The band Brittle Sun discuss violence against women in their song Last One Standing and use their music to challenge the status quo: ASLI speak to lead vocalist Viki Mealings.
Vicki Mealings is the lead vocalist from the trio band Brittle Sun who are Melbourne based. With a vivid personality as a band and enigmatic live performances Brittle Sun are more than musicians they are artists who use inspiration from spoken word and collaborate with local poets.
The song ‘Last One Standing’ was co-written with my friend Megan, who’s a writer and editor. We’re a small but diverse bunch in terms of age and background. I’ve always loved music. The first song I loved was ‘Alexander Beetle’ by Melanie. I started out drawing and making little storybooks when I was tiny. It didn’t occur to me to play music until much later. I grew up in Melbourne, which is a great place to be if you like poetry and music.
What motivated you to deal with the subject of Violence Against Women in your art? Tell us why you chose this submission?
The song is very loosely autobiographical, but also inspired by the experiences of women we knew. The song was written a while ago, and it will mean different things to different people. We saw the call out, and we thought the song might be what Art Saves Lives were looking for in terms of the subject matter.
Submission Song: Last One Standing
Lyrics by Megan Green and Viki Mealings. Music by Brittle Sun.
Our song ‘Last One Standing’ is very loosely autobiographical, but also inspired by the experiences of women we knew. The lyrics took a long time to get right, as there are a lot of stories in there and we wanted something a bit universal. The final edit of the lyrics is a long way from what we started with, but we kept the basic hook that makes the chorus.
We wanted to keep the music really simple so as to keep the main focus on the words and the voice. So we just laid down three tracks-acoustic guitar, keys, and astbory bass. That’s all.
David Jetson played the bass on the track and Stewart Garrett played keys. The song was recorded and produced by Kim Lajoie at Obsessive Music in Melbourne, Australia.
Why have you chosen the medium you use for your art?
I used to do visual art, but I couldn’t really say what I wanted through it. So I started writing poems and songs. Writing is the most satisfying part of the process. Performing is also a necessary part of the process, but writing is what gives the joy.
What is your process when creating?
Sometimes ideas will materialise out of nowhere-just snippets. The process is all about having the discipline to write them down and then build on them. It takes work.
Who are you influenced by? What inspired you and your art?
There are so many influences-family, friends, enemies, other artists, and well-known artists. Of the well-known artists, Lou Reed was a pretty big influence as is Patti Smith.
What does feminism mean to you and do you consider yourself to be a feminist?
It’s going to mean different things to different people. Enabling equal opportunity is the tenet everyone’s familiar with, but for me it goes further than that. It’s about recognising and addressing the injustices of the past and present and taking responsibility for the future.
What made you want to get involved with our non-profit ART SAVES LIVES INTERNATIONAL mission?
ASLI is inclusive. It provides a voice to the voiceless.
Do you feel women have to conform to social norms and stereotypes to be taken seriously? Do you have any experiences of this?
In general, I think women are taken less seriously, whether they conform or not.
Do you think that women and men are equal in today’s societies around the world? Have you any experience of this?
No. The average woman in global terms works as an unpaid farmhand and does most of the work. We’re a lot better off here in the West but there are still issues for example difficulties with balancing home and family life and unrealistic societal expectations in terms of work, parenting and physical appearance.
What causes and world issues are you passionate about, campaign for, volunteer for etc…..?
It concerns me that children from low income families don’t have the same educational opportunities as those from higher income families. I’m also concerned about Indigenous health, in terms of the scandalously high infant mortality rates, higher rates of poverty, and a greatly reduced life expectancy.
What does the statement ART SAVES LIVES mean to you and has art in anyway “saved” your life in any way?
I once witnessed a music therapist working with a young person who had a suffered a traumatic brain injury. That person was agitated, confused, and restless most of the time. Except when the music therapist was singing and playing guitar. The music definitely had a calming effect. Every time the music played, it was as though the former, uninjured personality resurfaced; something that was thought to be irretrievably lost. It was quite a thing to witness.
How can your art be used to create change and is this something you want for your art?
Art can create change in a number of ways. It can help people to think in different ways about a given situation and it can challenge the status quo. Sometimes it’s a conscious thing, sometimes it isn’t. We want people to enjoy what we do and to feel proud of who they are. I think it’s really important to celebrate diversity and to promote solidarity.
What are your goals as with your art?
To keep on improving and to leave behind a body of work we can be proud of.
What is your next project or piece that you are working on?
We’re currently recording some new songs for our next EP. I also want to get my poems into print.
If you would like to know more about Brittle Sun follow these links: