Dec 2, 2018
Join the Feminist Thrilljoys as we talk with special guests Karen Knox and Gwenlyn Cumyn, the creators and stars of the KindaTV series BARBELLE!
These transcripts would not be possible without the volunteer efforts of our amazing listeners. Huge thanks once again to Liz for helping us out on this episode! Find her on twitter at @Earpnado.
Feminist Thrilljoys – Episode 10 – Barbelle
BL = Bridget Liszewski
KJ = Kat Jetson
VA = Valerie Anne
KK = Karen Knox
GC = Gwenlyn Cumyn
/ indicates that two or more people are talking at the same time
VA: Welcome to Feminist Thrilljoys, a podcast where three women take a break from smashing the patriarchy to chat about the feminist-y things they love. I’m one of your hosts, Valerie Anne.
BL: I’m Bridget Liszewski.
KJ: And I’m Kat Jetson.
GC: And I’m Gwenlyn Cumyn.
KK: And I am Karen Knox, and I believe we are the…special guests?
KJ: Barbelle! We have Barbelle with us.
KK: Oh. Hell. Yes. [laughter] And we are very excited to be here. Gwen and I were recently reunited. We spent a month apart.
VA: Oh no.
KK: I know, it actually was so awful.
KK: I didn’t realize how much…it’s just like every time I have to make a decision now, if Gwen’s not there. [laughter] Productivity was definitely slashed while I was away doing other things. But now we are back together. Gwen, how close are we to finishing the season 2 script?
GC: We’re like, 10 days away.
KJ: That’s very specific. [laughter]
GC: Karen’s gonna be mad because she thinks it’s supposed to be done already. But I mean like, done done in ten days.
KK: You mean we’re sending out the first drafts to everybody on Monday.
GC: Yes. But we’re gonna be done done in ten days.
KK: OK great. OK, I can deal with that.
VA: That’s exciting!
KJ: Do you just sit facing each other with your laptops just writing scripts?
GC: Yeah. [laughter] That’s exactly what we do. But then in this funny editing phase that we’re in, with the program that we use, only one person can make changes. Otherwise the script gets all messed up and very confused. So sometimes we just sit in front of the same laptop or Karen just reads aloud to me the changes that she’s making and I trust. [laughter]
KJ: That’s adorably productive.
BL: So just before we get going too much farther, just because I know my mom and my sister are listening that have no idea maybe what Barbelle is [laughter]
BL: Yeah I know, c’mon mom. Barbelle is a series that’s on KindaTV on YouTube, and you guys created it, wrote it, you did some directing on it, and then you star in it. And it’s about two bandmates, I guess you guys could correct me if I’m wrong, that they’re a hit pop due in Toronto and they’re dating in real life. But then right before they have to make their second album, they break up and have to fake that they’re in still in this relationship. That’s just the quick because in case we have listeners that maybe haven’t seen it. Which what are you doing, go watch season one right now.
KK: That’s the best elevator pitch of Barbelle I’ve ever heard. [laughter]
BL: I got nervous because I barely have any notes for this episode and I usually have a full outline and I have no notes, so.
KK: Seriously, like what are you doing after this? Do you want to be our PR rep? [laughter]
KJ: You have ten days Bridget, to write the rest of the episodes.
BL: I don’t even attempt to think I could write something this funny.
KK: Well, we hope it’s funny. [laughter]
BL: No, it is. We wanted to have you guys on, as you said you’re working on season two but you’re running a Indiegogo campaign to also raise money. You have some funding through Bell Media I think again, but can you guys just talk about why you’re also having the Indiegogo season two campaign, and what that money maybe is going to be used for?
KK: Oh hell yes, Gwen, you want to field that questions?
GC: Yeah, yeah. Our first season we made with a very petite bit of money and the kindness and generosity and creativity of so many people. This season we have been lucky enough to get this grant, which will make it all possible again. But we really want to support and kind of, you know, thank these people who helped us so much with making season one, by doing what everyone in the industry should do and pay the people who work for them. [laughter]
VA: What a concept!
KJ: They’ll really appreciate that.
GC: Yeah. So we’re very excited to be paying people. Not quite the Hollywood rates that they’re definitely worthy of but paying them those indie standard rates that’s so important and just makes it possible. Volunteering your time to make this kind of thing is hard, and love of the work only gets you so far. And everyone who works with us is amazing, and this is there time.
KJ: Even the campaign is part of the creation, because you’re really clever, I love the little song that you did. Do you want that plot, put money in the pot. I got big joy out of that. You do have to be clever. You could just ask for money and just be like please help us, but you did put a lot of effort into that.
