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Allison Crutchfield on 'Tourist In This Town' / by Caroline Rayner

Allison Crutchfield writes songs that I want written all over my bedroom walls. I listened to the first Swearin’ record while bouncing between Richmond and Charlottesville and New York right after college, screaming along to “Kenosha” in the aftermath of a break up and blasting “Movie Star” while driving and reflecting and dreaming and counting down the days until I could move somewhere else. I remember listening to Allison’s solo EP, Lean In To It, while curled up on the floor of my bedroom in my parents’ house, avoiding the world and wondering what the fuck my life was and who I wanted to keep in it. It’s hard to say when I first heard music by Allison Crutchfield, because it’s filled with the kind of emotional honesty and feminist wisdom that I’ve always needed. I’ve been impatiently and excitedly awaiting Allison’s solo record ever since I heard that she signed to Merge last summer. When the first single, “Dean’s Room,” came out in October, I listened to it on repeat while driving around rural Massachusetts and trying to dig myself out of a weird sadness so I could stitch myself back together. It’s the kind of song I feel like I know so intimately that I could live inside of it. It’s the kind of song I put on while trying on vintage dresses and dancing around my bedroom. It sparkles and gets under my skin. Tourist in This Town will be released on January 27, and I chatted with Allison on the phone about it. I called from Western Mass while she worked on making clothes at home in Philly, and we talked about writing songs, feeling your feelings, dealing with boundaries, traveling, being a hermit, and loving fashion.

What is your songwriting process like?

All of my songs are kind of based in just writing lyrics for something. This record was a lot of me taking pretty intense notes while I was on tour and writing down different phrases, or things I wanted to include, or things I wanted to remember. I would get home with a melody in my head, and I would start working on something and reference all of these notes and form ideas. I definitely had an idea for pretty much every song on this record. I had an idea of what constituted a song or what a song generally needed to be about and then sort of picked different lyrics that worked in that song or in that subject. . . .

It is definitely still okay to say "fvck the media"

“Don’t you think it’s a weird time to be saying fuck the media?”

I’ve heard this question often lately. Given that a fascist is running our country and attacking journalists daily—isn’t it a weird time to say “fuck the media”? Is it harmful to say “fuck the media” when Trump is yelling at the American jouranlist Jorge Ramos to “sit down”? When his press secretary is dragging said reporter away and squawking “get out of my country”? Isn’t it a weird time to say “fuck the media” when Trump, a man obsessed with creating propaganda, is repeatedly shouting “FAKE NEWS”? When he is ordering a media blackout to the EPA? When public media is under attack?

Political slogans are rarely effective. The full potential of what a human or an organization feels about something as amorphous as “the media” could never be summed up in three words. Yet we still use them, and that’s okay, too, because they’re provocative and intriguing and hopefully lead to greater conversation.

For example: It is absolutely a strange time to be saying “fuck the media,” but we must keep saying it. We have always said “fuck the media” because we know that media can be better, more equitable, more adversarial, and we cannot stop holding fast to that ideal. We can say “fuck the media” and promise to rip little holes in it and support those building subversive new models. In activist circles, I keep hearing a sentiment echoed, that it’s not time to be starting our own new movements, but rather to support those who have been leading movements for decades. When it comes to media, we can do this too. We can support the truly independent and radical websites, the progressive talk shows, the socialist magazines, the investigative reporters holding power accountable, the media justice organizations, the ones who are trying and who have been trying to make better presses in the shells of the old.

While stuck in my head thinking about whether our publication’s tagline holds up in 2017, I keep thinking about how Trump’s war on the media is another of his gaslighting mechanisms. About the feeling of being emotionally manipulated by the president. About how he wants us to feel paranoia and anxiety and to forget what is real. How he is weaponizing our anger against us. About how that is a tactic of abuse.

I keep thinking of the recent Priests’ lyric from “Pink White House”— CONSIDER THE OPTIONS OF A BINARY—and how fucked it is to feel like we have to choose between the less of two evils, between a world with no free press or a world with a straight white corporate neoliberal one. I keep thinking about how we live in a world of exacerbated Binaries. But these binaries are false. These equivalencies are false.

When we say “fuck the media” we don’t mean ban the media. We don’t mean criminalize the media, we don’t mean privatize the (public) media. Those are the messages this fascist regime is communicating and we reject them squarely. We can agree to defend the basic rights of the press while not settling for basic rights being the extent of a struggle for media justice. We can say “fuck the media” because we are let down by the media status quo, and that is legitimate.

. . .


Berlin Punk Mix
By Levitations, plus a song from their new tape on Nervous Intent

by Charlie Joseph
A fundraiser for London's Decolonise Festival.

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