Canberra punk/glam outfit Glitoris have a keenly developed sense of identity.
It’s clear to see in their name, provocative artwork, glitter-soaked visual style and challenging lyrics. Their debut EP, The Disgrace, dropped last month, and ahead of its Sydney launch show, the BRAG speaks with these four socially conscious women to get a deeper understanding of their driving motives.
“The reason it’s such a cohesive identity is because we’re singing the truth – most of our lyrics come from our real-world experiences,” says guitarist/vocalist Keven 007. “We also have some incredible artist friends who completely understand what it is we’re trying to achieve. Julia Johnson [Yellow Pony] and Martin Ollman have taken care of our artwork and photography respectively and they’re brilliant at what they do.”
While Glitoris are a relatively new project, the band members aren’t newcomers to the Australian music scene. 007 and her bandmates – known mononymously as Tony (drums), Malcolm (bass) and Andrew (guitar) – have each previously played in a variety of bands, covering everything from punk rock to folk-pop. With this project, however, they’re hitting their stride.
“The identity is an authentic representation of who we are: loud, bold, in-your-face and utterly uncompromising,” says Tony. “The reason it’s such a powerful aesthetic is because it is 100 per cent secure. ‘This is who we are. Do you like us? Great, welcome to the Gliterati, you are one of us. You don’t like us? Then jog on, there’s plenty of bands who sound like they wet the bed – they’re probably the ones for you.’”
The members of Glitoris happily embrace the term ‘punk rock’, and the band’s identity is closely aligned with feminism. They don’t, however, feel allegiance to any specific music scene or subculture.
“Our influences are diverse and evolving,” Malcolm says. “You can hear it in our music. There’s obvious stuff like Rage Against The Machine, who are one of our biggest influences, but there’s stuff that’s more subtle, like Scissor Sisters and Dolly Parton – little harmonies and riffs that are drawn from a deep love, attachment and understanding of music.”
Accordingly, the band’s music is quite varied – some songs contain glam rock elements and pop melodicism, while others are angsty and high-speed. “Punk is not simply a musical style,” says 007. “It’s an aesthetic, a way of life, which is simultaneously a complex politics and a big ‘fuck off’ to everything. It’s about not accepting the status quo. Iggy Pop and the Sex Pistols distilled all that into a musical aesthetic, but it’s long evolved from that. So we’re a 21st century punk band.”
Beyond their musical influences, Glitoris’ output is a response to the multitude of negative elements that exist in the contemporary world – things like capitalist alienation, exploitation and gender inequality.
“We’re just so sick of sitting back and seeing so much unacceptable shit,” says Andrew. “On a local level, that’s Manus Island and Nauru, the horrendous treatment of indigenous Australians, the hounding of a female Prime Minister, the fact that more Australian women have died at the hands of a violent male partner than Australians have at the hands of terrorists. On a global level, we’re sick of the white, wealthy and entitled hyper-masculinity that grabs so unflinchingly at everything it can get for itself and doesn’t care who it exploits or kills in the process.
“Our music is an expression of anger towards the sorts of injustices we’ve mentioned, but it’s also optimistic. It retains a sense of hope. It’s possible to turn this shit around if we stop ignoring it in our Facebook feeds and stop treating it like sound bite entertainment and actually stand up and say, ‘No. This is unacceptable. We won’t stand for it.’”