GC: You know, we’ve seen a lot of Indiegogo campaigns and Kickstarter campaigns and we know what we hate. [laughter] I’ll be honest, asking for money is not a fun thing to do. But we want to have fun, you know as much fun as we can, with it. Otherwise you get a bit tired of seeing the same thing over and over again. So we try and bring the lol’s [said as lowls] [laughter]
BL: One of the things I thought was really cool was you guys were talking about, like you mentioned about paying people to do the work, that you guys have a mostly female identifying and queer film crew that is helping you. I think when I talked to Karen about this for the TV Junkies, which you guys can read online, you talked Karen about how if you accept that as a marginalized community then that’s what the industry is going to see as OK, that you’re accepting that. So it was really important for you guys to make sure that that’s not what you’re accepting for this project, so I thought that was really cool.
KK: Yeah, you can’t allow the standard to become donated time. Especially when it’s media that is being made by marginalized filmmakers and media makers. Because then if higher ups see that, and they’re like well you know they made the last season and everybody donated their because it was such a passion project, it’s our responsibility I think as producers to make sure that in future iterations of projects of a similar genre that are very much passion projects don’t get sort of swept to the side and come to be viewed as products that can be got for free. Because work that everybody is doing…because our crew is mostly female identifying and a lot of queer identifying folks, we want to make sure that they [sings] are getting paid, [speaks] exactly what everybody is getting paid on the third season of Taken or whatever show that has 90% dudes that are like, doin it. So I just think yeah, that was huge part for us. If we didn’t have the support of the Bell Fund, we would not be making the second season. We thought if we don’t have better funding this time around for season two then we cannot make season two. We can’t, as producers, move forward with a clean conscience asking people to work for less than they’re worth again.
GC: We are so stoked.
KK: Everybody else is helping us out because it means that we value the work that we’re putting into the world and it means that the fans value the work, and we value the work. It’s very exciting and we’re so grateful.
KJ: I think it’s important too to just be responsible content makers. You’re really stepping up to the plate with that.
GC: Thank you.
KJ: When you were talking about I was like yes, absolutely.
VA: Yeah I was nodding along like yeah, yeah, yeah. [laughter]
GC: It’s tough with content that’s like for made by marginalized creators for marginalized audiences or underrepresented audiences, then it’s harder to get the money in the first place. So you do have this feeling like you’re relegated to the internet and you really have to prove yourself. So in that sense, I’m really glad that the first season took off and we were given that opportunity to prove ourselves. Now the funding is slowly but surely coming our way. That’s exciting.
KK: And that definitely would not have been possible without…we did an Indiegogo for season one, and a lot of people took a chance on us and believed in us. I think it really paid off. We worked really hard and we made something cool and now we get to make something even cooler.
KJ: I mean, you’re promising Spice Girls level of content. [laughter]
BL: Lesbian Spice World. That is what you guys bill it as.
VA: Which is the dream really.
GC: Yeah, that’s the best way to describe the whole thing, I think. Lesbian Spice World in Toronto. [laughter]
KJ: Would your double decker bus have a maple leaf on it then? [laughter]
GC: Absolutely. And maple syrup on top, you know.
BL: So you do have the campaign going. I think when this comes out it will still be at least maybe a week, depending on when this gets out. Kat mentioned the video you guys made for the campaign, but you guys have some really cool perks as well depending on how much people want to donate. You can get a Instagram story shout out. Which I noticed that Gwen, you got really good at making Instagram stories while Karen was away, so kudos to that.
GC: Thank you! [laughter] It’s very difficult and again, we’re just better at it together. [laughter]
BL: That is why we leave all the social for this podcast to Valerie Anne.
VA: Yeah I do all the social. Sometimes they try to do it [laughter] and then I have to take back over again.
KJ: We ask beforehand if we can hit send.
VA: It’s funny, I accidentally put the fear of God in them about tweeting on their own without my approval.
KK: That’s so funny.
VA: They’re like can I tweet this? I’m like yes, of course, it’s our Twitter it’s fine. [laughter]
BL: We don’t even try Instagram stories so I thought that was very brave Gwen.
GC: It’s next level. But that’s also our relationship. It was a big leap of faith for Karen to trust me to tweet and Instagram things that she hadn’t previously sent for me tweet and Instagram. [laughter]
KK: You have become like young Padawan, you have learned. [laughter]
GC: Thank you.
KK: Your social media skills have really excelled.
GC: I appreciate it. I still forget to hashtag things, but I’ll get there. [laughter]
KJ: You can fix that on Instagram. You can update on Instagram at least, you can edit. So don’t worry about it too much. Fifty percent of the time you don’t have to worry.
GC: You just can’t edit a tweet, it’s so annoying.
VA: I also hate that if you schedule a tweet in Tweetdeck, you can’t edit it if you’ve added a picture to it. It’s a whole thing, I have a lot of social media issues.
GC: Oh dear.
VA: And it’s changing all the time. Stories especially. I feel like every day there’s a new thing you can do with it. Keeping up with it is tricky.
BL: And talking about social media, in Barbelle season one Alice, who Gwen plays is very social media adverse and Veronica is the one that kind of takes that. I guess you guys obviously based a lot of those characters in yourself I’m guessing then.
KK: Um, I would say yes and no. I don’t know Gwen, what you do think about that.
GC: I mean, yes. We wrote them not really having in mind who was going to play who. But then definitely I think ended up playing the characters who are just massively extreme dysfunctional versions of ourselves. [laughter] Does that make sense Karen?
KK: Yes. [laughter]
VA: Uh oh.
KK: Yes, I would agree.
GC: You would agree?
KK: Yes, I would definitely agree. [laughter]
GC: OK. OK good.
KK: For sure. And I think it’s funny, we haven’t really talked about this, but I think that in season two the growth that Veronica and Alice go through, even the characters that they become, even in the opener for season two, are reflections of the growth that we’ve gone through as human beings in the last year and a half since we wrote those initial scripts.
GC: Oh yeah, hadn’t thought about that. But maybe.
KK: Maybe I’m just thinking about Veronica. OK Gwen, we have to say this thing. Last night when were texting about how we were going to have a call about our talking points in the morning [laughter]
KJ: Oh my God, adorable.
BL: I love you guys. [laughter] You are like my people.
KK: I’m afraid I’m going to get too spoiler-y on the podcast, so we need to have a safeword for if either of us gets too spoiler-y about season two [laughter]. So the word for all the listeners is lobster. If Gwen says lobster I immediately have to stop talking [laughter]. If I say lobster, Gwen has to stop talking.
KJ: Oh wow, it’s like Emily Andras/
VA: /And if it goes too far past lobster, you can just shout Deb! And our editor will edit it out for you. [laughter]
GC: Thank you Deb.
BL: She’s like an angel. She’s an angel that helps us out.
KK: Blessings to Deb. Deb, you are much appreciated.
BL: Talking about season two, you guys ended, since we’re talking about possible spoilers, you guys ended on a big cliffhanger in season one. Which again, if you’re listening and don’t know, go watch. What can you tell us about what might be coming in season two?
GC: OK. [laughter]
BL: Lobster. Lobster. Lobster.
GC: We can say that they’re reunited, right?
GC: Nope, lobster. Deb!
KK: I think that’s safe to say. Yes, I think the reunion…well spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t watched the season.
BL: That’s their fault. They should go watch and then come back to this.
KK: The reunion that happens at the end of season one carries over to season two. In some way, shape, or form.
KJ: Oh, OK. Is it like the shape of water? Like, what form? [laughter]
BL: A lobster. Kat, have you not been following.
KK: And the show has become about Alice’s love for the newly metamorphized Veronica who is now just a lobster that she’s bringing around.
KJ: Iiiit got weird.
KK: It sucks because we wrote before The Shape of Water came out and then we were like they stole our bit! [laughter]
GC: We just wanted to kind of self-destruct in a really artsy way a la MGMT’s second album, you know? [laughter]
KJ: Oh wow.
GC: Do something really conceptual.
KJ: I have a question about the songs in the series. I love music. I’m curious because we don’t really get full songs. We get these little snippets of songs. Some of them are just brilliant and really funny. I’m wondering are all of those songs full songs and then you take snippets, or are you writing snippets? And is it more hard to just write snippets or more hard to write full songs? You know what I’m saying? The snippets are just like, really funny.
GC: Yeah, we write full songs. But they’re all short songs. One minute, one minute thirty maybe. Two minutes max. Then we take the snippets we need through editing. Then we also sometimes, you know, we make full music videos for the full minute and a half long songs. Which I believe are all up on YouTube. We even did one for “Selfish Shellfish”, which is a song that Veronica doodles around and makes up at the end of, no the beginning of episode eight. Is that right Karen?
GC: Yeah. So then we went back later and recorded a full version of that song, and then shot a music video for it. Even for the little…the songs that are playing in the background of Lulu’s birthday party episode, that her family has on the record player. That’s us singing six versions of “Johnny Appleseed” [laughter] in our best 70’s folk impression.
VA: That’s amazing.
GC: And I think all of it is up on Bandcamp? Is that right?
KK: Yes. You can get all the music too, if you want. All the original music. For season two we are writing more new music which we are very excited about. I personally am always the most excited about writing Lulu’s music because it tends to be the cheesiest, most fun, silly stuff. Gwen, lobster me if I’m going to far here, but in the second season Lulu has a new band, and they’re called Lulu and Le Bebe. [laughter] Their sound is just a little bit more edgy than Lulu was in the first season. We sort of have this one track that’s going to be theirs almost finished, and it’s so dumb and I LOVE IT! [laughter]
VA: So dumb and I love it is perfect.
KK: Imagine Christina Aguilera in like, circa very early 2000s. Kind of doing the “Dirty” phase. A lot of like [sing grunting] [laughter] It’s so stupid and I love it so much.
GC: Yeah, I don’t think that’s too spoiler-y. In fact I think we had so much fun with Lulu’s music last time that we’ve accidentally written more of Lulu’s music than Barbelle’s music? [laughter]
KK: Which we have ten days to fix, right?
