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This is obviously some kind of sick joke (The Swaras | Gumtree ad)

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The Swaras

By Princess Stomper

We are an establishing indie/rock female band who formed a few months ago, and now have offers from two major labels. Material is written and only now need to be recorded to complete the contract. Our bassist had to leave due to lack of commitment. We are set to be a four piece band again asap, a lead singer/guitarist, rhythm guitarist, drummer and are now in search for a female bassist, who can also sing backing vocals. As the style, quality and image for this band is quite particular, we need band members who are:

  • Flexible in dressing/image for stage performances, interviews, and anything else on the band. – We carry a touch of masculinity and carelessness in image and voice, the lead singer carries a low toned voice which requires similar expectations for backing vocals
  • A small bust and an average to skinny figure (Has a look that could fit into the band drawing image)
  • Between ages 19- 24
  • 100% committed to the band
  • Ambitious minded and confident
  • Open minded to ideas and cooperative
  • Willing to learn and perform material that has already been written (This is music aimed at the media, it is not completely about what we like)

– Advert on Gumtree website

Oh, hah hah, very funny. This is about Lana Del Rey, isn’t it? Some hoax about how to “make it” as a woman in a band you have to ruin your pretty face or dress like a stripper because simply being a competent musician isn’t good enough any more. Your entire worth begins and ends with your sexual availability. Sure, The Swaras aren’t writhing around with their boobs out, but they’re pleading for you to say, “Awww … isn’t she pretty?” even if it’s not explicitly stated in the ad; how much do I want to bet an “ugly” person wouldn’t be considered? Never mind about the songs. What songs?

Must have small boobs. Well, that rules out the one from Warpaint, right?

The funny thing is that Warpaint are classically beautiful, but it’s obvious that their music is “about what they like” because they’re so very good at it. The secret of successful marketing is to be incredibly passionate about your product – you have to believe in it 100% or people think it just can’t be much good. Why do you think dating advice always tells you to say nice things to yourself in the mirror? If you believe you’re worthless, strangers will assume that you’re probably right; if you believe in yourself, people think you’re onto something.

The first time I met a certain senior marketing manager, he was telling me about the company’s latest in-development product, and his enthusiasm was contagious. He was practically hopping up and down on his chair, grinning from ear to ear, and it was impossible for me not to be excited about what he was making. It shifted almost five million units in the week of release. A year later, he was flogging something else, and though he talked it up the best he could, his eyes no longer blazed when he talked about it, and I reacted with indifference. Mediocre product, mediocre reviews, mediocre sales. To put it another way, glancing at the top 10 highest grossing movies of all time, I haven’t seen the Avengers one but my friends liked it. That leaves nine films of which three are absolutely bloody awful. The other six range between fairly good to astonishingly good, and only the Transformers one lacks distinctive artistic vision. Can you imagine if Lord Of The Rings was “aimed at the media”? Toy Story 3 was moving and thought-provoking. The Harry Potter films only got good when the director stopped listening to other people and just concentrated on making a film that worked. I haven’t heard half of the 11 albums that have sold over 40 million copies, but on that list are Pink Floyd’s virtually perfect Dark Side Of The Moon, the unforgettable Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and I ain’t gonna pretend either Bad or Thriller are bad albums.

Of course there’s a lot of crap in the charts and if you make something as bland as The Backstreet Boys you too have a shot at selling 28 million albums, but to really be in with a chance at hitting the top, you need substance as well as style. Who’s the bigger movie star out of Angelina Jolie or Megan Fox? Who earns more: Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom? Who had the career out of Kate Winslet or Liz Hurley? Crimes against art don’t always pay, though the media still insists on the straight and narrow.

That’s all you need to be “beautiful” these days – skinny and polished. You don’t even need to be pretty. I made an attempt at it once in the run-up to my wedding: I went swimming, went jogging, hardly ate for months on end, had my nails done, had my hair done, slapped on a fake tan … It takes hours of your time. Your image is your hobby – you don’t really have time to think about anything else. I dread to think about how vain and boring I became, let alone irritable from lack of food. It’s why I instinctively avoid women who are too well groomed, because I assume they don’t have anything to talk about – and they usually turn out to be depressingly dull and shallow. When you put your focus on what you do rather than how you look, you hold people’s attention for so much longer.

I’m not naive: music is a business, and even the least commercial art has to be packaged to sell if the artist wants to be able to afford the next record. Diamanda Galas cultivates her image as surely as Madonna, but she makes music that is completely about what she likes.

(continues overleaf)

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5 Responses to This is obviously some kind of sick joke (The Swaras | Gumtree ad)

  1. cirrusminor July 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I think any guitarist could learn to play great bass in about a week. Hell even if you’ve never played guitar or bass you could play on a Pixies song with a month worth of practice.

  2. Sophie July 6, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Cirrusminor, as a bass player myself I find that to be an incredibly ignorant statement. Typical guitarist attitude. Check out James Jamerson if you deem the bass guitar to be such an easily conquerable instrument!

  3. Princess Stomper July 7, 2012 at 12:18 am

    I think cirrusminor’s statement holds true if you take the word “great” out – hence my “bass-ic” pun. A typical guitarist can pick up a bass and play it instantly to high-school-punk-band level. (I once borrowed a friend’s bass for half an hour and could play ‘Diamonds’ by The Shadows and … uh … nothing much else.) I don’t think anyone is trying to argue that you could pick up a bass and play like Guy Pratt.

  4. cirrusminor July 7, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I guess it depends how good the guitarist is. I’m an ok guitarist and not having practiced a lot on bass I’m a bit better than high-school-punk-band-level. My friend is an excellent guitarist and I asked him to play bass on one of my songs and I swear he sounds like John Paul Jones after a couple of practices. Whatever, sample size of 2.

    In this case we’re talking about an indie band, so like Princess said they probably just want Kim Deal level playing. I still contend that any musically inclined person could master a pixies bassline without much trouble (with the exception of Here Comes Your Man).

  5. Myles February 5, 2014 at 3:27 am

    I can’t play guitar for crap, but i can play the bass…..:D

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