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#5 WHERE I BELONG

Primrose Path
Primrose Path

I think I have to count Lindsay Rose as one of my most complex subjects. I came to meet the rock star, frontwoman with local prog metallers, Primrose Path, and what I got was the woman entire. Think of her as a subject sitting for a portrait. One moment she’s posing like a pro, every bit of her the preening star, enigmatic, unattainable, desirable. Next, she’s pacing the floor worrying about thirteen different things, including her own mortality. And in between all that she’s telling me things I can never publish but that are the essence of her story.

Are we still so afraid of giving more to those who are routinely treated as less? There remains so much levelling out to do and those in power need to do a much better job of giving a leg up to those they’ve trodden down for so long.

As a woman in an industry that remains obstinately male dominated, Rose is already pushing boulders uphill in a serious way. This is compounded by her fronting an original band in a city where you have to be Coldplay before the government will invest any money in your art and by, let’s not put too fine a point on it, a certain type of male who, on stage or off, feels a sense of superiority and ownership when it comes to their female counterparts. Yes, sexism, is still alive and well in the music biz. Rampant even. It’s what finally brought Rose and I together. There are still some people who don’t talk to me after the article I published in January this year. I saw some of those good ole boys at the Rosemount the other weekend and they just looked at me across their pints but did nothing to make me feel welcome or acknowledge my presence. No loss as far as I’m concerned. My gain was to meet Rose and to get to see the intricacies of her existence.

“I didn’t realise,” Rose told me, not long after we’d sat down for a cuppa at a Beaufort Street café, “that people in the audience could be looking at me that way. I have a difficult enough time getting on stage as it is, but I’d never thought about that.”

I felt wrong footed and apologetic and, for a moment, like I should have just listened to the people, mostly males, who’d told me not to say anything.

“But I’m glad I know,” Rose continued, “It’s obvious when you think about it, but it had just never occurred to me that there might be people in our audience looking at me that way. It’s fucking creepy.”

Yes, it is.

Then there’s the relevance factor. Maybe Voyager’s recent blitzing of Eurovision will change things, but who’d want to be a woman fronting a prog metal band in Perth? What you get for your efforts are rejection letters from the government when you apply for funding to support your art because they doubt your artistic and cultural significance. You also get rejections from festival programmers who tell you that having a woman in the band is of no consequence to them. In my experience, prejudice is usually subtle, insidious, often unconscious, but this is blatant. Are we still so afraid of giving more to those who are routinely treated as less? There remains so much levelling out to do and those in power need to do a much better job of giving a leg up to those they’ve trodden down for so long.

Who’d want to be a woman fronting a prog metal band in Perth? Turns out, in spite of all of that, Lindsay Rose would. And here’s the twist in the tail. No matter how many boulders or how steep the mountain. you’re never going to stop Rose from pursuing her dream.

“I love my day job,” Rose said, “I studied long and worked hard to get to where I am and I know what I do makes a difference, but my absolute heart is with making and playing music. Getting on stage is such a difficult task for me, it pushes all my buttons, my anxiety, my asthma, everything, but once I’m up there, there’s nothing like it. It’s where I belong.”

How many of us know where we belong? That’s a rare privilege that few experience. It often is the bailiwick of the artist, in this case musician, and it gives meaning and purpose to lives that a billion powerbrokers and gatekeepers could never extinguish. It also has the artist constantly swimming against the tide as they seek balance and sustainability. Some go all out, others measure their steps. Listening to Rose, it’s my estimate that she’s aiming for the former while practicing the latter.

“It’s hard when you get feedback like that,” Rose said, still on the subject of her recently received rejection letter, “but we’ll just find the money ourselves. It won’t be easy, but I’m not going to let that stop us.”

The path to rock and roll success is littered with the husks of those who never made it. They form the mountain that the few stand atop. But you only fail if you let the enormity of the task daunt you and drive you back. By that measure, Rose is already immeasurably successful.

Primrose Path are about to release new music and take the stage again after a bit of a hiatus. There have been line-up changes and, if you read between the lines of Rose’s social media, so much going on within the band and for her personally that you have to wonder how she’s pulled it all together. If you take a moment to talk to her, you’ll find out.

“I keep a separation between my on-stage persona and some of the things and people in my life,” Rose said, “I have to otherwise in some contexts it could literally put me in danger. It’s happened to me before.”

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