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Best of 2010 | Spiritual Syphilis

by Max Barashenkov / 29.12.2010

Back in July we sent Max Barashenkov to review Inge Beckmann’s offbeat acoustic show at the Mercury. He was less than impressed and wondered very publicly whether she was popular due to her musical abilities or her sexual attractiveness. I paraphrase loosely, the exact Barashenkov terminology was a lot more direct and confrontational. A shit storm raged on the comment boards below the story. Invariably, it seemed like a good idea to send the Russian to interview the Angel, and see if his sharp opinions could withstand the the full frontal scrutiny of an Inge Beckmann interview, face to face.

Inge Beckmann: So you guys are using me again?

Max: Hey, hey, hey. I wouldn’t say that. Do you still feel that we used you?

Well not “we”, you!

In what way?

Why did you write such a harsh review about me?

Because I thought the show wasn’t good and I thought you could do a fuckload better…

When you say that it’s not good are you saying that I couldn’t sing properly? That the arrangement was shit? Baring in mind that it was an acoustic set.

I wasn’t critiquing the sound. If you’re gonna do an acoustic intimate show, the artist needs to project some soul and connect with the audience. I thought your performance was bland. The audience wasn’t there to receive anything intimate from you. You could see it was just a hip crowd.

I know that it was different to anything else I’ve done. But to say that I was self-absorbed and can’t sing…come on dude! You can’t tell me I can’t sing. If somebody put a gun to my head and said, “sing for your life!” I’d probably be able to kick out a number and walk away.

It didn’t sound good to me that night.

It’s good that we meet actually. What about the Kool-Aid stuff? If you know me, you know I don’t give a fuck about that shit.

I don’t know you!

You were very mean. For no reason.

I was mean but I’m a mean writer.

I didn’t know about your style. I never really went on Mahala… I mean I go on Mahala now!

Well I did something then.

You definitely did something. It’s certainly refreshing.

My whole thing is bring some fucking balls back to writing. Everyone’s so nice. Ooh you’re a South African band we’ll pat you on the back for that. We’ll give you six out of ten just for being South African.

I totally agree with that, but the reason why you may have been criticized for your review is that I don’t suck. I’m pretty good at what I do. I think people were like – if you have a problem with the general level or value of local music, I’m the last person you would kick around. I’m not average by any means. If you wanna say that then say that about some chick that sounds like everyone else.

I never said you were mediocre.

I know. Anyway. I don’t really have a problem with you. But some guy commented about me being a “pretentious cunt”. That disturbed me a hell of a lot.

You must take those Mahala comments with a kilogram of salt.

It makes me feel like why am I performing for these people?

Inge Beckmann image © Ashraf Hendricks

Why are you performing? Why do you play music? Why do you care?

You know why? I kind of forgot that I could sing. I was in the choir at school and stopped. Then in my early twenties I started listening to really old blues and jazz records and I remember studying these guys and singing along. And remembered “hey I really like singing!” I never envisioned starting a band. Even when Lark formed – myself and Paul- we just got together one night. Musically! And made this fucking rad track called “Black Swan”. Then we’d get together every Sunday, make music and have Chinese take out. Then it just kind of ballooned into this thing. Lark had that special edge. But our achievement is definitely not financial! We opened something up. People’s perceptions.

Well that’s why I was disappointed about the show. I was expecting a similar feeling of something new and different. Anyway you mentioned not making much money out of Lark. The local scene is too small to support acts unless you go the Parlotones route. Do you survive solely off music?

No. I do commercials. I’m the girl walking down the street selling German butter! But you know why SA bands compromise their sound? It has nothing to do with the music. It has to do with the fact that people find it hard to leave. I’ve even got a weird kind of toxic relationship with SA. So they’re trying to get something out of this system that doesn’t work. They try and make it work but they all hit the same glass ceiling.

I don’t know, I don’t think you have to leave. The whole point is to get as many people to listen to your shit as possible. I’m just pissed off there are no good bands for me to watch. Okay have you ever watched a band and gone “yeah that dude’s hot I’d dig to fuck him?”

Sure I have. But people have come up to me and said you probably get a lot of attention from guys and girls. I’ve never ever taken someone home. I’ve almost always been in relationships.

It relates to what I wrote about wondering what you’re like in bed.

I wasn’t offended by that. You probably weren’t thinking that. You just wrote it to get a reaction.

No, I was thinking that by the end!

But I wasn’t doing anything overtly sexual.

To say that your sexuality is not a part of your act would be stupid.

Yeah but it’s definitely not something I ride on. It’s something that comes along with me. Like a tail.

In the market that you swim in, the slightly arty crowd, your non-overt sexuality actually works even more.