GC: Yes, so that might not stay true. But at the moment that’s true.
KJ: Maybe you could just call your show for season three Lulubelle then.
KK: Or just go whole hog and just call it Lulu and Le Bebe. [laughter]
BL: So Lulu is obviously coming back for season two. Can you preview any other characters that might be coming back? I know you guys announced a pretty exciting casting too for season too.
KK: [excited screech] We sure did. Gwen, you want to talk about that?
GC: Yes. We have the fabulous Javier Lopez in as a new addition to Lulu’s new band, Lulu and Le Bebe. He will be one of the Bebes [laughter]. And what other…I don’t know if we can…
KK: Well we cast Kiana Madeira, who was playing Brooklyn in the first season. Who, newsflash everybody, is about to be playing a genderbent character on CW’s The Flash if you are a Flash fan.
VA: Oh, that’s amazing.
KK: She’s playing the Spin. Which I think in the original comics is a man, or like a boy. A young laddy. They’ve recast it as a lady and Kiana is going to be taking on that part. I think she’s already filming. Luckily we’re going to get her back for season two as Brooklyn as well.
VA: That’s amazing. She’s great.
KK: Oh she is the bomb.
GC: The best.
KK: Soooo great. I remember, Gwen do you remember her audition, she left and we were just like oh yeah oh yeah oh yeah. Done. [laughter] She has such a big heart and she’s so good. We’re so lucky to be working with her. I’m so happy. We were a little nervous when we heard about The Flash casting we were like oh no, are we going to be able to get her for season two now? But luckily we’re going to be able to make it work. So we’re very happy about that.
GC: I’m still nervous that talking about it is going to jinx it, but I think we’ll be OK.
VA: Just gonna put it out into the universe. It’s gonna be positive energy.
KK: Kiana will be back. We have a new villain that we are introducing, which is probably the character that I’m the most excited about for season two.
GC: Yes, I’m with you.
KK: She is next level horrible. [laughter] I adore her. I adore…ugh, I don’t know if I can say that. She’s so awful, but I love what we’ve created.
VA: Love to hate her.
KK: Love to hate her so much.
KJ: I mean you wrote it, so.
GC: Exactly. I think we can say we’re bringing back our now kind of vanilla villain from season one, record executive Richard.
KJ: Oh, love that character.
GC: Yeah, there’ll be more Richard-isms.
KK: OK, so this is one thing that we can say about season two. So in season two Richard’s trying to get woke. [laughter]
VA: Oh no.
KK: Oh yes. [laughter] So Richard has kind of become a scapegoat for people who are misgendering people or trying to get the categorizations right. Constantly apologizing but trying to learn. Being like no, no, no, you gotta get all of their classifications right. It’s very funny to watch him try to be as woke as possible. We had a lot of fun writing that aspect of him.
GC: And he fails, every time. [laughter]
KK: I think at the end he has some. I think we should redeem him at the end in some way.
GC: OK, we have ten days.
KJ: I was going to say you have ten days to write that. [laughter]
BL: So I can’t believe Kat hasn’t thanked you guys yet for putting Natasha Negovanlis in the floppy hat in episode nine. I’ve been waiting for that.
KJ: I’ve been trying to keep that/
BL: /You’ve done really well. I know, I just called you out. I’m sorry. [laughter]
KJ: It’s OK. I mean I had never watched a webseries before. I didn’t even know that was a thing. Honestly, I feel like someone who is ancient or archaic or so out of touch. But literally I just didn’t know that there was tons of new content that was being made and that there are rabid fans. And then I started watching Carmilla, and then of course fell in love with – how could you not – gay vampire. I don’t even know what there isn’t to love. And then Bridget was like oh, you have to watch Barbelle. I remember I watched the preview, the little snippet, and I saw Natasha Negovanlis is in it and I was like yes! And she’s wearing a floppy hat. And I swear she looks exactly like this woman. This entire band, they’re called Black Belles…they have an album cover and they’re wearing all these big floppy black hats. It was just a dream for me. It was as if Natasha was in Black Belles.
KK: Oh yes.
KJ: Anyhow this woman, this band Black Belles, I will get into it just for one second…the singer is on tour right now with Jack White.
KK: I was going to say, I thought, isn’t Jack White somehow involved with that band?
KJ: Yeah, that’s his band. And Olivia Jean is the woman. She can play every instrument and she’s gorgeous. The music is just awesome. I don’t know how we got onto that, but there you go. Floppy hat. Thank you for putting Natasha in that and having her slap you around Karen.
VA: That was a great episode.
KK: Slapping around. That was definitely Gwen’s idea. That was definitely not my idea. [laughter]
GC: It was. And I thought it was a really fun device for time travel. Little did I realize I accidentally stole it from a Matthew McConaughey movie.
GC: Yes, which is eerily similar to Natasha’s name in Barbelle. It’s called Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, I’m pretty sure.
