Trans Mixtape: A Creative Response by Evan Ifekoya
The 60 minutes of eclectic music below is a response to Juliet Jacques’ Trans: A Memoir, compiled by the performance and new media artist, Evan Ifekoya. Ifekoya’s mix tape explores gender politics and the intersections between class, misogyny and transphobia through music. Art, film and music are pivotal to the shaping of the self in Trans, so what better way to respond than through a mix tape?
The floor was empty so I played you this recording
There is a pause.
It starts with an extended silence.
In one minute this immediate act of refusal must feel more like ten. This is how mixtapes used to be. I adhere to the particularities of its form; 60 minutes maximum run time, a considered title, song notes and a collaged cover. In these constraints I find some kind of freedom.
The song eases you in out of the silence slowly, with a deep hum at first. Strings layer over each other and work at the tension built up from the day. The laboured body of the day is often distinct from the personal self that rematerialises once at home. In the depths of this song, self and body begin to reconnect. As the crescendo subsides, stripped back to strings, let it move through you, from fingertips to shoulders, neck to toenails.
30 seconds go by before the next song begins.
When it does kick in you feel it, the pulse of the drum and soon the warmth of the house rhythm. Through her music and writing, trans identified producer Terre Thaemlitz a.k.a DJ Sprinkles investigates the role of music in how we come to know and understand our identities. Via carefully placed references in Trans, a memoir, Juliet Jacques does the same.
“Did you know that you’re 40% more likely to get that job if you’ve got a British Surname? Tests have shown, based on fact. I for one am living proof of that”
Then I took on my mother’s maiden name, adding another layer of cultural marking, so these words no longer apply. This song is a landmark.
Played at ½ speed, distorted. Yet Poly Styrene’s vocals, the horns and that guitar riff remain clear and distinct.
“When you see yourself
does it make you scream?”
No pause this time, the snare snaps and soon the French infused vocals begin.
After being refused entry to dance club Berghain (Berlin), legendary producer Felix Da Housecat made his feelings about the whitewashing of dance music clear. Despite laying the foundations, structural inequalities persist in denying marginal subjects access to the cultures we create.
Together we try our best to impersonate the vocals, from high pitched choruses to sincere whispers. The absurdity of the lyrics only serves to emphasise the joy in singing it. Does our sense of community begin in the space of music? Before we come to know ourselves as marked bodies? In Trans, Jacques suggests we can at least find solace in that space, solidarity until the evening draws to a close.
Straight into the drum loop and when the bass line kicks in be ready.
‘Fuck the pain away’ by Peaches
Be ready to move and be moved by this. Be ready to take it to the dancefloor. Be ready to mouth the words to this to your best friend, or your crush. Be ready to sweat it out. Be ready.
Symbols crash to mark the end and warped vocals begin.
The steel pan drums of the original version continue to drive this song, Nguzunuzu take it to a new dimension with the undecipherable female vocals. In Crusing Utopia (2009), Jose Esteban Munoz states that ‘Queer is not yet here … yet queerness exists for us an ideality that can be distilled from the past and used to imagine a future.’
Let this song be that distillation in musical form. Two seconds. The next track begins.
“I'm still takin the train and
My metro card's empty
The windows of the stores when I walk by tempt me
I was on MTV but I don't have a Bently
Fuck it in my pockets I barely gotta twenty”
We strive towards more intersectional conversations but this rarely includes a well-considered analysis of class. This is further complicated when the class positions we occupy shift through time. Nevertheless, how and why gender variant bodies do or don’t have access to health and social care should be at the forefront of our conversations.
This mix started with strings and so it will end much the same. Trans doesn’t fade out, nor will this recording. Press play and repeat.
More of Evan Ifekoya's work is available here.