Simone Schmidt is a folk and country musician based in tkaronto (Mohawk word from which Toronto, Ontario, is derived). Schmidt's 2017 album Audible Songs from Rockwood is part of their solo work as Fiver and part of an attempt to write “new life into and around folk, country, and rock songs.” The album is based on their time spent at the Archives of Ontario reading the original case files of the Rockwood Asylum for the Criminally Insane that operated in Kingston, Ontario, from 1856 to 1881. The songs are sung from the imagined perspectives of different women imprisoned at Rockwood. I read and engage with Schmidt's work as a performance of unsettling. Unsettlement comes through on this album in direct ways, such as Schmidt's challenges to ideas of land possession and challenges to the bases of the medical and psychiatric designations. More subtle challenges come through the portrayals of the women, which, though largely imagined, come from a place of self-reflexivity. In this paper I will examine how Schmidt uses the sounds of traditional North American folk and country music as a sonic bed for a performance of unsettling on Audible Songs from Rockwood.
“New Life” into Old Sounds: Listening to Simone Schmidt's Audible Songs from Rockwood
Ryan Shuvera is a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism at Western University in London, Ontario. Western is situated on the lands of the Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, Lunaapewak, and Attawandaron peoples. Ryan is interested in sonic sites of resistance and music that unsettles listeners on Turtle Island.
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Ryan Shuvera; “New Life” into Old Sounds: Listening to Simone Schmidt's Audible Songs from Rockwood. Journal of Popular Music Studies 1 June 2020; 32 (2): 178–190. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/jpms.2020.32.2.178
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