JD Samson on playing Occupy Wall Street and representing for the queer community

We are a protest band. We are here in solidarity as feminists, queers, and part of the greater 99 percent.
We are here to support immigrant rights, workers rights, and the Occupy movement.
But this is not a day to divide, this is a day to stand as one.
We will not only protest, but make a collective promise that we will never ever back down.
That we will never weaken our intelligent force, and that we will only get stronger.
We must remain simultaneously angry yet hopeful and continue our constant support for each other.
And most importantly give gratitude to this incredible crowd.
We can not do this alone. We need this choir. We need this team.


– JD Samson’s speech at the May Day Occupy Wall Street event

JD Samson has had, and continues to have, an enviable music career as part of bands like Le Tigre and MEN. While I knew she wasn’t living it up Mariah Carey MTV Cribs-style, it wasn’t until I read an article she wrote for the Huffington Post, that I realized how similar a touring musician’s lifestyle is to my own — and pretty much anyone who freelances for a living.  It’s scary to get older and realize your life’s work won’t be able to provide a way for your eventual retirement. It’s even more scary to think about what other options you may be left with or the time and money it might take to learn a new trade. To add more complexity to this already-complex equation:  When you live in a body that doesn’t fit the social norm, how do you fight bigotry and ignorance when you’re no longer in your comfort zone?

These are all questions JD is asking and also in the process of figuring out — but she’s not just doing it for herself, she’s doing it for everyone. We spoke with JD the morning after the May Day Occupy Wall Street event where MEN played in support of everyone marching and fighting for the 99 percent.

AfterEllen.com: First of all, you occupied Wall Street yesterday. And you occupied with a little music, playing in the middle of all of the action. Can you tell me about that experience?
JD Samson: It was awesome. It was basically the most beautiful thing ever. [Laughs] We got down there around 4:30 and our stage was on a flat bed truck so we played as everybody passed us by and it was really cool. Unfortunately we didn’t have that much time because the march was held back a little bit so it was tricky situation. We were not sure if that they may more may not want to book a rally around a stage so the timing was a little off a little bit.

AE: Do you think that was a police play?
JS: Yeah I think they wanted to kind of deter a group of people gathering together so they wanted the march to sort of disappear. The idea was we were going to play as they passed up but they didn’t want a big riot at the end. They wanted to disperse people down the blocks surrounding the area.

AE: That’s kind of understandable.
JS: Yeah, it’s crowd control. Our set was cut short but the sound check was awesome. [Laughs] It was cool. Actually the bikers came down first so they were all there watching the set and that was really fun.

AE: That’s awesome.
JS: I mean the sound check. Yeah.

AE: Were you playing your new stuff?
JS: We played three songs. We only had 15 minutes. We played “Boom Boom Boom,” which is a song about war time economies, and we played “Make Him Pay,” which is about the occupy movement. And we also played “Who Am I to Feel So Free?”. But we didn’t get to play an actual set. Our time got cut off.

AE: You played it in your hearts.
JS: Yeah, we did. [Laughs] Exactly.

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