Songs for Vince
Heather Joan Day
Image by Laura Roscioli
I’ve always wanted to make a concept album.
I love listening to albums and I’m one of those irritating people who might tell you that when you ask why I have vinyl. I also own vinyl (including a ’77 copy of Star Wars: A New Hope (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) and Nancy Sinatra’s Greatest Hits).
I’ve played in bands and written and produced songs since I was 17. I’ve always wanted to do my own thing, but never felt that I was good enough.
In 2017 I came out as a trans woman and then a year later, I came out as a solo artist.
Before my transition I became obsessed with Nashville-born, Toronto-based 60s soul singer — and fellow mouthy trans woman of colour — Jackie Shane. She had songs in the charts at the same time as The Beatles. If you listen to her live recordings you’ll hear a woman who didn’t take shit from nobody — hilarious rants about her struggles with love, money, transphobia, racism; how all she wanted was to live a good life and get all the ‘chicken’ (both the food and young male lovers, as she described them). My favourite rants of hers are in the live versions of ‘Any Other Way’ and ‘Money (That’s All I Want)’ — alternatively titled ‘Any Other Way — on Spotify.
Jackie Shane convinced me that who I am and what I have to say might actually be worth making music about.
The concept I care about more than anything is my partner and fiancé, Vince Ruston. They have supported me through a lot and are the brightest, silliest, most caring and beautiful person I have ever known. We met in 2015 (when I hadn’t yet come out as trans) on a panel about writing about mental illness at the National Young Writers’ Festival in Newcastle. The third panelist dropped out so it was the two of us and a host.
I thought they were amazing, and I think they thought I was fine, at least enough to get a drink with me when I moved to Melbourne at the beginning of 2016.
Now we’re engaged and living together with two cats in Brunswick.
When I started writing the Songs for Vince EP I imagined five photographs of moments or scenes from our relationship and wrote down some song titles. I played and recorded everything through Garage Band with some vocal help from Vince (who is a billion times better at singing than I). You can find my EP and a couple of my other tunes by looking for ‘Heather Joan’ on Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify, and iTunes.
I really hope you like it and forgive me for being a schmaltzy and extraordinarily average singer.
Track #1 – ‘Shaved Head Aliens’
Savages/Joy Division vibes
The first ‘date’ Vince and I went on was at a pub in Carlton. They messaged me to warn me that they had anxiously shaved their head the night before and may look “scary”. I told them it was okay because I had done the exact same thing. On the date we were both wearing Docs, leather jackets, black t-shirts and black skinny jeans. Afterwards I texted to say that I was too cowardly to kiss them but definitely should have and invited them over to ‘meet my cat’… 😻
Track #2 – ‘Pumpkin Soup’ (feat. Vince Ruston)
Big anthemic 80s power pop or some shit
The first time I went to Vince’s place they made pumpkin soup and it exploded out of their blender, burning them across the face, arms, and chest. They kept acting like everything was fine, but I could hear them screaming into a towel every time they excused themselves to go to the bathroom. The soup was really good. Vince and I recorded these vocals together at home when we were drunk.
Track #3 – ‘I Love You, Stinky’ (feat. Vince Ruston)
Kind of like that noughties indie rock you blasted in your best friend’s car when you drove stoned around the suburbs on school nights…
This song is about the first time I said ‘I love you’ to Vince one morning when we were hungover AF. I was putting my face in their stinky armpits and they were laughing. I accidentally said ‘I love you, Stinky’ and you know what, I meant it.
Vince’s vocals on this blow me away.
Track #4 – ‘Cursed Boys Never Die’
I listened to Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m On Fire’ a couple of times on the day I wrote the music for this but I don’t know if that shows at all
Things haven’t been all peachy. There have been half a dozen (at least) cis boys who we’ve had to cut out of our lives over the last few years. A cursed boy is someone who was born rotten, grew up rotten and probably won’t ever change.
It feels like those men will always exist somewhere in my soul, sinking their slippery fingers into my head and heart from time to time.
Track #5 – ‘Marry Me Already’
Transsexual Gothic Grunge Pop
Vince and I have a really fucked up drunken fight every couple of months where one or both of us ends up admitting that we feel worthless and that the other would be better off without us. We’re trying to shorten the time between starting a fight and hugging/crying/saying ‘I love you’.
Lots of love,
Heather Joan Day is a mouthy trans woman of colour, multidisciplinary artist, writer, filmmaker, and practising witch living in Melbourne on Wurundjeri Land. Her poetry and short memoir has been published by God Is In The TV Zine, Sea Foam Mag, Ibis House, Scum Mag, and Plaything Magazine. As Heather Joan, she makes what she calls “transsexual gothic grunge pop” and her debut EP, titled Songs For Vince, is a collection of love songs written for/performed with her fiancé, Vince Ruston. She also co-created the web series, Everything’s Going To Be Fine, which is available on YouTube for free.
Heather will launch Songs for Vince on Thursday 10 January at LongPlay. You can listen to her EP for free here.