“MY PEDALS KISS ME DEADLY (WHAT I'M THINKING WHILE PLAYING)”
Self Published Zine, 2014
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Reviewed by Maryann Savage
Ducklingmonster's solo musical performances are authoritative. She stands tall on stage, her head often thrown back, with a calm and focussed expression. Her voice is loud and clear, and swells over the audience in long, sustained notes, punctuated by shrieks and growls. She dances precisely and fearlessly, punching the air, and often walks into the audience, dancing directly in front of them, even when no-one else is moving – as is usually the case. People in Auckland at small rock shows don't dance much.
So it's interesting to read, in this zine, what's really going through her mind when she performs. She frequently experiences doubt and anxiety. This isn't a simple account of what she feels – it's an art zine, and fragments of her thoughts are juxtaposed with images from the movies Repo Man and Kiss Me Deadly, slightly transformed through her drawings to suggest a merging between the events of the movies and the events of her performances. I've only performed myself to an audience a few times, but I've noticed how strange it is when you're playing music and the audience simply stands there, the laser-like focus of their attention entirely on you. Ducklingmonster quotes lyrics from the band Husker Du, the context changing them into a comment on her performance anxiety:
see the blank expres[sions]
waiting for progression
They're standing still
in time, place and time
+ no-one's moving they're
only standing still
in Ice cold Ice cold
Ducklingmonster covered this song live, and I can confirm that everyone there did, indeed, stand still and watch.
One image that particularly appeals to me in this zine is the drawing of the private eye and his femme fatale, Velda, from Kiss Me Deadly. The pair stand framed in the white light of what looks like a shop front, but which also stands in for the blinding light of the stage, with Ducklingmonster in front of her audience, framed by the darkness of the night outside. Written across the white centre of the drawing is the self doubt of the performer:
“Nobody Is At This Show”
and, of course, the local performer's secret misery:
“I'm not paying to play”
– which is the way that it works out for most small bands.
This is a zine that straddles the boundary between the 'personal' and 'art' zine genres. It doesn't have the treacly self-indulgence of some personal zines, but nor does it hide the artist's feelings behind a wall of opaque images. Instead, it satisfyingly balances feeling with the mystery of art.