“Music for me--it saved my life… I don’t really find much pleasure in life. I know it sounds kind of dark. When you can’t or don’t do your art, your life becomes sort of half-lived.” In discussing her new EP, CrushedVelvet (Boston, MA) opened up about creating, her EP’s eighties roots, and the difficult situation of being black and a woman in rock.
This EP is a long-time coming. CrushedVelvet readily points out, “Better Late Than Never was supposed to happen 25 years ago.” But the industry, she isn’t scared to say, has not been so welcoming to her. And it’s no surprise that it’s because of her gender--and melanin.
She says her whole career has been marked by “having a really difficult time in the industry because I’m a black woman singing rock, and then having a hard time in the industry because I’m a woman.” But she retains all of herself, and it shows in her music, “This is just me. It’s authentic, you may not like it. … I think it’s important now for this music to come out,” as a love letter to other people in her position, imploring them to just be themselves in their art.
Her music career hit a lot of bumps due to racism and sexism. She was dropped from her label for turning down a proposition. When she went back to her bandmates and told them, “You know what they said to me? ‘Why didn’t you do it?’” She says from then on, sex underlied her every rock and roll interaction. While she hesitated around the phrasing, CrushedVelvet made it clear: “I’m not going to f*** my way to the bottom.” And she maintained this philosophy for decades, as gender discrimination remained a common theme.
It wasn’t just gender. In trying to find people to play with, she was often met with the question, “Well do you play white rock or black rock?” She’s not afraid to say, “What does that mean? When I get truthful all rock is black rock.”