Terre Thaemlitz, also known as DJ Sprinkles, is a legend of house music who came up in the disenfranchised queer scenes of ’80s and ’90s New York City, and has grown to be one of the most vital, vibrant intellectual forces and queer theorists in electronic music.
Her albums are often accompanied by exegeses, which underscore and contextualize the emotion imbued in her music. “Sloppy 42nds” and Midtown 120 Blues, one of the most beautifully rendered albums of the ’00s, examined her time among the clubs of Times Square as its gentrification/“Disneyfication” further marginalized herself and her friends, and yet there was liberation on the dancefloors, which “resonat[ed] with the difficulties of transgendered sex work, black market hormones, drug & alcohol addiction, racism, gender & sexual crises, unemployment, and censorship.” Such a critical approach to a cultural moment results in house music with a sorrowful beating heart, its depth captured in samples of drag queens from the era and melodies that convey both celebration and deep empathy.
Deproduction, Thaimlitz’s just-announced forthcoming work and her first release since a 30-hour album called Soullessness from 2012, also promises to be heady and edifying and a pleasure to listen to. A multimedia album, Deproduction will include audio, video, and texts, and in her words will explore “the awkward, uncomfortable and hypocritical power dynamics behind Western Humanist notions of family, and how they function internationally through processes of globalization.” In one already-released text, entitled “Admit It’s Killing You (And Leave),” she makes a pro-birth control, pro-abortion access, feminist argument that “having children is unethical” and that “families make democracy impossible,” the latter based on the notion that “they are unrescuable from the problems of human ownership, coerced labor, sexual fascism, gender segregation, and gender exploitation.”
Hello!!! If you’re ready to dive in, here’s an excerpt of the track that accompanies this essay, which seems to begin gingerly, with a sample of a speech overlaid on Thaemlitz’s piano and encroaching strings. It’s a real barn-burner of an essay, which advocates that abortions should not be vilified but instead, when they offer the person having them “relief,” celebrated, and critiques the institutions that want to subsume same-sex marriage as a return to heteronormativity. Crucially, she also talks about the essentializing of transgender people from a patriarchal/capitalist gender-binary perspective (Thaemlitz is trans and much of the scope of her work revolves around deconstructing gender binaries); she writes that “the trans experiences most rendered unspeakable are those of non-transitioning and non-medicated bodies. They must remain inconceivable, in no small part because they conjure that ultimate bureaucratic taboo of non-identification.”
There’s so much more, including critiques of Christianity, the medical industrial complex and the incest pathos of the nuclear family, but before you go read it and bookmark the page to cop the project (forthcoming), just one more excerpt:
What if one refuses to celebrate normalization? What if rather than responding to the violence of being forced to self-identify as ill with a demand to be recognized as healthy, one responds with a politicization of the desire to be recognized as healthy? What if one allows themself to remain disturbed by the unavoidable anti-feminist compromises of binary gender transitioning under patriarchy? What if one’s entire relationship to gender variance is one of collapse? Of unbecoming? Of time, but not of a journey? Of change, but not of transition? Of struggle, but not of achievement? What if one responds to shame by strategically refusing PrideTM? This is the grimly realist, anti-globalist, anti-humanist model of democratic engagement being proposed.
She snapped on it, as usual. Deproduction will be released on Thaemlitz’s own label, Comatonse Recordings.