Interview with Yvonne Ducksworth (TREEDEON) / DEPICTED MAGAZINE Nov 2023 | Thomas Huntke Fotografie
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Interview with Yvonne Ducksworth (TREEDEON) / DEPICTED MAGAZINE Nov 2023

I was very curious about meeting Yvonne. The first time I saw her was at a JINGO DE LUNCH gig in 1992, when I was still a teenager. Apart from being a singer in this band that became quite successful in the 90ies, she also co-hosted the tv-show „Metalla“ on the music television station Viva. Today she is a singer and bassplayer in TREEDEON, a sludge/doom band from Berlin who have just released their third album „New World Hoarder“.

 

 

What do you want to talk about?

I do have one thing that I do want to get right out there. Something that obviously has to be said. Everybody should wake up and start doing their part, no matter how small, to try to make a better climate footprint. This is one of the reasons I don’t ride my motorcycle all over the place these days. I don’t get up and ride to work and ride back because it’s just two or three streets away. I always have this inner conflict now. Nobody can do everything, but everybody should just wake up to the fact that we have to think of something to do. However small, get on with it and do something. If one has any respect for the animals or the children – we see it before our eyes, war is enough, but climate change is killing people. It’s going to take thirty years for anything to change if we stop now. 

We already had so much time, we knew it since the 80s and nothing happened. That’s forty years by now.

I don’t want to be pessimistic about it, you know. Just trying to be as optimistic as possible. But it’s hard. I’m optimistic for the next generation that they are riling things up and get things going. 

 

Yvonne Duckworth

 

If you see what is going on, like the Fridays for Future movement, it’s amazing. All these young people ditching school and going to the demonstrations.

They have a point. The best school is experience. If you are worried about what you will be doing in fifty years, then one day of a week it does not matter. But all the disinformation and all the hatred is just grinding my happiness down. 

You see it in the microcosm of the Görlitzer Park here. There is so much that could be done. So many people are scared of these kids that have to sit here and sell marihuana. It’s not like that was what they figured what they wanted to do, that was never the plan. You can ask all these kids. This is the politics that just doesn’t want to address the situation. You can’t put a band aid over something that is bleeding from the side. You need to think about deep rooted remedies. I know a couple of guys here, they are just normal people. They have no choice. Of course there is going to be fights here, it’s just the nature of the job. But the constant surveillance for this microcosm is pretty exaggerated. Before Covid there were a lot of dealers here who were a little bit more aggressive because they needed to sell their stuff, because there were lots more tourists here. If the tourists won’t be coming here to get this, then they would’t have market here. If it was legal, then there wouldn’t be a market here. 

So you think the solution is legalisation?

I am absolutely not a pot smoker. It gets on my nerves. I open my window and I’m trying to chill and play some Playstation and my room is apparently in the middle of all the pot smokers. My whole room smells like this.

 

Yvonne Duckworth

 

Solutions have to be done. You can’t just keep on remedying and running around. I watch this from my flat, the cat and mouse game that is played here. And it hasn’t been working for years. Now we have a problem with people who have had it with this society and obviously are sick. I go out every night here and it’s just become progressively worse and worse. Since Covid there is no place for people to go. All the fixer points were closed for a while. How are you supposed to do a lockdown when you have no place to go, if you live under a bridge. There are so many sitting on the doorsteps here and they are just cooking what they need and injecting it right there at twelve o’clock at night in front of peoples houses. Or in our backyard where the kids are hanging out.

 

Yvonne Duckworth

 

The way to do it is to go into politics and be active and change things. Unfortunately I’m not a German and I can’t vote in the next election. But you can! You can vote for the double citizenship for instance. So vote in my best interest, so that I can, too, change things. Or in the interest of kids who are sixteen who are thinking right now about their future. Why should they not have some type a say in their future. I know it’s kind of scary putting your life and politics in the hand of sixteen year olds, but it’s on the ballot. I do think that they have something to say about that. Actually I voted in the last presidential election. Let it be known: I voted Trump out. 

Congratulations.

[makes a celebrating sound] But it’s very important that you are involved in your local politics. Because that shapes who goes onto the big boys there who are just flapping around with lobbyists and making our lives difficult. So we have to start small and move on to bigger problems. 

