zine: Lesbianism and all things punkrock
An interview with Trent
by Elke Zobl
Zine is a Hardrockinmeanspittingpunkrockdykegrrrl
zine from Singapore. "All your lesbionic rants, music reviews and
interviews with people and bands that you'd find interest in done by a
dyke editor. Punkrock contradictions, gay expectations, fighting rascism
and homophobia form the music scene, everything and whatever. Grit your
teeth, wince, smile, show your finger, be a freak and strut your shit,
fuck shit up: dykes rule!" Check out Trents zine and web site! Here's
the interview with her!
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?
Well, I'm a 17 year old dyke punkrocker from Singapore, an island 22 hours
away from where you're at. I'm still residing here but I guess I might
be emigrating to San Francisco or London when I study overseas soon. I'm
very impulsive and impatient and also very short tempered. A very bad
combination if you ask me. I especially hate it when people do not take
me seriously. Still, I'm really nice to people who're nice to me. They
just have to ignore the fact that I'm a loud-mouth. Heh. People wonder
why I use the name 'Trent' when I'm obviously female. Well, the name was
given to me by my first ex-girlfriend so it has sentimental value to me.
She said I reminded her of 'Trent Reznor' from Nine Inch Nails because
I was so quiet and I don't know, mysterious, perhaps? I use it as a pseudonym
obvious reasons and all my dyke friends have come to call me 'Trent'.
I guess it's more butch.
What do you do besides your zine?
I play guitar for my own riot-grrrl band and also write and compose songs.
Other than writing poetry, I'm also currently writing a novel in parts.
I've finished part one so far. It's called 'The Shooting'. Part two is
called 'Like Someone With A Secret'. The novel tells the tale of the life
of a lesbian writer and it revolves around relationships with her religious
mother, alcoholic girlfriend and her punkrock friends. It's almost autobiographical.
(I'm not ripping off Lynn Breedlove's book 'Godspeed') When I finished
part one, I discovered that Lynn had just released her novel too. Other
than that, I'm the one behind the Riot Assembly, an all grrrl punkrock
group that aims to stop female oppression and sexism in the punkrock community.
The response received was very disappointing. I guess the girls here are
still not ready to stand on their own feet yet. Nevertheless, I'll not
how long have you been running your zine now? How many issues did you
put out until now? Are you the only editor or is there a team?
Oh jeezus you have no idea how hard it is for me to start this zine. The
zine's been around for almost 4 years now and I've put out 12 issues.
I'm the only editor/writer/journalist/ photographer/graphic designer of
the zine. I used to have a writer once but we didn't agree on most of
the content and layout of the zine. She's more to the mainstream side
of things and I'm fervently punrock so there were many clashes that ended
in us not contacting each other anymore. But it's alright. I've always
preferred to do MY things MY way. It's not about being selfish. It's about
being independant and re-discovering potentials that I haven't had time
to look at. I have always believed that zine-writing is an art. It is
an art that I'd like to have my name on.
What made you decide to start
this project? How did you come up with the idea and the name?
Actually, this whole zine business started when my ex-bassist showed me
a zine called 'Zerox'. I didn't know what a zine was back then but when
I held that thing in my hand and read everything that was written, I thought,
'This is BRILLIANT'. I mean, to be able to publish your OWN writings and
let other people read it and get paid at the same time, that is amazingly
wonderful. I have always loved writing anyway, and I saw this as a great
idea to let other people know that I exist, that my opinions count too
and so on, so forth. So I started my own newsletter at first called 'Drugged-Aesthetic'.
It was only about 6 pages each, the columns are mainly mindless rants,
and I sold it for about a dollar each. But nobody wanted to buy it coz
I have to admit that it sucked. After 2 issues, I've decided to ditch
the project because I've ended up giving the thing away for free. It's
not about the money that I'm upset about. It's the lack of interest and
appreciation from the readers (if they even read the thing.) So, in a
fit of rage, I unveiled the zine 'Trippers'. It was conceived after alot
of soul-searching and self-hating and eventually self-loving, days of
cutting and pasting, e-mailing, writing rants late into the night. It
wasn't a specifically punkrock zine at first. It wasn't a dyke zine either.
