top of page

As a cis/straight/white woman, I have the privilege of having my gender identity validated and accepted. This is absurd. Gender identity should not be a privilege, it should just BE. Not only is my gender identity accepted, it’s inferred; assumed as a default way of existence. But I don’t think I fully realized my privilege until this interview with Ellen. I am so secure in how my identity is perceived, and supported by the general population in how I identify, that it is never even a thought in my mind. I rarely think about it because I don’t have to. This kind of peace of mind is a luxury of our social structures. I have the luxury of existing without care, but if you identify as queer, I’m betting your gender identity is something you think of often.

Ellen Siberian Tiger recently released their single, If a Tree Falls in the Forest… and an accompanying music video. The video is gritty. It shows Ellen trying to speak, but constantly being silenced by two out people wrapping their head in medical gauze in an attempt to silence them. I was able to talk to Ellen Tiberio-Shultz a bit more about song and the video; both focusing on the inequality of existence that the queer community experiences on a daily basis:

CVZ: Why did you write this song? Are you drawing from personal experience?

ELLEN:I wrote this song about my personal experience of understanding and defining my own identity. I would call myself bisexual and non-binary, which is I guess a more qualified way of saying that I’m somewhere in the middle of the binaries of gender and orientation that are most visible in the society I’m in. A lot people don’t really believe in bisexuality or in a spectrum of genders. While I know in my heart that my identity is real and valid, there is a pressure to prove it that I resent, and each day a part of my energy is spent essentially reminding myself that I am real.

CVZ: What is the most important thing you hope people take away from the song? What does your ideal society look like in terms of gender and gender identity? Like, if you could wake up tomorrow and live in your perfect world, what would it be like?

ELLEN: I want it to be easier for people to explore and express the feelings in themselves that are outside their assigned binaries, and I want people to make room for these gray-areas in their perceptions of others as well.

CVZ: What was the inspiration for the music video?

ELLEN: I made the video with Gracie Martin and Michelle Goodwin. Before we filmed anything we talked about art and music, our personal experiences of being raised female, and our experiences dating men. When I initially shared the song and video on the blog alt citizen, the write up talked about the song’s theme of believing in the unseen as a metaphor for believing the victims in cases of abuse. This was a little different than my intention, which is more focused on identity erasure than victim silencing. However I believe that these are two problems that come from the same source, aka structural patriarchy. The feeling of living within the confines of patriarchy and among those who uphold it is a difficult one to define. It feels different for all of us, although from conversations like the one Gracie, Michelle and I had, it’s clear that there are common themes. I won’t speak for them, but what stands out to me is the feeling of being silenced, or of being controlled in some way, or of not being truly seen. These are the themes I think a lot of people can connect to. I’m glad, even if their experience with patriarchy differs from mine, that others can hopefully relate and find something that feels validating or comforting from the song or video.

I could really go on about my personal feelings and intentions with the video, but to be concise: I wanted to share how sometimes being queer feels like the world is trying to cover you up. In the video I’m getting wrapped in medical gauze while I try to sing about exploring and questioning my queer identity. Also, it’s a little cheesy, but even as my mouth is covered in the video I keep singing.

CVZ: Is there anything else that you want people to know about the song or the video?

ELLEN:You can’t have a conversation about structures of power and patriarchy without talking about race. It would be inappropriate for me to try and explain or explore what racism feels like in my art; I’m white so I benefit from the structural racism that’s built into this country. It would be equally inappropriate, I think, for me to draw attention to patriarchy without explicitly stating that it’s part of the same structure as white supremacy. My goal to destroy one must be uncompromisingly linked to a goal to destroy the other.

Watch the music video below, tell us what you think. We need to start having conversations about these issues that are affecting our friends and our community. For a long time I felt shame and embarrassment because I felt ignorant on this subject. I still do. I was worried that I would accidentally offend someone because I didn’t use the correct vocabulary, or because I said something insensitive without realizing it. But we need to talk about this. Our intentions are what matter, and our actions can follow.For those of us for whom the straight-cis-white-heteronormative social structure has benefited and validated us, we must not allow our fear of looking ignorant, or fear of making mistakes, stop us from using our privilege to try to end oppression. We have to communicate, educate, and advocate. Realize we’ll get it wrong sometimes, and take responsibility for the impact of those mistakes when they happen, And if we haven’t yet, we need to join in on the conversation.

by Kristen Levine

34 views0 comments

Updated: May 16, 2020

If you don’t already know Melina Harris and Erik Kramer, listen up. These two play a spectrum of instruments each, perform in countless bands, and hosted a DIY venue in West Philly. They’re staples in punk-rock label Good How Are You Records’ lineups and tracked their new EP at the innovative Berlin Studios. So when we heard they had new music to release, we were all ears.

Together Erik and Melina are Rosemeat, a psych-folk duo often accompanied by Adam Shumpsky on drums and Sean Lally on guitar. Influenced by Big Thief and Radiohead, Rosemeat’s music is eclectic and emotional with ephemeral vocals and sweeping harmonies. Although Melina and Erik have been writing music together since 2015, their individual styles are distinct, and add a diversity of sound to this short but ambitious EP.

Their debut EP, Animal Drama, is available on Bandcamp now as part of a one-day promotion for artists in the corona virus era--100% of sales go directly into artists’ pockets. If you’re like me, and you’re ready to add new tracks to your well-worn quarantine playlist, all four of these new songs will make worthy additions (but my personal favorite is the funky “Shark Bite.”) Follow this link to listen for yourself.

by Paige Walter

9 views0 comments

Welcome CVZ's very first video premiere! We're honored to present this beautiful and thoughtfully created video for the song, Oh My Love, by Little Flowers. The video itself is minimal and deceivingly simple, but when you dig a little deeper, you see how intentional every part of it really is.

The song begins as a one-sided perspective on the end of a relationship and evolves into an exploration of what our purpose is in this life. What drives us to make the choices that we do? Why do we do anything at all? Therese, singer and songwriter of Little Flowers, believes that we are all connected and in order to feel that connection with others, we need to "turn inward...meditating on what it means to be human, and what drives our actions and our words in each moment." What better time than a city-wide quarantine to take time to reflect in ourselves?

The video is a perfect representation of all that Therese wants to express in this song. The first time I saw the video, it reminded me of a meditation tool, something to help focus the mind, like a candle. It becomes a practice in self acceptance. The video parellels the uncomfortable feeling that sometimes happens during meditation, that we are lost or untethered. The glowing light in the video is not only meant to hold our focus, but also let us know that it's ok to feel like an untethered orb of light in the darkness while we try to get our shit together.

Without further adieu, we present: Oh My Love! Enjoy the video! You can listen to Little Flowers' full EP, Glitter, here!

19 views0 comments

Subscribe Form

Stay up to date

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page