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Interview with Bitch

Bitch and The Exciting Conclusion

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Bitch with Fiddle

Bitch with Fiddle

© Roberto Portillo
I had a chance to sit down with Bitch (previously of Bitch & Animal) before her show in Portland Oregon in November 2006. Bitch, lesbian electric folk musician is part of the band Bitch and the Exciting Conclusion with her partner, The LWord’s Daniela Sea. She talked to me about her new album, Make This/Break This, life with Daniela and the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival’s women-only policy.

Lesbian Life: Where did your name come from?

Bitch: Me and Animal had had some material and we needed a name for our first gig and I think she was pissed at me. She suggested that I was Bitch and she would be Animal. I resisted for about four minutes and then I thought, what a way to turn feminist phrase. It was definitely an opportunity to reclaim the word Bitch and I really liked the idea.

Have you had any problems with the name as far as being played on the radio or anything?

Not that I know of, but it's not like I get played on the radio all the time. I know on some of these legs of the tour with the Indigo Girls, some of the promoters were hesitant to put me on the marquee and stuff. They thought it would turn off fans.

Is this a new incarnation of Bitch & The Exciting Conclusion?

You mean, because Daniela's not here? She and I birthed this band, it was definitely a collaboration between the two of us. When she's not on tour with us, I still consider her an invisible member. She's a big part of a lot of the aesthetic decisions I make.

What happened to Bitch & Animal? Why did they break up?

One thing is that we were girlfriends and that started becoming really hard. We broke up as girlfriends and tried to keep the band together, but the dynamics never changed. It just became a mess. And I was wanting to go somewhere else creatively. I wanted to explore my own empowerment and not having to bounce things off someone all the time. I love that I get to choose what we play each night. I like that kind of control. I'm enjoying it. I also find that musically I'm able to go a little deeper, as far as being a little more vulnerable than I have been in the past. I like to say my new work is more like a diary and less like a dialogue. My work with Animal was definitely like a dialogue. That's a good thing too. She and I were very psychically connected and I horribly miss being creative with her, but it's all the other stuff that got in the way.

Tell me about Shortbus. It's my favorite movie of the year. I loved it. How did you end up in that movie?

Basically I auditioned for it. I'm a trained actor. That's how I met Animal was at acting school. Then I rebelled against the whole thing because it felt really restrictive. They wanted me to look neutral and be this certain kind of girl. It's a really sexist industry. Surprise, Surprise. I said, I'm going to come back to acting when somebody wants ME. That's exactly how it happened. John wanted me for who I was and not who I could pretend to be.

Now that you’ve been back into acting…

I totally want to do it more.

Are we going to see you on The L Word?

Not that I know of.

What else do you want to do acting wise?

Daniela and I are writing a movie together.

What are you doing with Ferron?

Ferron and I went on a tour. I played with Ferron quite a bit. I’m a huge fan. But I finally convinced her to let me produce an album for her. So in February we start that. She wants me to put some of my songs on it, but I want it to be a Ferron record produced by me. I’ll play on it, but I want it to be all her songs.

How did this come about?

I’m so moved by Ferron by her music and her poetry and I really want people in my generation to understand her music. I love her records and how they’re produced. When I bring my friends to her live shows they get what is so earth shattering, but on her records they don’t.

It took me two years to even be able to stand next to Ferron without blushing. Because I had a total talent crush on her. You know those people that you’re just like OMG, you’re such a genius. Boy do I love her!

About you and Daniela, now that both your careers are taking off and you’re going in different directions how is that affecting you guys?

Daniela was on the road with me a long time. When we fell in love, she came on the road with me for a good two years. She just hung out. She and I played music together when we first met, but we never did it publicly until this last winter. Things are really different this year because we’re not able to get as much time together. But now, I’m so busy, the time really flies. I talk to her all the time and it’s actually really exciting. It just feels like there is nothing being taken away, it’s just being added right now. And we’re going to take some time off and go away and get some down time together. When you don’t have all your time together, it’s nice to plan to have special time together.

She’s on The L Word, so has her being a TV star affected you as a couple?

Sure, everything affects everything. It has and then it totally hasn’t. She’s very recognizable. We ride the subway in New York and eight people come up to her and recognize her, but she’s always been that magnetic person in my life. Even when nobody knew who she was, and she was on tour with me, Daniela’s always been a fascinating creature to people. Even when she was just traveling with me, people were always curious about her. She’s just emitting something from her aura. That’s why I fell in love with her in the first place. I stopped dead in my tracks the first time I saw her. There’s something about her. It’s not just about being on a TV show.

But little things change. We can’t talk about personal things over dinner if we’re out at a restaurant because there’s people eavesdropping. That’s the only details that’s changed. It doesn’t feel too extreme. It’s actually really fun. It’s an adventure. I’m not weirded out by it at all. And I’m super proud of her.

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