Carole Pope
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Carole Pope

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"In Bed with the Pope"

Know your truth

Lisa Foad / Xtra / Thursday, June 23, 2005
"Ms Pope, please report to the principal's office/ Ms Pope, to the principal's office." This sly demand, amid relentless guitar riffs, thumping techno beats and the ominous ringing of a school bell in the song "The Pleasure Principal," is Montreal-based Lesbians On Ecstasy's slick-lipped homage to Carole Pope and her creamed-jeans Rough Trade classic "High School Confidential."UNREPENTANT. "The power of speech is an amazing weapon," says Carole Pope. (Paula Wilson) That 1980 hit smacked queer shame upside the head, brazenly championing queer, female and teen desire, all in the span of one four-minute track.

The iconic status of Ms Pope is undeniable. Unapologetically pushing borders, she's been a pioneer in the world of radical music-making since her emergence in the early 1970s punk scene and the new wave movement of the '80s.

In bed with Carole
She's still pushing, storming 2005 with two brand new solo CDs that have just dropped: Transcend (on the La Petite Morte label) and Transcend: The Remixes (Play Records).
It's only fitting then, that in addition to the much-anticipated Sat, Jun 25 Rough Trade reunion show during Pride, she was also just honoured, along with other such luminaries as city councillor Kyle Rae and writer and social justice activist June Callwood, at the Pride 25 Awards Gala on Jun 21.
Pope, however, maintains a humble outlook. "I'm extremely honoured and excited. But I'm also kind of shocked. June Callwood is in the mix. What have I done?
"People come up to me all the time and tell me they've been really influenced by Rough Trade, so it kind of makes sense. Rough Trade music touched a lot of people - gay, straight, whatever. It's exciting to think that people are still inspired by me as an artist."

During her 12-year run with longtime collaborator and coconspirator guitarist Kevan Staples, Rough Trade released six full-lengths: their 1976 debut Rough Trade Live (on Umbrella), Avoid Freud from 1980, For Those Who Think Young (1981), Shaking The Foundations (1982), Weapons (1983), O Tempora!, O Mores! (1984), Birds Of A Feather: The Best Of Rough Trade (1985), all issued via True North, garnering three Junos and a Genie Award, as well as four gold and two platinum records.

Since Rough Trade's dissolution in1986, Pope hasn't stopped to catch her breath. Her solo releases include the 12" recordings Nothing But A Heartache (on RPM in 1988) and All Touch/Transcend (BugEyed, 2003), two EPs, Radiate (La Petite Morte, 1996) and 1999's The Silencer, (privately published by Pope) the soundtrack that she wrote and performed for the 1992 film of the same name.
It's hard not to be roused and provoked by Pope. Her autobiography, Anti-Diva (from Random House in 2000), dishes on- and off-stage gossip and politics told with Pope's clever blend of raunch and wit. In 2001, she guested in the Toronto production of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues at the New Yorker Theatre. And her music has been snatched up by the likes of The L-Word and Queer As Folk.

So how does she account for her longevity as an artist? "It's simple," she says. "It's all about knowing your truth and not letting anyone or anything stop you from making your art. I'm performing and writing for the sheer joy of making music. It's all about passion. When that goes, I'll stop. Until then, I do what makes me feel good and hope that translates to the audience.

"It is hard, though. I'm not in my 20s. I've been doing this for so long and I'm kind of insulted that I don't have a record deal, that things are so hard. But I'm not trying to conform to the norm and my stuff is political - I focus on sexuality and politics. Even though there's a lot of sexuality in music, mine is still considered threatening.

"I think that what's most important is having an absolute sense of self - and, of course, the way I can blow people away with my evil eyeballs alone," she says, laughing. "My mouth is really important to me. The power of speech is an amazing weapon."

Transcend, Pope's latest weapon, is explosive, electronica that swaggers with rhythmic confidence while Pope's husky vocals both dare and deliver with the swelling abandon for which she's known. "World Of One" is dark and smoky, a visceral and sexy send off. "I won't play nice and make it easy/ In your world of one," Pope promises. In "Dream6" she blends the lure of desire with relentless, restless guitar riffs. "Americana" is a delicately hypnotic tour of landscapes and politics. "We ventured into some kind of unholy covenant/ With the government/ The rat pack, the leader, the freak, the conformist/ The screamer, Hey! That's me! Let's go down to Washington/ The mountains, the citadels, the place of detention/ The literal, the visceral, all our good intentions/ Get out of the car, run screaming."

"Transcend took forever to make because there was no money and no way on earth to get a record deal. I'm - Xtra

"Pope Crowned"

Music Feature

Carole Pope is proud to have been a pioneer in singing about jerking off.
Carole Pope's been living in L.A., and, yes, she says, the lesbians over there are just like the ones on The L Word.
"It's exactly like The L Word!" she laughs, methinks just an itty bit sarcastically. "Well, there are these women who are just incredibly gorgeous, and they're all insanely fucked up, and you can never get any of those women, and if you do, too bad for you, because they're all wack anyway "Anyhow, The L Word is shot in Vancouver."

We're talking on the phone even though we're actually about a two-minute walk from each other, because both of us are too damn lazy to move. So sue us.
Pope is back in Toronto to play Pride and some other gigs. She's also promoting two solo albums, Transcend and Transcend: The Remix. The first is a guitar-driven electronica-slash-alt-rock offering.
"It's just a lot of material I've been playing for a while, and I got a couple of great players to play on it." The second is (duh) remixes of the same.