KK: This is like the second time in a week where I think I have a great idea for a new tv series or movie, and then it’s a romcom from the early 2000’s and I’m like what? No! Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mac already did that?! I’m like that’s not fair, that was my idea. [laughter] It’s like the romcoms they just snap up all the good ideas and then make them into shitty romcoms. And you’re like I can’t do an arthouse version of this, it’s already been done by Ashton Kutcher in the early 2000’s. [laughter]
KJ: But you did it.
VA: I mean, Ashton Kutcher and Justin Timberlake came out with the same exact movie in the same summer, so I feel like you can definitely do it better.
KK: Which movie was that?
VA: It was the one that was like…one of them was called Friends With Benefits and the other one was No Strings Attached. It was the same concept of a guy and a girl trying to figure out if they could hook up without being in a relationship.
KJ: There were two movies about volcanoes too in one year, so. [laughter]
KK: Are you talking about Dante’s Peak?
KJ: Dante’s Peak and the other one with Tommy Lee Jones which I cannot remember the name of. I saw both.
KK: I always mix up The Prestige and The Illusionist. I guess if something’s a hot button issue, you just want to make a movie out of it.
VA: Yeah, like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is just, it’s eternal.
KK: Yeah, a hundred percent. I guess we did the gender spin on it too. We were just following the big Hollywood trends.
GC: From 2009. [laughter]
KK: A little late to the party.
BL: I think we would all be here if you want to redo all those movies and cast female leads instead. Valerie was talking about how someone should redo Indiana Jones with a woman, and that was all we could think about then, so.
VA: Nostalgia’s really in right now.
GC: What’s really in?
GC: Oh yeah. Nostalgia’s hot.
KK: I thought that they were making Indiana Jones with a lady. I feel like I read a Vulture article about that. Maybe that was just a dream. A dream fantasy that I have. My agent would be like Karen they want you to read for it. [laughter]
KJ: I love how someone was just like oh, and then you could call it something else.
VA: They said Indiana Jane. I’m like Jones isn’t his first name, why would you do that? [laughter]
KK: Yeah no, Indiana Jones has gotta be just straight up Indiana Jones.
VA: Yeah, exactly.
GC: Or do you think like with that similar kind of James Bond that I feel like the world’s been having, do we just need an archeolo…oh man, how do you say that world? Archeologist thriller that’s free of the franchise.
KK: That is about this super cool female heroine.
VA: Isn’t that just Tomb Raider? [laughter]
KK: Oh man.
VA: I’m just kidding, there’s definitely room for more archeologist adventures.
KJ: Or just Gillian Anderson in a tux, and you could call it whatever you want, I don’t know. If you want to do some James Bond-y thing.
KK: Yeah, we don’t need Jane Bond. We just need some other/
KJ: /Gillian Anderson. [laughter]
KJ: Just trust me on this.
BL: So did you guys have anything else Barbelle related that we should hit on? You guys brought us some cool topics to Thrilljoys over.
KK: Gwen, would you like to begin? Oh, do you want to talk about Kelly’s nomination?
GC: Yes! Our fabulous director Kelly Paoli was just nominated for best filmmaker at the…how do you say it, Bilbao Festival in Spain.
VA: That’s amazing!
GC: Very exciting.
KK: We won’t be able to go to the festival because we’re gonna be filming season two when it takes place, but we’re still so excited and happy for her.
KJ: Aww, darn, you can’t go to Spain.
KK: I know!
GC: You sound sarcastic, but…
KJ: No, film it in Spain! Just bring everybody there. Bring the rest of the people there.
BL: World tour, world tour.
GC: Alright Karen we have ten days. We’re writing in Spain.
KK: So about it. Listen guys, we’re writing in Spain so you really need to donate to the Indiegogo. [laughter]
GC: Yeah. We have flights to pay for. And then we also, Karen do you want to talk about TIFF and Victoria?
KK: Yeah, so our cinematographer Victoria Long, who is just one of my biggest crushes in the entire world. She’s so amazing, if you haven’t checked out her other work the best way to find it is through her Instagram, heracreative, which is her production company. We’ve made some films together. Gwen and Victoria and I also made a little short film for the TIFFx Instagram competition, which is films that are one minute or less. We were selected from a huge array of submissions to be featured within the competition. Victoria is being honored at the festival as one of the directors of these one minute films. If you want to check it out you can go to the TIFF, which is the Toronto International Film Festival, which is about to kick off here in Toronto very shortly, you an go to their Instagram page and you can check it out. Ours is called The Fates. It’s like, what do we call it, a feminist horror fable is what we called it.
KJ: In one minute?
KK: In one minute.
KJ: You guys work well in snippets. [laughter]
KK: We do. It’s so funny. Gwen and I were saying that the other day. We work best when it’s fast and weird. [laughter] Also kind of applies to another aspect of my life. [laughter]
KJ: I mean I took that someplace where I guess I should’ve taken it, right?
KK: Yes. Do what you will.
KJ: Thank you, thank you very much.
KK: Yeah, so if you want to check it out the TIFF Instagram page, it’s on there and you can watch it. And it will only take a minute of your life, so. [laughter]
BL: That’s what I love about you guys. You’re not just like hey we’re feminists and we want to push all this stuff. You guys are actually just going out and making all this really cool content in any way possible that you can. I think that’s really cool.
KK: Any way we can is kind of the adjective to apply to it. We’re almost picture locked on another short that we just created too. Which is like apropos the…sort of like, Gwen how would I describe it? It’s about the first fifteen minutes in a hotel room after the news story breaks about a heavy weight comedian sort of like Louis CK, that he has assaulted five different women. But you never meet the guy, it’s actually all about the women in his life. It’s about his publicist, his daughter, his wife, and his lawyer who is loosely disguised as this really famous lawyer from Toronto named Marie Henein who defended Jian Ghomeshi in the trial that happened a couple years ago. So we’re working on that too. It’s a short right now, but we’re actually going to pitch it around too because we think it would make a really cool TV series.
VA: That sounds amazing.
KK: Yeah we’re making lots of stuff.
VA: Do you guys ever sleep?
BL: Sleep is for the weak, Valerie. It’s for the weak.
KK: Have you guys heard of the phrase the sleepless elite? I read about this the other day.
KJ: I don’t like it.
KK: I actually am such a much better human when I have eight hours. But it’s a subclass of human that can exist on four hours of sleep or less a night, and it has no effect on their well-being.
VA: I read that too, and I was so jealous. I was like this is the rudest thing I’ve ever been told that exists. [laughter]
KJ: What is it called? Sleepless elite?
KK: Yeah, the sleepless elite.
KJ: Ugh, it sounds like someone really horrible made that up. [laughter]
BL: They had to make themselves feel good, that they weren’t getting to sleep.
KJ: It sounds like the 80’s all over again. It sounds like a yuppy from Wall Street or something.
BL: I’m just picturing Christian Bale in American Psycho.
KJ: Mhmm. It sounds like something that you could write in ten days and make fun of and do a new webseries. [laughter]
GC: Challenge accepted.
BL: OK, so we got/
KJ: /I feel like Bridget is our leader here. I’m so sorry Bridget. I’m making you tee up everybody, I apologize.
BL: I feel like I’m moderating this podcast, I know. [laughter]
KK: Thank you for moderating. Thank you for doing the unpaid social labor of moderating.
BL: Yeah, so I think we hit everything on Barbelle, but you guys…we told you guys that our thing is we kind of love to come on here and just shout about feminist-y related things that we like in the media. So you guys graciously took our directive and did some homework and brought some topics, so we appreciate that. So you guys are going to take the lead here I guess and lead us onto some topics that you wanted to talk about.
KK: Oh. Hell. Yes. Gwen, would you like to start or shall I?
GC: I can start. I watch a lot of TV, and because it’s what I want to do professionally, I won’t admit that it’s an addiction. [laughter]
VA: You’re in good company.
GC: So I just finished watching this show on Starz called Vida. I think it’s six parts. I loved it so much. It’s a drama about two Mexican-American sisters from east LA but they’ve since moved away, but they have to come back to their old stomping grounds when their mother passes away. They found out that they’ve inherited the bar that she almost systematically ran into the ground. Throughout the series they found out that the bar that they would really like to sell is actually quite important to the community. It’s fabulous queer content, wonderful interesting Latinx portrayal that I haven’t really seen maybe anywhere else. Sexy, very sexy. [laughter]
BL: Very sexy. I was clutching my pearls on the one scene, man. [laughter] I was like what? No one warned me. I was like woah.
GC: And then also, I haven’t finished this one, but I just started watching Z: The Beginning of Everything on Amazon Prime. That’s about Zelda Fitzgerald. That’s a story we probably all know about how dear old F. Scott was a bit of a dick. [laughter] He stole a lot of her ideas and her work. Anyway, but you know, fabulous flapper dresses and beautiful sets. And Christina Ricci. So, there. That’s also wonderful.
BL: I watched Vida as well, I will second that one. I haven’t actually heard of the other one. I really enjoyed Vida. I liked that it was only six episodes. I thought that was fun, so it’s a really good binge. Like you said, it’s a really good depiction of Latinx characters, but then they have a whole writers room and their showrunner is all Latinx people and queer people which is really awesome. They just did the whole thing with the One Day at a Time creators too to raise money for RAICES. I think it’s a show definitely worthy of supporting. The people behind it seem really good.
GC: Yeah, I didn’t know that, but that’s awesome.
KJ: Bridget knows everything.
GC: Knows everything. And I feel like I always appreciate a shortened season, but I feel like they left off in a wonderful place for a second season to take off. I don’t know how you feel about that.
BL: Yeah, no I agree. I actually wanted more. I wish we would’ve had eight episodes. I say that I like the short episodes but I could’ve used more. I feel like the beginning did start a little rough for me, but then it was like they really found their footing and by the end of the six episodes I was really into it.
