Fueled with frustrations on oppression and discrimination on LGBTQ people in Serbia, and experience as a transwoman in Croatia, the newest split between Belgrade based THE HARNESS and Zagreb’s Sonja aka ABERGAZ, is a one hell of a harsh, noisy ride of lo-fi punk and hardcore filled with conscious socio-political message. Today, we’re giving it a space to introduce both projects, give you an in-depth track by track commetary and recommend some new music in the process. Prijatno!
Words by Filip / The Harness:
“The Harness is a one-man queercore band from Belgrade, Serbia. It was formed in 2018 and the first demo is released in 2020. Later this year, i did a split with Abergaz and it is recently regarded as the first queercore album to ever come out of Ex-Yu. The name comes from a BDSM gear that people often wear to enhance the erotic atmosphere, but in this context, it can be used as a badge of courage, confidence, and strength.
To me and many musicians out there, it is crucial to play shows around the world, cause it is important to share a message and relate to lots of people. I can see that many people are devastated by this pandemic, you cannot perform live due to safety concerns. It sucks, really.
Besides music, everything else is canceled – a cultural, sporting or even in a movie theater are closed and that also means financial crash. I think to this day and age we will be facing another recession and that’s troublesome. Nevertheless, i am hoping that we resolve this pandemic so that almost everything gets back to normal.”
THE HARNESS’ side – track by track commentary:
1. INTRO serves as an opening for the split. It opens with unfiltered noisy feedback followed by a frustrated rant on the ex-yu punk scene. Imagine being the only queer who seeks solace in the local punk scene only to end up feeling alone yet again, thanks to the heteronormativity instilled in ex-yu society. None of the so-called “str8 allies” actually care about LGBT+ rights, they say that just to fit in without taking real action. It seems that no one is really talking about this. There was a time where I’ve shown some guy my first demo EP and he assumed it was sung by a girl (when it was actually me) and went on bragging about how great it would be if it’s an all-girl queer band. That kind of objectification towards queer girl bands, plus the invalidation of gay men in that scene makes me severely sick to my stomach. It’s about fucking time that I address this.
2. HETERONAZI ODLAZI (trans. Heteronazi Get Out) Then the real shit starts with a “we’re gonna fuck you up” attitude towards heterosexist homophobes. Heterosexists can be really pathetic and obnoxious at the same time, pick on minorities that they hate, and then play the victim card once we fight back. Gay men risk being physically assaulted or worse, killed. Lesbians don’t have it better, either. They’re at bigger risks of sexual harassment and worse, corrective rape, mostly at the hands of heterosexists male scumbags. What do these heterosexists have to complain about? Their petty nationalism, divorce, greed, chauvinism, population, their obvious objectification towards the opposite sex? The entire world doesn’t really care about you or how much kids you bear or the women you fuck to prove you’re the man. Get a fucking grip.
3. NAORUŽAJTE SE (trans. Arm Yourselves) This song is a call to the defenseless to start to conceal carry. We cannot just sit there around the corner and let these pricks kick us down to the ground. Get up, and defend yourself. No one should care about going to jail for killing some bigot that’s harassing you by self-defense, it is your right to defend yourselves, regardless of who that fucker is. You play with fire, you pay the price. P.S. Using gay panic to shift blame is pathetic as fuck.
4. ŠTA, JEBOTE, ČEKATE?! (trans. What the fuck are you waiting for?!) A rather fast punk song with a serrated edge. I’ve seen and heard countless other people complaining about the oppression they went through and I’m acquainted with other people who are closeted and a few of them are destined to be married to the opposite sex, even some of them are still cruising while married with women. To that, i answer with: If you want to fight for your right to live as a protected minority, speak out. Take active action. Do not let other people control your life, stand up for yourself.
5. IZAĐI (trans. Come out) The Harness’ final track of the split about coming out of the closet. A desperate fast-paced track focusing on discussions about the consequences of it. When are you gonna come out? Whom are you gonna come out to? What if yr family arranges marriage to someone you are not even attracted to? Even after the first track, you can hear voiced concerns about consequences, accompanied by fast-paced drums still intact and screeching, anxiety-filled feedbacks before reverting back to final chorus convincing them to come out.
Words by Sonja Hranjec:
“Started on March 7th, 2006 at 9 p.m. in Zagreb, Croatia, by Sonja (or Sonya) Hranjec bla bla, wow, omg, nuns and priests shocked, science confused, parents upset, not for kids, but by kids, ha ha – “butt”, PC’s triggered, (alt-)right hate this, banned by religions, censored by governments, praised by adventurers. Created to express what is happening around and in me. Released 23 different song packages so far and played more than 400 live shows on ex-Yugoslavia & EU area together. Future plans are always as the present ones, so working on new material, rehearsing the previous one, and planning future shows.
I miss the shows so much, but I see that also many others use this time to create new material or rehearse the previous one. I think that everybody misses the live shows and COVID-19 impact on all other connected activities is very harsh on previous ways of doing anything in one. My hope is that everyone who survives it will learn to more appreciate all the previous doings taken for granted. That is my hope, but who knows what will happen. Do you remember that at the beginning of this year there was almost a WW3? I think that the post-pandemic recession will take even more time for people to do what they love and that we need to prepare for it now.”
ABERGAZ’ side – track by track commentary:
1. Sonyaphobia – Song about the hypocrisy of some “punks” on the local scenes, that are pretending that their behavior is not transphobic, even when they are afraid of me when they find out that I am actually trans. The title of the song is the literal name of phobia that one cisgender woman told me, just to try to avoid being called out for transphobia. She said some people have Sonyaphobia and not transphobia. Also, I see my local punk scene as a very meritocratic type of sub-culture, where merits are full of singing lies. I also hear this song from a typical melodic punk intro, going through the narrator build up and then changing to what I see through those singing lies, followed up with a very angry crossover type of guitar riff & drumming, changing from a harsh point of view to more satiric & melodic one. After that, we go back to the narrator build-up riff, but now with a harsh point of view lyrics on the second repeat, after we again repeat melodic chorus, but finish with hardcore bombing and with that “you can’t make a fool of me, more than I do and neither I can do that to you” attitude.
2. Emotional Neglect – Melodic and at the same time synthetic & organic punk rock song, combined of virtual & non-virtual bulling on an emotional basis. Here, I have a more spiritual & philosophical approach to the subject, because I watched also a lot of Teal Swan videos on YouTube during the making, to help me heal from my own emotional wounds, too. Synthetic drums and – synth, together with organic and live recorded not-too-deep bass guitar, sharp lead guitar, and flanger solo guitar to demonstrate the pain and healing at the same time of listening. To me, this melody of the song represents the intertwining of the frustration created during the process, with constantly trying to at least make it worth living. Comes with a very “Amor Fati” (Nietzsche) attitude and ends with a “fuck me, fuck you” attitude.
3. Me Having Boobies But Also a Dick – Song about being a woman and having a dick, from my very own experience. I find these riffs and melody kind of happy, rock’n’rollish but very tired and absurd at the times, especially the solo on the guitar. I think that is because at the same time I hear here all the happy thoughts even when angry, which helps me going through prejudices too and I think it doesn’t get enough credit, so maybe that is the reason why I had “happy fuck you” thought while playing the solo on flanger guitar parts. To me, it is also absurd, because I didn’t choose to be this way, but here I am doing everything I can, while saying: “You’ll never see me as a person – To you, I am just a fetish – Tell me again who here is being – Selfish, abusive & ignorant – Against you?” to all those people that keep saying that I am not what I am, especially when they brag that they jerked off themselves on my photos.
4. Punani – This song is about all those people that ask me first when will I get my bottom surgery, and after that thinking that they are seductive when asking: “Will you then do it with me?” I don’t want to crush their dreams, so I say them that they can dream about it, but not in a very polite way because they keep thinking of me as a fetish like I am not a person too. But yeah, if I had money, I could do it one month after having the necessary money and if the vaginoplasty doctor has opened on schedule. So, keep dreaming with me that it will happen and thanks to all that is actually helping me do that. I like the simple bass line on it a lot, because it shouldn’t be complicated, but it is because of many punches on the strings, same as the road to it for me is.
5. Trolling – I listened to a lot of DRI while making the song on this subject because that band helped me figure out what sociopathy, psychopathy & narcissism mean, even when I was in my early 20s, so that is the reason why this song is a crossover style song, but also with that almost like Dead Kennedys rolling parts because they are teaching me about this subject since I was a teenager. For me, the heavy music background portrays the ego of trolls, and my vocals portray their colors of bullying since I am acting like a troll myself here in song. “When life is meaningless, why would you make any sense?” line, to me summarizes the questions that I got every time I am facing trolling, from any point of view.
Local bands in Belgrade worth a check, by THE HARNESS
ABERGAZ’s new music recommendations:
From the local punk scene where I come from (Zagreb, Croatia), I personally recommend:
CC – Prisoner of State (2019.)
Automatik – Born Angry (2020.)
LÜGER – DEMO (2020.)
UBT – s/t (2019.)
Eke Buba – s/t EP (2018.)
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