Student Profile: Ann Driscoll
Some people are triple threats; sixth-semester bassist Ann Driscoll is at least quadruple. She's the president of BUGLE (Berklee Union of Gays, Lesbians, and Everyone Else), receiving one of the college's inaugural GLBT scholarships last year. She writes for the Groove, the student online newspaper. She also blogs about horror movies and easily reeled off a list of her five favorite sitting United States senators.
Even within the music realm, she can't keep still: This professional music major is studying music education and playing both solo and with bands, most notably the rock quintet Mrs. Danvers, named after the sinister maid in Hitchcock's film Rebecca. We caught up with Driscoll to learn how she does it all.
What activities does BUGLE offer these days?
We went to Six Flags as a group for their Out in the Park day. Last year we protested the passing of Prop 8 at City Hall and sponsored a reception for Melissa Ferrick. I also thought it was very important to have T-shirts for the club. Myra Hindus with the Office of Cultural Diversity helped with that. It's very exciting to walk around campus with a T-shirt saying "Berklee Pride."
We have a Queerstock caf show. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking, "I'm a musician and I'm a queer person." That's certainly something I've struggled with. The idea is to kind of combine the two identities.
Have you encountered prejudice in the music world so far?
If you look at up-and-coming artists like Brandi Carlisle, she does not make her lesbianism a focal point of her career. You won't find her on the cover of the Advocate. So there's still a pressure there.
But the reality is there are so many opportunities for out musicians in the music industry. It's a niche market. It's so much easier to find performance opportunities, to find press opportunities. It's really supportive.
With Mrs. Danvers, it's an explicit part of our marketing: we're an out, queer-identified, all-female rock band. Our music is very outspoken. We use female pronouns. The idea is we're not going to censor ourselves. And we've done very well. We were a featured band at the Boston Dyke March and we were selected for a workshop with Meshell Ndegeocello. She told me, "You have something to say and you know how to say it."
You're a journalist—did you immediately write that down?
I did! I was looking for a nugget the whole workshop.
In fact, your muckraking during the 2005 congressional election got you into Crashing the Gate, a book about the power of political blogs.
I believe page 161. I was on the ground in the second district. A lot of people blamed Ohio, especially southwestern Ohio, for losing the election in 2004. People all across the country were reading the blogs, including my blog. I was a 17-year-old high school student, it was the summer, and I didn't have anything to do but cover this election, and it was fascinating. And no one knew I was 17! It's still an option for me.
You went to journalism school for a year. Why did you switch paths?
I realized I'd rather study music, and Berklee is the greatest place for contemporary music in the world. Immediately I started going to the songwriting club and trying to get my music out there, doing as many gigs as possible. I've really tried to develop my solo thing. I haven't had much luck with the songwriting competitions here at all; I have, I think, a very caustic style. But I have had good luck with Storytellers. I played my song "I Wanna Be Your Zombie" for my audition. I had fake blood smeared on my face. I think they appreciated my quirky, alt-punk sensibility.
You have kept your hand in journalism, though, through your work on the Groove.
The goal is to build community. We want to make this a legitimate paper. It should be that way. I'm very proud of the articles I write. Going online is the first step, because that's how you get the word out there. The Groove's awesome. I'm so lucky to work there.
With all your activities, what's your plan for life after graduation?
I play bass in the band Black Kettle, which recently got a publishing deal. I'm shooting a music video for my song "I Wanna Be Your Zombie." Mrs. Danvers is taking a spring break tour of L.A. My goal is to keep all these things up in the air. Put my eggs in multiple baskets! With the music education stuff I could get certified by the end of this year, because I know when I graduate, it's going to be hard.
I hope one of my bands takes off, but I still have contacts with Ohio politicians. I'm trying to forge some really good connections with these GLBT organizations. With my writing experience and skills as an activist and leader, I think I would fit in well with one of them.
Top Five Albums
- Beatles, The White Album
- Nirvana, Nevermind
- Fiona Apple, When the Pawn. . .
- Stevie Wonder, InnerVisions
- Elliott Smith, XO