The Headbanging Inspiration of Noah Sow | 30 Days Unchained : Day 6 Tuesday 15 January, 2013

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30 Days Unchained/#30unchained | Day: 6 – 1/15/13 | Inspiration: Noah Sow You can bet there will always be a million pigeonholes people can’t wait to stuff you inside. As a black woman in the punk music scene, Noah Sow of Noiseaux, flips the bird to each and every one. When asked how it feels […]

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30 Days Unchained/#30unchained | Day: 6 – 1/15/13 | Inspiration: Noah Sow

Noah Sow, Photo Credit: Anatol Kotte

You can bet there will always be a million pigeonholes people can’t wait to stuff you inside. As a black woman in the punk music scene, Noah Sow of Noiseaux, flips the bird to each and every one. When asked how it feels to be black, German and doing punk music, Noah replies: “I’m educated enough to know that “Black music” is [many things]…you bet whenever I open my mouth to sing, what comes out is Black music by definition.” A mutli-talented artist and activist, Noah’s humor and wit also comes across in her book, Germany, Black and White. Take, for example, her “List of Stupid Phrases” said to Black Germans and practical responses. She suggests when someone asks: “Do you feel more African or German?” one can respond: “Do you feel more ‘ass’ or ‘dumb-ass’?” 

While Noah is clearly a self-made woman, she calls many fellow female Afro-punk artists friends and understands the musicians that came before her that shaped the genre. Sharing the moment she fell in love with punk rock, Noah tells Live Unchained: “My key punk rock experience was as a teenager when the Black female fronted German punk band “Jingo de Lunch” came to my school to play a show… Punk audiences came from near and far and destroyed the whole sports ground by moshing. It was the most wonderful day of my life…I was one of three Black kids in the whole town. The town was racist as f*@k. Jingo de Lunch’s singer, Yvonne, was my first female role model…” Like Yvonne, who Noah admired, I think a lot of artists have been mentors without realizing it; Just by being themselves and doing what they do so well, they make following your own creative path irresistible. Today’s challenge celebrates our inspirations…

Challenge (Find, Create or Remix an image that answers the question): Who are your greatest creative influences? How do they inspire you?

*Bonus: Send your inspiration a 1 paragraph email letting them know what they mean to you (if they’re not still around, write them a letter anyway and keep it some place special).

Share your image(s) on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and be sure to tag @liveunchained and use the hashtag #30unchained so we can shout you out! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter to keep up with the latest #30unchained news….

When did you first fall in love with punk rock?

My key punk rock experience was as a teenager when the Black female fronted German punk band “Jingo de Lunch” came to my school to play a show. The headmaster had no idea what he had let through the nod. Punk audiences came from near and far and destroyed the whole sports ground by by moshing. It was the most wonderful day of my life.

I was already a punk kid then, with green hair and all, but had not known the band before, although they were quite influential. Jingo De Lunch were and still are the only influential Black female fronted punk rock band out of Germany.

I was one of three Black kids in the whole town. The town was racist as f*@k. Jingo de Lunch’s singer, Yvonne, was my first female role model. So powerful. I was in awe. Almost made me cry. I’ll never forget that day.

Yvonne, Jingo De Lunch, Photo Credit: Peio Agirre Argazkiak

Is punk a way of life?

Punk has different aspects. One is a musical genre. The second and more important one for me is that it is an attitude. I’d call it being deviant, living on one’s own account. Not accepting society’s stereotypes and pigeonholes–that can definitely result in a way of life. When the two are combined, like in new Black Rock movements to reclaim the terms “punk” and “rock”, there’s no more “punk police” going: “Hey, the Sex Pistols are Punk but not Grace Jones or Little Richard,” but a more unifying and causal definition of “punk.”

I could always relate to some of the punk rock elements: openly expressed emotion, explicit resistance against societal norms, I experienced this as very freeing. Some other elements of “punk rock” I never quite understood…like, how did they manage to turn it into this 90% white scene? Like Tamar Kali said, punks wear mohawks and ear tunnels. It’s never been a white thing. I’m not even starting about the musical influences…

Do you think you’ve been able to connect with artists and fans abroad because the stereotypes and issues you communicate through your music are so similar around the world?

I absolutely feel this is a universal Black rock woman experience. For me it’s great to make international connections because wherever we are we are such a minority that we simply don’t find many people to connect with if we don’t reach out pretty far.

I’ve met women in every part of the world with similar experiences: not “fitting in” (or not wanting to fit in), not being content with serving submissive “non-threatening”, exaggeratedly feminine images, every one of them having to fight against so much bulls*@t and adversity only to be able to show her art. Of course, this results in powerful connections. I’m happy and honored that I can call Maya from Mother Goddess and Honeychild Coleman my dear friends, among others.

What does living unchained mean to you?

Creating and talking about my art without being reduced to some fantasy image of what a Black Woman’s art is supposed to be. Being without having to explain. Being seen as a person.

Being able to make a living from my own ideas and being independent in my choice of projects and work: the books I write, the music I play, the theater shows I produce…I love the fact that they are uncompromisingly what I want to show, sometimes radical.

I’m very thankful for all these chances. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been quite a struggle to get there. I don’t take anything for granted.

This article is excerpted from an original interview with the artist. View the full feature here.

30 Days Unchained/#30unchained is an interactive creative countdown to the Live Unchained Anniversary Celebration. Everyday for 30 days, we’ll share some of our most popular interviews with Live Unchained featured artists. They include women creatives of various disciplines from across the African diaspora. Her creative journey will be the inspiration for your challenge. To participate simply respond to the challenge question with images (not words). Share it on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and be sure to tag @liveunchained so we can shout you out – it’s that simple. Learn more about 30 Days Unchained, including rules and prizes here. Get your daily challenge from Thursday, January 10th through the day of the big bash on Friday, February 8th at www.liveunchained.com.

Written by Kathryn Buford

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2 Comments

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