp to enlightenment’. While volunteering in a charity shop weekly, I will serendipitously choose and share the donated works of retro experts, feel-good quacks, random geniuses and buzzkill academics. Wish me luck lol.

MORE INTENSE CONVERSATIONS

Starling Literary Journal

The Happiness Concierge

Was also honoured to have a comic in THREE WORDS the first all-woman comic anthology in New Zealand History! Chyeah! Get your copy here!

Heaps happening this year and this post has only really scratched the surface. Don’t worry proud proverbial grandma, I’ll be back and there’s lots more to come
x c

A psychedelic 2k15 squashed into one blog post basically

YO!
Turns out I forget to write about crucial stuff that’s been happening for coming up to six months plus now, cos I’m cool like that lol. To be fair I was either DOING these things or recovering from them, so my blogging was always busted. I’m also shambolic with the reflective updates these days let’s be real (catch me micro spitting that daily trash on twitter though HA). So here’s the highlight reel which now I’m assessing is CRAAAAAAZY, but it’s been an awesome and brutalful year. It’s been an Aotearoa heavy era for me and am looking forward to travelling again in 2016 but more about that later. This is gonna be a lot of painful ‘this one time’ content so hang tight and here’s what I forgot to tell yuz about:

1. Violet asked me to help her cover the Underground Resistance classic ‘Transition’ for International Womens Day alongside A.M.O.R., Nightwave, Nancy Whang & Mamacita

In a surprise twist this got mad love on Pitchfork, Fader, BBC and even from Underground Resistance themselves – so honoured to smuggle in some Māori alongside this international squad of babes. Not only that but um DONATELLA VERSACE fell in love with it and put it in the Versace 2016 showcase. No I’m not lying lol. This is her quoted in Vogue (again I’m not lying)

And heres an instagram video from the show, we donated our fee to equalitynow.org

The @versace_official finale #mfw

A video posted by i-D (@id_magazine) on

So yeah that was crazy but something else that was FUCKING CRAZY was

2. THAT TIME I WAS A SATIRICAL JOURNALIST CALLED WAHINE JONES ON A MĀORI TV COMEDY POLITICAL SHOW CALLED ‘BROWN EYE’

‘Brown Eye’ featured heaps of comic talent I really look up to and let me experiment with a superiority-complex feminist reporter character called Wahine Jones. I’m completely serious, here are some of her looks lmao

Friday nights at 8:30pm on Māori TV shout out to Pango productions and all the talented people and writers I’ve worked with. I learnt heeeeaps and it hurtled me into the comedic spotlight a bit which I’m still getting my head around. We also got heaps of incredible guests on the show real talking and here I am pout-bullying a pic out of Georgina Beyer, icon and the world’s first transgender member of parliament. It’s also surreal to pretend for a few months you are the best journalist in the country and then you meet the actual best one in the country, shout out to John Campbell.

3. I was on the cover of the Sunday Star Times and it was really buzzy

I spoke to the journalist Michelle Duffy (who was heavily pregnant at the time QUEEN much) about my work and life and she totally put together something well-researched and special. It’s probably my most comprehensive interview to date and I think Michelle’s impending baby vibe got me on a wahine power tip cos I’ve been considered everyones ‘sassy faux woke friend for hire’ ever since this came out hahaha.
You can read it here

4. In a terrifying leap of faith, I asked the world to employ me for awhile

I put out a panui/call-out to the world saying I was free for three months and did anyone have anything they would like to employ me for. This ended up being the most nuts era ever lol. I got to Melbourne and spoke at Westspace Gallery thanks to the people at Liquid Architecture to a jammed house about radical transparency and love and had an amazing time over there seeing my ocka fam. Shout out to Caroline ‘Crystal’ Anderson who was basically the brains behind the mish. Here’s vaguely what I talked about and here’s me 3 beers deep talking to a bunch of Australian strangers who were all really amazing.

