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Trippers zine: Lesbianism and all things punkrock

An interview with Trent


by Elke Zobl

November 2002



Trippers 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 for
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 give up.


For 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.

What 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 changes.


What 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 else.


What was your first exposure to zines? How did youfind out about them? What have they come to mean to you?
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 on.

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, that
the Marxists in Russia did achieve this with their newsletter 'Iskra (The
Spark)'.

What does the zine community mean to you?
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.

What 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 you do.

What 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 Punk' and
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)

Could 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, I am
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 movement? How?
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 I really
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:
Trippers Zine:
BLK 11,
JALAN BATU,
#05-140, S(431011, SINGAPORE


Email:
trippers_tm [AT] hotmail.com


Trippers web site:
http://drugged-aesthetic.tripod.com/
Trippers.html

Previous Issues: 
http://drugged-aesthetic.tripod.com/previousissues.html

Issues Available: #11, #10, #9, #8, #7, #6, #5
Trippers #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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