Photo by Alana Devito
If there’s one thing Petra Glynt is not, it’s subtle. Her thunderous sophomore album My Flag Is A Burning Rag Of Love is her most ambitious and impactful work to date. It is a fist-the-air protest album. It is a fuck-patriarchal-systems album. It is a punk album that doesn’t sound like punk rock.
Petra Glynt, a.k.a. visual artist Alexandra Mackenzie, has garnered her fair share of notoriety since releasing her first EP, Of This Land, in 2012. That EP was inspired by the Occupy Movement, and she’s been a strong voice against racism, sexism, environmental devastation—and My Flag is no exception.
Whether she’s addressing the lack of response to Flint, Michigan’s contaminated water crisis (“Health”), or profits-over-privacy with Facebook’s data hack scandal (“Surveillance”), her voice comes through loud and clear. She drops the mic with her powerful vision of the future in the song “New Growth,” which she describes as a feminist anthem of empowerment in the wake of #MeToo.
She’s been on a rollercoaster since 2017, which has included her being signed to Damian Taylor’s (Bjork, The Killers, Arcade Fire) new label Vibe Over Method, acclaim from Pitchfork, NOISEY, THUMP, FADER, Bandcamp, CBC, and BBC6, and to cap it off, detainment at the
UK border in a high-security immigration removal centre. Needless to say, she’s been busy.
Petra Glynt’s My Flag Is A Burning Rag Of Love is out now from Pleasence Records and available to order here. She headlines at House of Targ tonight (Saturday, November 24) along with Bonnie Doon and Sparklesaurus. More info here.
Read Matias’ interview with her and watch her video for “No Consequences” below.
What was the impetus for My Flag’s release, so soon after your debut album This Trip in 2017? Was there something that drove its composition and release?
It took me a long time to figure out how to release my first record This Trip, and once I finally did, I had produced a lot of songs! So when Pleasence asked me if I wanted to release a record together I was basically ready to go. The music just needed to be tweaked a bit and mixed so thats what pushed it to get it out so quickly.
Activism and community engagement have both been central features of your music and art. What role do you think artists should play in the age of #MeToo and the Trump era?
I think as artists it’s hard to avoid the realities around us, they are effecting us personally so our art has naturally become more engaged. It’s not just politics, it’s all very personal, and if the artist has any clout or voice in the world it’s by telling their story from their perspective. I also think it makes for work that resonates more with the public because these things, especially the two you mentioned effect people across generations. We all have different ways of coping, but I feel that this makes for more powerful work.
How is your music related to your visual art? Are there concepts and elements that continuously seem to overlap?
At the moment my visuals act as a means to support my music as album art, tour posters, single art, and painting of these images, so they are inherently tied to it lately, but I have plans to give the visuals more legs to stand on and make them more independent of the music where the music and art are part of a greater sphere…so that’s tba. 🙂
Now that some time has passed, can you talk about your experience with Damian Taylor’s label Vibe Over Method so far?
It was great. Damian is awesome and supportive and really good at what he does. I’m really happy with how he mixed the music. It was also the first time for the both of us planning and executing an album campaign so it involved a lot of communication back and forth. I learned a lot from that experience if I ever wanted to self-release a record in the future.
Is there a reason you choose to self-produce and record your records?
I couldn’t imagine making my music any other way. It wouldn’t sound the same. It’s like painting or drawing or sculpting or collage…it’s composition! It’d be like commissioning another artist to make my art for me and it wouldn’t feel like my own that way.
You garnered some attention for your experience getting detained in the UK while on tour last year. Is there one take-away from that episode that you would tell other artists who are thinking of touring Europe?
You can tour Europe for up to 30 days without having to acquire a visa, but if you go to the UK you will need one to get in. You can acquire a visa by paying a fee per show and by doing other paper work. I would advise doing that because it should guarantee your entry. I went in with a permitted paid entertainment visa that didn’t involve paying a fee or doing any paperwork. It was a bit more risky in that sense, and I wouldn’t advise it.
With the world that surrounds us looking pretty grim these days, do you have any optimistic or hopeful perspectives before we go?
I’m trying to feel hopeful on a daily basis, every day is different, so is everyone’s ways of coping. I think keeping the people you love close, supporting them and the people you admire is a place to start. I saw Meredith Monk receive an honorary doctorate at Concordia a few days ago. She said something to the effect of there being so much hate in the world and it being harder to spread love and much easier to hate. This has to be true otherwise we’d see more love out there. So maybe we should work harder to be more compassionate for things we don’t understand.
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