1. She's Pretty Good For A Girl, Edinburgh, September 2012.
2. For Books' Sake, London, February 2012.
3. Stuart Ross (Canadian writer), Cobourg, October 2011.
4. Queeries Magazine, Toronto, September 2011.
5. Grey Borders Reading Series, Saint Catharines, September 2011.
6. Black Coffee Poet, Toronto, September 2011.
7. Queers Make Music, Manchester, March 2011.
8. GFest, London, October 2010.
9. The List, Edinburgh/Glasgow, July 2010.
10. Diva Magazine, London, October 2009.
11. Lock Up Your Daughters, Glasgow, Spring 2009.
12. Reviews Section of The F-Word: Contemporary UK Feminism, October 2009 (text below)
Exclusive interview with Zorras at The Bowery, Edinburgh
by Wisrutta Atthakor
S = Sandra Alland
Y = Y. Josephine
How did you come up with the idea for Zorras? When did it all start?
S: It all started in November ‘07 when I was doing an event here in Edinburgh called Who’s Your Dandy and I was new to town. I’d only been here a few months and I was looking for a band. I used to go to a place where [Y] worked and I knew she had a band, and I heard they were quite good. And so I texted her and invited her to play.
Basically I saw her perform that night, and I did a reading that night as well, and I was totally wowed by her. She plays cajon and guitar and sings, and I was like: amazing! And then I read my poetry and was thinking, oh I would so love to work with a musician again because I worked with one a long time ago. And I ended up talking to her…
Y: Well, I went to that reading and I didn’t know that she was a poet and was gonna read and stuff. I thought she was just organising the event …
S: She doesn’t pay a lot of attention to details.
Y: So, when I saw her, my god! She was so good! She was really good, it blew my mind completely.
Is that when you decided to fuse your poetry and music together?
Y: I thought her poetry was very rhythmic and her performance was so good and so precise that you could put some music on and put it together. But then, after the gig, she was talking with all the poets, saying “Yeah, remember when we had this band?” and I was thinking, ah, she already had a band. You know, she’s not gonna want to do it [again]. Because I thought it would be a great idea, maybe she will let me do some music to her poetry, I was thinking, you know. And then we meet like a week later and I was really nervous to ask her. Because I was so sure she would say no. But I didn’t know that she wanted to ask me as well!
So how did you come up with the name? Where did the name Zorras come from?
S: Well, once, I think it was after a rehearsal, we saw a fox.
S: And I found out from her … I’m fairly fluent in Spanish but I didn’t know what foxes were called and I found out that they were called zorros. Well, you can say it better than me.
Y: Zorro … yeah, we were actually walking here, very close to here. Like, in the middle of the street, she stopped right in front of us. … and was looking at us, and we were like …
S: Seems very prophetic, or something … And we were like, cool, fox! And then, finding out the word for it … and the whole mythology behind the hero of Zorro, and then, what I found out, that I didn’t know, was that the female version of zorras means slut. So, it’s like, the male gets to be the superhero, but the female is a really bad word.
Y: the female is a slut!
S: So we kinda thought of reclaiming that word. And also… having all of those meanings of female superheroes and all these other things amongst it. But we thought the fox was sort of a turning point when we were working together and we thought, ok, there’s the name.
Where do you get ideas for your material? Where do they come from?
S: When we first started, we used stuff… a little bit that we’d already done, some of my older poetry. But almost straight away we started making new things. And it’s really hard to say… a lot of the things are observations of everyday life, we do wacky writing exercises together where we’ll take a line from the television, a line from a book lying around and throw it all together … one of our songs came out of that, it’s really surreal and bizarre.
Y: We started together with a line saying “She was the sob of the train” … it’s just our fun night, we write poetry.
S: We’re such nerds! We play boggle and write poetry.
Me: I don’t think that’s nerdy!
Y: And then we’re like, “Let’s play a game! Let’s write a poem out of one line … in common.” It happens that now we’re using it. We have our chapbook, it’s hand-made, like a zine. And in one edition it’s one poem of mine: Now she is the sob of the train. But in the last one, in the new one, it’s her poem: Now she is the sob of the train. (laughs)
S: And we’ve been performing that one. And sometimes she’ll just pick up the guitar and start playing along to something I’m doing. Other times she’ll say, “I have this song!” And I’ll listen to that and try to come up [with the words]…
Y: Some other times, I’ll just make jokes. And then she’s like, “That’s great!” And I’m like “Oh really? OK.” I was just joking … but if you want … (laughs)
S: She’s pretty funny, yeah.
So is your stuff political as well?
S: Yeah, it is definitely political. A lot of stuff about gender, race, class, sexuality. We try to do it with a little bit of a funny edge a lot of the time because I find one thing that can happen especially with performance poetry: it can get very preachy. And often your crowd are people that already agree with you, and so if you’re yelling at them something … I mean, sometimes that kind of poetry is great, it depends on the situation, but I like to have a little bit of comedy to sort of get people more relaxed and think about things in a different way …
Y: And still give the message.
S: Even though I have very clear ideas of what I believe, I also like to leave some things open for interpretation because I’m pretty sure that my way is not the only way. So it’s nice to have that flexibility, you know?
It might come as a bit of an obvious question, but would you call yourselves feminists?
S: Ah … the age-old question. I was actually just in this anthology of feminist writing in Canada and they asked me that question, which I don’t think is ever an obvious question, actually, but … I mean … yes? Yes. It’s a very complex question in some ways. In the very basic sense of it, yes I’m a feminist. And I agree … I mean, I think that the basis of feminism is the belief in equal rights for everybody …
Yes, what I was gonna say was what, to you, is feminism? What does it mean for you?
S: For me, the very basic idea around it is that it’s equality for women, and women being human beings and having rights. But it does become complex around the different kinds of feminism that exist and which ones are most promoted or most popular, and therefore what people think of when they hear the word ‘feminist’ (Y: yeah) and I think that’s where things can become problematic. For example, there are quite a lot of feminists right now who are not very positive towards transsexuals, for example, and I don’t really wanna be associated with that kind of feminism and so it becomes sticky. But the basic, simple answer to the question is yes. For me.
Y: Well, I think I agree with you. The thing is, it’s like she was saying… there’s people who think that all feminists hate men … and gay men … and I have known men being feminists (S: yeah) … and I don’t like the feminists that reject the transsexual people either, so I’m not that kind of feminist either, and I don’t really know if to call myself a feminist if that includes those groups, you know. I don’t hate men or transsexuals, I love them.
I suppose it’s what it means to you.
S: Yeah, exactly. And I suppose by calling ourselves feminists, we make a clear definition of what that is for us by what we represent. And so, it’s clear that we’re not this other kind of, you know … but yeah, those are the sticky issues of feminism. Simple answer! (laughs)
Who inspires you as artists?
S: So many people …
Y: She does (points at S)!
S: Aw, what a sweetie! Oh my gosh, so many people … right now, some of my favourite people are Miranda July, Yoko Ono, Andra Simons, who’s a poet in London … he’s amazing. I’m trying to think of people from over here more, ‘cos I have so many Canadian and North American references but people don’t always know what I’m talking about.
I really love funk music … we both love funk music. Camille … do you know Camille? She made an album called Le Fil It’s all in French, so it doesn’t always translate, but she does all her music with just sounds of her mouth, all of the percussion … and so we’re really inspired by that sort of thing. Likewise, there’s Tanya Tagaq, who does Inuit throat singing. She’s from Canada and does all these crazy sounds, and so we like to play around with sounds in our poetry, and so those things are what we’ve been listening to a lot.
But yeah, in terms of their politics and things and the art they make, Yoko Ono’s always been a big inspiration for me. But she can get a bit sappy and she can get a bit cheesy, but because she’s Yoko Ono, it’s OK … like, if somebody else did it, I don’t know if it’d be OK. Like her whole, I don’t you if you’ve seen her latest thing, her “I love you” … it’s a little like “that’s cheesy” but I still think it’s really powerful.
Y: I love it! (makes a soppy face … and then laughs)
S: It’s really bizarre, because I think if almost anyone else did that I would just be like “Pfft … Whatever!” But because it’s her (Y: yeah) … I really like her.
How did you get involved with Ladyfest?
S: I believe that Ladyfest sent us a Myspace “hello” … yeah, that was from Marylou … I believe she’d seen us perform before in town. It seems Ladyfest is a lot more visible and bigger this year, which is really great because …
Y: We didn’t play last year?
S: No, I don’t think we did. But there was a lot of stuff going on. But I feel like this year, it just feels a little more visible, like it’s getting more press attention... We do a lot of feminist events. We just did one at the Edinburgh University Feminists a little bit ago, you know, we get around. (laughs)
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