GC: Yeah I’m with ya. Alright that’s me. Karen?
KK: Hmm. [laughter] The first one I want to talk about is slightly Barbelle related, which has to do with Tegan and Sara, our Gay-nadian musical heroes.
VA: Gay-nadian. [laughter]
KK: You guys never heard that before?
VA: I haven’t and I love it.
KK: If you like…anyways, nevermind. We talk about the accent and how sometimes it just kind of sounds like you’re saying Gay-nadians if you’re in a certain part of eastern Canada.
KJ: It’s true, Canadians really do do everything better. [laughter]
KK: No, c’mon. Go on, go on.
KJ: It’s true.
BL: She just married a Canadian that’s why.
KK: You’re totally biased.
VA: Gay-nadians is perfect because I always say all the best queer content comes out of Canada.
KK: Right? Let’s get that hashtag going.
KJ: Immediately, like as soon as…I’m sorry Valerie I’m gonna take over our social media with just Gay-nadian. [laughter]
KK: Nice. So anyways yes, these Gay-nadian heroes Tegan and Sara are fronting a new initiative called Women in Music Canada. They have been doing a lot of work for better representation in terms of recognition for female musicians in Canada and globally. Women in Music is a global organization but they had upped the Canadian section of it. So just a few little facts here about recognition for women in music. The JUNO’s, which are the Canadian version of the Grammy’s. So last year at the JUNO’s in eight categories not a single woman was recognized. And in twelve other categories only one in five of the nominees included a woman.
KK: So less than fifteen percent of the nominees at the JUNO’s in 2017 were female.
VA: Holy fuck.
KK: Like fuckin astounding, yeah. It’s absolutely unacceptable. A lot of these categories are technical categories like engineering, producing, mixing, where we just don’t see enough women. That’s a big problem because the producers have such a huge impact, as we can see through Barbelle, on the direction of the music and how it gets heard. I think in the same way we’ve heard a lot about why it’s so important to have female cinematographers because we need to invite the female gaze so that we can see women through the lens of a woman. In the same way I think, on a different level, we need to be able to hear music through the ear of a woman. I think if it’s going through studios…if a woman’s recording it or playing the music, but then every other iteration of polishing that happens before it goes on the radio or you hear it downloading it on iTunes or whatever, is through a male perspective then I think that’s a little bit problematic. I think it doesn’t set up female musicians to be able to express the female sound in a way that could be as fully realized if there were other women. Just the opportunity to work with other women. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t be working with men ever, but I think it’s important to offer the possibility of working with a female producer or a female sound engineer or mixer. Just because a lot of the time it can be difficult to work with dudes who think they know a lot more than you do in technical fields. It’s happened to me so many times in the editing suite, in mixing sessions where I don’t understand something but I know I have to come out with my big dick energy otherwise I’m gonna get second guessed, so. I love what Tegan and Sara are doing. They’re really working hard to make sure that more women are getting into technical fields in music and that more women are being recognized in these categories in terms of the JUNO’s and whatever. They’re providing internship opportunities and bursary funds for emerging female musicians in Canada which I think is so cool, so huge shout out to them. I think it’s amazing the work that they’re doing. We’re really excited in Barbelle to be repping female musicians, and how that is important.
VA: Yeah. That’s amazing.
KJ: I hadn’t even thought about that. You’re so right.
BL: That’s what I was thinking.
KJ: As someone who…my first thought is I would love to see more female musicians. I’m thinking, and I cannot think of one female record producer right now. It’s blowing my mind. And even just the sound, you know even a band that is all female or just has a super female presence like The Breeders, that first album was produced by Steve Albini who did The Pixies and stuff. His sound is so obvious, but it is so male, you’re right. And when you see those bands live they’re softer or something.
KK: That’s so interesting.
KJ: When he puts his sound on it you’re just like…or even someone that I do love quite a bit, I love Butch Vig, and obviously he produces Garbage and Shirley Manson…but it still sounds very male. So, wild. Now I’m obsessed and I just want women behind the mixing board calling the shots.
KK: Exactly. In the engineering position it is…it’s troubling. When I started getting on the story about this, it’s really been a hot button issue in a lot of Toronto publications in the last year or so. This story about underrepresentation for women in music. So when I kind of got on the story thread I was like how is this happening? How is this possible? How come people aren’t more angry about this?
KJ, VA, and BL: Yeah.
VA: That’s how I feel right now. How is this the first time I’ve ever heard of this?
GC: It takes us longer to get angry about things here in Canada. We’re really good at keeping secrets and suppressing our emotions I think.
KK: I think so too. I think all of the best musicians that have come out of Canada in the last year have all been women, and most of them have been queer. It’s so strange to me that we’re still in this weird feedback loop of a male dominated industry. Like Jessie Reyez, for example. Oh my God she’s AMAZING. And Charlotte Day Wilson who is also Canadian and queer and so talented and fantastic.
