| Mar 14, 2011
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England seems to have more than it’s share to truly unique, creative individuals in all of the creative arts. Especially in music.

Progressive rock was practically an English creation, considering some of the bands that started their careers in the mid-1960s to late 1970s.  This column is named after an amazing piece of music by Yes, who by the way happen to be English and who came from the above mentioned era.

It’s no surprise then that a transgendered English  musician such as Phaedra Kelly would assemble what she calls a “poetry band” and call it Ecurbrekal.

Besides Kelly, vocalist/poetess, the band includes Sendy on keyboards; Dr. Brian Hinton, a musician, author and poet who also plays keyboards, and guitarist Stuart Wilmott.  Released projects include Musk In The Morning and Banned Not Bland with an accompanying video recently released last September.

Kelly was raised on the Isle of Wight and knew early on that something was different.  Like many of us, the search took several twists and turns, but she was fortunate enough to find people who would allow Phaedra to be Phaedra, and some of those just happened to share her musical interests.   TGForum introduces Phaedra Kelly and Ecurbrekal.

TGForum: I’m always curious about band names.  What does Ecurbrekal mean?

Phaedra Kelly: Ecurbrekal — Turkey’s answer to Merlin. A 5th century alchemist who legend says found the secret to eternal life, who will make a return to anyone who is an underdog fighting against great odds.  A superstition which Islam frowns upon, but he is also unpopular with the authorities since, like Saladin, he was Kurdish, not Turkish. Kurds still sing of him.

What’s amusing about Ecurbrekal is that he also shapeshifts and can change sex and be his other self.

TGF: Is the current lineup of musicians the same people you use all the time?

PK: Yes.  The band first formed out of the wreckage of Electro Magnetic Workshop, the Goth rock band I was in.

TGF: How old were you when you first started dealing with your gender issues?

Phaedra Kelly

PK: I never had to “deal”.  Having had a classical education and studied social anthropology, comparative religions, archaeology and history, I kept finding androgyny and TG as something positive, the bedrock of all major  religions and philosophies, and all that’s to do with dualism, equality,  justice, democracy…anything that demands two sides to a story.

As to dealing, in my view, it’s overdue for all others of any stripe who are non-TG to learn to deal with us! Show respect, and recognize what a positive asset we are to the world.

TGF: Obviously, your background is more literary.  What were your influences growing up?

PK: Influences?   I have all and none.  A very eclectic experience of life and the arts, opens me up to the best of anything.

I try to avoid media drench and other influences, and open my mind to my own identity and feelings, independent of influence.  People will inevitably make comparisons, of course, but usually the references are beyond me. No vocal influences either, though one admits to a touch of Armand Lear with erotic poems.

TGF: Who composes the music?  From what I was able to listen to, albeit on cheap computer speakers, it’s very reminiscent musically of mid-sixties acts-some Stones, very early Pink Floyd, very early Genesis, and also the spoken word material such as Cream did.

PK: Thank you and thank you again, but I have never heard those musical references, apart from the Stones.

TGF: Talk a bit about your recordings.

PK: Musk In The Morning came out early in 2010.  Banned Not Bland, an EP with a DVD, that’s a massive departure.  We also plan a double album with Russian Ecurbrekal, and you can see their videos on our site.

Putin’s made the alternative illegal, persons of difference, TG, Goth, Emo, arrested and taken to a camp near one of the lakes.  A massive human rights abuse, so we are fighting back by forming Ecurbrekals in all the old Soviet states and of course Russia itself.

TGF: You’ve had a poetry collection published in 1991, correct?   Also, I understand you’ve done a graphic novel.

PK: Innocent Until Proven Adult was the first published collection, by Aard Press in ‘91.  I did have two other collection in print, for which I paid, Grim Harvest, which was the first….and Vengeance at Port Au Prince.  The graphic novels are in pictures on the site.

TGF: How often does Ecurbrekal perform and at what kind of venues?

PK: We have managed about six gigs so far but we are recording also.  As to where…anywhere we can.

TGF: I’ve interviewed only a few other musicians from England.  How organized and vibrant is the transgender community there?   And, how political are you?

PK: I am very organized in myself, but the human rights org that I founded seems to have dwindled over the years.  Runs on low light, but it’s still there.  I am now physically 57!  I’ve done my bit for now and am having fun again.  I don’t see much politic going on in UK, but then I never did.  Apathy rules throughout most of Europe!  It’s a pity, because they are still without representation inside the media and they need it.

I’m still in the National Union of Journalists and have got a few others  into it, but we get interporated from within that, not even respected as journalists ourselves.

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

PK: I love you, you are my living deity, you are nature and beauty to me. I love you.

TGF: What advice would you offer to other poets, singers, musicians, artists, etc., trans or not, who are just starting out?

PK: Paying your dues can be a long process and often, you find that success depends upon some else’s whims, so don’t get despondent, and wherever possible just do the job yourself and get exposure.

TGF: Anything you’d like to say in closing?

PK: Like anything TG, from a street carnival to a shamanic ritual, Ecurbrekal is a living animal and a one with intent to impact on the world at large, aimed at creating attention to the nature of TGs and intersex, assimilating its way into world culture and establishing our nation within naions.  If any TGs anywhere in the world want to form an Ecurbrekal, please do, and get in touch. Be who and what you are and show the world what you can do through the arts.  Infect and assimilate into and inside the media.

Besides the aforementioned MySpace site for Ecurbrekal, their music and the DVD can also be obtained through   This site takes you to an Isle Of Wight skate board company that also sells music and books.  I have no idea why, but what a neat idea.  Pricing is in British pounds, so you’ll have to figure that out for yourself.)


News about The Shondes.  How’s this for bad luck?   Band member Elijah Oberman was diagnosed with cancer a while back, but fortunately has been successfully treated.  Added to this stress, though, is the fact that band also had their touring van stolen .  They’ve managed to raise over $10,000 from their fan base,  but are in need of more, obviously.  If anyone would care to make any size donation, the band website has information.  Also on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

Shunda K
Shunda K continues her stand against homophobia in her new video, for I’m Da Best, the single from her debut album project, The Most Wanted.  The video clip features Ian Hambrick and Trillon Galloway, who were recently part of the MIA and Michael Jackson/Akon videos.

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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.

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