STYLE ICON: AZITA YOUSSEFI
I have always liked Azita Youssefi. She has always been mysterious and sexy.
Of course she's probably best-known (maybe not anymore though) for starting the Scissor Girls, Chicago's No-Wave heroines of the 1990s. They were definitely not part of the riot grrrl thing. I don't know why or how, but this distinction was clear, I think, from the get-go. Even still Thurston gave their 10" (S-T-A-T-I-C-L-A-N-D) a big shout-out and rightly so. The Scissor Girls were punk, I guess. But they also had this whole science fiction mythology. And really zany outfits. There was the sense of sort of brooding evil and magick, dark sinister technology, along with, like whimsy. Genuine Fun. When Erase Errata got really big in 2000 I thought a lot about the Scissor Girls, too. Girl No-Wavers. The Scissor Girls had their own looks and moods and were very glamorous and talked a lot about vampires and skeletons and Azita was kind of the Diana Ross of the group.
Then after SG broke up, she founded Bride of NoNo. I wish I had better photos of them-- it was another all-girl no-wave band, but they wore these kind of stylized white burkas onstage. It was to take the attention off of their individual identities, but of course Azita's playing and singing is recognizable and she is great and super smart. Bride of NoNo's first record, the amazing BONN Appetit is really dance-y, I like it a lot. Their second album, titled II is really good too, but more piano-based.
After Bride of No No split up, Azita started releasing solo records. Enantiodromia and Life on the Fly are both really beautiful piano pop records. Her sense of phrasing and singing is super weird. It gets compared a lot to Steely Dan but I think it's different. It's sort of poppy, and sort of loopy. She's really smart, has her whole art / music theory edge but of course also put in her time as an anarchic punk rocker. She just released her newest record, How Will You? on Drag City and you should get it. She's playing in NYC on May 18th at the Mercury Lounge and I really want to go.
Here's a really cute video of her playing a Neil Young song. I'm not really into Neil Young but I do like Azita a lot so this is fun for me: