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Straight Edge Interview Project- Josefine- 34 Nothern Germany

Tell us about you? What do you do for a living? Do you have any pets, hobbies, pet projects? 

I am a musician and music journalist and until Corona, I have also been working as a freelancer in adult education. I was a Ph.D. student at university. But yes, Corona made me something similar to unemployed. Hardly any work for musicians or music journalists, and I lost the freelancing job entirely. Tomorrow I’ll have a job interview in an agency, so please fingers crossed. 🙂 I have always had a lot of pets! I grew up with dogs, birds, turtles, fish, and bunnies. As an adult, I used to have rats, various breeds of mice, lemmings, guinea pigs,… But there are two species I have always had and cannot imagine living without: My African spiny mice and giant rabbits. I would love to have dogs myself, too, one day but as long as I do not lead an “ordinary” life, I do not want a dog to live without daily structures or routines. So I’ll stick to my spiny mice and giant rabbits. Apart from pets, I have also always had an entire jungle in my flat. I have a huge passion fruit that covers an entire window and cannot eat avocado without planting the seed. A couple of years ago, I had around 100 plants in my flat. Now it’s some fewer but now I live in a great flat that even has a garden. A garden! My very own garden! <3

Favorite straight edge (or non-straight edge) bands?

Can I do advertisement for my own band here? We are Painkiller Party. Our image is cute, little nerds who take sweets instead of drugs, drink lemonade instead of alcohol and have stuffed animals on our couch instead of groupies. We make partycore in a world of unicorns and rainbows. xD This is our Youtube: Moreover, there are soooo many artists that are straight edge without claiming the whole band to be. I am always fascinated how many straight edge people there actually are in our music scene. I support them all, whether they officially claim it or not.

What is your definition of straight edge?

Straight edge is a culture that originated from a music subgenre and contains special features of socio-cultural attitude and behavior. The main pillars are no alcohol, no drugs, no smoke. These are mandatory. Some add more ideas such as veganism which I find great but would not count as a mandatory pillar of straight edge. What some people tend to forget: It’s not only a lifestyle or a political point of view, it’s also a family. We believe in the same things, we listen to the same music and we need to show respect to all other beings even though they do not understand the way we live or think.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

It has always been underground and so it is now. Yet today, with opportunities such as having internet and living in a global world, the scene is connected even better around the whole world. This adds a lot to the feeling of belonging to a family.

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

I don’t count this as straight edge. This is a great choice of living and I appreciate a lot that those people stay sober and healthy – but without the music culture, for me, this cannot be “real” straight edge.

You mentioned that without the music, someone cannot be “real
straightedge”  If not “real straight edge” what would you label them as?

If someone isn’t in the music scene, I’d simply call them sober and drug-free. Straight edge is clearly combined with the music scene and subculture in my opinion, as I pointed out in the interview. So of course, I am a lifer. I can hardly imagine people trying something out for the moment and then taking it off a couple of years later… I made a decision, so this is a lifetime-decision. At least this is how I do my statements in life: Consider, decide and then stick to it. 

What are some funny/common misconceptions people have about you being straight edge?

We’re being boooooring because we do not booze ourselves into oblivion..

What are some challenges you have faced when interacting with other people who are also edge? If you haven’t had any challenges, tell us some challenges you’ve faced when interacting with people who are not edge?

Non-straight edge people often think we all have been addicts before and so we have to stay away from the shit because we regret our earlier life decisions. But hey, I have never ever wanted to try out the shit, so yeah, many people won’t believe you are doing it out of purpose and belief. I also hate entering a “normal” party or show and being offered beer or booze, denying it, and then being asked: Why????? Are you driving? Are you okay? Are you taking meds? Hell no, I just don’t want to! It’s annoying and tiring… People regard it normal you HAVE to drink alcohol when going out. That’s so incredibly sad when you think deeper about it…

Is your diet influenced or informed by your choice to be straight edge i.e. organic, antibiotic infused meat, genetically modified foods, vegan, vegetarian?

I try to live healthy but also enjoy unhealthy stuff such as sweets and other sugary things. But I know what I do and have control over my diet.

What’s your straight edge story? Was there a key moment that made you realize straight edge is the way you want to live your life? How old were you? 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 do not remember a certain year or a certain moment. In my teens, I already noticed I did not develop an interest in things such as drinking alcohol or trying weed, etc. I never even evolved any interest in trying any kind of make-up or getting a tattoo… Well, in my early twenties I did try a cocktail or two but soon realized they taste just as good as alcohol-free drinks, only virgin cocktails do not give headaches and do not poison me. I have never been drunk, I’d like to point out. The music scene, I also got to know in my twenties but I cannot remember an exact point of time. I had already been listening to emocore and deathcore mainly when I did research on the origins. I got to know about HC punk and then about Straight edge. And I knew I had found my family! I went to a Gorilla Biscuit show, I met others of my kind. I still prefer the modern sound of core music but these bands really give me an insight into what straight edge really means.

Define what straight edge means to you? Has this changed over the years?

As I said before, no smoke no drink no drugs and being in the hardcore scene. This hasn’t changed.

Do you consider yourself an activist? What is/are your cause(s), and how have you been working to advance them?

This depends on the definition… I would consider myself an activist in terms of being a live example of how life can be possible. All the shocked faces when I say I do not drink under any circumstances… All the shocked faces only when some people see me on the street and act as if they saw an alien… So in that context, yeah, my entire life is activism. 😀 I do not do active campaigns in organizations, though.

What, if anything, keeps you committed to the straight edge lifestyle?

Nothings needs to keep me committed as this is my choice of life. You wouldn’t ask somehow who doesn’t like broccoli how he keeps away from broccoli, would you? I despise the smell of tobacco, it makes me nausea. Alcohol makes people sick, aggressive and more. How would you need anything to keep you away from this?

What is something you didn’t think you would struggle with by claiming edge?

Explaining over and over again what it means and where it comes from…

What do you do for stress relief instead of drinking/drugs, tips for peer pressure?

There should not be anything like peer pressure when you are a grown up person responsible for your own decisions and your own life. “They did it, too.” can never be an excuse for your own mistakes. As for the stress, take a warm shower or bath, listen to good music, close your eyes for a couple of minutes, let your body and your mind calm down. Think of all the people and things you love and that love you, think of what good still lies ahead. I know there can be hard times, depressing times in life. Never give up though! Your success will be other people’s idol. And if not, it might still be their bitterness.

How was it being straight edge in this pandemic?

I have been at home for most of the last 202 days… Best was not to meet many ignorant people, haha!

Have you ever considered breaking edge? What were the circumstances, and what changed your mind?

No, never.

Have you ever stopped being edge for a period of time, and if so why? Did you regret doing so? What brought you back? If you have come back, how do you view your commitment (i.e. for life, for now)?

Maybe you could count the couple of years I did drink a bit of alcohol from time to time… But I wouldn’t count this as a straight edge break as I was still very young and had not heard about straight edge yet. At least yes, when I stopped drinking alcohol again, I felt very relieved and much happier than before. It was like I got rid of something I had already been ashamed of while doing it.

If you are in a relationship is your partner straight edge, or have you had a previous relationship with someone who was not straight edge? What, if any, challenges have you faced relating to your lifestyle/choices?

I have a wonderful straight edge boyfriend. <3 But let’s start with the beginning: I have been together with one man for almost 13 years. That’s actually a long time and I loved him a lot. He drank alcohol unfortunately and yes, this sometimes led to some minor problems when he came home drunk. But he was a very educated and sensitive young man, so he never did any harm or anything like that, just was being”funny” then and vomiting through the entire house… After the breakup (which was not alcohol-related), I had a boyfriend for a short period of time who quit drinking for me but kept on smoking. He tried to do it only when I was not with him and I appreciate that even until today he doesn’t drink alcohol anymore. Yet I always knew it did not come from out of his heart but he only did it to appear good for me. There was no commitment, you know? It was a short relationship but he is still an important friend of mine today. And then there is my present boyfriend. I am very determined that he is Mr. Right for the rest of my life! The first man who is just as committed as myself, who listens to the same exact music, who follows the same way of life and has the same goals in life. It’s finally the absolute perfect fit and I am very, very happy to have him.

