Profiles in Straight Edge: Lysie – 21 France, Strasbourg

Tell us about you? What do you do for a living? Do you have any pets, hobbies, pet projects? 

I’m a flutist, a music teacher and I’m completing my degree. I also play the bass in a black metal band, Deception, and I make experimental ambient music under the name Kobalt. I’m very interested in graphic design and frogs. I don’t have any pets, but as soon as I’m financially stable I want to adopt a dog.

You’re 21!  There’s a 19-year difference between us!  What kind of experiences have you had (if any) with older people in the scene? Have you found them welcoming?

Overall I’m very grateful to have found a bunch of welcoming, older people who also encouraged me to come to shows, to hang out with them, etc…Even with the age difference I feel we’re somehow connected, and they’re always respectful of my experiences, they always listen to me when I respond to someone…We’re not as close as I am with my younger straight edge comrades but there’s definitely kindness towards me and yeah, I’m grateful for that. Plus they always tell us fascinating stories about the scene when they were younger. I feel like they’re happy that younger people are as passionate as they are about hardcore.

Do people outside the scene question your decisions or give you a hard
time because of your age?

Some people outside and inside the scene have made comments about my commitment. One thing I’ve heard several times is “you’re only doing this/becoming that because your boyfriend’s into hardcore and you’re young and easily influenced” and it always makes me sick. I mean, how can you belittle and underestimate someone like that? Assuming that a woman starts listening to any kind of music “only because her boyfriend told her so” is misogyny and that’s all there is to it. And even if I got into any genre of music, or subculture, partly because a man (boyfriend or not) showed me bands and brought me to shows, what’s wrong with that? Isn’t it normal and healthy to take interest in your boyfriend/girlfriend’s musical tastes? Especially if they’re passionate about it? If I really were so easily influenced, I would have broken edge as soon as my straight edge boyfriend and I broke up. Of course, I’m talking about my own experience, but almost all the women I know have had similar remarks and comments and it just drives us mad.

What’s the link to your band?

So I have a dark ambient/experimental project called Kobalt, which you can listen to right here: https://kobaltambient.bandcamp.com/album/mes-nuits-grises I also play the bass for a black metal project called Déception : https://deceptiondsbm.bandcamp.com/

Favorite straight edge (or non-straight edge) bands?

It’s hard to choose, but my favorite straight edge bands are probably Verse, In My Eyes, Judge, Ecostrike, Have Heart, Gather, Bane, and many others. I’m also a black metal fan and I listen to oi! as well. My other (non-straight edge) favorite bands include Obsequiae, Blut Aus Nord, Bolchoi, Haine Brigade, Midnighight Odyssey, Fluisteraars and Eïs.

What is your definition of straight edge?

For me, straight edge is both a personal and a political choice. It means I put my own well-being above all sorts of cheap and temporary entertainment, and that I try to avoid being dependant on anything. It also includes a political vision in the sense that drugs and alcohol have always been used against the proletariat as a whole. Refusing drugs and alcohol means trying to regain clarity in a capitalistic system which, as well as stealing your body and your workforce every day, is trying to sell you toxic and cheap ways to make you forget about the reality of the class struggle.

Where do you see the straight edge scene today?

I really like what’s going on

What is going on in the scene right now? Can you describe what in particular you like?

In France, where I currently live, I noticed some kind of straight edge hxc revival in the shape of DIY local bands which are really good, very vocal about their straight edge commitment, and also really political. And that’s something we, as antifascists who are also deeply involved in our music scene, are excited about. I feel we have to put the “militant” side of our politics back again in the music we create. I’m not talking about hardline homophobic and violent shit of course, but we need to take a stand and to be more publicly radical about what we’re fighting for. We need bands who actually get political between songs, who actively write about sexism, racism, homophobia etc…And I feel that’s the direction we’re going in with this new scene we have.

Can you describe your local scene?  Are there any bands we should be on
the look out for?

There are several new local bands which are worth the listen : xBreakOutx from Lyon (https://xbreakoutx.bandcamp.com/), Spin Around from Lyon too (https://spinaroundxxx.bandcamp.com/releases), Iron Deficiency (https://irondeficiency.bandcamp.com/),  Path of Resurgence from Switzerland (https://pathofresurgence.bandcamp.com/releases), Cavalerie from Paris (https://cavalerie75.bandcamp.com/releases)…There’s also a great distro/label which is called Youth Authority Records (https://www.facebook.com/Youthauthorityrecords/). 

There’s an ongoing debate on whether one can be straight edge without being a part of the music scene, what’s your thoughts on this?

Well, I began to call myself straight edge as I was only beginning to be a part of the hardcore scene, so maybe I shouldn’t have my opinion, but I think people who aren’t into the music scene (I mean, not at all) should reclaim the term “radical/revolutionary sobriety”. As for the people who aren’t either hxc fans or revolutionaries, well they can call themselves sober.

What are some funny/common misconceptions people have about you being straight edge?

Someone once told me “oh, you’re straight edge…so you can’t take this elevator I guess”.

What are some challenges you have faced when interacting with other people who are also edge? If you haven’t had any challenges, tell us some challenges you’ve faced when interacting with people who are not edge?

Interacting with straight edge people brings me so much joy. I’m grateful to surrounded by extremely interesting people who are also caring. Most of my best friends are edge, as well as my boyfriend. Of course, there are some people in the scene that I personally dislike, but overall my relationship with edge people, in general, brings me nothing but interesting discussion and debates. Regarding people who are not straight edge, I haven’t had any major issues, I still have really good non-edge friends of course. Nobody has ever questioned me on my decision to go sober, so I’m grateful for that, but I have to admit that I’m sometimes (not always) really uncomfortable when I’m out with friends who drink or smoke, as it makes me feel a bit excluded. I’m also sad when I see some of my friends who abuse drugs or alcohol, even if they tell me they’re in control. Also, as I was an occasional smoker before going straight edge, I can be really upset when people smoke right in front of my face without even asking me if it bothers me.

Is your diet influenced or informed by your choice to be straight edge i.e. organic, antibiotic infused meat, genetically modified foods, vegan, vegetarian?

I’m already a vegetarian and I’m trying to slowly go vegan, but I don’t think it’s really linked to my sobriety, as I already was a vegetarian well before going straight edge. Of course, I see the obvious link between taking care of my body and not consuming animals, as well as the political impact of veganism and anti-speciesism as an ideology, but it really isn’t that deep for me.

What’s your straight edge story? Was there a key moment that made you realize straight edge is the way you want to live your life? How old were you? How did you find out about straight edge, was there someone in the community that introduced you, or were you introduced to it through people/bands, etc? What drew you to it?

There hasn’t been a key moment for me. Radical sobriety already was in the back of my mind for many years before I went straight edge. When I was younger, I suffered several sexual assaults that were perpetrated by people who were either drunk or intoxicated. I was drunk as well, so alcohol slowly became a source of anxiety for me, but I couldn’t yet find a solution to this addiction. I must also add that I had been an occasional smoker for years. It disgusted me (the smell, the taste) but I just couldn’t refuse a cigarette. I felt really guilty (for my body, for the subsequent health issues) but as I said I couldn’t just decide to stop right there. I met someone who was straight edge and introduced me to the scene, even if I had been in the extreme music scene for years. I had already discovered hardcore several years before, but this person showed me really great bands and his passion really struck me, so I took the time to discover bands myself and really dug the 80s and 90s scene, as well as more recent bands. I started to hang out with the straight edge kids in my city, who I already knew, and my growing interest in hxc brought us closer. The thought of sobriety as a way of life kept growing inside me and I progressively stopped drinking. One day, as I felt ready, I decided the cigarette I was holding between my fingers would be my last. And indeed it was, I didn’t touch a beer or a cigarette ever since. I told my friends I was ready to call myself straight edge, and I went to my first straight edge hardcore festival as a straight edge myself (BREAK DOWN THE WALLS 2019 in Paris).

Define what straight edge means to you? Has this changed over the years?

I think I already answered this question in my first answers, so I’m just gonna add that the political implications of the straight edge “ideology” never changed for me and it’s still a major part of my straight edge commitment.

Do you consider yourself an activist? What is/are your cause(s), and how have you been working to advance them?

I consider myself an antifascist, as well as an anarcho-communist. I’ve been working on these two things by being a part of several political and antifascist collectives. I’m also part of a straight edge collective, xBASEx, which combines anti-fascism with radical sobriety.

Can you tell us more about xBASEX and your history with it, links?

xBASEx is a straight edge and antifascist collective. I’ve only joined this collective a few weeks before october 2019, but they’ve been active since the beginning of 2019, and we have co-organized a straight edge festival in Paris, France, the Break Down The Walls festival (I’ve sent you the flyer). We’ve created links with many people/bands outside of France : South Corea, Belgium, the Netherlands…We’ve also been to several other shows with flyers, stickers, posters and flags, all of that aiming to inform people about what it means nowadays to be straight edge, and how to articulate anti-capitalism, anti-sexism, and overall a communist/anarchist mindset, with being drug-free. Here’s the link to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/baseXantifa/?tn-str=k*F

What, if anything, keeps you committed to the straight edge lifestyle?

I don’t think I need something, in particular, to keep me committed to sobriety. My political involvement and my desire to keep the music scene alive are two of the main reasons I’m straight edge, so I guess it is the straight edge lifestyle itself which keeps me committed to the straight edge lifestyle, haha.

What is something you didn’t think you would struggle with by claiming edge?

Well, I knew right from the start where I was going, so on the contrary being straight edge was easier than I thought. If I had to pick something that I didn’t really anticipate, it would be the difficulties I now have hanging out with people who drink. I think it even estranged me from several friends, which is something I’m not confortable thinking about.

What you do for stress relief instead of drinking/drugs, tips for peer pressure?

I really have a hard time being physically close to someone who smokes. It really annoys me because it reminds me of my past addiction to tobacco. I try to get up and have a drink, and to think about my straight edge commitment. It may seem silly but thinking about the straight edge lifestyle and the scene itself, as well as my edge friends, really relieves my stress and anxiety when I feel like I want to smoke a cigarette. Of course, now I would never ask for a cigarette, but I think when you’re a former smoker there’s always the first instinct when someone lights a cigarette besides you.

Have you ever considered breaking edge? What were the circumstances, and what changed your mind?

No. As I said, as a former smoker there’s always an instinct when someone lights a cigarette, but it never went past 1 or 2 seconds. I never ever considered seriously breaking edge.

Have you ever stopped being edge for a period of time, and if so why? Did you regret doing so? What brought you back? If you have come back, how do you view your commitment (i.e. for life, for now)?

Nope, never stopped being edge. It’s only been a little more than one year for me, so it’s a bit early to consider breaking edge haha.

If you are in a relationship is your partner straight edge, or have you had a previous relationship with someone who was not straight edge? What, if any, challenges have you faced relating to your lifestyle/choices?

My partner is straight edge. He became straight edge only a few months after me, and he’d been thinking about sobriety for several years, like me. I’m really proud of him because he struggled with tobacco too, and he never broke edge since becoming straight edge. We support each other and we often take the time to talk about our sobriety and what it means to us. I think it really brought our relationship to a level we never would have reached if one of us wasn’t sober. My ex was also straight edge, so I can’t really know what it’s like being in a relationship with someone who drinks or smokes, but I really think I couldn’t cope. It would annoy me so much now that I’m really committed to this lifestyle, personally and politically.

If your partner is edge do you have similar views/outlooks about straight edge? What are some examples of ideas/beliefs that you agree and/or disagree on?

On a global scale, we agree on almost everything. Politically, we sometimes disagree on the role subcultures and counter-cultures should have in our political activism (and vice versa), so it impacts his vision of straight edge too. As I’ve been in the extreme music scene for several years, it’s a sensitive subject for me and I consider political activism in the music scene, and counter-culture in political activism, to be absolutely necessary, but not exclusive.

Has your family and social life been negatively or positively impacted? Have you faced or are you facing any specific challenges because of your lifestyle choices? If your family/friends are unsupportive, how do you deal?

