When I was asked to reflect on the two-year anniversary of my album, A Gold Ring in a Pig’s Snout, it forced me to reckon with the chasm between myself today and my former self. I was a fairly nervous, untrained musician, recording with a handheld recorder taped to the back of a chair (in lieu of a microphone stand). I had some sounds in mind, and more importantly, a conceptual framework for the record shaped entirely around my experiences with gender. I was barely two years into medically transitioning, had largely rejected any form of traditional masculinity in both presentation and behaviour, and found myself labouring to establish my new understanding of my gender in the eyes of the world. That mindset of ‘gender work’, of pushing myself physically and mentally so I could be ‘read’ ‘correctly’ by others for who I wanted to desperately be, is splattered all over this record.
In many ways, I did not fully register how strained I was in my task of convincing others of who I truly was. I perceived Gold Ring as a political record, one which allowed me to align myself with concepts of womanhood I have often held close, despite not being able to consciously and publicly access them for the majority of my life. In many ways, that is still the case, but my relation to the pressures of gender conformity and upholding some kind of universal standards of womanhood has dramatically shifted. The exhaustion became overwhelming, and bodily, and I found myself squirming out of some of the boxes I had placed myself in. This record allowed me to establish myself in the experimental music community, to publicly claim spaces that had been previously denied to me, and to begin exploring myself through sonics in a way I had never previously managed. But the key word here is begin: I have since continued exploring, and found myself in an entirely different part of the forest.
By a nice bit of chance, my second solo album Overlapping Magisteria is being released a few days after the anniversary of Gold Ring. This album also marks the beginning of an exploration in its own way, but one of the ways in which my queerness and transness intersect with my experiences as an occupied-Palestine/Israeli-born Jewish immigrant in Australia. I honed in on both clarifying and challenging my relationship with Judaism, one which has simultaneously been lifelong and yet highly disconnected. I was rebuilding spiritual synapses that had long atrophied, both in my musical and everyday practice. This was my first experience of sitting with my own sounds and letting them speak to my life. It was my first time letting sounds name themselves through me, using my experiences as a lens. In many ways this record was the opposite of Gold Ring - abstract rather than political, a leap of faith into mystery rather than a concrete plan executed with just the right amount of failure. There I was, nervous, untrained, with a handheld recorder carefully balanced on the back of a chair. My two selves, superimposed, working towards placing themselves within a world that has so little room for them.
A Gold Ring in a Pig’s Snout was named one of the Top Experimental Releases of 2017 by Music Australia.
The initial cassette release sold out in the first year and has now been reissued in an edition of 50 blue cassettes. Shoshana’s latest release Overlapping Magisteria is out on January 29th, 2019.