Stockholm-based Cherish has been releasing music and acting as a platform for people that identify as women/trans for a few years now. Adele Kosman - aka AMKosman - is one of the label's stars and here she writes for Best Fit on how she uses activism as a form of expression in her music.
Activism is expression. Expression can be activism. I would like for these to become more intertwined in a universal matter.
Expression is activism, for me. Activism is about challenging and I believe that expression is also about challenging. I want for expression to always challenge.
The critical eye I was encouraged to evolve and the feminist awakening I experienced during my late teens has given me all the tools I need for an interesting musical career. Early on I was bound by a gender stereotypical role as a singer, as many young girls were and are. Not having to continue my exploration in the musical world and settling in a role too early was very painful for me and I was stuck in this role for too many years.
I felt a gap between my intellectual and emotional capacity, and/or ambition, and my practical life. In what way am I disobeying, for example, the patriarchy in my music, I thought. I am fake, I thought.
It was 2015 and I had finished my first collection of works, composed and produced by me, and I wrote this:
For 21 years I have been too afraid to make music. I have been pretending a lot, but no one has noticed. I am angry all the time. Everything is wrong. I realise it is me. I have fragile skin and soak easily. Stockholm can be warm if you are close to a fire. I found a fire and I am doing my very best to keep it close to me. Everybody needs familiarity, my songs do too. My dad gives it to them by singing through pipes. I think it is very beautiful.
Later on in 2016 I made this song:
Activism is about daring to demand, knowing our worth and demanding for this to be acknowledged. When I stopped shaving I demanded acceptance and a space whilst expressing a discontent with how we treat out bodies. Primarily this was challenging on a personal level, could I give myself space and acceptance?
This is a work-in-progress matter. I continuously give myself more space and more acceptance. I often feel I have too many important things to deal with to ponder on about my body. Striving for a free and loving relationship with my body gives me more space for creativity. This creativity is less bound by society’s expectations and barriers and it is from here I am able to challenge and perhaps activate through my music.
Being uncomfortable makes me a better musician and a better activist. Letting everything blend in one big soup of life makes everything more interesting and meaningful. Comfort will not give anyone anything interesting, it is from the discomfort of exploring something unknown that will inspire. This discomfort should spread throughout ones life and thoroughly dissect the music. This is not something which is even actively done, this is just what happens when one practices.
To be clear this is not a hunt for pain and sadness, it is about daring to sacrifice comfort to the extent that is possible. Interesting expressions comes from interesting events, thoughts and lives, and this requires work.
2017, I made this song:
I used to be sure. Now I wonder. What it was like. If it was comforting.
Expression and activism depends on honesty. In dealing with music there is so much to be done; challenging, seeking discomfort, criticising, demanding. After that comes more work - honesty. Surely one must practice honesty through everything, but music is about collecting and presenting and this must be honest. Removing all the layers one may still find after all the damn challenging, and portraying ones experiences in an honest way is crucial. This is impossible in reality, but to always try is enough. This is what I do.
This year I released this with Cherish Label: