Queen Kwong frontwoman blasts Detroit's 'bro-y' rock scene


Carré Callaway, aka Queen Kwong. - VIA QUEEN KWONG'S INSTAGRAM
  • Via Queen Kwong's Instagram
  • Carré Callaway, aka Queen Kwong.

In 2015, Queen Kwong frontwoman Carré Callaway moved to Detroit from Los Angeles with her now-husband, Wes Borland of rap-rockers Limp Bizkit. The two bought a house in Boston-Edison and quickly laid down roots in the city, with Callaway re-forming her band with a Detroit-based lineup and booking local gigs.

However, don't expect any more Queen Kwong shows in Detroit any time soon.

In a profile with England's Independent published this week, Callaway spoke openly about her frustrations with Detroit's rock scene, which she blasted as being chauvinistic, provincial, and petty.

At issue was an incident that occurred during last year's Hamtramck Music Festival, which Queen Kwong was booked to play. So was local band Jesus Chainsaw Massacre, who made it their mission to bully Callaway off of the bill by posting topless photos of her they dug up on their blog.

From the Independent:

“It was really bizarre,” she says. “I’ve only lived in Detroit for a couple years, but I didn’t spend too much time there because I was going to school and playing shows a lot. So because it was still new to me, I thought I should play some shows there and I live in Detroit so my lineup should be from Detroit. I thought that made sense, but it totally backfired and it was a very strange experience."

“It’s very bro-y and very exclusive. It’s a really terrible mindset because it doesn’t benefit anybody. It’s like, ‘if you’re not from Detroit then you shouldn’t be here.’ There are a lot of great things about the city but the rock scene — not all of the bands of course — seems so bitter.”

It was such a casual thing, she felt, to say yes to a request for her to play a smaller festival. But another band, who’d never met her, who’d never seen her play before, who she’d never heard of, took exception.

“They decided to make it their mission to rip me apart in every way possible,” she says. “There was a blog that seemed dedicated to it. These were grown men, not teenagers. And they wrote the most vile stuff about me, which after so many years being in this business I’m kind of used to… but it’s one thing when it’s people commenting on YouTube, and another where the people involved know where you live.”

She continues:

“It’s really nothing, that’s why it was so strange. They clearly have nothing going on — it was so bitter. Nowadays, especially people who are artists and especially in the rock genre, how is a photo of a topless girl even a big deal?"

“I kept blocking them and they made fake profiles, it was absurd. And then they started saying some racist stuff. I’m Asian, and I’ve never really had to deal with racist stuff like that. As a woman, I deal with sexism non-stop. Forever. My entire life I’ve dealt with that, and I think all women do, especially when they’re in a male-dominated industry.”

What was most frustrating, she says, wasn’t the band. “They’re just fucking losers.” She felt more let down by how the local rock community responded. She decided to pull out of the festival (“then it was, ‘oh she has such thin skin!’) and found herself in a board meeting, of course mostly filled by men, who offered their takes on what had happened to her.

“It was like Twilight Zone,” she laughs exasperatedly. “I actually took the topless picture of me that they used and I printed it on T-shirts, and I played the show, sold the shirts and gave the money to a women’s shelter. And I said I was never going to play Detroit again and I didn’t.” 

Callaway says the incident was partially the inspiration for her new video, "One Lung," which she says is about women "reclaiming autonomy over our own bodies." The video for "One Lung" is below.

Queen Kwong's Love Me To Death is out now on Edison Records.

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