But as the zine progresses and I mature, readers are able to journey through
life with me, how I was suddenly became aware of my sexuality, how my
love for punkrock intensified and things like that. Therefore I decided
to turn Trippers into a lesbian punkrock zine. It's like, the zine's gone
through many changes, just like I have, and this change is the final one.
I am aware that like the Riot Assembly that I am organizing, my zine is
the first and so far the only zine that caters to the lesbians in the
punkrock community.People who consume the drug acid are said to be 'tripping
on acid', but I don't want my readers to 'trip on acid'. I want them to
'trip on information', like, get a high from the things I write and review.
So, people who read my zine are called Trippers. (I know, it's lame but
it's too late to change the name now. :P) Anyway, I thought names that
have words like 'Grrrl' and 'Riot' and 'Revolution' and 'Rebel' all sound
so common. Once thought of renaming my zine 'Catpuke.' -laughs- I don't
know. I'll see how things turn out for this zine.
What topics are most often discussed
in your zine?
Lesbianism and all things punkrock. Also homo/transphobia and a little
bit of feminism. Nowdays, I tend to feature queer bands/writers and also
alot of emphasis on grrrls that made a difference in the punkrock scene.
do you hope to accomplish by establishing your zine?
I've decided that I want to produce something that'll CHANGE people's mindsets,
make them think and talk about it, make them angry, make them stand up and
spit, scream and stomp on it. I want them to fucking feel for something.
People are getting more and more jaded and bored as the days go by and they
cannot seem to emote anything in their senseless and aimlessness. I want
to stop that. I know I cant single-handedly start a revolution and overthrow
the government or anything like that. All I wanted was to start a tiny little
revolution in all my reader's minds and hearts that I hope'll lead to bigger
does zine making (and reading) mean to you? Whatdo you love about zine
making? What’s the most challenging aspect of making zines?
Making zines started out as a hobby and then it turned into an essential.
I cannot fanthom a future without me making zines in it. It's like an
outlet for me to vent my frustrations, it's like writing a diary but this
time, people are allowed to look what's inside. It's very progressive
and a very transistional and transcendent experience. Reading zines, to
me, is like a journey. There's an exploration to be made and things to
discover and people to get to know with. It not only widens my knowledge
but also allows me to keep an open mind and also gives me ideas and inspirations
for many issues to come. Zine making allows me to meet alot of people.
Not just the readers but also bands and other really interesting (if not
eccentric) people. That's what I love about zine making. When you get
to meet different people, you are inevitably exposed to different views,
tastes in music, whatever. It makes you want to find out for these things
yourself too becasue you'd want to know what is it about these things
that changes people. Other perks in zine making also include A LOT of
free stuff in the mailbox. I love collecting letters, CDs from esoteric
bands, flyers, whatever. There are some things you just cant get anywhere
What was your first exposure to
zines? How did youfind out about them? What have they come to mean to
In the ealier part of this interview, I've already stated that my first
exposure to a zine was the one that my ex-bassist showed me. It was called
Zerox. It was a hardcore/personal zine that I really loved. (The font
size of that zine was so miniature that you have to squint to read them.
I love zines with small fonts.)Later on, I discovered that some of my
friends are doing zines of their own too and before I knew it, I started
one of my own. Zines are really like windows to me. They show me that
the reality I'm living in right now is not the only reality there is.
Until recently, I did not really care that much about other people's zines
because I have one of my own to fuss about. But suddenly, there's this
amazing desire to collect and read as many zines as I could get my hands
Do you consider grrrl zines as
an important part of a movement of sorts? Do you think zines can effect
meaningful social and political change?
