This week, we talk with artists whose work — and sometimes even their mere existence — have caused a kind of social friction (and that’s not a bad thing).
You’ll hear from prolific drummer Madame Gandhi, filmmaker and actor John Cameron Mitchell, musician Black Belt Eagle Scout and composer Gabriel Kahane.
Madame Gandhi Does Everything — :55
Kiran Gandhi first came into the spotlight as musician MIA’s drummer and then as the person who ran the London Marathon in 2015 while free bleeding (meaning she was menstruating, and she did not wear any kind of barrier).
What many people don’t know is that Gandhi also received her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in mathematics, political science and women’s studies.
Her new single, “Bad Habits,” will be out in mid-October, which intentionally coincides with Felabration, a global, weeklong celebration remembering the life and times of Fela Kuti, the artist who inspired the song.
Follow Madame Gandhi’s Spotify playlist, The Future is Female, featuring hand-selected tracks by women identifying artists that inspire her.
A Man Of Many Wigs: John Cameron Mitchell — 16:25
Filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell is best known for his drag masterpiece “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” about an East Berlin ingénue who makes an emotional journey and is reborn as a glam-rock supernova.
Even as Mitchell’s creations blow spectacularly apart, they always come back together in moments of deep tenderness.
He’s in Portland gearing up for screenings of “Hedwig” and his most recent film, “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” on Sept. 15 with live director’s commentary.
Black Belt Eagle Scout Levels Up — 32:16
Musician Katherine Paul, aka Black Belt Eagle Scout, grew up in northern Washington, on the shores of the Swinomish Reservation. She learned to play guitar and drums by watching old VHS tapes of Nirvana and Hole.
In her debut album, “Mother of My Children,” her songs expand, building on cyclic guitar hooks and chant-like vocals that occasionally release and bloom into these floral atmospheric soundscapes. It’s a sonic catharsis.
“Mother of My Children” comes out Sept. 14 on Saddle Creek Records.
How do you write music about homelessness? If you’re the Oregon Symphony, you contact New York composer Gabriel Kahane.
Kahane, whose work includes a song cycle about Craigslist, was given the monumental task of writing a musical piece that dealt with the ongoing issue of homelessness and poverty.
The result was his piece “emergency shelter intake form.”
When the piece premiered, it was met with a mixture of reactions, including some people walking out. Overall, it was very well received and Kahane came back to Portland to perform a live recording.
The symphony’s performance got a huge ovation. You’ll be able to hear it for yourself, in full, in early 2019, when it’s released on iTunes and CD.