BL: I think that’s really awesome though. You need someone of Tegan and Sara’s profile to raise the issue and shine the light on it. I think it was a similar thing we saw in TV a few years ago. I think it wasn’t until Mo Ryan was at Variety and specifically calling out and showing all the numbers of how there was no female directors doing television. And when she started really calling light to it and showing the hard numbers people didn’t really realize the problem. They’re still pretty bad, but we’re starting to see change. I think if you can get that one person in that big high profile position to start putting a light on it that makes a big difference.
KK: That was the one thing, I mean talking about female television directors just to sort of bring it back. That was the other thing I wanted to talk about.
BL: You’re welcome! That was my moderating skills. [laughter] It’s just I only know TV so I’m always on the TV track.
KK: Yeah I just finished, a little bit late, the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m just obsessed with that show. I think it’s so incredible and I’m a huge fan of Elisabeth Moss. I think that her performance in that show is next level good. I love that she doesn’t wear a stitch of makeup through the whole thing. Just so like…she’s just like I am woman, hear me roar. Spoiler alert for everybody who hasn’t finished the second season yet. She gives birth on her own in an abandoned mansion as a wolf paces outside about to eat her. It’s just so unreal. I watched that scene four times just being like OH MY GOD. [laughter] She’s giving birth on her own. It was just such a beautiful expression of feminine power but it was also kind of sexy in a weird way because it was so mother and woman. I just loved it.
KJ: I love the way you’re saying that. Motherrrr. Womannn. [laughter]
KK: I love that The Handmaid’s Tale…I think I would say almost all of the second season was directed by women. I’m gonna do a quick fact check on that.
VA: That’s amazing.
KK: Every time the credits start to roll I’m like was this directed by a woman? Yes? Good.
KJ: I think The Handmaid’s Tale, I have not seen that show…I truly believe being an American living in 2018, that’s a really hard show to watch. It hits too hard. It’s a little bit, not easier, but you don’t have so much fear of that super reality watching it.
BL: Yeah I started season two and I was like why are you doing this to yourself Bridget. I couldn’t watch it. I loved it and I appreciated so many of the artistic elements about it and the performances, but it was too much. I couldn’t handle it emotionally.
KJ: Yeah, I’ll watch it when Trump’s gone.
KK: I know what you mean I definitely, I cry every episode. But it is a bit, I mean from our bit of distance up here, I guess it feels a bit cathartic, I think.
KJ: Lucky Canadians yet again.
KK: Well, you know it’s a tenuous…we’re holdin on by our fingernails.
BL: Yeah, because you guys just had a person elected in Ontario that’s not so great as well.
KK: He’s a monster, yeah.
KJ: Alright, well. How about that Tegan and Sara?
BL: The…what was it? Gay-nadians.
KJ: When we hashtag that, or when I hashtag that I literally am always going to hashtag Barbelle with it. [laughter] They’re gonna go hand in hand.
KK: Perfect. I love it. Yes. Thank you.
KJ: Maybe I should just hashtag Barbelle with everything I twitter from here on out. [laughter]
KK: It’s funny because sometimes if you hashtag Barbelle weird kind of like gym girls with really round butts will come up. [laughter] I’m not complaining, but also I’m like not the lesbian Spice World in Toronto that I was looking for. [laughter]
BL: Awesome. Thank you guys so much for coming on. I can truly say when I watched Barbelle and I got it for review I was like oh I’m not super into really any webseries. But you guys took me by surprise in the best way when I watched it. I thought the production value was so high. Everything was so well done, the performances. Most of all you guys made me laugh so hard. I do think, like Kat was talking about living in the US, some days it’s really depressing. I found Barbelle to be such a joyous little surprise that I was gifted. I don’t know, I wasn’t expecting it at all. When I talked to both of you, you were both just like super rad and really nice. I was just like oh, they’re good people, I want to support them. I hope people listen to this and feel the same way. I just think you guys are awesome, rad ladies and thank you for making me laugh with Barbelle.
VA: Thanks for coming on our little podcast, we really appreciate it.
KK: The feeling is mutual, deeply mutual.
GC: Absolutely, right back at you. Thank you so much for having us. We hope to be delivering more unexpected laughs.
KJ: There was a cry too.
BL: Yeah, it wasn’t just laughs. I didn’t mean to make it seem like it was the most hilarious…yes, I was all over with emotions. It made me feel something which is what the best stuff does is make you feel things.
KK: That was our hope and aim and effort.
KJ: You’re doing great, don’t fuck it up those last ten days. [laughter] Just kidding.
VA: No pressure.
KJ: But thank you so much, we love you. And yay! Thanks for coming on our podcast and talking about great stuff.
KK: Thank you for having us.
GC: Thank you for having us!
Annie: Follow us on social media. We’re on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @FemThrilljoys. If you have any more thoughts on this episode or in general, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And last, but not least, if you’re feeling extra generous, please rate and review us on iTunes. Thanks!