I did a talk in the Wellington Opera House alongside all these superwomen, an MIT and Massey University lecture, recorded some music with Kucka in the Red Bull Studios and gave two turbo back to back readings at the amazing Litcrawl event last month! This event was really special, not just because I got to read with my sister squad of writers Sarah Wilson, Courtney Sina Meredith, Faith Wilson, Ines Maria Almeida and Emma Powell but because I even got a chocolate bar made in my honour! It’s been a wild time. I even started writing for the amazing Māori and Pacific weekly online news site e-tangata. You can read my piece on growing up Māori German Samoan HERE and my profile piece on the gifted writer and poet Karlo Mila HERE

4. I was a rangatahi (youth) mentor can you believe it

So amid all these cool and eclectic opportunites I signed on for a project called Manawa Ora. This program is run by an amazing community organisation called ‪Nga Rangatahi Toa‬ and acts as a transition program that connects artists with rangatahi (youth) who’ve been excluded from mainstream education.
So I became a mentor and we put on a showcase at the Herald Theatre for an almost sold-out week. It twisted my melon, actual alchemy and magic happened with these genius kids…. and I was so lucky to be a part of it. I mean look at this squad, maybe apart from that blonde mongrel on the side, adorable!

My little mentoree was a rapper called V’Nesha from Mangere and she was/is an amazing young woman and MC. She has started more plans to perform and even take her own workshops! To push my point further, when Prince Charles came to Aotearoa, V’Nesha and the NRT fam greeted him with an ‘Unfuck The World’ sweater and then got quoted IN THE GUARDIAN. Yes I cried LOL, first it’s rapping, then it’s respectfully trolling the crown, queens these days grow up so fast :)

5. Like an idiot, I am still a writer
So in screenwriting news, big bombshell is that a second cartoon series of ‘Aroha Bridge’ has been green lit by NZ on Air, which is massive! We are currently in the lab now cooking up the scripts, I’m so excited slash tired slash excited lol. Last week I was also in the lab with the Piki scriptwriting collective, workshopping new film scripts for 2016. Here’s a pic of me Taika Waititi and Madeleine Sami which cracks me up cos they look fly and I look like someone just woke me up. Where my shades at?

6. I was a judge!

Yes that’s right I was a judge at the Fafswag Ball! If you follow me and my work you should know what that is by now, but here is a video taken by @chrislorimer on Instagram, I’m the double bunned bitch bopping in the background. SUCH AN HONOUR and I am never judging talent this lethal and incredible ever again lol – waaaaay toooo haaaard!

Category is "Hand Performance" #fafswagball15 #regram @dionboothby @jessic0c0

A video posted by Chris Lorimer (@chrislorimer) on

6. I helped make NZ Comic history!

Three Words is the first all-woman comics anthology in NZ history ever released by a publisher. I know, fucked up but awesome eh! I am so proud of the editorial team Rae Joyce, Indira Neville and Sarah Laing for all their hard work wrangling everyone. I’m glad that they bought me into their coven and idea and let me be a part of not only the project but the game-changing conversation/rupture this has made to such a male strongheld scene. You can pre-order this now from Beatnik Publishing, get it – it’s going to be goooooood!

6. Other things coming up for summer
I’m really excited to have been interviewed by Sophie Wilson on Radio New Zealand about an AMAZING Polynesian Futurism special she is putting together. This is a subject very close to my heart and Wilson speaks to people from all over the generational/outlook spectrum who are flying the South Pacific sci fi transcendental vision flag so don’t miss it, it’s airing on the 12th and 19th December!

The small publisher Cats & Spaghetti Press is releasing a series of poster poems where a writer works with a graphic designer to make a visual poem you can hang on your wall. I was lucky enough to work with my friend and queen Catherine Hunt. Check out the kickstarter!

Badd Energy are playing ONE SHOW ONLY at Psych Fest this weekend after a two year hiatus! Come through.

I have an animated monster of a duet coming out with Disasteradio, produced by Jizmatron and directed by Simon Ward coming out soon but I’ll spam yuz about that later

Also I want to finally put an end to the awesome hassling and make a straight rap mixtape this summer, so if you have beats send them to cocosolid@gmail.com. I want it to be quite wahine heavy so if you make music and wanna get in touch with me please do! (NB: if you want to tell me to hurry up and finish my comic Foodcore which is a year overdue, you are welcome to do that too lol – sorry Matt if you are reading this, it’s coming!)

My birthday is December 23 (same as Soyawi, Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, Harry Shearer aka the voice of Smithers, my friend Sebastian’s dad) and remember you can paypal me money for my birthday OR these are things I want you to buy me:
Thigh high tan suede boots
A new phone with a deceptive airbrushing camera
A new keytar cos I can’t find mine
Ingredients for a Negroni
That cool complicated lingerie that looks like you are gonna go parachuting lol

If you have read this far and you never want to be subjected to this much Coco content again maybe try me where I am daily pontificating, mainly about how food tastes good and water is wet.

www.twitter.com/cocosolid
www.facebook.com/cocosolid
www.instagram.com/jessic0c0

So yeah this year has been amazing. I’ve done heaps of shit but I’ve also spent lots of quality time with my family, incredible friends and met heaps of babes. I feel like I am getting better at being in the moment, switching hats, helping others and remembering to have fun. Sorry it took me so long to report but I swear I will never leave it this long ever again! Arohanui x C

Post Poetry Day and Beyond Token:

Why making more space for Māori, Pasifika and POC Writers is more crucial than ever for New Zealand Literature


POSTER FEATURING THE ARTIST PATI SOLOMNA TYRELL

It was National Poetry Day on Friday 28 August which usually brings out a range of attitudes among those who write within the medium in Aotearoa. For some it’s a crucial platform to maintain the zeal and momentum of our writers. For others it’s a loaded and monumental time where we look backwards at the legacies and canons we consider the classics. For an anxious but talented few, it might be both. They can dust off what they’ve been working on or a poem they like, have a low-key panic attack and read aloud to friends and new audiences nationwide. It’s actually pretty cool for what could be considered a publically malnourished medium and for the masochistic artists who toil in it.

On the subject I remain involved and optimistic. But institutionally assigned days will never get love from me whole-heartedly. And if you think the discourse during Waitangi is intense, try telling someone who hates poetry that you like it.

Whether work is ‘good’ or ‘important’ should be heavily dependent on the context and community that has helped to shape the writer and too often within New Zealand poetry this is skewed towards white institutions and those complicit with them. Such realms could benefit (yes even fiscally) from acknowledging the medium is a source of activism and improved mental health to many, especially for those in the South Pacific who honour the oratory traditions and political struggles of their ancestors as part of their practice. This ‘alternative’ mode of cultural legacy often transcends trend or academic accomplishment. It is how generations have remained alive in spite of efforts to wipe us out, with our sense of selves, history and mana in tact. Storytelling and a rich relationship with language could be considered the core of Polynesia in many ways. My personal hope as a writer is to see that this relationship never gets under-estimated or casually eradicated in the name of colonial taste and decorum, which often dominates poetry discourse. Controlling the conditions and policing the tone when people who are frustrated don’t fit your idea of respectability, (especially when that respectability isn’t being afforded to them within their own desired conditions/tones) well it’s kiiinda why they are frustrated.

I admit I see local poetry politics through a tough love lense, but love remains the operative word. Events, publications and rituals of recognition could still be more inclusive (not to mention inspired) by integrating more marginalised and frustrated voices ACTIVELY. In my opinion we need to actively push for new voices and languages (yes that includes binary code) if we want to revive our literary participation to the purchasing heights of decades gone by. That’s if diversity, inclusion and culturally independent scenes aren’t a strong enough incentive for you.

Māori and Pacific cultures continue to thrive through the sacred bonds of story and poetry, be that a visual narrative of a tattoo/tā moko/tatau, our recognition of narrative within frameworks of whenua/land or through our contemporary affinity with reworking our legends. Ethnic minorities worldwide are pegged as identity or race obsessed by those who perhaps have the privilege of not having these themes dominate their life. If celebrating our survival in a land known to erect monuments dedicated to our demise, or discussing ancestral and political pain in an artfully confronting way doesn’t appeal to you, maybe we could ease up on the comparing parts of my face to a rose. I believe the wise wordsmith called Seal may have beaten us to it and we all have things we believe are played out. Having an indigenous language nearly stolen gets old too, perhaps think about why I’m not writing in Māori and even if I did, why many of you would not feel compelled to understand it.

