!! Q&A !!

!! OMG, a Q&A with author Derek McCormack !!

Derek McCormack photographed by Christopher Paulin

Derek McCormack photographed by Christopher Paulin

The first lines of the Author’s Note in Derek McCormack’s new book Judy Blame’s Obituary: Writings on Fashion and Death state simply:

“Fagginness is what I write about. I focus on things that fags love: fashion and death. Think about it: all fags wear fashions—I’m wearing some! And all fags love death—I’m dying!”

In 2012, McCormack was diagnosed with cancer, and given five years to live. Ten years later, he has released a collection of essays, spanning his career and focusing of his work in fashion, and ruminations on death—two subjects which seamlessly intermingle in McCormack’s world.

Published by Pilot Press, a young, independent publisher based in London, UK,  Judy Blame’s Obituary marks McCormack’s thirteenth published book since his first in 1996. Its title refers back to an obituary McCormack wrote—originally appearing in Artforumfor the legendary UK-based designer, stylist and fashion icon Judy Blame. Blame passed away tragically in 2018, leaving an immense cavity in the world of British fashion, after serving as a source of vital inspiration to the author and creative people internationally.

McCormack credits the torment of growing up as a young homosexual in a rural Northern Ontario town as the driving force behind his work. The disgust directed at him by the general public is a two-way street. In his work, he documents the palpable disdain directed towards him by normals, jocks and filthy heterosexuals—a disdain he continues to gleefully savour in his often confrontational, yet consistently humorous work.

Judy Blame's Obituary: Writings on Fashion and Death by Derek McCormackThe new book steps away format-wise from his novels of late, such as 2015’s The Well Dressed Wound, and most recently, the concept-heavy, scatological sick-fest that is 2020’s Castle Faggot, both via avant-academic American publisher Semiotext(e).

McCormack’s books unfold like the mirror mazes he describes encountering on the fairgrounds of his youth: warped, horrific and hilarious.

His world is populated by glamorous ghouls, fanged fashionistas, and of course, haunted hillbillies. In this world, Dracula, a life-long love and frequent character in McCormack’s work, somehow comfortably inhabits the same space as the ghost of country legend Hank Williams.

McCormack’s preoccupation with death may come off as macabre, which of course it is, but his delivery of all things deadly is a type of sinister slapstick, filled with wordplay and vaudevillian folly. He’s the goth haunting the halls of the old school.

Judy Blame’s Obituary serves as a totem to the writer’s history not only in regards to his work, but forms an inadvertent autobiographical portrait of the author himself.

We sat down to chat with McCormack about how the book came together, and how it feels to unexpectedly and simultaneously mourn and celebrate his work up until now.

Read the full Q&A after the jump!

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Johnny Marr !!

Johnny MarrWhat do you ask a “guitar god”? This was my first thought when I was recently asked to interview Johnny Marr.

“Johnny is literally the best, and he doesn’t mind talking about his time in The Smiths, or his relationship with Morrissey, but please try not to dwell on it,” warned Marr’s publicist in advance of our chat.

Marr’s early days as the guitarist and songwriter in the seminal, foppish (read: gayish) ’80s indie band The Smiths, and the subsequent fall-out with frontman Morrissey nearly eclipsed his career, and I vowed not be the type to broach the subject.

Despite the undeniable impact of being one half of one of the greatest songwriting partnerships of all time, Marr’s career following his time in The Smiths has been far from dismissible. Before endeavouring an official solo career in the early 2000s with his band The Healers, and a brief stint as a member of The Pretenders, Marr was involved with projects like the indie-dance super-duo Electronic with New Order’s Bernard Sumner. His covetable versatility as a musician led to pop-leaning collaborations with the likes of Pet Shop Boys, Talking Heads and The The.

A longstanding working relationship with the legendary film composer Hans Zimmer lead to what might be Marr’s most unexpected partnership yet, a collaboration with Gen-Z poster girl Billie Eilish. Marr worked closely with Zimmer on the score to 2021’s No Time To Die, which included Eilish’s theme song to the film.

Johnny Marr FEVER DREAMS PTS 1-4 ALBUM ARTWORKMarr’s official solo third album, Fever Dreams Part 1–4 (pre-order the album here), is already garnering critical praise in advance of its February release. The conceptually forward record has been released in four parts—3 EPs culminating in a full-length record, and finds Marr leaning into newfound territory as a songwriter.

I was excited to speak with him about the record, and seconds before an affable, and candid Marr joined me on video chat from his studio in London, I realized that in the top corner of my frame was a limited edition box set of The Smiths complete biography—a rather deep collector cut if I do say so myself—and it seemed my intentions to stick to paths less-Smithsy were defeated before we even got out of the gate.

But as his publicist suggested, Johnny remained chatty and bright on the subject and dug right into some juicy behind the scenes details on the album’s art work. We managed to move swiftly beyond the past and talk about the lofty intentions for his new record and some highlights from his storied and thriving career.

Read the full Q&A with Johnny Marr after the jump!

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Bruce LaBruce (2021) !!

Bruce LaBruce portraitBruce LaBruce has been at the forefront of Queer underground art and cinema since he started making short films in 1987. After releasing two feature films, he secured his status as a cult icon and adjacent to peers such as Richard Kern, Kembra Pfahler and NYCs Cinema of Transgression.

However, it was LaBruce’s 1996 film Hustler White that brought him universal acclaim and a notorious reputation as a shit-disturber of the status quo. The noteriety found him positioned amongst the likes of Todd Haynes, Gus Van Sant, Gregg Araki and the so-called New Queer Cinema movement. It also landed him a curse cast on him by the witchy queer film forefather Kenneth Anger for referencing him in the film.

Labruce has since forayed into work as a highly regarded writer, photographer, and reluctantly (as the title of his 1997 memoir would have you believe) pornography.

Félix-Antoine Duval in Saint-Narcisse

Since his debut feature, 1991’s No Skin Off My Ass, LaBruce has helmed thirteen feature films and as many or more shorts films. However transgressive LaBruce’s work may be, there’s a sentimentality and tenderness that runs through his narratives, just as tangibly as his punk inclinations do, creating a sensibility that can only be referred to as LaBrucian.

Emerging from Toronto’s 1980s punk scene, LaBruce gained initial notoriety and cult-god status with his pioneering queer punk zine J.D.s — a collaborative effort with artist and filmmaker G.B. Jones. The zine was a confrontational and exploitation response to the homophobia the two had encountered in the punk scene, and snowballed into a web of freaks and outsider gays across North America and beyond, eventually being dubbed the “Queercore” movement.

Despite its subversive origins, the legend of Queercore and J.D.s has since been been exploited into quasi-mainstream status, as seen in such recent articles in Teen Vogue, and even being hilariously, yet disastrously referenced by major fashion houses such as Gucci.

A still from Saint-Narcisse by Bruce LaBruce

Félix-Antoine Duval with himself in Saint-Narcisse

While still making the rounds in the festival circuit, his thirteenth feature film, Saint-Narcisse, was released to critical acclaim at The Venice Film Festival in a brief window between COVID lockdowns in 2020. The reliably scandalous film is being referred to as his “opus” and is finally reaching audiences via theatrical runs in Toronto, Vancouver and more to come, after being held over for weeks at the Quad Cinema in New York City.

The story of Saint-Narcisse centers around a brother’s quest to uncover the dark truths about his family’s past, and finds him in an erotic tryst with the twin brother he didn’t know existed. The film blends LaBruce’s inclination to find believable and affecting relationships between unconventional characters with his seemingly insatiable urge to disrupt.

The last time OMG.BLOG spoke to Bruce was in 2008. This time around, we talked with him about the influences behind his most recent film, his storied career, and why we shouldn’t expect him to go PG anytime soon, despite his best efforts.

Read the full Q&A and watch the trailer for Saint-Narcisse after the jump!

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Dita Von Teese !!

Dita Von Teese by Albert Sanchez

Photo by Albert Sanchez

We are thrilled to share our conversation with legendary burlesque star and pin-up model Dita Von Teese.

Her upcoming show, Night of the Teese – A Cinematic Special, filmed at the illustrious Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles during the pandemic, will be streaming for one weekend only Friday October 1st – Sunday October 3rd, featuring an all-star cast of friends and collaborators that the reigning Queen of Burlesque has worked with during her 30-plus-year career, in addition to some exciting new talent.

Von Teese connected with director Quinn Wilson, a queer rising star who also happens to be Lizzo’s creative director, to create a one-of-a-kind intimate experience that captures the unique vision and energies of her hand-picked performers. With a sharp focus on presenting the best of the best in burlesque, the work spans the gender spectrum while celebrating intergenerational bodies, backgrounds, and performance styles.

 

It’s a much needed return to magic, glitz and glam after almost two years when the closest thing for most of us to a scintillating experience was not having to wear bottoms to a staff meeting.

In addition to the long overdue streaming experience, Von Teese has just arrived in Paris to begin her stint as a contestant on Dancing With The Stars.

We caught up with the down-to-earth diva about how that particular experience may not be going quite to plan, her humble beginnings,  as well as what she’s learned — and taught — in her fabulously flashy decades-long career as a glamour girl or, as she’d say, a “fancy pants stripper”!