Yeah, I do consider grrrrl zines a crucial part of a movement. My zine
IS a vehicle for The Riot Assembly as I've said earlier. Without it, people
would have no idea about what's going on. This goes for other zines too.
It doesn't have to be only grrrl zines though. And yeah, I do agree that
zines can effect meaningful social and political change. You must remember,
the Marxists in Russia did achieve this with their newsletter 'Iskra (The
What does the zine community mean
The zine community here is a very determined one. There are only 2 shops
in the whole republic that cares to carry our zines but we still do not
give up. At gigs, we open our own tables and booths and sell our zines
ourselves. It's pretty amazing really, when you have a rather big zine
community and yet you have a very small readership. In the end, I guess,
we're ultimately distributing zines between other zinesters. It's a good
start I guess, but since I'm always the impatient one, I try to go international.
advice would you give others who want to start a zine?
Just do it. You'll never know what your imagination and boredom can make
are some of the zines you admire?
I really love Zerox zine. It's a local zine. Another zine that I really
like is 'Bring On The Ruckus.' Its an anarchistic and extremely political
zine from Eugene, Oregon. I've not been exposed to much foreign zines,
especially grrrl/persoal zines even though I am desperately trying to
get hold of some. It's very hard for me because postage is quite expensive
and I'm not working or making much money from the zines that I sell. Thunderpussy,
this dyke zine from Australia seems interesting though. And yes, one has
to mention Alex Wrekk. I think she is the most amazing editor ever. And
she even makes buttons and patches, you know, for zinesters and zine readers
that says 'Copy And Destroy'. I think that is amazing. I ordered them
myself from Screamqueen Distro. Speaking of Screamqueen, the owner of
that distro is also a zine maker. She's got a zine called 'The Day I Quit
judging by the title of that thing, I really totally agree with her. Being
a punk feels like highschool again! One is never 'cool' enough. There's
expectations to fulfill, dress-codes and fucking rules to comply to. Where's
the hyped-up nihilism and 'we dont care' attitude gone to? (I'll rant
on this nextime... :P)
you please describe a little bit the grrrl zine community in your country?
Well... the grrrl zine community here is alright I should say. We've got
the first and only grrrl straight-edge zine called xDignityX. Despite
its religious undertones and its hardline approach, you gotta have to
admire the guts of the writers. And then there's Cherrybomb Press, perhaps
the one and only truly feminist e-zine that I'm really proud of. It started
of as a print zine though. We've got a new grrrl zine called 'Puink!'
Unfortunately the editor moved to New Zealand just when the first issue
came out but my god, she's so fucking dedicated to her work and the community.
Issue 2 is on it's way and it will actually be distributed in Singapore
from New Zealand by one of our distros. Besides that, she's also doing
this newsletter called 'Attn:scene' made for and by the 'Zinenation',
as she puts it. We've
also got the only activism/hardcore/feminist zine called 'Re-Directed'.
It's free and it's a sole grrrl effort. There's not much personal grrrl
zines in Singapore and we grrrl zinesters do not really communicate much
with each other though the support is there. I guess you'd have to give
us more time because the whole zine community here is rather new, I suspect.
You can check out all these zines and others at my website.
Do you define yourself as a feminist?
What are the mmost pressing issues you are confronted with in daily life
(as a woman/feminist)?
You know, there was once a time when I was actually afraid to be labelled
as a feminist. But then again, feminism is not a label and each woman
is a feminist in her own right. So yeah, I grew out of that naivete and
now I do consider myself as a feminist because if believing in your principals
and rights and standing up for it equates me as a feminist, then yeah,
one. A liberal one that is. Once you actually BELIEVE and FEEL for something,
once you dare to stand up for it, speak your mind about it, fight for
it, once you are actually doing something to achieve it, you are a feminist.
