Beth Ditto and The Gossip | Feminist Music
Musical style: Poppy sunny cheek with a hint of ska and reggae, with a modern twist
Similar sounds: Jessy Moss, Jem. Mike Skinner ('The Streets') is also a cheeky cockney, but Allen's found a niche with her sound-->
Have you heard... The Gossip?
Hailing from hicksville Portland, US, The Gossip have been around for 7 years, yet they've only recently stormed the world's musical sensiblilties with the single Standing in The Way of Control, a pithy, indie-dance track with vocals like a mix between the late great bluesy Janis Joplin and late great disco-boy Sylvester. This Soulwax remix is also the track used to advertise the UK's Channel 4 edgy teen TV series Skins (which may have contributed to their recent exposure). The latter track is also the title of The Gossip's third album, which is set to become one of this year's must-have classics.
So who the hell are they and what makes them so special? The Gossip have been described as a rebel-punk soul trio with their roots in the punk Riot Girrrl movement. They are Nathan Howdeshell (aka Brace Paine) on guitars, Hannah Blilie on drums and larger-than-life songbird, Beth Ditto. Drawing from a wide range of musical influences, from art punk (The Slits, Sonic Youth) to soul divas (The Ronettes, Aretha Franklin, Billie Holliday) and back to early electro again (Delta 5, Gina X, Flying Lizards), The Gossip have done their home work and come up with a sound that is punchy, unique and intelligent.
Spokeswoman Beth Ditto describes herself as "a fat queer feminist" and has never cried shy of speaking her mind. Indeed, their torchsong Standing In The Way Of Control (which has must be the most remixed track of the moment) is a gay anthem about homophobia within the American government. Not your usual subject for prime-time radio, but The Gossip seem to have pulled it off quite successfully.
Ditto's a bit of a champion of the fuller figure and is quite happy to don a tight pink lycra catsuit to romp about onstage and is more than vocal about a woman's right to be whatever size she damn well wants, "It's so shallow to think that dieting makes you more complete. This whole size zero bullshit is absurd. You wouldn't want a zero on your exam paper. You wouldn't want a zero on your pay cheque. Why would any woman want to be invisible, to disappear?".
Voted NME magazine's sexiest woman in this year's polls, Beth Ditto's militant fat femme message might just be catching on...
by Amanda Prouten