There are always paradigm shifts and new voices emerging within poetry that excite me. The (gong noise) INTERNET has mobilised many international communities and innovations for writers here and changes in the industry are now not only fathomable, they are happening. In our small presses, profound digital networks and the drives to diversify the monocultural strangleholds of the past – we can now develop what poetry means locally without the burden of geopolitical sacrifice or the consequence of isolation. Peers are everywhere.

So while the spotlight was on poetry last week, I decided to speak specifically to 5 awesome Māori and Pasifika writers, from all different pockets of the craft to share their thoughts and how they spent their day… and how they feel about some of these issues I raise.

Poet Hinemoana Baker (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa and Te Āti Awa) spent the day reading at Dunedin Public Library in celebration and notes this year the date coincided this year with the birthday of Janet Frame.


PHOTO BY LEONARDO CARTER
“I like (National Poetry Day) the way I like Māori Language Week. In other words, mixed feelings. I like the focus it brings to poetry in a sea of competition for everyone’s attention…. is it important? I think so. It’s cool to think of poetry things happening all over the country on the same day. Yeah I guess it’s true to an extent (that Māori and Pacific writers discuss race and identity more often than their Pākeha counterparts) because the alternative is to drown in a sea of whiteness, straightness, homogeny etc. But what it fails to acknowledge (as very few stereotypes do) is that the context. Fish don’t write poetry about breathing water. But if you’re drowning in it, you might have a few things to say. I remind myself that no matter how uncomfortable I may feel in the poetry scene here sometimes, in Aotearoa it is still unlikely that we are going to be tortured or killed for our poetry, the way people are still in some other countries. That doesn’t mean we should fight for the full hierarchy of needs and beyond”.

Karlo Mila spent National Poetry Day offshore. Writing in Hawaii where she is undertaking the Creative New Zealand Fulbright residency in Manoa, the Tongan Samoan and Palagi poet says the day can be powerful.

“Anything that promotes poetry in this country is good in my book. Poetry is so marginalised really so I think anything that mobilises around it being centred in the national consciousness is a positive thing…. some of the coolest readings I’ve been to have been on National Poetry Day. Mostly, I find the poetry community warm, welcoming and there is solidarity among poets. Poetry here (that has mana) is clearly monopolized by the academic, which in my view sucks. It does poetry a disservice because so much of it is not accessible. But… and there is a HUGE but. Now I have met a lot of those authors in person, and it is much harder to generalise in a negative way. I can see that they sacrifice for their craft, dedicate themselves to it wholeheartedly and live in the margins of the mainstream in that tiny undervalued place that is poetry. Finding a poetry section in a mainstream bookstore is more and more hard to find, if not nonexistent. I listen to these poets read in person and I can often find something I like about them and their poetry… I prefer poems that are lyrical and passionate and political and personal. Confessional poetry – which is disdained by many ‘proper poets’ is my favourite kind”.

Courtney Sina Meredith helped to co-ordinate the MIT Talanoa for NZ Poetry Day, where MIT writing students read at the Auckland Airport in the morning. In the evening, the Samoan poet featured at the fourth Auckland Regional Slam Heat for National Poetry Slam.

“We aren’t all the same voice even within our own communities. There is a difference in texture and the complexities of what we want to focus on and what we choose to accept and let go of. I have a steadfast belief that beneath my words are the dreams and aspirations of all the women in my line who never got to howl at the moon…. so my standing within the poetry community is one that’s unfurled from a place of integrity and love. I never set out to speak to kings and queens, I set out wanting to connect with my unique voice because it’s a treasure that’s been passed down over generations. (I want us) to break free of the myth that we are lesser than, the last time I checked we were the most interesting thing about this part of the world. Our differences are what make us unique and powerful. Write in the first voice, the one that comes to you naturally – not the second voice that exists to cut back and water down your wonder. That voice doesn’t have your back”.

Robert Sullivan (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Manu, Ngāti Hau) teaches poetry at the Manukau Institute of Technology. He spent his morning listening to Meredith and her peers read at the Airport Talanoa event before he boarded a plane to see whanau.

“It’s a vital part of the poetry calendar. It gives poets a chance to share the range of forms and themes out there, plus it reminds folks about the meaning of life – Monty Python. We represent a cross-section of NZ brought together by our love for poetry. I like to bring in Maori poetry, we never travel alone. The spoken word or performance poetry scene is far more open to politically charged kinds of writing, whereas the page poetry scene is much quieter, muted in its political expression. I like love poetry, comedic poetry, and political poetry the most. We have all of that here. I’d like to see more publishing opportunities more generally for Maori and PI writers. We don’t put our hands up so readily, or rather, with a few exceptions our writers aren’t as connected into the literary network of publishers and booksellers”.

Faith Wilson, spent her poetry morning reading work at Vic Books in Wellington. The Samoan Palagi poet believes the day bears a responsibility beyond people simply enjoying art.

“I think that in the past, and currently, New Zealand Poetry has been a very colonial institution. It has lauded a very small group of poets that absolutely do not represent or encompass the diversity of poetic voices here. So tied into National Poetry Day are all these ideas of Nation and State and what it means to be a New Zealander and obviously most of the poets represented are white, and what happens when their whiteness is called out? You get your token Maori and PI and ‘Other’ representation. So I think having a National Poetry Day is only important if there is commitment from the highest level to acknowledge diversification and anti-colonialism/pro-indigenisation” Pakeha identity is everywhere. It’s ‘normal’. It’s what most of us have to in some way live, breathe, negotiate around. At some point though, there comes this realisation (for me at least) that as a brown person, you’re not reflected in this normal. I’d like to see an actual committed movement happening here – what’s more effective – one prisoner rattling her cage, or a 5, 10, 20 prisoners all rattling their cage?”

Jewel of Denial: Race & Gender Adventures in New Zealand Comics

On the weekend I attended what might have been one of the most overdue, electric and realest panels I have witnessed in a long time. And in terms of comics… well it was probably the first panel I have related to in my adult life working within the medium. It was part of Comic Fest, a cool event at Wellington Library that moved away from Comic Convention er…conventions and focused on a lot of the local unsung obscuros that are thanklessly keeping the game progressively humming.

I saw two panels. The first was dubbed The Future of Comics, it was all men which was side-eye worthy (soz babe no women in the future) BUT I got to hear from Matt Emery from Pikitia Press, someone I hassled to be in Mana Magazine for a Māori comics feature. On the panel Matt talked about his experience as a self-taught artist and modest comic publisher based in Melbourne. When he casually talked about Māori comic content and identity in his work I realised I was feral starved to hear about these things from a fellow knowing voice. (If you are brown and into comics in this country you often have your history, language and aesthetics looped back to you through an authoritative white dude filter, for real. For those who think I’m exaggerating look Jack Nicholson you can’t handle that truth, but I’ll come back to it).

Anyway Matt moderated the killer panel I saw the next day and even when he was teased and given constructive hell, for me he was the ideal person for the job because it meant I would have a Māori person (!) publicly talking to women (!) about comics (!). A lot of people don’t realise ‘choosing’ between your race and gender battles isn’t a hellish ‘Sophie’s Choice’ scenario for women of colour… um it’s not actually possible, we’re not problematic 3-piece suits that adjust to political temperature – shit don’t work like that. People who walk in multiple marginalised worlds are geared up to be disappointed or disappoint their lucky mono-struggle peers most of the time. The cross-sections of such plights (or academically speaking ‘intersectionality’) matters, so I appreciated the dual visibility is what I’m saying. Being myself comfortably in the comic community is kind of a troubled goal of mine, not that I have a choice lol.

