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Beth Ditto: like totally

Elizabeth Alker talks exclusively to Beth Ditto about mud, Manchester and moshers prior to her appearance at Unknown Pleasures

Published on July 10th 2007.

Beth Ditto: like totally

The Manchester International Festival is all about showcasing original work. One band playing as part of the Festival’s new music section is the Gossip. This lot have been so prolific since they first started to occupy our national airwaves that it feels as though their pounding rock soul fusion has been part of the fabric of British music since time began.

In the last year, in all her plump lesbian glory, the Gossip front woman Beth Ditto has stripped at festivals, spoken out against discrimination in the UK music industry, been spotted clubbing with Kate Moss and posed naked on the front cover of the NME. But is Ms Ditto really the politically astute feminist spokesperson that we’re all been lead to believe she is. Washed away by her gushing, comma-free, inimitable style you’d be forgiven for thinking the opposite.

“We played Glastonbury recently which kicked off our festival season. The thing about the UK and the whole madness that has happened surrounding the Gossip is still dawning on me. I’m constantly still having revelations. Like, oh my gosh, we are like totally playing to thousands of people at Glastonbury. Because we’re still in the US, and it’s such a hole in the ground sometimes, and other countries don’t really know us yet, it’s really hard to calibrate just how huge it is. Then last night I had a total epiphany. It keeps hitting me over and over again.”

I’m constantly still having revelations. Like, oh my gosh, we are like totally playing to thousands of people at Glastonbury

So the Gossip kicked off the festival rounds with Glastonbury which was (like totally) great and are making their way up to Manchester via a number of other UK shows and festival gigs. But when it comes to UK crowds Beth Ditto certainly knows which side her bread is buttered on.

“I know that Manchester is my favourite city in the UK to play for sure. For me it’s like the crowd is so genuinely sweet and rowdy and that’s something that I love. It reminds me of the southern US where people are really warm and make you feel at home and they welcome you with open arms. We have friends in Manchester too, so that’s really nice.”

Whilst not sure whether Manchester wants to be compared to a part of the world where ‘red-neck’ is still a compliment, you know she means well. But then wasn’t she saying something similar about Scottish crowds at T in the park this weekend?

Hmmm, maybe Ditto is paying our city the same token flattery that the UK media are paying her vague political rants and occasional stripping. On the one hand this writer believes The Gossip must be praised for flying in the face of popular preconceptions about image, weight, sexuality and success and is full of admiration for Ditto’s inhibited out spoken personality. But on the other hand her political convictions seem less convincing than her ability to play into the hands of the media – obviously behind Ditto’s friendship with Kate Moss is the intention to strengthen her feminist cause! Or maybe it’s the usual fawning over the other’s celebity.

Certainly the Gossip are talented and Ditto’s performances are entertaining but one has to ask whether a pop star should be noted more for their ability to bare flesh (and lots of it) whilst churning out clichéd politics or their ability to write a good pop song.

Her kind words towards Manchester continued to flow in the interview. The Gossip might aim to embody the very essence of punk but when it comes to festivals, Beth was keen to point out the single, major benefit of playing in a city compared to a field.

“When we arrived at Glastonbury there was mud everywhere. We really weren’t prepared for the mud at all,” she says, clearly never having talked to anybody about Glastonbury. “I think the Manchester International Festival will be a little easier and a little cleaner”

So a festival minus the mud suits the Gossip (very punk rock indeed) but how do this Arkansas-born, squirrel-eating threesome with their stomping, defiant, soul- powered indie feel about being billed alongside an opera about a monkey, the world’s best ballet dancer and, chef, Heston Blumenthal?

“I think it’s great. It makes me really excited. You can only have so many indie rock bands. Personally I get really sick of it when I’m constantly surrounded by that one aesthetic and I’m in one. It’s like how many people can you see with black hair and black veins on their face? I think it might be really inspiring and refreshing to see things that you haven’t seen before. I like that. I like to be challenged.”

And with this, for once, Ditto seems to be talking straight.

The Gossip play alongside The Horrors, the New Young Pony Club and The Whip at the Unknown Pleasures festival at Salford Quays on Sunday 15 July

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

daveJuly 10th 2007.

on the writing of this article, what a complete waste of time! easy cheap shots, maybe manchester and it's 'journalists' aren't a million miles away from the southern states of the good ol' us of a

steJuly 10th 2007.

Why should anyone whon makes music be anyones hero? Just listen to her when she sings, and not when she talks.

TomJuly 10th 2007.

What's the writer's problem? What did she expect, some professor or something. Course Ditto's thick, who cares, I want the music and the atitude, not a phd in sociology.

GillJuly 10th 2007.

Well, Tom, it's good if they cn string a sentence together, you know, it's nice if our heroes have a bit of substance too.

KarenJuly 10th 2007.

I thought I'd look on Man Con whilst having some brunch, the picture on the home page made me sick. Nice piece though, I'm going on the weekend, disappointing that she turned out such an idiot

CliveJuly 10th 2007.

What are you on about? What are writers supposed to do, just write pr blurb or lick the arses of so-called stars like Jonathan Ross does?

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