Who says Bono has the corner on Music’s Philanthropic market? Bono does, of course, but who else? Not Your Girl In Music. One thing that has always been true is that when , musicians are often front and center, rolling up their sleeves and pitching in to support causes near and dear. The recent push by 45’s administration to defund Planned Parenthood is proving no exception.
Mary J. Blige, Bjork, Foo Fighters, John Legend, Common, Bon Iver, Sleater-Kinney, St. Vincent, Chvrches, Feist, Laurie Anderson, Estelle, Elliott Smith and members of The National are among a stacked group of artists donating mostly unreleased music for Seven Inches For Planned Parenthood, a new box set of 7″ singles to benefit the reproductive health care organization.
The idea for the Seven Inches originated with The National’s Matt Berninger and the band’s manager Brandon Reid in the immediate aftermath of the fraught U.S. presidential elections.
“The day after the election was very hazy,” Reid told Billboard. “We were throwing ideas back and forth and started to think about immediate things [Trump] was going to attack and it was frightfully clear Planned Parenthood was on the top of that list. Many of us in music business are transient, don’t have health insurance and rely on Planned Parenthood so we got the idea off the ground.”
The duo reached out to their network of creatives and industry contacts including two pivotal new Brandons: Stosuy, director of the lauded Creative Independent Kickstarter series (+ ex-Pitchfork editorial director) who helped curate the set; and Minow who organizes and produces events for Planned Parenthood. For those keeping score, that’s a total of 3 Brandon’s, and 1 Matt.
Berenger specifically nixed the initiative’s aesthetic being “too indie rock,” in favor of something similar to his Creative Independent project which features a wide-ranging palate of musicians, artists, writers, poets and comedians often discussing the essence of inspiration. Here, each artist would have equal sway in the project.
“The first person I asked was Bjork,” Stosuy recalled. “Once she said yes it gave us a little more legitimacy with other people. Then we could be like, ‘So we have Bjork, Sarah Silverman and Zach Galifianakis,‘ those were the first three we had. And from there people realized we were serious in trying to do something and it became easier to curate.”
When the National played a Women’s Protest/Inauguration Day show at the legendary 9:30 Club with 16 reproductive rights groups, Reid added a number of new key contacts from other artists on the bill as well as the . He also reached out to Sleater-Kinney’s Carrie Brownstein, whom he had worked with on an episode of Portlandia, and a friend whose mother-in-law was author Margaret Atwood. “Every day I would get an email or call from someone like Elliot Smith’s estate,” Reid recalls. “The support right out of the gate was amazing.”
Many artists, like Chvrches and Sleater-Kinney contributed new songs for the project while others like Björk, and Bon Iver provided rare versions of previously released songs or previously released rarities that most fans haven’t heard. Meanwhile the comedy on Seven Inches is almost exclusively archival culled from the Largo’s live sets recorded at Largo that few if any have heard and the visual art was created specifically for the project.
When asked, Stosuy likens the project to “making a giant mixtape” and his favorite aspect was the pairings. He cited a spoken word piece from women’s health provider Dr. Willie Parker that goes into a Sharon Van Etten track, and a Margaret Atwood poem about Blackberrys that is the b-side to a Bjork song and goes into music by composer Nico Muhly. That particular seven inch also has cover art by James Merry, who designs Bjork’s masks, entitled “Undifferentiated Gonads.” “That one feels very complete,” he said. Both Brandon’s say the creative army of contributors are open to live shows and other future cause-collabs. They also hint at still-unannounced A-List participants in the 7 Inches project, which
When Reid looks back at what was accomplished in such a brief interval he’s incredulous. “Holy shit, we started a record a company in five months.”
Complete List of Performers:
Aparna Nancherla, Björk, Bon Iver, Bryce Dessner, Chvrches (with film clip directed by Kristen Stewart), Common, Dr. Willie Parker, Dream Hampton, Elliott Smith, Estelle, Feist, Foo Fighters, Heather McGhee, Helado Negro, Janeane Garofalo, Jenny Slate, John Legend, Jon Brion, Laurie Anderson, Margaret Atwood, Margaret Cho, Mary J. Blige, Mary Lattimore, Matt Berninger, Meg Baird, Mitski, Nico Muhly, Pete Holmes, Sarah Silverman, Sharon Van Etten, Sleater-Kinney, St. Vincent, Tig Notaro and Zach Galifianakis.
Angela Pilgrim, Azar Kazimir, Domonique Echeverria, Hisham Akira Bharoocha, Jacqui Oakley, James Merry, Mark Fox, Megan Tatem, Molly Schiot, Penelope Gazin, Rashid Johnson, Shepard Fairey, William Villalongo