Nikki Bolaire of Cosmo Chic interviews musician and local celebrity, Guinevere Q, in her home in San Francisco. The walls of Q’s apartment are covered in colorful flyers from past shows, almost all of them themed shows and social justice causes. Her living room consists of a large wooden table with sheet music and sharpie markers, a full-size drum kit, several instruments, amplifiers, and speakers.
A passerby with an umbrella yells through the street-level window from outside into the room. “Hey - Guinevere Q!” Q throws her arms in the air and shouts back, “No Big Fucking Deal!” He laughs and continues walking.
Inside, Q speaks rapidly, in an almost manic manner, while getting dressed. She dizzies around what she calls “found collages” and “field recordings” from her cellphone on a rainy afternoon in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco.
“All of the art has already been created,” says Q, pulling up black fishnets in a frenzy, “anything you can think of - it’s already been done. The only thing left to do is to remix it. That’s the Situationist International way.”
And is that your approach, as an artist?
No. I’m not an artist anymore. Nobody’s an artist. Art - and I mean all of the art, really - it’s already been made. It’s over.
Then what would you call what you’re doing here?
Directing. I’m a director. I’m directing chaos. That’s what it’s all about - all of my projects, I mean. The world is chaotic. I use my projects as lightning rods to direct the chaos.
You have so many projects: You’re the lead singer and bassist in The Wyatt Act, you play bass in Doctor Striker, Revolushn, and SUNQ. You’re also a session musician and a community organizer.
Yeah, and an apprentice in local 510 sign and display union.
How do you have time for all of that?
I don’t. Time isn’t real. It’s just a measurement of entropy and a sequence of a events. We made it up! That’s what we have to remember. We, as a society, created and agreed on these artificially created things, like time and money, and we can dismantle them, too!
Where can I get some of what you’re smoking?
I’m actually sober. When I first sobered up, I was worried that I’d be missing out, but I’ve since learned that the real high comes from art, stories, music, and sex. Especially sex. Sex appeal is an art. If you look at the psychology of sexual attractiveness, you’ll see that it relates a lot to music - groove, desire, confidence, swagger - it’s about creating surprises through tension and release while always syncing in with the rhythm.
Is that why you married your drummer?
Well, sort of - Young Sun wasn’t really my drummer at the time. We met though music, but I was a performance poet back then. We both come from a background of theater. I hadn’t yet learned to play bass. I was a tour guide, then, too. Those are my roots - open mics, open top double decker busses with mics, and, of course, the whole street corner poetry scene at 16th and Mission. Anarchist punks - those are my people. The stinky, freaky, fuck-the-world dreamers!
When did you first start playing bass?
Jason (Young Sun) was the one who bought me my first bass when The Wyatt Act needed a bass player. Before that, I would just run around the room performing poems and hyping up the crowd.
And when was that?
End of 2011, beginning of 2012. I had just graduated from USF with a degree in Psychology. I was working in the mental health field and it sorta shattered me - the suffering, the broken system - it just didn’t seem to make any sense. I was hugely inspired by the Occupy movement. I wanted to make street protest music. I fell in love with the bass guitar and began practicing obsessively every day. I’ve been studying jazz and experimenting with some new songwriting techniques, especially with The Wyatt Act. We’ve created our own musical language. It’s very new and very exciting!
Didn’t you say that there is no new art?
Yeah. There’s no new art. Sure, but there’s millions of different ways of expressing it, flirting with it, making it feel different, comparing it unexpectedly to something else and questioning everything. It’s really about repetition. You find a familiar symbol - something that connects with everyone but in an individual way that carries a unique meaning for each person. You break it apart - like practicing something when you learn a new skill. You dissect it into little chunks and then you repeat it over and over and over until it takes on a life of its own and transforms you and others and the space around it.
Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re looking forward to working on this year?
I’m going to record more. This time, I might even release it. There was a time in my life when I was worried that everything had to be perfect. I was afraid that I’d die without leaving a legacy. It paralyzed me and prevented me from releasing my recorded music. Then I just accepted the inevitable. We have no control over our own death, nor do we have control over what people say about us, if anything, after we die - so I let it all go and embraced the chaos and I feel so much better now!
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Ideally? I’d like to look back on my life and know that I tried.
To make social change. To fight for what’s fair. To stand up to our oppressive, fucked up society. And also I’d like to play a sold out show at The Warfield. That would be pretty cool.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers and performers?
You should probably find a career in something more stable and lucrative. This is not a field for you. It’s not for anyone, really. But, if you do find yourself magnetically pulled into the arts, despite your logic and your reasoning, find your story and tell it.
Photo Credits : Brittany Lee Mason, Kaitlyn McSweeney, and Andy Strong.
Nikki Bolaire is an entrepreneur and a freelance writer for many prestigious publications, including Gawker Media and The Cosmo Press Team. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication.