Performing at Chicks With Picks May, The Townie, 20/5/18

This time it was my turn to hit the stage! Playing at Chicks With Picks May last Sunday was the first of two performances I’m doing as part of my capstone project. On this occasion, I played four of my five new songs written about my experience as an asexual person. And I was quite nervous! This was my first performance in two years, first performance as a soloist, and first time performing as DestroyerMariko. But it was great fun, with such a supportive audience. I was definitely the odd one out as the only electronic/industrial musician and growler, but I think the crowd enjoyed seeing something a bit different and I was flattered by their cheers when I told them I’d be back on the 30th! And I got so much good feedback afterwards, ranging from people liking my musical style, my dancing, my professionalism, my outfit, all the way through to very particular details like my clear diction. I handed out a couple of business cards and may have made a handful of new fans!

But there are also some things I definitely want to improve on for the next show and the future.

For one thing, my hair was really annoying! It kept getting in my face even more than it did in rehearsal and was driving me nuts, as cool as it is for the headbanging side of things. I had to keep pushing it out of my face, because in rehearsal I’d found that if I didn’t, I risked inhaling it and gagging! And it’s such a strange problem to have, but on the other hand, this is the first time I’ve performed without dreads in ages, so I’m really not used to how the natural stuff operates as I jump around. I miss my dreads so much. At some point, I’ll have to get new ones installed again. In the short term though, I’m not entirely sure what to do, but either I tie some of it back, or I try and tame my hair with some product. I don’t know much about hair though, so I’m not sure what’s the best option!

I also think I really need to wear contacts. We did discuss in class afterwards how “me” the glasses are, and how it shows that I don’t care about convention, and I do love that idea… but unfortunately, it’s not really practical. After all this time, I’d forgotten what it’s like dancing around under lights, and hadn’t accounted for the sweat. Towards the end of my set, in the most active, final song, my glasses actually threatened to be thrown from my face as I danced, and so I had to hold them in place, but was then so distracted that I messed up the next line. If I wear contacts, then I shouldn’t have this problem. So I’ve found my stash, and they don’t expire for another two years, I probably just need to do a couple trial runs to make sure I’m comfortable with them, and if all is well, then that’s what I’ll do for my next performance. Otherwise… maybe if I put the most active song first, it’ll be less of a problem because I hopefully won’t be sweating too much that early?

The one other thing I’d like to try changing up is my costume. This wasn’t a negative at all – in fact a lot of people commented on how much they liked my outfit. However, I would like to try different things just to see what I feel works best. For this performance, I avoided cutesy cat stuff, because my goal was to avoid asexual stereotypes such as the lonely cat lady appearance. But I also didn’t want to go too far in the opposite direction because I don’t want people to see me and just think sexy. However, it turns out that people interpret my dancing as sexy anyway, and I can’t help that, it’s just how I dance. And it’s also been pointed out to me that maybe that’s not a terrible thing, seeing as it overturns the stereotypes of asexuals being bland, boring, unpassionate beings. So I haven’t decided yet how I might change things up, I mean I do like the somewhat gender non-conforming goth-punk vibe, but it’s worth trying different things. Perhaps this time though, my main restrictions will actually have to do with my health and the weather. I seem to have caught a cold and there’s a chance of rain next Wednesday, so that may just force me to wear the same sort of sensible-but-gothic clothing that best allows me to keep warm.

I guess we’ll see. I just think that for all these things I could change this time, it’s worth giving it a go to help me decide what works well and what might be less helpful.

Anyway! My next performance is:

May 30th: Free Entry Open Mic
7pm – I’m on first!
The Townie (next to Newtown Station)
326 King St, Newtown
Facebook page:

And now I’ll leave you with some more pictures from the night. Unfortunately I don’t have a whole lot to say about them this time, as I was either way too nervous before my performance, or full of adrenaline afterwards, to really analyse their sets, but I suppose the photos give you an idea of what the night was like and how different the other performers were to myself. There are also some I didn’t take photos of, as I ended up talking to a lot of friends and fans after I played. Overall though, it was a good night as usual for Chicks With Picks. Many thanks to them for having me!

Leah Randall

Imogen Hales (also playing on the 30th of May, 7:30pm at the Townie, right after me)


Olga Solar



Sister Ursuline

How exciting to be on the same show as Sister Ursuline! Was great to see her again!

Tela Umana and Making Home

This week I went back to looking at visual art because my good friend Edmond Thommen is currently exhibiting in Surry Hills! The exhibition is called “Tela Umana” which means “Human Canvas” because he and his co-exhibitor both use the human body and layers of texture to create their photographic works. Edmond has also been a long-term supporter of my poetry, and a number of his works feature my words as his titles. It’s always interesting and exciting to see how he transforms my text into thoughtful images to express powerful emotions. I also enjoy our long conversations about everything from art and music to politics and philosophy, and I always learn something new as well. This time he showed me how he handles payments for his artwork, as well as his note taking regarding exhibitor numbers and public feedback, and also the logistics of holding a show in the M2 Gallery. This sort of thing could be really useful for me if I go on to exhibit more in future, and the payment technology could even be applied to my music practice because of its applicability to running band merch stands. So this was easily my best gallery visit of the semester – not only did I get to see some great art, but I learned a lot as well, and had a great time hanging with Edmond.

Overview of the gallery: Edmond’s works, hung salon style

Lori Cicchini’s works, some look like paintings but they are actually all photographs that have undergone digital manipulation.

It’s interesting how different it is to see the images in real life vs on small screens. It really does change the experience a lot to be there. As for the gallery, M2 really seems like a good one for a small group exhibition some day. You do need to mind it, but they don’t take commissions on the artwork you sell, and it has four distinct divisions that would make it very easy for four artists to show together while maintaining their own identities. It’s also right near Central Station, with lots of people going past. A really cool little space!

Tela Umana is on until May 22, open 12pm-7pm every day.

I also dropped in to see one of my fellow Capstone Project students at her exhibition. Sasha Mishkin’s “Making Home” is currently on at Kudos Gallery.

This exhibition looks at what a living space can say about those who occupy it, with a specific focus on migrants who live in Sydney. It features 14 photos and one video, focusing on 7 different families. It was a little bit difficult for me to form a proper impression of the works, because I have been watching their progress in class, but I like the way that Sasha has set them up in the space, and I am also impressed with her video subject, who sat for 5 minutes looking at the camera as a sort of living and breathing portrait. It was the first time I had seen the video, and it was a really neat solution for how to use the Kudos stage space. But I think the work I connected with most was #9, “Where I am is who I am” (2), because as I was looking at it, I spotted some children’s books on the shelf that were in Japanese. Moments of nostalgia like this always remind me that I am actually mixed-race, and bring back memories of childhood and also highlight some of the cultural differences present in my family life that other Australians don’t experience. Most people only see me as being white, so that’s how they treat me, and that makes it easy for me to think I am the same so that I don’t even realise that some of my mannerisms are actually Japanese. For example, I only realised when talking to a Japanese friend at uni that other English speakers don’t really say 「え」 (“eh” meaning “huh”) the way I do, which turns out to be a much more Japanese thing. So it’s not surprising to have that work make the biggest impact on me.

You have to see it in real life to get the detail of the books. Making Home is on until June 2, Wed-Fri 11am-6pm; Sat 11am-4pm.

As for my own Capstone Project, I’m doing the first of my two performances this weekend!

May 20th: Chicks With Picks
Sydney’s open mic and showcase events for woman fronted acts
4:30pm – 11:30pm
The Townie (next to Newtown Station)
326 King St, Newtown
Click here for the Facebook event page

I’ll be on stage at 7:20pm, performing songs from my Asexuality concept project. It’s my first time performing solo, and under my artist name, DestroyerMariko.

FIZZ #6 Darque – A Live Electronic Musicians of Sydney Event, 11/5/18

This week I got back into the music and went to see an event focusing on dark electronic musicians. This felt particularly relevant to me right now because that’s the direction my solo project has been going. It was also cool to go to a venue I’d never been to before, The Record Crate in Glebe. I’d walked past it a few times but I think I assumed it was an actual record shop rather than a bar and small venue!

And small is right – it’s a very intimate setting, with the stage at floor level, right next to the entrance so that you feel like you’re entering the place from side stage. They also kept the door open despite the cold, so you could see people passing by outside as you were watching the bands. It’s a very different way of doing things! But it had a very friendly vibe, and a cozy musical atmosphere with posters on one side and vinyl cover art on the other. For musicians, it’s a bit cramped, but they’d managed to fit nearly all their gear on the back ledge of the stage, with the more complicated electronic gear already on stands ready to be moved into place for each band. I just felt it was a little bit too dark once they dimmed the lights – fine atmosphere for a dark electronic show, but difficult for my camera to film, and probably made it a bit harder for the musicians to see what they were doing both during the set, and during pack up when it took a while to get the lights back on. If performing there, might help to have a torch just in case!


First up was the duo Galraedia, older, goth-type musicians. The vocals were that old school speech-like style, and they had a lot of Korgs and other tech! I spotted three keyboards, a computer, mixer, pedals, even a headset for the vocoder. The music was very much reminiscent of older, 80’s style goth, with an uncluttered electronic sound.

Costume-wise, they had a black vs white aesthetic going on, which was a cool nod to the whole duality idea. They didn’t move much on stage though, so there wasn’t a whole lot to look at, though with both of them using keyboards, it’s hard to say what could really be done. In any case, I was surprised to find I didn’t mind this – their music actually evoked a lot of images of old music videos, such that you could really imagine that sort of production.

All up, I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed Galraedia’s set. I haven’t listened to a lot of goth music, and mostly I’ve felt a bit indifferent to it. But something about the way this duo has put together their old school goth and electronic music just held my attention. I can’t tell if this might be signalling a shift in my musical tastes or not, but it might be nice to try and draw some influences from this sort of genre in my future music.


The other band I was able to stay for was Z(Cluster), my friend Sai’s band again! This was the main reason I braved Friday’s cold and windy night, and it was great to be able to see them play again. But given that the stage was right next to that cold, open door, I thought it was crazy that Sai wore the same outfit – that’s some dedication to the image. I guess dancing around does warm you up, but still, it was freezing in there!

So it was fun to see how far these guys had come in just over a month. They definitely both seemed much more comfortable in their performances, which might be a combination of the venue as well as practice. Sai’s use of height was perhaps less effective for people up the back of the room, given that there was no elevated stage that would allow them to see him, but on the other hand, he was able to actually walk into the crowd, and even came and sat and sung to me at the front table at one point. He even made good use of that side stage door, offering a newcomer a sip of his drink mid-set, reflecting his overall confidence in audience interaction and use of humour.

As for INfest8, he was also so much more entertaining to watch this time around. You could really see he was getting into the songs, even with all the gear he was managing. He was singing along, feeling the music, showing a lot of passion, particularly later into their set, it was great to see! And the interaction between the two of them was also much better this time, showing that these two will continue to improve as they evolve. I guess this is something I need to remember for myself – it gets easier as you keep going, becoming more confident and developing your act. I’m still nervous about my upcoming performance, my first in two years, and first as a soloist. But if I keep it up, I’ll improve, just like Z(Cluster)!