 

Yvonne Duckworth

 

Ok, now I got that out of the way! [laughs] Now we can talk about TREEDEON.
Alright. When it was the end of Jingo De Lunch, you started with TREEDEON and it’s a very different kind of music. And also your singing style is very different.
Oh really, you think so?
Yes, there is more screaming, while in Jingo there was more singing.
Yeah, I guess there was some more melodic parts. Though there are a couple of songs where I sing a clean voice in TREEDEON. But yes, I guess that’s more my hardcore side. It made a difference for me playing bass.
Was it a conscious decision to do something different or did it just come with the people you met?
It’s interesting because I tried to leave music when I went to America. I wasn’t in a band for ten years. But it’s like I can’t – my entire life was always based with music so there was not a choice. It’s a mental health thing. Jingo De Lunch was always a mental health act for me. I had no voice – and then all of a sudden I had a voice. I had agency and I tried to use that. It’s always good to have a voice and say something for the people who don’t have a voice.
For TREEDEON, the few songs that I have sung now, the lyrics are political in nature because I am  inherently political. I can’t get out of it. And as far as the mental health and the politics: it goes hand in hand. When we finished up Jingo I hadn’t really anything planned. It was just the circumstances and how I am that it just had to happen. Then when I met Arne Heesch we decided to do this acoustic thing together. Actually we had talked before when he was in Ulme and I was in Jingo that we should do a song together and he had something in mind and we left it at that. And then both bands broke up at the same time and then we were talking about doing the song. Then our label boss from Exile On Mainstream came up to us at a show where we were hanging out and asked Arne to do an acoustic show at South Of Mainstream. But Arne was just not into it. I basically kicked him and I said „He’ll do it!“ and Arne was like „wtf“. Later he said that now since he had to do this I had to do this with him. So we were kind of locked into this together. I don’t know if you believe in horoscopes, but two Taurus’s together can be really comfortable. So if one is aiding the other on something gets actually done finally. [laughs]
We did two shows and then we found a drummer and it got really loud really quick. It’s a lot different than Jingo. Some people get settled when they get older. Maybe it’s a cliche, but I just feel I have more to say than ever.

 

Yvonne Duckworth

 

I don’t have the impression that Treedeon is more settled than Jingo, it’s even more extreme.

It’s now even mad either. Some people say „you guys are really mad“, it’s not, it’s passion. Why get softer? Some people have asked me to, to write a pop song, but I said no. No! How is that going to help my mental health? To just gloss everything over. With all the experience and all the knowledge that one hopefully subscribes to by the time you are fucking fifty, hopefully there is reason why you learned that, you were aware of things. You stood there on a street corner yelling in a demo and hopefully something came out of that. You have to have agency. You can’t just go to sleep and gloss things over. Always be safe and nothing should change – but things are changing! Things are radically changing. Things could get really bad. Socially, for people. When the environment gets more difficult and the wars continue then we will have to manage these situations.

I think in terms of climate we will see much more drastic changes soon. So no-one can really look away and say they didn’t know.

This is actually the driver to see some solid type of change. If you are in a democracy people have to be informed and educated in order to make the right choices and not falling for simple solutions for complex problems. I have a friend who said „No! Don’t vote! You are letting them win!“. And I’m like „What??“.

I come from a certain side of black America where black women made a whole lot of sacrifices to make sure that women could vote. Now it’s there but the right of vote is always under attack as we see now in Texas and different parts of America. They are taking away the right and the ease away from voting. You can’t vote by mail anymore, you can’t drop off your ballot. People are working, they don’t have time to come in between two and four pm. Not possible. But it’s very convenient for the people who want to profit and the lobbyists.

 

Yvonne Duckworth

 

It bothers me because my family and my friends are in America, so I always keep myself informed about what’s going on. And it works its way to the other side of the pond where we are now. We saw four years of gaslighting and all of us were stressed out over that, from the Trump era.

I was, too.

We were ALL fucking stressed out about that. So obviously what happens on one side of the world is not confined to that side of the world anymore.

I think the situation is worsening all around the globe. If you look at Russia, Turkey, Brazil…

Hong Kong

Yes, and Hong Kong. It seems like we are in a time where are going backwards. And I think that’s sad because one could think that people get more educated. Now we have the internet and everybody can do their research. Why do these kind of people still win?

Simple solutions to complex problems. It’s just so much easier to have a dictator say what people should do. It’s all about control. If you think about Hong Kong, kids can’t play video-games anymore for longer than three hours. What’s that all about?

And they block parts of the internet.

They are blocking that information. And they are sending out crappy information that is simple solutions to complex problems. The world is not black and white. People so desperately want to have simple solutions in all the chaos. It’s difficult. And things that are difficult are exasperating and very hard to change. On the other hand small steps are so rewarding. So we still have to keep thriving for those small steps, no matter how hard. Just as I said: Everybody just has to commit to one little change. It doesn’t matter how much of a timeframe it is. One change a week, one change a month, one change a quarter, one change a year – just fucking commit to something! Get some goddamn balls!

 

Yvonne Duckworth

 

You should really become a politician.

I want to become a politician! That’s the lawyer genes in me.

You have lawyer genes?

I don’t know! But I always had to advocate for myself and for the people around me. One of the things that sort of drew me there was my stepfather. He used to bring me to the dew drop-in, which was in Hamilton, Canada. It was a half way house for drug addicts, alcoholics and homeless people. He went there every day and worked there with those people. So I was exposed as a young girl to all these people. I don’t know if this is something you should do, bringing your six year old girl into this kind of atmosphere. But that’s where I saw that I was privileged enough to go to school and have a house, and that other people are broken and we have to advocate for them. And not always do it away like they were criminals. There is always a reason. That might be one of the reasons why I am always looking around and going „we can do better“. I just need a Germany citizenship. But what I do is I sing in a band.

Another thing I want to talk is about is riding a motorbike. When I was growing up I didn’t really have an outlet. Now it’s different, but back then I wasn’t supposed to have a motorbike, because that’s what guys do. And many other things. I was so pissed off when I came home and they had put pink fluff on my bed and shit. That’s not me, don’t put me there. You can still be feminine and have agency. This whole construct that had been put there in my generation on how you should be, hopefully it is falling away. I had the privilege of playing roller-derby, which was amazing. But is was almost shut down here in Kreuzberg from the senate because they said women shouldn’t be rolling around and shoving and pushing each other because it’s not a ladylike thing to do. That is what went on here in Berlin just a few years ago! When Bear City Roller Derby was forming, they had to fight to get that hall and become what they are now.

 

Yvonne Duckworth

 

Or take the Petrolettes. It’s an all-women motorcycle festival that is held in Berlin. They are also giving this outlet for women. When you go to a motorcycle festival and 250 women are there with their motorcycles, from all parts of society and age groups – supporting each other. Not standing there and comparing their motorbikes like you get at certain other motorcycle festivals.

One asked me if I don’t like men, I do like men on motorcycles or other functions, but it’s not the same because we are not treated equal. So if you want a supportive microcosm you can finally have this. The first time I went to the Petrolettes I literally almost cried because I had been a lone rider for so long. It was hard to encourage women in my environment to go riding. And now I can go to a festival and there are some odd women there who can show you how to pick up a bike or how to fix a bike or create a custom bike. We have women here from Iran who taught themselves how to ride against incredible odds. And these seminars I was able to attend – I am just like a kid in the candy shop!

I’m the kind of person who will watch two hours of motorbike videos on YouTube. That comes from growing up in Canada and sitting in a tree and watching the kids across the street. Every year they got a bigger motorbike and riding up and down the street with their motorbikes. I never had that. For me it was like a link to happiness. These kids were always happy. So I always had this idea of motorcycling. And I am so glad that Petrolettes and the women from The Curves, which is the motorcycle group who started that, had the agency and the means to do that.

I have heard that next year there could be almost a thousand women there. That’s amazing. Though Covid there has been a lot of internet work and all over the world there have been Petrolettes ride-outs and they post photos and videos on the Petrolettes platforms. So I am very excited about it.

 

Yvonne Duckworth

 

(C) DEPICTED Magazine July 2023

The interview was recorded in September 2021.

 

 

 

DEPICTED ISSUE #1 is available as an eBook in my shop:

 

 

 

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