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In 1977, a zine called Sniffin’ Glue from South London depicted an illustration saying ‘this is a chord, this is another, this is a third. Now form a band.’ Nearly forty years later, three black women in the DIY Space For London did just that.

Actually, that illustration was from another zine called Sideburns, but it’s not uncommon for punk to get its own legacy wrong. In hindsight, you’d think black people (let alone just black women) were completely absent when punk crawled out of the London sewers in ’76. You forget that Poly Styrene sang ‘Oh Bondage! Up Yours, that black reggae was the foundation for punk’s most ambitious ventures, and that Sister Rosetta Tharpe invented rock and roll.

Big Joanie want to talk about their race and gender, but don’t want to talk about their race and gender. They’re positioned as a ‘black feminist punk band’, and position themselves as a ‘black feminist punk band’. Their music is full of history, and is timeless. It’s inspired by the complex harmonious productions of 60’s black girl groups, but is stripped down to its bare roots. The music is deadly simple, talking about girl love against rough chords dragged through dirt as drums are just bashed. But the cold wind of the past chills through the spaces left.

Playing Britain’s first rendition of Afropunk in the next few weeks, Big Joanie are at the forefront of black sisterly solidarity, and also stand firmly in the true annals of punk. I hope history shows you your place.

 

About The Author

Lee Whear

Young punk full of love, hoping they've got enough tobacco left when the revolution comes. Canterbury Christchurch University graduate, previous work has appeared in thnksfrthrvrw, Hitsville U.K., Bearded Magazine, and God Is In The TV Zine.