If your partner is edge do you have similar views/outlooks about straight edge? What are some examples of ideas/beliefs that you agree and/or disagree on?

Not only in a relationship but also in general: If most believes are the exact same, do not argue about small details. This is toxic. You can never achieve a 100% match of yourself, so people will always have different point of views here or there. If those are only tiny deviations, please respect. Of course, if they are bigger (see my ex-boyfriend) you should maybe consider this is not the right partner for you.

Has your family and social life been negatively or positively impacted? Have you faced or are you facing any specific challenges because of your lifestyle choices? If your family/friends are unsupportive, how do you deal?

Well, it’s not about straight edge, it’s about my entire life choices. My father has always been supportive for everything. My mother hasn’t… but now she is. At least she tries. 😀 It wasn’t that nice as a child and teenager to be facing constant criticism about the way you look and the way you live but as an adult, I do not have that much contact to my family anymore as a consequence of my childhood. They learned… They now understand that this is me, this is my life and my choices. Even if they don’t like it, it’s their own problem, not mine. So now my mother even went to a show of my band and celebrated in the audience. I have to admit, yes, this really made me a little happy… 🙂

Some straight edge women/girls I have talked to have told me that they feel isolated and that they find it difficult to relate to people outside of the straight edge scene. Is this something you can relate to?

Yes, of course, but this is why I choose my friends wisely. I only wish to have friends from out of my music scene, my subculture, my peer group. I obviously do have contact to other people, too, but I think you can hardly be friend with someone who doesn’t share at least a huge amount of your believes. I may sound disrespectful here but I am not: I do respect every other culture, subculture whatever. I interact with people of every culture or every background. Just being friends is something much more intimate, so I do not let everybody enter my bubble.

How do you explain your lifestyle to others outside of the scene? Do you find it difficult? What’s your elevator pitch?

This depends on who I talk to, if they already know punk and core, if they kindly ask or if they aren’t even interested in getting to know. So usually, I would explain just as I did before: Tell them about the music subculture, then about the mandatory pillars, then about the other ideas.

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon the straight edge lifestyle and it has really spoken to them. Do you feel that the straight edge community has been welcoming to those in recovery? Do you have mixed feelings? Strong Feelings?

I absolutely like the community to be a harbor for everyone who is in need. Some people do not have a family, do not get support, so it is great to see they are finding all this in the scene. I only sometimes fear some people will consider straight edge as being ONLY a recovery, as I said before, but well, you can always educate people and tell them what it really means and what it can contain.

How do you feel your straight edge commitment plays into the bigger social justice movement for gender equity?

I never gave a fuck about gender. We are people, period.

Straight edge and the associated music scene have long been male-dominated. What do you see as a woman/girls role in the scene? How has this role changed since you have been involved and what changes would you like to see?

Again, I do not differ between men and women or any other gender identity there is. People are people, you define yourself by soooo many other things than just your gender. So I do not care what gender the guitarist, drummer etc. identifies with as long as they are happy with their own decision. Gender is no criteria for making music nor does it define a music style or whatever.

What if any challenges have you faced that are specifically related to being a female in a male-dominated scene?

Well, it happened a few times that the sound guy asked if I ALSO sing. Well, I AM the vocalist of this band, so yeah, I do sing. The man you were refering to as our singer is actually the guitarist, thank you. Also, it happened that people thought I was only the merch lady or who ever and were then surprised when I entered the stage. I do not regard this as particular sexist, though. It merely shows that people did not inform themselves about the bands before going to a show, haha!

Is the scene as inclusive as it likes to think it is? Do you think there’s work to be done? If so, what would you like to see change?

For what I experience, I am very happy with the scene. I do not see any need to change anything. Things should still be also evolving and not standing still, of course.

Please add anything else you think we should know or you would like to share!

Thank you very much for having me!! 🙂 I know my art might be confusing or shocking for some but I’d be very thankful if you checked it out as we are showing a side of straight edge that is rarely seen. Partying with balloons and confetti, talking about adult stuff, and yet being 100% sober and drug-free. People wouldn’t believe this combination exists. 😉

Mother, wife, small business owner.

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