My mother became completely sober because of me, so I’m proud of her too. My father continues to drink, but we often talk about my own sobriety and what it means, and I think it influences him more than he’d admit. And as I said before, a lot of my friends are edge, so we fully support each other.

Some straight edge women/girls I have talked to have told me that they feel isolated and that they find it difficult to relate to people outside of the straight edge scene. Is this something you can relate to?

Ooooh yes. I really, really feel disconnected to “normal” people, aka people who aren’t in a subculture or people who aren’t political activists. It could be seen as elitism and disdain, but it isn’t that at all. I wish I could connect with random people but I just can’t seem to find a common ground. Also, I’ve struggled with depression for quite some time now and it doesn’t facilitate contact with other people, normal or not. I think the isolation a lot of straight edge women feel is linked to 1. the straight edge lifestyle, in a society which encourages us to get intoxicated at every occasion, and 2. the inevitable disconnect which comes when you’re into a music scene/subculture which doesn’t share a lot of principles with the dominant system. Fortunately, one can build meaningful friendships and relationships within the scene, and connect with people who may understand us better. It has been the case for me, and if I could send a message to all the straight edge/subculture women who feel isolated and lonely, it would definitely be that.

How do you explain your lifestyle to others outside of the scene? Do you find it difficult? What’s your elevator pitch?

I really don’t find that difficult. I just say I don’t drink and don’t smoke and that’s it. If they really insist or show interest, only then do I explain my political vision and my commitment to the hxc scene. But I get that some people can encounter difficulties while interacting with others, at parties, at shows or in their everyday life.

Over the past decade or so individuals in recovery have stumbled upon the straight edge lifestyle and it has really spoken to them. Do you feel that the straight edge community has been welcoming to those in recovery? Do you have mixed feelings? Strong Feelings?

Yes, the straight edge community should be a safe place for people who are in recovery. I don’t know for sure, but some of the people I know are former addicts, and they really found their place in the straight edge community. On the other hand, I sometimes witnessed some disdain towards addicts, coming from straight edge people, and I don’t think that’s okay at all.

How do you feel your straight edge commitment plays into the bigger social justice movement for gender equity?

I think females are specifically affected by addiction issues, in a way that men can’t fully comprehend. It goes from suffering sexual assault perpetrated by drunk people/while being drunk to not accessing health services because people are always denying your addiction because it’s “normal”, “tough” and “funny” for a woman to drink a lot. So for me, the straight edge lifestyle is also a way of re-equilibrating the balance with men, and it can participate to put us, women, on a more equal ground. I also think the woman class as a whole must rise and we have to provoke our own revolution along with the class struggle we leftists are anticipating, and that sobriety plays a key role in this women-led revolution.

Have you ever had a negative experience in the scene related to your gender?

Of course. Which woman hasn’t ? I’ve been groped and touched while attending shows, I’ve been despised for being a woman in an all-guy scene, some guys have asked me questions to check if I was a poser (“do you really know this band ? name 3 albums” isn’t a cliché). Even while being in a relationship I’ve been despised for liking this or that band. The misogyny in the hardcore scene, and in the extreme music scene as a whole, is a poison because it’s everywhere even when you don’t expect it, and sometimes coming from men you trusted.

Do you feel the straight edge community has done enough to advance gender/race/social issues?

It hasn’t done nearly enough, but it progresses slowly each day and I’m proud to be a part of it with my fellow straight edge female friends.

Is the scene as inclusive as it likes to think it is? Do you think there’s work to be done? If so, what would you like to see change?

I feel like the straight edge and hardcore scene is still very male-dominated and predominantly white. Women and POC have yet to feel welcome in this sometimes misogynistic and racist scene. But I don’t want to overly criticize our scene, because I’ve come to the realization that until society changes as a whole, we are always going to be seen as outsiders in our own scene. And frankly, the hxc scene isn’t the worst, not at all. As I said before, it’s really going the right direction and I want to encourage that.

Please add anything else you think we should know or you would like to share!

Keep up the good work, love from France and from the xBASEx !

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Written by kellysisterhood
Mother, wife, small business owner. www.justbuttons.org
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