The only issue I have with that is when people say it’s the only thing I have going for me because that just smacks of like bitter jealousy.

A lot of feminists had a hissy fit about what I wrote.

But quite a lot of guys had problems with that too.

It may have been too rough of an examination of your sexuality I admit. But that whole “we’re just musicians we don’t want to be looked at as women” just doesn’t make sense to me.

I think it’s because throughout history it’s been quite tough on women. To be taken seriously, to be heard. To be considered as a person. I’m not a staunch feminist. But violence against women and children in this country is appalling. Also, sadly, modern women are kind of turning into freaks. They overcompensate completely. In business especially. If the whole system could just become feminine-brained as opposed to a woman having to adopt a man’s way of thinking, that would be progress. Instead your tits have to be a certain size and you have to look a certain way. And, oh God, if you’re thirty your life’s over. Women more than men buy into it.

It’s funny to me that the lion’s share of the global music industry is male artists consumed by 15 year old girls. They buy it for sexuality not for their music. Nobody says anything about that.

Look at Robert Patterson, that guy from Twilight. He’s completely fucked. Okay you’re good looking – now that’s his box. Completely. Or Johnny Depp in 21 Jump Street. He just said “fuck that I’m not gonna do that.” And that’s why he’s got so much dignity. I never look at Johnny Depp for one second and go I’d like to – you know – not at all, because he’s refused to put himself in that box. Pretty boys fall into that category and then try desperately to claw their way out and they can’t. It’s just like music – if you’re this young good-looking dude you have to make gay music to have little girls buying your albums.

Inge Beckmann image © Ashraf Hendricks.

Tell us about Sweetheart – the movie you’re in.

It’s kind of like a retro sci-fi about motherhood in a way. I call it the ‘domestic trap’ – without sounding bitter or spinstery. It’s social conditioning to the max – excuse the pun. Before the age of thirty women feel like they have to find a husband and have babies because if you don’t have babies what are you, you know? It’s like rabbits. They’re designed to breed and if they don’t breed they get cancer and they die! Being a mother is an awesome thing and it’s hardcore. You’ve got this little imp with you for the rest of your life! Women fall into that and one day they wake up and say “Oh my God I’m fat and I don’t have a life – what happened to me?!” Similarly with men I suppose. You become these providers but you’re rubbish at it because your daddy was rubbish at it. Breeders pass on a kind of spiritual syphilis. Things are never dealt with. You’re just passing on germs.

So will you have kids at some point?

I’ve already been asked why I don’t have kids because I’m turning the Christ age this year (33). There’s a baby boom going on. I’m learning a lot from people who are doing it first. I think I’d be a fucking awesome mother. I know I would. But genes stick. You can’t do much about your blueprint. I need a good enough reason to have a child. There’s something called the Voluntary Human Extinction movement! They’re pro-adoption. The planet is already over-populated. If you like kids go work in a fucking orphanage. Where you can make a massive difference.

We’re all gonna fucking die anyway.

What’s your stance on religion? Do you believe in anything?

I was religious when I was younger. I’ve always been spiritually very hungry. Obviously coming from an Afrikaans home the first institution I was exposed to was the Dutch Reformed Kerk. Then I went to Sunday school. I remember praying in my room once when I was like ten. Praying like “Ek is nou moeg vir die Sondag Skool! God ek wil jou voel. Kom aan man. Throw me a bone!”

And then what happened?

Nothing. But I joined a church later and I felt like a pork chop in a synagogue. Not at one with this at all. Currently my religion is I go purely on what I can feel is right and what I can feel is wrong. You know when you’re being a dick.

What do you think happens when you die?

I have a friend from a hectic Catholic background and she always goes “Fades to black! Fades to black!” I don’t know dude. I really don’t think there’s a heaven. I’d like to just have a lucid dream. I love dreaming. I walked through a wall the other night.

So what do you sing about?

The writing has always been like ataxia. That process. You don’t think. You just write. And a theme will develop out of that. With the solo stuff, that’s more about what I consciously want to say. Somebody broke into my apartment recently and stole my laptop. It had all my stuff on there. So the stuff you heard at Mercury was like an inch of the solo stuff because I had to strip everything down. That’s why it might have sounded quite barren. I’ve slowly started building it up again.

I was expecting to be let into your house and be poisoned or stabbed. People told me I’d be stabbed.

I’m sure they’re all sitting like little monkeys waiting for the feedback. Shame they’ll be so disappointed.

So what’s next for Inge Beckmann as an artiste?

I’m doing an Afrikaans horror feature. A horror comedy vampire thing. And I’m the slayer bitch called Lizelle De La Rey!

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