Saffron A, a young and brave fighter out of Brantford, Ontario, is releasing a new single today, the 8th of March, which is the International Women’s Day. We have interviewed Saffron before about her previous EP’s.
Saffron herself is a survivor of sexual assault and at one point she decided to create powerful and beautiful music in hope to inspire others to cope with their own trauma. She wrote ‘Survivor’ for all the people that have shared their stories with her.
“Here’s where you found me Here’s where they left me For all these years I’ve been quiet I have taken the weight of silence”
‘Survivor’ is from Saffron’s upcoming album Survivors Are Fighters for which she has a GoFundMe page up and running.
If you catch Saffron playing live you will notice her special blue faded Levi’s jeans. These are her Consent Pants:
“When I did two collaborative shows with Advocates for A Student Culture of Consent, I came up with the idea for people to respond to the music and workshop by writing/drawing/expressing what consent means to them on a pair of jeans. It turned out so well, I brought them out to almost every show on tour and encouraged the audience to add their piece. It became a community art project, and now I wear the jeans when I perform.”
“They didn’t believe me Refused to hear me When someone they knew Violated me
The secret I buried The one that I carried alone”
Saffron decided to release this song on the International Women’s Day to celebrate those who have found the courage to speak out, take a stand and oppose the current system.
“In the age of the #MeToo movement, this song validates and empowers the diverse stories of survivors of sexual violence… I see you, I hear you, I believe you.”
One barely needs to hear the music to understand that this protest song is made by and for women. The illustrated cover image says it all with the young girl in kung fu clothing, handling both the football and the inked skateboard while not giving a crap about what anyone thinks about her. Just like how boys were lucky enough to grow up.
Juanita Tres Cosas is a punk rock anthem made for young girls around the planet who believe (and rightly so) that they can fight the same fight and do the same things as the boys they grew up next to. ‘Juanita tres cocos’ (Juanita three testicles) is a common Chilean saying that degrades and makes fun of “masculine girls”.
Sin Lencería, took that, twisted it, owned it and made this song.
“Juanita Tres Cosas is a song about growing up being a girl that doesn’t fit girly standards. While people expect little girls to play with dolls or look nice all the time, there’s a lot of others that prefer sports and play in the mud and sometimes that makes them suffer bullying. So this is a song dedicated to them (and also our own younger selves) to remind us that gender shouldn’t define what we can or can’t do!”
“Juanita Tres Cosas no te dejes deprimir Las niñas también tienen Libertad de decidir” Juanita Tres Cosas don’t allow yourself to be depressed girls also have the freedom to choose
The illustrated design for Juanita Tres Cosas comes in part from the band members’ experiences as kids as well as from the stereotypes they witnessed around them as girls and later as women in society.
“One of us wanted to play karate as a kid but her family put her in ballet instead because it was more ‘feminine’, another wanted to play football, but in the 90’s there wasn’t a female football team to join, and the other always loved skating, but sometimes skirts and dresses got in the way. So that’s why in the cover there’s a girl with a karate uniform, a ball and a skateboard, because she represents what we wanted to be as kids.”
Being homeless for the first time at the age of 8 is perhaps, and hopefully, not something too many people can relate with. That was the reality for Stray, a young singer songwriter who just released her first album.
The protest music piece was recorded by herself on the farm where she now lives free from abuse and where she helps others get through similar things.
Halldór: First of all, for those who are not familiar with your work, who is Stray?
Stray: First homeless at the age
of 8, I once roamed the streets alone like a cat, rummaging through
the bins. At 21 I bought my first guitar at a flea market and started
teaching myself to play. I sing about social, environmental, and
economic justice in my music.
Halldór: You describe yourself as an artist who uses her voice to talk about issues that both have personally affected you as well as other things you deem necessary talk about. Why do you think music is such a great way to get political messages across?
Stray: The personal is political, I was homeless on and off due to severe abuse, couldn’t seek shelter at any of the local churches because I’m gay, and couldn’t afford apartments by myself due to poverty. So I was often trapped and choosing between an abusive home life or a homeless life.
These are traumas that I couldn’t talk about with people, both because trauma often makes us speechless, but because it had been dangerous for me to open up to people, and I also didn’t want to upset anyone else. You partially keep your trauma secret to nurture others.
So music was the only way I could speak about what I was going through. Music tells untold truths, and protest music speaks truth to power, so they’re a perfect medium for political expression.
Halldór: Your debut album was recently released. Can you tell us about the creative and recording process of the album and the inspiration behind some of the songs?
Stray: These songs are my voice for when I had none. I wrote them during a time when I was terribly isolated. I had officially escaped from my abusive family, ending all contact with them, and was also escaping a different toxic environment.
I moved with all my savings to a broken down farm and started rebuilding myself from the ground up. This album tells that story. I believe Lost & Found, Burning Bridges, and Skeleton Key are the soul of the album. I recorded everything myself on the farm, turning a small bedroom into a little studio.
Even though the writing and recording of the album was done entirely alone, I now share my studio space with others, so that they don’t have to face the same financial obstacles I did along the way. I call it the Marginal Music Collective.
Halldór: Besides your music, which obviously is a tool for activism, what other activism do you partake in?
Stray: I believe in direct action and mutual aid. We can’t rely on hierarchical institutions to save us, many of them maintain the status quo or do more harm than good by entering communities and “saving” them by telling them they know “better”.
As a working class person myself, I grow food for the working class and homeless on my farm and share it with others for free and for donation. I volunteer with Food Not Bombs protesting environmental injustice, poverty, and imperialism, while feeding people.
When friends have been abused at home or were homeless, I’ve taken them in, knowing personally what it’s like to go hungry and go it alone, I refuse to allow that to happen to others.
Halldór: According to your Bandcamp profile you sound like a superhero, feeding people at your farm by day and recording protest music by night. Can you explain more about your farm and the life you live there with other people?
Stray: hahaha aww thank you! I founded Forest Moon Farm as a sanctuary for marginalized people and rescue animals. It’s a permaculture farm designed with environmentalist and organic principles and the garden is full of circles and spirals in accord with nature. I live here peacefully with two other people.
People come and visit to learn about organic gardening and permaculture, get free food, do yoga, and eventually when we can afford to rescue some animals, spend time with animals in nature. We even have a few acres of forest for nature walks.
“I’m Burning bridges cause I can’t afford the tolls It lights the way for all us beaten souls I’ve had to dive in to avoid the patrols And just keep swimming cause underwater is all I know”
from ‘Burning Bridges’ (2020)
Halldór: What musicians inspire you? Are you following other contemporary protest musicians that you want to give a shout out to?
Stray: My musical heroes are Janelle Monae, Fiona Apple, Taylor Swift, India Arie, and Ani DeFranco. I adore Blunted Lip by Laura Kerrigan, she has a beautiful voice, heartfelt lyrics, and a hilarious twitter full of queer pride and personality. I also love SoulSpot, they have great vibes and their singer and music are unbelievably smooth.
Halldór: What is on the horizon for you?
Stray: I’m doing a series of
house concerts this summer, writing my second album, and I plan on
adopting some goats!
Halldór: Thank you very much for participating and for the music. Anything else you’d like to shout from the rooftops?
Stray: Food, Housing, and Health Care are Human Rights!
Halldór is the managing editor of Shouts – Music from the Rooftops!, an investigative journalist, audio engineer and an animal rights activist on a nomad journey through Europe – still without a definite destination.