Home » Straight Edge Interview Project: Kate Reddy (or Keli Lalita dasi)age 49 Albany NY and Stuyvesant Falls NY

Straight Edge Interview Project: Kate Reddy (or Keli Lalita dasi)age 49 Albany NY and Stuyvesant Falls NY

Tell us about yourself! Hobbies, jobs, passion projects, interests? 

I started a kirtan record label. www.mantralogy.com (sacred music record label imprint of @equalvision) I love teaching and practicing yoga. I sometimes drum for @krishnadasmusic and @nina_Rao. I love studying and reading, going on yoga retreats, cooking, and most of all, my kids. They are amazing and I am really proud of them.

What are you listening to these days?   (does not have to be hardcore)   What are some of your favorite bands and/or podcasts?

Krishna Das “Heart as Wide as the World,” Natalie Merchant, Mobb Deep, Blink-182, Judge, Quicksand, Obituary.

What’s your straight edge story? How old were you when you “claimed edge”? How long have you been straight edge?  Was there a key moment that made you realize straight edge is the way you want to live your life?   How did you find out about straight edge, was there someone in the community that introduced you, or were you introduced to it through people/bands, etc?  What drew you to it?  

I became straightedge fully and started to identify as a straightedge kid in 1986. It was Minor Threat for me, which I played on a garbled cassette non-stop. For me, the fact that I had a scene to be a part of as a 14-year-old, that didn’t require me to do ridiculous dangerous stuff like drink and drive was so appealing. I tried drinking twice and smoked pot a few times, all in 8th grade. (I hope my kids aren’t reading this) but I was just not into it. It felt so cliché and so trite. I loved the idea of not doing what the adults in my life were expecting me to do. I feel like older kids in the scene were kind of preaching it, and I felt like I could be part of something that let me skip getting drunk, which I viewed as not worth bothering with. Some part of my conscious brain kicked in, and I could see drinking and smoking brought no real happiness but rather a lot of strife to people. Outsmarting big tobacco and huge corporations marketing the American dream of an alcoholic-fueled social scene felt like an ultra counter-culture move. I guess I also wanted to be different from other teenagers, and hardcore and specifically straightedge was my path forward.

How do you define straight edge?  What makes straight edge different from being sober?  Is your definition fluid or concrete?   Do you think you will ever NOT be straight edge? What keeps you committed?

All definitions are fluid to some degree if we pay close attention- so yes, earlier in my life I needed to identify strongly as edge. Now that I am almost 50 I’m just like no thanks, if people ask me if I want to join them for wine. Older people guess that I am a recovering alcoholic usually. I see straightedge as is just part of the fabric of my life. It’s unspoken. What keeps me committed is twofold. One, I have no desire for drinking or being inebriated in any way. Two, I’m a Krishna devotee, and we take a lifelong vow to never ever drink. So I’m a lifer and happily so.

True or False: “If you’re not now, you never were”? If you were once straight edge and now you are back,  what happened?  What brought you back? How has your relationship with straight edge evolved?

That’s a ridiculous statement I think. If you’re straightedge- and later you change your mind, it doesn’t negate the earlier state. I dislike fanaticism and watched so many fanatical edge people and vegans and Krishna people drop away. Be balanced and reasonable and don’t judge people. It’s hard to pull off but it’s what I aspire for.

Photo By Danielle Dombrowski

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon straight edge, and it has really spoken to them.  Do you feel that the straight edge community has been, and should be welcoming to those in recovery?  

If we aren’t welcoming people in recovery we are totally and utterly without compassion. We are also missing the point of this as a social movement. I welcome all people to the family in whatever way they arrive and I have no ill will or judgment of people who don’t choose exactly what I choose. I just know it’s the best for me. But people in recovery should get all kinds of extra love because that has to be brutally hard.

Photo by: JC MEDIA

Have you ever felt that your gender has influenced your experience in the “straight edge and/or hardcore scene”. If so, how?  Have you had negative/positive experiences?

Gender influences every experience we have and will continue to do so until we dissolve the binary. That being said, all western thought is fairly binary so I am not holding my breath for this to be a quick process. In terms of straightedge, as a female, I wasn’t part of the inner core of what was then an ultra boys club. I don’t really resent that. We were just kids. Some of the boys were just not aware, but they certainly, in my era, were not putting a concerted effort into marginalizing me or other girls. I feel like that got worse later. There were issues of course in terms of inclusion, but I’d rather focus my advocacy work on the institutional structural sexism/racism, rather than the kids who were trying to tear down those structures, no matter how imperfectly a bunch of 16-year-olds were trying to do that. In terms of hardcore- the larger scene felt more welcoming and inclusive than the Youth Crew era of SXE. I think the boys who have now grown into men evolved. But again, we were kids doing our best! Most of us would take a bullet for each other and that is probably rare in this world

Do you feel that the straight edge movement/scene is inclusive?  What are things that can be done to make it more inclusive?  What sort of changes would you like to see?

I feel like now it’s better now than it was in the 1990s. And yet, we have a long way to go. It’s not easy to say; “this is the way we fix structural transphobia, homophobia, racism, sexism, ableism, etc” but at least first admit that there are problems. Second, read way more books than you read. I suggest finding out which books Ted Cruz wants banned and read all of them. Read Margaret Atwood. When having shows, book bands that are more diverse; include bands with BIPOC, queer, trans, and femme members on as many bills as you can. And keep going with benefit shows. Art and music can produce funds that are then used for advocacy. Donate to @albanyfreefridge. Listen, and be ok with moving out of the center of the conversation if your community has always been centered. @lightbrigadecollective has amazing shows with a full bookstore merchandise table. Study critical race theory, real bell hooks, Toni Morrison and Zora Neal Hurston. Don’t just repeat rhetoric. Learn deeply. And take hardcore family trips to the Museum and see great art. Cook for each other. 🙂

Has being straight edge had an impact on your relationships (family, friends, significant others). If so how would you characterize that impact?

Yes! My husband is edge. Its foundational to who we are and I’m so glad. We want to be healthy and eat well and exercise and make those core principles of our life.

There’s an ongoing debate on whether one can be straight edge without being a part of the music scene, what are your thoughts on this?

Why not? I can’t figure out why anyone would try to gatekeep at the doors of straightedge. Straightedge is an internal choice. Not a membership-based club. Down with exclusivity. Anyone can be Edge. It’s a decision you make for yourself and you own it fully when you decide it’s yours.

Final Thoughts? Is there anything else you’d like to add? Maybe questions you think we should add or change?

Thank you for centering women in the conversation- its time

kellysisterhood
Author: kellysisterhood

Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org

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Written by kellysisterhood
Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org
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