There is no doubt about it. Because I'm a woman, a punkrocker and a lesbian,
I am constantly dogged with discrimination and prejudice but I do not
really mind. As long as they don't catch me at the wrong time. There are
people I know of who'd scream, 'GO GET A DICK! to me or 'TRY FUCKING A
GUY!' I've never agreed that penises are the symbol of 'machoness' or
logic. Sometimes you really wanna fight back and stamp your foot on it
and protest, but you gotta think about the situation you'd get yourself
into so you walk away. Walking away doesn't make you a loser. It actually
allows you to think rationally and avoid a consenquence that you would
have been too blinded to realize in your anger. Girls in my family are
expected to do most of the housework, wake-up early and all that whereas
my dad and my brother can just laze and do whatever they please. This
is simple sexism at work here. In the scene, most of the crowd view grrrl
bands or grrrl fronted bands as ridiculous or they cant manage a tune
and that they're not worth supporting for. These fucks don't admit it
if you ask them but it is evident in the way almost no-one comes up to
the stage to support. There are certain grrrls in the scene I see that
are desperately trying to fit in with the rest of us but the skinheads
and some of those arrogant punks keep on making fun and taking advantage
of them. I know because I've been treated the same way. And I am starting
to get sick of it.
Are you active in the feminist
Yeah, you can say that. As I've said earlier, I'm currently trying to
estabalish an all-grrrl punkrock organization called 'The Riot Assembly'
that is currently lacking response. I am fervently against female-oppression
and I support all grrrl efforts. It's not like I walk around passing flyers
that scream, 'WE NEED A REVOLUTION NOW!' and bare my tits or burn my
bras or whatever to prove that I'm active in the feminist movement. I
was never a political person. I believe that before you can make a change
you have to change yourself first. There's alot about me that needs change,
improvement, so big revolutions can wait.
What do you think about feminism
today? Do you see yourself as part of “Third Wave Feminism”
and what does it mean to you?
I think feminism today is more active than it was years ago. The further
we move into a future of technological and social progression, the more
problems there are to attend to at hand. And women nowadays, I have to
admit, are getting bolder and wiser and stronger. Feminism will inevitably
be part of our lives. The first and second waves of feminism have already
brought to us women the much needed respect and equlity that we deserve.
There's nothing much to fight for nowadays except the same issues like
the unresolved Equal
Rights Amendment and some more radical stances like femmestruation which
find totally uncalled for. Pardon me, but I think the 'third wave' feminism
is just unnecessary. To me the 'third wave' doesn't exist. We're still
in the second wave, as far as I can see. (again, I shall rant on this
nextime...) Yeah, I do see myself as part of feminism although I know
there's still alot for me to learn. What does feminism mean to me? It
means that I too, as a woman, have the right to choose whatever I want
to do with my life, whatever I want to wear, say, see, hear. I have the
right to choose whatever I want to be without the restrictions based on
gender, race and background.
Which role plays the Internet
for you? Does it change your ideas of making zines and doing/reading zines?
I'd die without the internet. It's where I get most of my music from and
where I get most of the materials for my zine. I get loads of ideas from
the net by other zinesters, and it shows me different ways to layout my
zine and I get introduced to alot of great zines/distros/zinesters and
stuff. Man, without the internet, I wouldn't even be doing this interview!
Write Trent at:
#05-140, S(431011, SINGAPORE
Issues Available: #11, #10, #9, #8, #7,
#11, 'Excuse Me, Are You A Lesbian?'
Trippers #10 'Rise Above'
Trippers #9 'THE ART OF PROTEST'
Trippers #8 VERSION EMO 'I USE THE ENEMY'
Trippers #7 Full Blown Punk Issues In A Semi Punk Zine 'THE CLASH'
Trippers #6 LITERATURE AND ART 'FAITH. HOPE. LOVE. REASON TO SURVIVE.'
TRIPPERS #5 'CULTURE DIVERSITY AESTHETIC INTENSITY' JAM PACKED ANGER.
Singapore: S$2 (add 50cents for postage)
Malaysia: RM$3 (add RM$1 for postage)
New Zealand: NZ$3 (add 50cents postage)
U.S.: US$2 (add 50cents for postage)
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