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)
November 9, 2010
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.