Interview: Falling for Heidi Barton Stink
Crossposted with permission from Ofelia Del Corazon.
Find the original version on Mommy Fiercest: Sex, Art & Culture For The Headonist In All of Us.
I fell in love with Heidi Barton Stink the very first time I heard her EP “The Familiar Pattern”. Heidi’s rhythms are clever and original, her flow is flawless and her raps are relevant with themes ranging from breaking free from shame, addiction, social justice and love.
Like many queers, I’ve had a complicated and tumultuous relationship with hip hop music. Growing up hip hop held a very important place in my life and functioned as part of the sound track of my childhood: it was turntables, beat boxing and teenage boys break dancing on cardboard.
It was also where I got some of my very first lessons about sex and the gender roles of women and men. For a few years after I discovered feminism I didn’t think I could have a loving relationship with hip hop ever again, it wasn’t until I discovered “positive hip hop” that I realized our relationship didn’t have to end, it was just going to change. And boy, I sure am glad.
While Too $hort may be one of my guiltiest pleasures, most days I’d much rather listen to Heidi Barton Stink. Heidi was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions for me.
Mommy Fiercest (MF): It takes a special kind of person to name themselves “Stink.” Personally I find it totally endearing and dirty. Can you explain a little bit about how to you chose this name for yourself?
HBS: I started going by Barton Stink as a temporary moniker when I first started doing solo shows, then I got sick of being called a guy’s name so I threw my name (Heidi) in front.
The original idea was to do a concept album that shared the same themes as the (Minnesota natives) Coen brothers movie Barton Fink, which are writers block and the creative process. After a while i decided thats not the kind of songs I wanted to write and started writing these queer ones… dirty stinky queer ones
MF: Did you grow up listening to hiphop? When did you start rapping?
HBS: I grew up listening to lots of different kinds of music, I know my first cassette tape that got as a kid was MC Hammer. A lot of music I listened to as a pre-teen was hip hop influenced, like Beck and Soul Coughing. Then when I got into high school I started listening to hip hop almost exclusively and started writing raps. I wasn’t very good for many years though
MF: Do you perform much outside of queer scenes? Is the audience mostly straight? I read that you perform in a lot of punk venues. I haven’t been to a punk show, what’s that like?
HBS: Within the last year I’ve been doing mostly queer events and shows. I like rapping for straight people though. I usually blow them away, like they think I’m going to suck because I’m queer then it turns out I’m better live than most of the straight rappers they’ve seen.
MF: Do you do much freestyle? I’ve never even had the pleasure of being around a bunch of queer MC’s at one time. Do you all battle one another? It’s hard to imagine without all the cutting personal quips.
HBS: I freestyle for fun, I don’t really battle. Most of the rappers I’m around are straight, so I rarely have the pleasure of being around a bunch of queer MC’s either.
MF: How did you come to the decision to make your first album free? Does this have to do with personal politics with regard to ownership or are you just trying to get your tracks out there?
HBS: You know I don’t think music can really belong to anyone, especially nowadays when everything is streaming for free somewhere. At the same time I would hope people will pay for music to help support independent artists. I will have to charge for my full length when it comes out.
I don’t have a release date yet but my album is called “… and other bodily weapons”
MF: Who produces your music? It’s beautiful! Are you working with the same producer on your second album?
HBS: I’ve worked with a number of people, the beat to my song Love Who was made by myself and a guy named Weekly. He played guitar and bass over the Nico sample then I noodled with it until it sounded right. Recently I’ve been doing some stuff with an artist named Entropist Monk. But a producer named See More Perspective is doing all the production on “… and other bodily weapons” . See More Perspective is also one of my favorite rappers. He’s a straight MC, but he’s a great ally and he makes positive hip hop that basically rocks my face-off. Everyone should check him out!
MF: Can you tell us about “Mouth Breathe Ad Nauseum”, the lovely little digital mixtape you have up online?
HBS: Mouth Breathe Ad Nauseum is my ongoing online mixtape project. In hiphop, a mixtape is a promotional release that often futures collaborations, copy write infringements and other non-studio cuts. My mixtape tracks are always free. I have been slacking off on adding to it lately because I’ve been working on my album, but expect more free music soon!
MF: Do you have any tours planned in the future? Where can folks go see you?
HBS: I’m basically always have some shows planned around the midwest, and for right now I will go anywhere where I can break even. So holler at me and bring me to your city firstname.lastname@example.org ! My show calendars can bee seen on heidistink.com & http://www.facebook.com/bartonstink
Heidi is an incredible and immensely talented musician and I look forward to watching her career evolve. Download her EP, The Familiar Pattern, here and her online digital mixtape, “Mouth Breathe Ad Nauseum” here.
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