To do is to be

I follow a variety of people on Twitter. Among them is a large contingent of musical people—bands of which I am a fan and which Lisa's Hotcakes will never play with, individual musicians, and a few other musical folks.

One in the second category is Hether Fortune. It all started with Mish Way, lead singer for White Lung. Mish is someone I met when we both volunteered at Girls Rock Camp Vancouver. She's not really a friend (I have young friends, but most women 30 years younger than me quite reasonably prefer the company of other 20-somethings) but more someone I know and like and chat with when I see her, like when I go to one of her shows. She's also a journalist, and at one point last year she wrote about Wax Idols and her friend Hether. I had never heard of Wax Idols, but I'm always interested in female-led bands and lo-fi music. I downloaded No Future from eMusic. I loved it.

Later, when I started my Twitter account, I followed Hether. She's certainly one of the most interesting parts of my Twitter feed. You just never know what she's going to tweet. Whatever it is, it's usually entertaining. She doesn't follow me, but occasionally she would respond to replies I would send her. She hasn't done so in quite a while, so I don't know if I've offended her or bored her or maybe that she just hasn't felt like replying. She ought to follow me (everyone ought to!), but people follow whom they want.

Hether is only 25 years old and has already released two albums and two singles (that I know of). And that's only since she got booted out of another band and started Wax Idols. She has a record label and a publicist. She tours. She gets interviewed. I'd say she's doing rather well, on the indie scene at least (she says she hates indie bands, but I need some kind of label).

She says she is broke, and I can believe it, but I bet that won't be true for long. The new Wax Idols album, Domination & Desire, is good. Really good. Dense, layered, and challenging. Whereas No Future (which was basically Hether by herself), was a kind of lo-fi surf punk that was somewhat but not hugely different than several other lo-fi bands I like, Domination & Desire draws heavily on early New Wave, or "post-punk" as people tend to call it these days. Hether might hate this, but the verse section of "When It Happens" reminds me of "The Metro" by Berlin. Thing is, I love that song, so I intend no insult by the reference. Still, for all the Siouxsie Sioux comparisons (sometimes Hether does sound like Siouxsie), this record is more about New Wave inspiration than imitation. The songs with their subverted hooks and dissonant layers go far past the 1980s. And yet in a lovely throwback, the album sounds like a coherent whole meant to be listened to as a whole. This is a record that I like already but that will almost certainly grow on me even more as I listen again and again.

Am I envious of Hether? Kind of. But I also admire her. At 25, I was wasting my life in a haze of smoke and dreaming. It wasn't until I was 27 that I put together a real band, and it wasn't until I was in my 30s that I had a band that was actually pretty good and not just quirky. Even then, though, I did not have the focus that Hether obviously has, and none of my musical endeavours came to much. And here I am now, old enough to be her, well, probably much older than her mother anyway, finally doing a much better job of playing and writing and making a band work. Too little too late?

People like to say that it's never too late. Like, for anything in life. That's only partially true, and certainly only true of some things. I can still play and sing and write—curiously, better than I ever did before. I can still play gigs. I could even tour if I wanted to, although to do so I would need another band (Hotcakes will not tour, at least not at this point). Age does not automatically put limitations on me.

But I'd be lying if I said I had the same energy I did the first time around. Sometimes I do have it both mentally and physically, but not always. It's like being in a start-up company. That's fun and exciting when you're young and willing to put that kind of effort into a job, but usually it's not something you want to do when you get older. And yet here I am in the start-up phase of a band.

If it wasn't music, I doubt I'd be able to do it. But for me, music often supplies the energy my mind and body lack. I truly feel decades younger when I get on stage. I thrive in a recording studio. I don't think I ever feel more alive than when I'm making music.

Even if I can work up the energy, will I have the same opportunities I might have had when I was younger? I will never be 25 again. I have to deal with ageism (and sexism) in a business that's notoriously ageist (and sexist). But I will keep at it as long as I can because I have songs to share and a burning desire to communicate through music with anyone who will listen. Wait until you hear our next record!

No comments: