There is no greater purpose in music than to help listeners feel like they have a place in the world.
Brisbane punk outfit VOIID attribute that as their core purpose in a social climate where if you don’t address taboo subjects, people with the privilege to pretend that they don’t exist will continue to repress those that are affected. From racism to sexism to the criminalisation of abortion, VOIID aren’t afraid to give a voice to the people that have been silenced for so long.
In that respect, when they were faced with the option of releasing their Socioanomaly EP during the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests in the States, they chose to keep it under their belts for a little bit longer in favour of encouraging focus on the movement. Guitarist Kate McGuire spoke to Blunt Magazine a few days before the decision.
“It’s tough to navigate”, she noted. “You feel so helpless. But I would be protesting for sure. I’ve seen a lot of places to donate and different art that’s been made in memory and we’re reposting as much of that as we can. Because if there’s one more person that we can reach out to on our platform that wasn’t aware of it…” In reaction to similar injustices coming to the fore in Australia, McGuire adds that it is equally important to respond to what’s going on in our own backyards. “I don’t want it come off like it’s a competition of ‘who’s more fucked up?’ Let’s just use the power of this really important and serious situation and address it everywhere, not just in America.”
That sense of dedication to justice is what drives VOIID, though it wasn’t a conclusion that they came to at once. After their previous EPs, the outfit, still finding their feet as songwriters, started thinking about “the point” of releasing music. McGuire describes it as an epiphany that they wanted to use it to “say something important”, to make it as “serious as we possibly can”. As a force of lessons to be learned, their music has resonated to the point of messages coming through constantly regarding how the band have helped people.
‘Sour’, which focuses on the concept of consent, made an impact in ways that McGuire wasn’t necessarily expecting. “People have been messaging us, saying ‘Thank you so much. I’ve never felt more accepted and made heard because of my experiences.’ That’s so important.” It wasn’t just making people feel heard though, the song also acts as a vehicle to “teaching younger people what is right and wrong…hopefully younger men will hear it and take advice from it, because they might not have that advice from the male figures in their life. Maybe the females can be the role models to the younger males.”
That reaction seeing tangible impact outweighs radio stations being too timid to feature the music because of the uncomfortable nature of telling the truth about taboo subjects. “Some people aren’t ready for how ‘to the point’ that is”, McGuire comments. “We’ll get there, hopefully. But it makes me feel really stoked that people are like, ‘We know VOIID will stand up for us.’”
“There are bands that have had situations come up, and they put out an apology, but you read through their statement, and instead of it actually being sincere it’s making excuses.”
Not ones to shy away from conflict, VOIID do recognise that the music scene isn’t perfect. During their set at Festival of the Sun, the band called out a group of people who their co-manager had a bad experience with, even after the perpetrators had been swiftly booted from the festival. “I think it’s our general consensus that we just don’t stand for any of that shit.” In extension, VOIID aren’t afraid to confront not just offenders that they’ve had direct experiences with, but those that continue to be supported despite their actions by the rest of the industry, including Sticky Fingers, who were accused of violence motivated by sexism and racism.
“Anji, our singer, got gifted the [Sticky Fingers] vinyl a long time ago. She found the vinyl, she didn’t realise that she still had it, so we put up a story series that was like, ‘What should we do with this?’ People were sending us all these things like, ‘Break it. Burn it.’ It was pretty wild, she put it in the dishwasher and smashed it up….Bands like that, it’s like, ‘Oh, they’ve apologised.’ But they haven’t actually changed their actions. They’re just trying to avoid the consequences, and that’s what’s different. There are bands that have had situations come up, and they put out an apology, but you read through their statement, and instead of it actually being sincere it’s making excuses.”
Accepting an apology and acting like nothing happened is what McGuire describes as “the easy road and denying what’s actually important.” She adds that it “takes away the progress of trying to solve a lot of these issues, if we just act like it’s never happened.” An extra middle finger to bystanders that witness, but don’t stop the behaviour, and remain silent about what they’ve seen. It should be unacceptable for American metalcore outfit As I Lay Dying to continue on after frontman Tim Lambesis pleaded guilty to attempting to hire an undercover police officer to murder his wife. It should be an issue that Sydney boys With Confidence kicked out their guitarist after allegations of misconduct surfaced against him, while their frontman continues to thrive in a relatively successful band after similar allegations that he solicited nude images from an underage girl.
VOIID want men who aren’t perpetrators of the inexcusable to learn from Socioanomaly, to “think deeper” about whether or not the women in their life have had similar experiences with consent, rights over their own body and more, and “start the conversation.” McGuire clarifies that it’s one of their main intentions with the EP. “A man has never had to think about going through an abortion, or a man has never had to think about, ‘Oh, what if I grow my hair out? Are people going to look at me differently?’ They’ve never had to think about that before, and that might change the way they think. They listen to this and then they talk to their friends about it, and then those friends talk to their friends.”
She concludes that she wants the fact that VOIID are speaking up to help others feel confident to talk about what they’ve been through, and to educate people who aren’t aware. “It’s going to hopefully snowball from there and have a positive outcome. People that didn’t feel like they had a place, or that they could do certain things, now they feel a little bit more like they do and they can.”
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