So the talk was with the editors of Three Words. There was cartoonist Sarah Laing, award winning graphic poet Rae Joyce, and comics maker, editor and general genius Indira Neville (who had me in stitches after the panel, she should have her own TV show). Basically Three Words is an upcoming New Zealand comic anthology featuring all women and gender diverse artists. Although there have been all-woman comic collections before, this will be the biggest and the first of it’s kind in Aotearoa boasting 65 artists from across the land from all levels of the medium. When I was first approached to be in the book I was stoked as all-hell but I had no idea that by joining the project and wildcard Facebook group, I was also going to witness the real talk and exciting shit that I had been subconsciously waiting for. Until now I thought comics had disheartened me, but I don’t know if that’s the case anymore. This book and the sense of community it’s building is a big deal.

The trio discussed the genesis and work behind assembling of Three Words and here are some of the things I learnt.

Here are the percentages of women featured in the five largest recent comic anthologies in New Zealand and guess what, the numbers are pathetic

I think when 15% looks like the earnest good guy, you have a serious proportion problem (I wonder what the cultural ratios of those included were too *knowing look*). One of the editors of these collections has responded with the old ‘lack of female artists’ schtick, someone else has said ‘women artists often fail to meet the industry standard’. *Clears throat* so how did the editors of Three Words find 65 artists with very little trouble and with dozens more who couldn’t be in it? And why alongside the punk and proudly untrained artists are there artists featured that would make Stan Lee’s mouth drop? Also who makes those industry standards that y’all are so passionately adhering to? *Beyonce voice* who runs the comic world? Men.

Don’t believe me? Well back in 2007/2008 I was a young buck-ette in a New Zealand comics documentary called The Comics Show. My lo-fi comic with Pritika Lal ‘This Is Not a Comic’ and other work we were both doing within the genre was noted because we were two mixed South Auckland girls and gasp we actually talked about it. This doco was my first taste of realising the space was bleak for women, we came from zine world which was a bit more democratic. I learnt quickly that although I’m noooowhere neeeear a mainstream artist, my music (and my annoying penchant for speaking my mind) made me a trillion times more visible then the countless other female illustrators toiling away in a hilariously undercover art-form and I had to do something about it. While the (talented) men in the doco were plentiful, Robyn Knealy, Pritika and I were left to represent the female comic beast with our knees buckling. (Warning I’m a total f**king dork in this trailer but whatever I’ll take one for the team just so I can prove my point lol, I find it speaks ratio volumes).

Amid all my other arm wrestles, battling for more diversity in New Zealand comics was damn harsh. Pritika and I got nominated for Best New Comic at the National Eric Awards one year but somewhat predictably we didn’t win (Pritika is a genius but my drawing skills were um… still in development lol she basically had to be my art school). We were among the only women at the ceremony and apart from our Samoan bro Mat Hunkin sitting behind us, we were definitely among the only non-Pakeha people there. I was excited to be acknowledged but I guess I just found the whole thing a bit buzzy. In music there’s a bit more melting pot chaos I guess.

Frustrated I almost got an all-girl anthology with my good friend Mitch Marks off the ground (and Indira was cool enough to acknowledge those who have editorially fallen and failed during the panel lol) but the task turned into an intimidating monster on us. I did start an open newspaper called Fight the Fight with mostly multicultural critics and political hot heads in it, looking back I can see this was a knee-jerk reaction to how suffocated I felt. I somehow wrangled Chris Knox into doing a comic submission (which is ridiculous cos I was basically a hack jerk toddler). I felt he understood the mangled cultural spirit in which I worked (he was also a national treasure who told people to get fucked so of course I looked up to him lol). Knox told me in Fight the Fight emails to keep going and I should be proud of myself. He wore his FTF t-shirt everywhere which makes me emo because he actually knew what I was trying to do. But ‘doing something about it’ is hard man. I decided in between rap bullshit and trying to get my writing off the ground, I couldn’t take the sexist racist comics pressure on my own too. I eventually took a break from comics only really working on my zine Philosoflygirl and the odd scribble for people, I just felt like I didn’t belong in it apart from the odd outburst. Apart from a blindsidingly surreal turn with my Hook Ups comic-strip, this is where I’ve quietly been mentally parked for about five years. Comics-wise I was on my own buzz, on my own being the operative words and as much as I hate to admit it….I couldn’t take it.

