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Perpetual Change — Chaos and Lace

| Jun 6, 2011
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Bands have a tendency to go through changes, a lot of changes . . . sometimes for the better and sometimes destructive.   Often it’s the revolving door syndrome with band members.  Real musicians will always find a way to get past the drama and personal nonsense that often happens with less serious band mates, though.  Anyone who has been in the music business for any length of time will attest to the fact that you often have to put with a boat load of grief just to follow your muse and be creative.  You get to the point where you can allow the past endeavors to lay the  foundation for a more solid creative framework.

A good example of this is the work and music of Juliana Brown.  Rock fans in the NYC area might remember her former band, The  Cruel Shoes.  The band was a three piece that played original material in a 1960s — 1970 vein.  In other words, really good guitar driven rock.

That band only lasted a brief while.  She now has a new group that she calls Chaos And Lace.  Juliana was gracious enough to give us her time for this interview.  We’re extremely pleased to introduce Juliana Brown and Chaos And Lace to TGForum readers.

TGForum: Juliana, if you don’t mind,  how about sharing some background information?

Chaos and Lace

Chaos and Lace

Juliana Brown: I originally grew up in South Jersey in a little nameless town in the pine barrens.  I started playing when I was about eight years old cause my big brother played and I wanted to be cool like him.  I am completely self taught outside of the first few chords he taught me.

 

I knew even then I wanted to be female.  It kind of started out as a secret fantasy sorta thing.  Until I was a teenager, the only exposure I had to trans people was ridiculous thing like Rocky Horror Picture Show and the like . . . which didn’t exactly inspire me to want to be a part of that community.  I was never into the drag scene or any of that flamboyance.  Being trans has never been an exhibitionist thing for me and when I was young, that convinced me I must not be  really trans.  I would just fantasize that I had been born a girl in the first place and left it at that . . . not too devastated over the belief that I could never become female.

As I got older and learned more about the reality of it and that this is something that is actually doable, I started  being proactive and started coming out to people online when I was about 20.  By the   time I was 23, I was coming out to everyone.  I still lived with my parents for about 2 years, which was pretty miserable as they treated it like a fetish and humored me.  I moved out and went full time in March 2009 and haven’t looked back.

TGF: What kind of a music background do you have?

JB: I’ve had a few band over the last few years, all with other trans people as that felt safest.  This current band is the first one where I said “f**k. it” ’cause playing with other trans people is usually disastrous for me.  Many of the one I know here in NYC in my age roup are irritating, whiny, unlikable people.  The band I have now is myself and trans bass player Ashley Morgan, who also works as a freelance artist.  Pookie Rodriguez, a little cis girl on rhythm guitar and Vincent Alva, a cis guy I met through Pookie.  It’s an awesome band.  The viges are good and there’s massively less drama.

TGF: What about musical influences?

JB: The Beatles have been a consistent song writing influence from day one.  Also, The  Doors have played a big part in the last 6 or 7 years.  I became quite fond of the Ray Manzarek organ sound.  Most modern music doesn’t’ hold much interest for me.  It’s mostly unremarkable cookie cutter stuff.  I like Flogging Molly though.  They’re special.

TGF: What brought on the change in band names?

Juliana

Juliana on stage.

JB: The Cruel Shoes had begun to rotate members so much and I was the only original one left.  It became stupid to me to keep using the name.   Also, I  never particularly liked it in the first place.  It was something the original bass player came up with that was a bite of an old Steve Martin bit. Chaos And Lace seems cool to me because it’s a pretty accurate description.  Madness with a little girlyness added in.

 

TGF: How often do you perform and at what type of venues?

JB: I wanna get back to the pace TCS had going, of 4 or 5 shows a month.  This new band just did our first show . . . to a warm response.  We pretty much only play straight venues as they are more interested in booking me.  Queer venues have no interest in me for some reason.  I’ve talked to a couple people they always screw me around.  I think most of the queer folk here don’t care about rock music.   They listen to whiny Ani DiFranco kinda stuff and eletronica.  So yeah, I never get invited to any queer venues.

TGF: What kind of audience reaction do you usually get?

JB: Depends on the night and the crowd.  Older folks like us more . . . your late 20s to 50s group.  They appreciate good rock music more.  We played at this place, Sullivan Hall, and got a stoney reception from the hipster kids there who didn’t know what to make of us.

TGF: This is kind of a general question, but how do you feel trans artists are accepted overall by the public?

JB: I don’t think they are aware we exist beyond cabaret and drag shows. When they do see us in a typical rock outfit like this, they either don’t realize we’re trans or just think it’s dudes doing it as a novelty to ad to their act.  We have folks like David Bowie and Johnny Thunders to thank for that.

Chaos and Lace

TGF: If you had one thing to say to the transgender community, what would it be?

 

JB: Know your worth but don’t go the opposite extreme.  If you want to be treated equally, don’t behave as though you think you’re something special.  The sort of folks who bank on being trans for their act, then bitch about being lampooned.  So yeah, have self esteem.  Don’t listen to others tell you you’re a bad person, but stay grounded.

TGF: What kind of advice would you offer to other musicians who are just starting out?

JB: Practice, practice, practice — if you want it badly enough, you might just accomplish something.

TGF: Any future plans you can share at this time?

kittenJB: Chaos And Lace is planning to start working on album soon.  That’s about all to report.  Should be great, though.

TGF: Anything to say in closing?

JB: Cats are awesome.

Check out www.chaosandlace.com.  Juliana can be reached via email.

ALSO THIS MONTH

Wynter Gordon Til Death

Wynter Gordon has gained a reputation as an in demand song writer, contributing tunes to other artists such as Jennifer Lopez, David Guetta, Danity Kane, and Mary J. Blige.  A remix disc of her newest, Til Death has just been released, which is the follow up to the club hit Dirty Talk.  The tune is available on iTunes.  Pure dance music.

 

Lady Gaga Born This Way

Born This Way coverOkay, so by now we’ve all been blitzed by this album, and I know I can’t add much to the piles of reviews it’s gotten, but I’m gonna try.  First off, Born This Way is 14 songs, each containing that ubiquitous 4/4 beat a paraplegic in a wheel chair could dance to.  Truthfully, though, I don’t think anyone expected much more from any new Lady Gaga release.  Having said that, though, I have to admit to finding some things on the project that I actually like.

Besides the two monster songs, Born This Way (the new GLBT anthem if ever there was one), and Judas, Gaga does briefly step out a bit to include some thoughtfully creative moments.

Americano is definitely different.  Take away the 4/4 beat and the song sounds like something from a 1940s movie.  Quite inventive, really.

Scheibe is an attempt at singing in German, albeit briefly.  Totally unexpected, though, and that’s what should catch your ear.

Bad Kids and Electric Chapel are the closest moments to rock that you’ll hear on Born This WayElectric Chapel is one of the more creative tunes.

You And I is perhaps the best produced tune on Born This Way, and in my humble opinion, musically the best overall.  It also has the only real guitar lick on the project.

The last tune, The Edge of Glory is dance a tune with some really good sax work.  That alone makes it stand out.

A remix disc containing different versions of Judas has also been released.

Rumer Seasons Of My Soul

I received a sampler CD of a singer I’ve never heard of before by the name of Rumer.  All I can say is — this is great stuff.  Definitely not dance music or rock.  She writes her own material and vocally is somewhat reminiscent of Sade.  The album this material was taken from will not be released until this fall, but it’s worth the wait. Check it out on MySpace.


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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

Comments (2)

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  1. dina dina says:

    Pam,
    Nice article here.
    Dina

  2. says:

    Hey there readers! 🙂 Just an update. “Chaos & Lace” is nearing completion of their debut LP and are booking lots more gigs soon. If you are in the NYC area, come on down to one! Head on over to our FB page and “LIKE” us to stay apprised of all the going’s on! 🙂

    <3
    Julie

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