Before I was a writer, I was a musician. Like many bored kids in the 70’s and early 80’s, I was inspired by punk and I played lead and bass guitar in various bands in North West London. My first gig was in 1982 or ’83 while I was still at school, in a band called The Light. We used to rehearse in a friend’s unsoundproofed garage and I still feel for the neighbours who had to put up with us. We played one gig, at the Royal British Legion Club in Eastcote, Middlesex, where we had to leave in a hurry due to some of the audience being riled by our chaotic, noisy set. In 1984 I formed what began as a punk band but ended up as a pop/rock and roll outfit, briefly with my brother (later of Voice of Europe) but jointly with my sister, Yvette (drums, later of A Strange Desire). After recording two demo tapes (one of which was included on the cassette compilation ‘More Tales of Kings and Fools’, with London punk/rock bands Christie and The Wickermen), a handful of gigs (supporting Malice, The Lost Cherees and Brigandage) and various line-ups under the name The Joy of Living (although our first gig, at the now demolished Green Man pub in Stratford, East London, supporting The Assassins of Hope, was under the name The Last Few Days), we split up. Yvette and I almost formed a band with Tim, guitarist/singer from The Wickermen, who had also just split up, but after a day spent rehearsing and recording, it came to nothing. Then Andy Martin from punk/experimental band The Apostles (who I’d been friends with for some time) asked if the remnants of the band (myself, Yvette and singer Sharon Cooper) would work with himself and Dave Fanning on a song called ‘The Wasteland’. We played that song and several JoL songs, over at their house in Hackney. Andy knew Colin Jerwood from Conflict and he offered to release the sessions on one of his record labels. The result, a four track 7” e.p. (‘The Wasteland’, ‘The Joy of Living’, ‘Regime of Kindness’ and ‘A Walk With Love And Death’, although we recorded a fifth song, ‘Dying For A Fag’) called ‘Death To Wacky Pop’, was released in 1986 on Fight Back records, with an A3 wraparound green and white poster cover, and later on CD (‘A Compilation of Deleted Dialogue’, Mortarhate Records) and on The Apostles’ Bandcamp site. We had no idea how it was received at the time but in recent years I’ve seen several mentions of it on punk websites where it’s been described as anarcho/acoustic and folk/punk. Now and again it gets sold on Ebay and Discogs, sometimes for high prices, but is available on YouTube.
After this project I formed New Gold Dream with Ginger Baker’s guitarist daughter Leda. It was short-lived but we recorded a couple of rough instrumentals, one of which (‘Hope’) was broadcast by The Dark Outside in March 2020. Zillah Minx from dayglo anarcho punks Rubella Ballet, who I’d interviewed for a fanzine, invited me and Leda to join her band, which we did, albeit briefly. It was then I began writing fiction and my life as a musician ended.
Writing, of course, is an overwhelmingly solitary calling, but music continues to be a fundamental part of my life – I’ve maintained close links with musicians/performers, co-founding the Queeruption Festival in London in 1998, which consisted of a mixture of Queercore gigs, talks and workshops; a free alternative to the official Pride event which a lot of gay people didn’t connect with. Shortly before moving to Cornwall in 2002 I had a story (‘Perpetual Motion’) read by writer/actress Katy Darby at an evening of ‘transgenre’ fiction, featuring Joelle Taylor, which took place at the Poetry Society Café in Central London and I organised a benefit gig for feminist legal group Justice For Women with Gertrude and The Suffrajets.
Over the last few years I’d felt a strong pull towards creating a new fanzine, something I hadn’t done since the mid-1980s, but I had no real focus for it until September 2018 when a friend, Cat Astley, proposed forming a gay events company and Dead Unicorn Ventures was born. It was a natural step for us to create a fanzine and Dykes Ink was the result. My most recent collaboration has taken place over the last eighteen months or so and resulted in Contagious Magick of the Super Abundance: The Art and Life of Ian Johnstone. Created by Ian’s partner Mikel Quiros and Timeless Books, I had many discussions with Mikel regarding the content and provided the introduction, a short story and some text for the book, with an additional story for the very limited, boxed Bee Keeper Edition.
Julie Travis, West Penwith, Summer 2020
All images and text ©Julie Travis unless otherwise stated.