I think maybe this is why I am so deeply proud of Three Words and what they are doing! Aside from fighting destructive comparison, conformity and perfectionism within the art-form which is so important, they remind me that I do belong and I always did – it was a representational ruse! They have pushed for inclusion of people from all parts of the identity and artistic spectrum. I also admire them because I know how hard it is to keep your chin up in an art-form world renowned for it’s white male know-it-alls (worst blog-post everrr). Rap is the same in some ways, you get shit from dudes who weirdly think you creatively thriving independently of them is a cloaked insult or a threat. It isn’t, sometimes it’s just a perfectly reasonable time to share your voice – which for women and queer people and POC in New Zealand comics is looking like it might be now thank Jah.

And somewhat timely, I recently did a comic for the ‘Between Wind & Water’ art publication that was put out by a South Auckland art collective I love (Ema Tavola, Tanu Gago, Leilani Kake and Luisa Tora). It was my first comic for 2015 and it’s a vague drawn representation of a talk I gave on Polynesian futurism and how the marginalised must speak for ourselves. Funny that. Seems fitting to share a slice of it.

I have a full blown comic coming out later this year called Foodcore, my first ‘grown-up style’ comic which has rendered me a neurotic cliche so wish me luck. And with that I should probably leave you with the podcast of the talk! There are so many zingers and factoids and truth bombs and TENSE MOMENTS but be sure to listen til the end, someone stood up and delivered a korero that had everyone in tears. Support this book when it comes out in a few months! New Zealand comics are dead, long live Aotearoa comics! Lol xx

#comicfest2015 New Zealand Women’s Comics with the editors of Three Words – podcast by Wellington City Libraries on Mixcloud

Rest in Power: Grandfathers, Girl Bands and the multiracial Spock

Today is the one year anniversary of my grandfather passing away.
I’ve already written extensively about him and my grief, I love my homie and I miss him. This weekend I was joking he was like a calm vulcan but with a penchant for beer. 20 minutes later I found out Leonard Nimoy had died.

And welp it turns out I have only cried for three celebrities upon their passing. Though many inspirational and tacky people have come close, I shed a tear (or nine) for Aaliyah, Michael Jackson and the man who played Mr. Spock. I am a huge fan of science fiction and what Nimoy brought to one of the best characterisations within the genre. He directed Bangles music videos, Three Men & A Baby(!), did groundbreaking photography projects about the female body, spoke yiddish and wore his visibility pretty classily if you ask me.

But Nimoy’s passing is timely in another way, as having previously relegated my first band to the nostalgia of a wacky youth – my earliest musical project seems to appearing in pal timelines, inboxes and conversations everywhere I go lately. So I feel I should finally talk about it. And weirdly, without the paradoxes that Spock represented, I might not have been a musician… sheit who knows.

Soooo: from the ages 19-22 I was in an all-girl band called The Pussies.
We rapped but over a drumkit, melodica and me on a casiotone. We were shit to some, we were awesome to others – we just wanted to dress up and tell people to get lost. If you were on K’Rd in the noughties we were there being annoying, negotiating sexist, racist, classist shit and indie kids projecting their fetishes or baggage onto us (our brother band The Mint Chicks and sister band The Coolies got the same deal). We were young, brown and bored. Sri was from central Auckland, but Pritika and I grew up out South together and Mel was from Te Kauwhata. It was new. I should also point out that I felt like I had been chopper-dropped into one of the whitest music scenes in the world.

We each had pseudonyms that we all had gifted each other. Pritika was The Pixel, Sriwhana was Symphony and Melanie our lead-singer was Wawa St Laurent aka Wawa Downey Junior (my personal fav). Melanie is the person who named me Coco Solid. This is because I often lamented poor chocolate quality and was starting to decolonize spectacularly reading Black Panther literature around the clock. I guess I was also the solid buzzkill of the group too because I secretly loved writing and learning the music, the boring part lol.

