Listen To: The Experimental Activism of Sabrina Ross

Listen To: The Experimental Activism of Sabrina Ross

Adriana SaboThursday,23 July 2015

Can music change the world? Can it affect politics and global change? Can it penetrate the jungle of the music industry and the market that aim to shape her into a product that can be sold? Can musical activism exist outside the underground? All these questions pop up in my mind as I listen to Sabrina Ross‘ What you expect bitch, a politically engaged, three track experimental album that sends a message” “this project asks, how have we come to expect and tolerate violation? why do we not expect respect?”

Ross’ intention, according to the album’s Bandcamp page, was to make a musical project that “not only combats sexual shame and promotes respectful intimacy, but validates and provides vital insight into the experiences of survivors- as well as all women and people who feel violated on a daily basis.”

Sabrina Ross is, in her own words, a lyricist, vocalist, uke strummer, maraca shaker, foot stomper. She makes music that is not pleasant in the usual sense of the word. It isn’t girly or pretty. And it isn’t made for everyone. Her music can’t be understood without her message. Without the activism that follows it, it is not complete. “It was very important to me to not negate mine and others experiences by making the sound clean, enjoyable, or accessible. It is hard to listen to- but it is impossibly harder to experience, and to express,” Ross explains.

What you expect bitch is meant to shake you. It will never be a global hit, nor was it ever meant to be. But it has the power to move you. The most prominent feature of Ross’ music is her voice. Foggy, elusive, troubled, coming from a distance, it is a voice that is trying to speak, a voice that needs to be heard, but is blurred by pain and trauma, muffled by society. “Intro (Impatient for peace)” is a short track comprised out of electronic sounds and heavily modified voices that speak and sing. The sound is “dirty” and full of noise, which makes it hard to understand the lyrics: “there are women walking around burdened by the memories of their violations and the men who call us from the sidewalk clench our fists, we cross the street impatient for peace.”

“What you expect bitch (Eat my ass)” continues in the same manner. Repetitive sounds, with a female voice that speaks, whispers and sings to make a quite disturbing track. It speaks of the “struggle between experiencing pleasure and reexperiencing trauma.”

Finally, “Outtro (What’s my name)” might be the heaviest track on What you expect bitch, especially taking the lyrics into account. It picks up the pace a bit, introducing more sounds and more whispers. The multi-layered flow combines a number of effects and makes a whirl of sounds and voices. A truly brilliant track.

What you expect bitch is an album about violence against women. But it is so much more. It paints a picture, connects the sound to the experience. It can open up your soul, if you just listen.

You can hear the entire album below:

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Hat Tips:

Bandcamp, Facebook, Image Credit: Flickr

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