Read the full Q&A with Dita Von Teese after the jump!

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!! OMG, a Q&A with New Chance !!

Victoria Cheong New Chance

Photo by Kevin Hegge

Toronto-based artist Victoria Cheong recently released her debut full-length album Real Time via New York based post-punk artist Chandra‘s new label imprint, We Are Time, and basically: it’s arty as f*ck!

Following stints singing backup with the likes of the aforementioned Chandra, as well as Canada’s beloved folk-rock-poet Jennifer Castle (read our Q&A with Jennifer here), Cheong’s solo work perhaps leans more closely towards her roots as a DJ and collaborations with the likes of reggae legend Willi Williams. Under the moniker of her solo experimental electronic pop project, New Chance finds Cheong delving deeper into her own cosmic offerings.

While not not built for the dancefloor, Real Time veers inwards and outwards, resulting in songs that are as intimate and meditative and as they are esoteric and metaphysical. On the album, Cheong explores both the astral and physical experience in relation to the construct and concept of “time” itself.

New Chance aka Victoria Cheong photo by Kevin Hegge

Photo by Kevin Hegge

Described in her bio as “techno meditations,” her song forms manifest in contradictions: as planetary structures such as valleys and gardens, then veering off into full-on astral expanses. Through her uniquely hypnotic, inquisitive tonal perspective, Cheong lyrically navigates simultaneously through states of introversion, and the quest for universal connection.

Thematically, the songs come in search of internal harmony, but also attempt to harness the power of vulnerability, and the courage to open oneself up to chaos.

Deeply rooted in the artist’s study of astrology, the album grapples with the concepts of artistic and physical agency, and harnessing one’s inner spectral universe. Despite these rather hefty conceptual investigations, the Real Time exists in a seemingly weightless musical realm, and remains a captivating, contained universe throughout.

We sat down with New Chance and attempted to tangle out some of the themes on the album, as well what it’s like to operate as a multi-disciplinary artist in an increasingly demanding capitalistic world.

Read the full Q&A after the jump!

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Austra !!

Austra by Photo by Virginie Khateeb

Photo by Virginie Khateeb

Like many other artists, Austra’s Katie Stelmanis was forced to cancel a tour in support of her last album, HiRUDiN.

Upon its release in 2020, the album was tethered to a particularly catastrophic and unforeseen break-up. Without a tour to process and perform the songs, and amidst the seclusion brought on by the pandemic, the singer, now four records into her bands catalogue, was forced to confront her loss head on.

This Thursday, Austra is premiering a 24-hour live stream of “I Feel You Everywhere,” a film of an intense solo performance of her most recent songs at Roy Thomson Hall, an esteemed venue in her hometown of Toronto. After taking the year to process her heartbreak, the event has Stelmanis once again seated in those painful memories.

https://youtu.be/9-tQaawQ8zA

I’ve known Katie for years, having been “gay-raised” in Toronto’s lesbian-leaning art and music scene in the early 2000s. In this very personal interview, Stelmanis opens up about the intricacies of lesbian romance, how to operate as an artist amidst a patriarchy that is still thriving, and even processed a brief rift between us caused by a rather unfortunate contribution on my part to scene drama!

Read the full Q&A after the jump!

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!! OMG, a Q&A with Claud !!

Claud Mintz by Photography by Angela Ricciardi

Photography by Angela Ricciardi

Last week, singer-songwriter Claud Mintz debuted their remarkably catchy, emotionally potent new record, Super Monster. The release holds the now very covetable status as the first entry on fellow songwriter Phoebe Bridgers’s nascent record label, The Saddest Factory (Get it? Satisfactory?).

The premiere status is bound to bring 21-year-old Claud some much-warranted attention, given Bridgers’s recent detonation into the mainstream following the success of her doom-filled 2020, Grammy nominated record, Punisher, and a much talked about appearance on Saturday Night Live (read the OMG.BLOG Q&A with Phoebe here).

Claud’s 2019’s single “I Wish You Were Gay” should have been an indication of the anthemic potential of their ability to craft relentlessly infectious pop songs, written from the perspective of a young person in and out of love through a sometimes crushingly relatable Queer lens. The songs are imbued with influences ranging from grunge to ’90s R&B to, as we touched on in our conversation, the increasingly indefinable “indie rock.”

Claud Super Monster

While the link to Bridgers and her new label will undoubtedly send fans in Claud’s direction, it’s clear that these songs stand on their own as one hell of a debut album from a fully-formed young artist.

We caught up with Claud to talk about the new record, their songwriting process, but mostly about like, love and stuff.

Read the full Q&A after the jump!

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