"Melody Melody and DJ Ian got a bunch of DJs from all over the world to do remixes, and there are about 18 tracks on it."
It's cool when people wanna do your stuff. Speaking of which, there's that cover of High School Confidential by Lesbians on Ecstasy, who are sharing her Pride bill.
"Oh, I love that. When I heard that, I asked the Pride Committee if they could do the show. I thought it was very funny and kinda hot. I saw the video – they're kind of taking the piss out of every dyke band there is. They said some people weren't amused by that, but Kevan and I were thrilled."

For the Pride celebration, Pope is hooking up with Rough Trade collaborator Kevan Staples, something they do now and then.
"Every once in a while we'll play. Like, last year we played the Toronto Jazz Festival, and there was some big pop festival thing outside Winnipeg with Journey" (which makes me squeal until I realize it was a Perryless Journey. Ha! Get it? Perilous... oh, never mind) "and the Doors of the 21st Century."

But they have never played Pride. And now she's being honoured by the Pride Committee for her contribution to the arts, which leaves me wondering whether it's her gay contribution or her artistic contribution and whether you can really separate the two, what with all these queer bands being mired in the big gay pigeonhole these days. Lesbians are all the rage in the indie music world.

Would Carole Pope be Carole Pope if she weren't such a dykon?
"I believe it is my artisic contribution. Y'know, being gay is part of it, but that doesn't drive my art.
"I mean, it does and it doesn't. Yes, I certainly write about gay subjects, but a lot of my songs are just love songs or political songs and they can be taken either way – unless the word 'pussy' is in them, and that gives you a clue that it might be about a woman."But I have to point out, it is a big part of what made her famous."Oh! Absolutely! We certainly spoke to gays, and our material was very sexual. So, yeah, I did tromp around in the bondage suit and sing about masturbation and chicks."

Now everybody's doing it.
"Yeah, but I was the mack daddy of all that shit."

NOW | JUNE 23 - 29, 2005 | VOL. 24 NO. 43

- NOW Magazine

"The Anti-Hit List"

This week: the best songs of 2003.

9. CAROLE POPE, "All Touch (Jimmy LaMort Mix)": Listening again to Toronto DJ LaMort's synth-drenched update of the 1981 Rough Trade hit makes you marvel at just how thin the line is that separates reverence and timidity. This aural tightrope act never once sways from one side to the other. (12-inch single,
- eye - 01.01.04

"Best events and Entertainment in LA"

Her resume is headed "Carole Pope Diva" but she is so much more


Transcend Le Petite Morte Records /iTunes 2005
Transcend The Remix Album Play Records iTunes
All Touch on Trailer Park Boys soundtrack Athem 2006
High School Confidential Queer as Folk soundtrack 2001
Radiate Le Petite Mort EP 1995
Shaking the Foundations Sony Universal
The Best of Rough Trade, Sony Universal
Avoid Freud, Sony Universal
For those Who think Young Sony Universal


Feeling a bit camera shy


With three Juno Awards, a Genie Award, and four Gold and two Platinum records to her credit, Carole Pope is an icon of transgressive music. Throughout her career, Carole Pope has blazed a trail for the anti-diva in all of us. In sharing her thoughts on sexuality, and sexual politics, her music makes you "Think and dance at the same time." Her new albums Transcend Le Petite Mort Records has garnered airplay and rave reviews. Transcend the remix album Play Records/Fusion3 is charting on college and dance radio. Pope has written music for film and television, including The Trailer Park Boys Movie, This Revolution, The L Word, Queer As Folk and The Five Senses. She is the author of a best selling autobiography entitled Anti Diva published by Random House. The film rights were optioned Sept 06
"Transcend, Pope's latest weapon, is explosive, electronica that swaggers with rhythmic confidence while Pope's husky vocals both dare and deliver with the swelling abandon for which she's known. "World Of One" is dark and smoky, a visceral and sexy send off. "I won't play nice and make it easy/ In your world of one," Pope promises. In "Dream6" she blends the lure of desire with relentless, restless guitar riffs. "Americana" is a delicately hypnotic tour of landscapes and politics." Xtra"

Carole Pope & Kevan Staples will be honored at Canadian Music Week 2007 for their work with Rough Trade. Carole was honored by Toronto Pride June 2005 for her contribtion to the arts. She has appeared in Wall to Wall Joni, a 12 hour tribute to Joni Mitchell at Symphonyspace in New York, with Laurie Anderson, Garland Jeffreys, Ute Lemper and more. She is currently touring in the US and Canada.

Praise for All Touch
"This hot crossover release is pure dancefloor magic" –Randy Chow
Wax of the Week, Eye Magazine

Praise for Anti Diva:

"Anti Diva is stacked with hundreds of similar caustic toss offs, thrown about with the kind of casual abandon you’d expect from a self-confessed and inveterate name-dropper…It’s the kind of book you take in a single gulp, for fear of losing step with its breathless, pulp-noir pace "Greg Quill, Toronto Star

"Pope’s humour and sexual bravado have translated well onto paper. Anti Diva is a subtle but scathing attack of those who have drifted into complacency both on a cultural and personal level. It is both a challenge and an invitation, especially to women and cultural producers, to keep kicking at the pedestals." —Donna Lypchuck, National Post