Broad Recognition

A Feminist Magazine at Yale

A (Dark Dark) Darker Breed of Feminism: Nona Marie Invie on Activism, Queers, Hole covers, and Being the Only Woman Performing at a Show (Again)

Photo: flickr.com

I recently wrote an article about Dark Dark Dark’s new album, Wild Go. In it I sang songs of praise for the band’s frontwoman, Nona Marie Invie, relaying (my perception of) her unique take on feminism. But Invie will speak for herself. Though Dark Dark Dark is in the midst of a typically relentless tour schedule, Invie was kind enough to answer questions about her particular brand of Feminism and her relation to the feminist movement.

Chloé Rossetti: How often do you give a thought to Feminism, or the Feminist Movement?

Nona Marie Invie: I grew up reading feminist authors and participating more in women’s rights groups and actions. Women that I met in high school and college encouraged me to become an independent woman reaching for my dreams. I wouldn’t be able to write if it weren’t for the poems of Gloria Anzaldua. And I probably never would have sang in front of anyone if I hadn’t started out singing Hole and Babes in Toyland covers. I think a lot about women who have worked hard for their success in music and beyond and they inspire me to keep working harder and writing better songs. Kate Bush is an example of an amazing woman who started writing early and was able to keep control over her career, even when tempted with a big label deal. And women like Chan Marshall and Mary J. Blige are examples of women who have overcome addiction and still make amazing records. I am always searching for female role models who are working hard and leading healthy, sustainable lives. I usually look to my friends who tour without abusing drugs and alcohol for support. But it is hard for me to find accessible role models for the way that I want to live as a touring musician.

CR: Have you ever considered aligning your success with promoting or championing any Women’s Rights causes — any at all, from the most grand to the most personal in nature?

NMI: Right now all of my energy is focused on making and performing good music. I am too busy to participate in direct and overtly political actions the way that I used to. But I often feel like my performance and public presence is a sort of subtle political action. By performing I am facing my fears every day and finding strength from the support of friends and people around me to do so. I try to have a strong face for women and queers in my community.

CR: As a female gaining renown for your music, what sort of image of womanhood do you think you convey to your listeners? Do you try to be a positive role model for your younger listeners, or are you just rocking out and being yourself?

NMI: Hopefully I convey that I am driven, ambitious, grateful to my supportive community. And hopefully I’m showing others that this is possible. We have created this band from practically nothing, from the bottom up, as they say. Hard work and many risks got us to where we are. And mystical elements beyond our control.  I would love to be a positive influence! Am I? I hope so.

CR: You appear to sing more songs than Marshall on your new album — is that significant? Do you consider yourself the frontwoman for the band? If so, do you think that having a female frontwoman affects how your music is received (as opposed to bands with frontmen)?

NMI: Marshall has been spending more time working on behind the scenes projects; art direction for the records, business stuff, etc. So I’ve had more time for writing lately, but I’d only call myself a reluctant front woman. I don’t always feel as outgoing as a frontwoman might be. Or as eloquent. Or as photogenic. But. I like the challenge of being outside of my element. I also like leaving most of it to Marshall and focusing my energy on performing the best I can.  I’ve noticed that I am often the only woman performing at show out of all the bands. I wonder if other people notice this; if this changes the way they watch our band and other bands. I usually have the most fun watching other women sing and play music. Most of my closest musicians friends and muses are women. Women are magical. It’s true. Sometimes it feels powerful and important to be the only woman singing at a show. If I wasn’t there it would just be a bunch of guys on stage. When I first started going to shows it always bothered me when there were no women performing. I found those shows to be boring. I found myself seeking out bands with more women in them. Now I put pressure on myself to sing and perform better because it feels like people might be paying more attention, or paying attention in a different way to our music.  I know that my voice and music stands out amidst all of the male voices.

Chloé Rossetti is a senior in Yale College. She is a staff writer for Broad Recognition.

Comments (4)

  • A great singer and a positive role model for girls/women… Bravo!

    posted by Barefoot Liz      November 11th, 2010 at 4:47 pm

  • I’ve never asked much but each year I always hope I’ll have one or two “musical shocks”; one or two, not more, not three, not four, I’m not greedy. One month ago, Dark dark dark’s music slapped me in the face. In nine days they’ll be performing in my home city in Europe, in a small venue I know well, but I’m in the US now (which is great – and sad). I told all my musican and music-lover friends back there to go and see them. Let’s see if it’ll slap them in the face too. There is this purity in their music, it’s rare and it’s overwhelming. And those vocals! I like the band’s visual universe too, and Nona Marie Invie’s attitude towards music and performing. I think her wondering if she’s a good role model is the proof she is. Musical shock I was saying… ‘not sure I’m making any sense, but anyway. Thanks.for the interview!

    posted by valerie      November 11th, 2010 at 9:31 pm

  • fascinating interview which i read while listening to the band, thank you.
    nona sounds as cool as she sings…v.positive role model.
    my nieces will get the nod.

    ta from england :)

    posted by Dave      December 14th, 2010 at 6:13 am

  • [...] And the gorgeous new video for Dark Dark Dark’s “Wild Go,” from the album of the same name. If any of you are interested about vocalist/accordionist/key player Nona Maria Invie’s feminism, here’s a student interview from Yale where they ask her, and she says she wouldn’t have written songs were it not for Gloria Anzaldua. [...]

    posted by Two Songs, Saturday Evening: « Prodigies & Monsters      April 23rd, 2011 at 8:02 pm

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