Get a name, and some paper, and do it!!

Silent Screams

An interview with

by Elke Zobl
June 2002

After Jen and me did this interview via e-mail, I found that she holds a pro-life viewpoint (she doesn't mention it in the interview, I read it on her bands web site). I am decidedly pro-choice and have thought long about putting the interview up or not (since this web site is a safe space for grrrls and also pro-choice). I didn't for a whole year but I think it might get us to think (I am always thrown back by young women and feminists being pro-life) and Jen, if she gets some emails from us. So, here it is! Elke


Can you tell me first of all a little bit about yourself? How old are you, where are you originally from and where do you reside now?
Hey what's up? I'm Jen, I play bass in a hardcore band called "neshamah", and do a zine called "silent screams", I was born in South Africa twenty years ago, and well still live here…

What do you do besides your distro? Do you also publish a zine?
Other than my distro I do web design, I also do my own zine called "silent screams" which was the first South African hxc/punk zine around…

For how long have you been running your zine/distro now? Are you the only one running it or is there a team?
Well for a few years now, only say 2 and a half, I run the distro myself, but for Silent screams I have another girl helping me out [mel] she does most of my interviews and photos for SS.

What made you decide to start the zine/distro? How did you come up with the idea and the name?
Well being in SA was really fustrating because we could never get our hands on any hxc/punk bands cd/zines/merch unless we ordered it straight off the internet, so I decided why the hell not start my own one, and help kids understand more about punk/hxc all over the world, let them in on whats happening world wide, because I had all the contacts with zines/distros and other hxc kids in scenes world wide, from the internet and chats, that I had the recourses to start up…I called it silent screams because I feel there are way to many kids out there not voicing their opinions, and well silent screams is here for the kids to voice them..

What topics are most often discussed in the zines you stock? What criteria do you use to choose the zines you stock?
I cover basically anything and everything, from social, political, religious topics, to short stories that don't even make sense, its basically a zine for kids to read, learn more about their roots, learn more about world wide scenes and well just to enjoy and have a laugh, I'll stock anyone's zines, zines are allot of hard work, and I respect anyone who does one, if anyone has a zine and wants to get it out to SA, please contact me!!

What do you hope to accomplish by establishing your zine/distro?
All I want is for the kids to be united, awareness in hxc/punk, and to be able to get hold of hardcore and punk, I remember when it was really hard for us to get merchandise we really wanted, and well now having a distro, it makes it a few steps easier for kids, its way more convenient to go to a show and buy cds than steal your parents credit card and order it from the other side of the world, having to pay those sky high postage bills..

What does zine making and distributing mean to you? What do you love about zine making/distributing? What ís the most challenging aspect of making/distributing zines?
I do it because I love it, and my heart is really in the scene, Neshamah was the first hardcore band in South Africa, so we always used to get weird looks when we started playing about 3 years ago, but right now the scene is blooming, we get about 250-500 kids at a show, its soo much fun!! I also make punk rock studded accessories, lets just say I like making things with my hands hehe, im one of those arty farty type, and also went to art school for 3 years…I love meeting all zine writers world wide, from Singapore to America, I love that there are kids out there with the same desires as me, and well its just soo much fun to put something together, that you've created with your sweat, blood and hard earned cash, and have kids come up to you and say, wow I really enjoyed the zine, it really makes me smile…every 3 months just after I've released a zine, I always sit back saying "AARGH where am I going to get all my content from" but somehow it just all starts falling together and by the time its time for the next issue to be released, I have too much content I end up having articles and interviews for the next zine…the only real challenge is finding a job to get money to support the zine..HAHA right now I do web design, and work in a XtrendyX clothing store, where I only get paid per hour, per shift, and that's what I use to print zines, and make my merchandise, I basically just just cover costs for the zine, all postage I pay out of my own pocket, and well any extras as well..but hey id rather be sowing money into the scene than eating it!! ;)

What was your first exposure to zines? How did you find out about them? What have they come to mean to you?
Jiesh, I hadn't even had one before I started mine, basically I guessed in my own head what a zine was about, and well surfed on e-zines and just made it up as I went along, zines were just not found here, there are still kids that pick up my zine at the mercb table and say "What's this?" hehe so I have to explain the whole DIY thing, I just love them, I love all zines, I personally love the whole cut and paste zine, I did it for my first 7, the latest one ive done on pc, well most of it, I still have to do a few pasting and stuff, but hey that's cool..I love it, anything DIY..I'm there..