All of us brought to The Pussies complicated histories and a pride-in-progress with our cultural backgrounds and in this context we were in it was even more obvious. Pritika was Indian and Scottish, Melanie was Māori and Pākeha, Sriwhana was Balinese and Pākeha and I’m Māori German Samoan. When we assembled we were so elated with this make-shift sense of belonging, that we fashioned a sort out multicultural militancy and often declared one had to be tri or biracial to join, dishing out retrospectively flawed manifestos and making everyone angry (except each other and other POC in a pretty white scene, which felt amazing). Our first CDR was called The Mulatto Mix, we didn’t know it at the time but we were (understandably) polarizing as hell and going all out.


(I dropped the ‘a’ in Coco but thats another story for another time lol)

We had a lot of mixed heritage idols we looked up to but strangely none compelled us like the science-fiction archetype of Spock, half vulcan half human. Now my Mum is a trekkie and I always knew of it’s groundbreaking qualities. But Symphony was the die-hard of us all, she wore Spock ears to our DIY photoshoots and is who really turned me on to his many depths and nuances. We watched Nimoy’s metaphorical and conflicted episodes with a relieved gusto. If you aren’t used to being a dominant cultural majority of any sort, man I can’t tell you how good small things like this feel. When you’re face illicits social responses that could give the blue-black/white-gold dress a run for it’s money, its nice to sit around with people who say ‘who gives a shit, let’s be all of it’.

I eventually did a lot of learning and found a less contentious, even more empowered way to balance my Māori German and Pacific cultures without problematically separating myself – something bb Coco would be happy to hear I think. Also if you proposed that band name to me now, I would probably have to have a long think about it – but I’d probably still do it lol. Not many people know about this era of mine, I don’t really talk about it. But as far as an outrageous phase or X-Man origin story goes, I guess it’s a killer. No doubt The Pussies laid down a couple of key idealogical blueprints for when I had the nerve to go solo, with the awesome support of the other members. I named my first solo mixtape ‘Rap n Roll’ after the imaginary genre we invented.

The Pussies was not a cerebral calculated thing, not at first anyway. It was an inclusive joke but quickly we cottoned onto it’s conflict, the insidious origins of everything we were saying and started using the same semantics as weapons that had hurt us growing up. We were obsessed with clothes, crushes and friendship sure but it got deep fast. THAT’s when I learnt an audience changes the meaning and intent of things. This is also where Spock and The Pussies blur for me and become one in principle.

They both taught me nothing can prepare you for the shit others can project on you when you are visibly problematic and unapologetic. We were originally going to be a Josie & The Pussycats tribute act. But as a group of cute ‘ethnic’ post-teens calling themselves ‘The Pussies’ as a multi-levelled joke, I personally watched my feminism blow up over night, I didn’t have a choice. During that tiny rioty window, I had so many revolting disrespectful convos and so many feverishly uplifting exchanges it basically put my outlook on steroids. I learnt about harassment, violence and protecting your friends. I learnt the punk scene is not the open-minded rebel pit it claims to be.

The Pussies also taught me that via these projections, the only panel that has a say on your identity, is the UN in your head. Be it the race people feel you are or aren’t, the ‘sound’ you are trying to go for (is this punk? are you riot girl? or this electroclash? you’re a good rapper, you should be on some real beats!), or how sexual people are expecting you to be (or not be), you are allowed to call the shots and fire them back in anyone’s face who is trying to create you.

Funnily my grandfather carried the same power around with him, but in a much less volatile way. Just this month I spoke on a Pacific Futures Forum and one of the speakers knew my German Samoan grandfather. He said he had never heard such beautifully spoken Samoan come from such a pale face. My Pop, like Spock, like my first band…. all gave themselves freely amid the awkwardness of paradox.

The Pussies imploded like most magical things do, but you should click on and read this column by Nimoy to a young biracial girl. Rest in power to both him, my Pops and biggup The Pussies. Celebrate the things that make you different and listen to the voice.


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