with KARREN ABLAZE of ABLAZE! fanzine


“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day.

Today is an inspirational writer whose fanzine Ablaze! did for grunge & riot grrrl what Mark P’s Sniffin’ Glue did for punk. Originally operating circa 1984-1994 it was a zine from Leeds that helped inspire my own to start own xeroxed early-mid 90s Velvet Sheep. Its editor was a woman who wrote from the heart and who stood up for what she believed in, and her passion was contagious. She stood up for feminist issues and a girl/boy revolution before Huggy Bear & Bikini Kill happened without your permission.

She made friends with many great bands including the ace Nation of Ulysses, and was an early adopter of the Seattle scene but this critic had her own among some surprising indie heroes, with indignant rights of reply coming from unlikely sources like Sonic Youth no less.

An unsurprising supporter of Wiiija and the riot grrrl movement, she formed her own bands including Coping Saw. Someone who dearly believed if there wasn’t anything happening in your town you had to start a zine and make your own scene, a back copy of the zine inspired the formation of The Cribs. She’s now written a book and has brought Ablaze! back with the likes of Sleaford Mods (a match made in zine heaven) on the cover. I was pleased to find a 90s inspiration and kindred spirit and ask her for a “song for ewe”, it’s Karren Ablaze!

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I’d noticed from Gary Walker (Wiiija)’s FB feed that Karren had resurrected Ablaze! and I was chuffed to get back in touch. Karren knew straight away that she wanted to choose Saul Williams. It led her on a trail to watch the inspirational soul man live in Europe, where she went onto interview him on spec. She was so invigorated by his zeal that she’s been seizing the day ever since if her social media feed is anything to go on.

Hope you catch the bug too, so without further ado, with her “song for ewe” it’s over to Karren:

“Saul Williams is a rapper, singer-songwriter, activist, actor, and has described as the Poet Laureate of hip hop. I prefer to think of him as The Poet. Full stop.

This glorious track was originally a spoken word piece which Williams later recorded in collaboration with DJ Krust.

When he yells “Any utterance UNAIMED will be DISCLAIMED!” he makes it clear that most art is not aimed – most entertainment is about perpetuating stagnation, escapist pointlessness, and that most “work” is time wasting life-destroying unjustifiable bullshit.

What would it be like if everything spoken, heard, created, learned was done so the benefit of all? When you think about it, it has to be – we’ve a planet to pull back from the edge of hell. He is calling you to align yourself with the whole, with your heart, right now.

My most-loved part of this track is when Williams belts out the names of the deities, the musicians, the writers. I hear that powerful, intentional emphasis on the feminine. He shouts the names of the ones that mean so much to me, and I wonder if he’s shouting the names of the ones that mean so much to you.

And, ultimately, your own name is on that list too. You just haven’t located yourself yet.”