Do you consider grrrl and lady zines as an important part of a movement of sorts? Do you think zines can effect meaningful social and political change?
Yea of course, I love that girls in hardcore/punk that actually do something, and are motivated to do so, there are just too many people in our scenes that don't care about change, of course zines could change a person, if you have an article on say abortion, and a person had never read about it before, they could be informed, and maybe see what its all about, and well the more zines that get out, the more people are informed, and well yeah it could change a group of people, and spread from there..

What does the zine community mean to you?
I love it, I hope paper zines last forever, I know many people are doing e-zines, and I could too, but paper zines are where its at, I know maybe some people think its old school, but I personally would rather collect up zines, than read it off the net, which gets updated so you wont be able to page back if you need reference, or I dunno inspiring, anything..print zines are best..

What advice would you give others who want to start a zine or a distro?
Get a name, and some paper, and do it!! Hehe its fun you get to meet loads of people, and well get your message out there, if you have had thoughts about doing it, do it, I know you wanna..

Could you please describe a little bit the grrrl zine community in your country?
Um what girl zine community, hehe, nah im the only girl zinester here really, along with my friend mel who helps out, but other than silent screams there are no other girls doing zines, or even distros for that matter, the only other girl doing something is my friend tara, who is going to be the vocalist for a hardcore band to be, they'll be playing shows in june sometime, I cant wait!! Loads of girls buy and support the zine that's cool..

Do you define yourself as a feminist?
Yea of course!

What are the most pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life (as a woman/feminist)?
Well when I started in the band, I used to get dissed by the guys, saying I'm a girl trying to play MANS music, or, something like that, sometimes even get cheered on because I'm a girl, like OOH CHICK BASSIST, like oohing and aahing cos I'm a girl in hardcore, I think that just because I'm female, makes me no different, and no I'm not emo, if I wanna dance in the pitt, let me, just don't beat me down cos you think I'm tough because I'm hardcore, I might be hardcore, but I'm still a girl..

Are you active in the feminist movement? How?
Well only in the way that I support girls in whatever they want to do, be it in hardcore, or anything really…Just because we are better looking, doesn't mean we belong in the kitchen, hehehehehe…

What do you think about feminism today? Do you see yourself as part of Third Wave Feminism and what does it mean to you?
Hmm I dunno, all I do is play in a band, do my zine and well hang with friends hehe, if I have to do something, I will, and support it 100%, I have an awesome article in #8 that nic wrote on a hottentot [bushman] lady who was used for scientific experiment because the Europenas were interested on it..aargh!! heres an extract from the article featured "Women know your place - Saartjie Baartman was a khoi-san (now referred to as Bushman) woman who became a 'scientific' interest of the British in a time that could be called the start of racism in Southern Africa, the colonizing of Africa. British people were obsessed with any one who looked any different to themselves, ever wondered into a punk show not wearing the appropriate attire and you know a little about this. During a time when British men oohed and aahed whilst comparing themselves to the African male they came to the conclusion that even lower on the scale of classification was women, all women that is. Women were referred to as savages and the most inferior of human evolution. So the British male found some thing 'special' in Saartjie Baartman, a black female, she was quite sweetly? given the pet name 'The Hottentot Venus'. "

Which role plays the Internet for you? Does it change your ideas of making zines and doing/reading zines? What effect does it have on your zine/distro?
Wow, it does everything for me, hehe, most and all of my contacts are online, all my friends I chat with that submit articles and stuff, all my interview and everything, because I am so far away from other scenes, the net brings up closer, which is awesome!! Without the internet I wouldn't be able to do this!!

Do you have any suggestions? Something you want to add?
Yea you can check out my site, I only update it after the zine has been released, so check it out, you can see what previous zines had in them, as well sign my guestbook and let me know what you think.. my bands site is, we just released a 5 song ep on angrysonrecords in ohio, if you have aim chat my nick is xjen24 so add me and we can chat!! Thanx so much for the interview, I really appreciate it, and any girls out there with zines, please get hold of me at, I'd love to distribute your zine in South Africa!!